Category Archives: Blanchot

If I read a book that interested me, I read it with vivid pleasure, but my very pleasure was behind a pane of glass and unavailable to me because of that, but also far away and in an eternal past. Yet where unimportant people and things were involved, life regained its ordinary meaning and actuality, so that though I preferred to keep life at a distance, I had to seek it in simple actions and everyday people.

— Blanchot, ‘Death Sentence’

Advertisements

The call of the work

For the man who sets out to write, the work is in no way a shelter in which he lives, in his peaceful and protected self, shielded from the difficulties of life. Perhaps he in fact thinks he is protected from the world, but he is exposed to a danger much greater and more menacing because it finds him powerless: the very danger that comes to him from outside, from the fact that he remains outside. And against this threat he must not defend himself; on the contrary, he must give in to it. The work demands that, demands that the man who writes it sacrifice himself for the work, become other – not other than the living man he was, the writer with his duties, his satisfactions, and his interests, but he must become no one, the empty and animated space where the call of the work resounds.

— Blanchot, The Book to Come (tr. Mandell)

At no risk

Investigations on the subject of art such as those the aesthetician pursues bear no relation to the concern for the work of which we speak. Aesthetics talks about art, makes of it an object of reflection and of knowledge. Aesthetics explains art by reducing it or then again exults by elucidating it, but in all events art for the aesthetican is a present reality around which he constructs plausible thoughts at no risk.

— Blanchot, The Space of Literature (tr. Smock)

But at the same time, a death that results in being represents an absurd insanity, the curse of existence—which contains within itself both death and being and is neither being nor death. Death ends in being: this is man’s hope and his task, because nothingness itself helps to make the world, nothingness is the creator of the world in man as he works and understands. Death ends in being: this is man’s laceration, the source of his unhappy fate, since by man death comes to being and by man meaning rests on nothingness.

— Blanchot, ‘Literature and the Right to Death’ (tr. Davis)

In writing, he has put himself to the test as a nothingness at work, and after having written, he puts his work to the test as something in the act of disappearing.

— Blanchot, ‘Literature and the Right to Death’ (tr. Davis)

He perceived all the strangeness there was in being observed by a word as if by a living being, and not simply by one word, but by all the words that were contained in that word, by all those that went with it and in turn contained other words, like a procession of angels opening out into the infinite to the very eye of the absolute.

– Blanchot, Thomas the Obscure (tr. R. Lamberton)

The name

Through the name of God we can orient our attention towards the true God, situated beyond our reach, not conceived. Without this gift, we would only have a false earthly God, conceivable by us. Only this name allows us to have a Father who is in a heaven that we know nothing about.

Weil (via here)