… the evidence of a particular silence reaches us like a surprise that is not always a repose: a perceptible silence, sometimes masterly, sometimes proudly indifferent, sometimes agitated, animated and joyful.
This is from the essay ‘Death of the Last Writer’ found in The Book to Come by Maurice Blanchot (1959; 2003):
… it is a langauge: it speaks, it doesn’t stop speaking, it is like the void that speaks, a light murmuring, insistent, indifferent, that is probably the same for everyone, that is without secret and yet isolates each person, separates him from the others, from the world and from himself, leading him through mocking labyrinths, drawing him always farther away, by a fascinating repulsion, below the ordinary world of daily speech.
The strangeness of this langauge is that it seems to say something, while it might be saying nothing. Further, it seems that profundity speaks in it, and the unprecedented makes itself heard. To each person, although it is surprisingly cold, without intimacy and without felicity, it seems to say what would be closest to him if only he could fix it in place for an instant. It is not deceptive, for it promises and says nothing, always speaking for one person alone, but impersonal, speaking entirely inwardly, but it is the outside itself, present in the single place where, by hearing it, we could hear everything, but it is nowhere, everywhere; and silent, for it is silence that is speaking, that has become this false speech that we do not hear, this secret speech without a secret.
How to silence it? How to hear it, how not to hear it?
… A writer is one who imposes silence on this speech, and a literary work is, for one who knows how to penetrate it, a rich resting place of silence, a firm defense and a high wall against this eloquent immensity that addresses us by turning us away from ourselves.
… Before any great work of plastic art, the evidence of a particular silence reaches us like a surprise that is not always a repose: a perceptible silence, sometimes masterly, sometimes proudly indifferent, sometimes agitated, animated and joyful. And the true book is always something of a statue. It arises and organizes itself like a silent power that gives form and firmness to silence and through silence.
[ … ]
… This unspeaking speech very much resembles inspiration, but it is not confused with it; it leads only to that place unique to each person, the hell into which Orpheus descends, place of dispersion and conflict, where he must all of a sudden face up to things and find, in himself, in it and in the experience of all art, what transforms powerlessness into power, turns error into a path and unspeaking speech into a silence from which it can truly speak and allow the origin to speak in it …
… There are, of course, many ways (as many as there are styles and works of art) to master the language of the desert.
… There is … chatter and what has been called interior monologue, which does not in the least, as we well know, reproduce what a man says to himself, for man does not speak to himself, and the deepest part of man is not silent but most often mute, reduced to a few scattered signs. Interior monologue is a coarse imitation, and one that imitates only the apparent traits of the uninterrupted and incessant flow of unspeaking speech. Let us recall that the strength of this speech is in its weakness; it is not heard, which is why we don’t stop hearing it; it is as close as possible to silence, which is why it destroys silence completely. Finally, interior monologue has a center, the “I” that brings everything back to itself, while that other speech has no center; it is essentially wandering and always outside.
… This language must for a moment be forgotten, so as to be born by a triple metamorphosis as a true speech: that of the Book …