Category Archives: Blanchot

I was beginning to sink into poverty

I was beginning to sink into poverty. Slowly, it was drawing circles around me; the first seemed to leave me everything, the last would leave me only myself. One day, I found myself confined in the city; travelling was no longer more than a fantasy.

I had no enemies. No one bothered me. Sometimes a vast solitude opened in my head and the entire world disappeared inside it, but came out again intact, without a scratch, with nothing missing.

— Blanchot, ‘The Madness of the Day’

Her personal night

All that which Anne still loved, silence and solitude, were called night. All that which Anne hated, silence and solitude, were also called night. Absolute night where there were no longer any contradictory terms, where those who suffered were happy, where white found a common substance with black. And yet, night without confusion, without monsters, before which, without closing her eyes, she found her personal night, the one which her eyelids habitually created for her as they closed. Fully conscious, full of clarity, she felt her night join the night. She discovered herself in this huge exterior night in the core of her being, no longer needing to pass before a bitter and tormented soul to arrive at peace. She was sick, but how good this sickness was, this sickness which was not her own and which was the health of the world!

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

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)

Around his body, he knew that his thought, mingled with the night, kept watch.

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

Not to write — what a long way there is to go before arriving at that point.

— Blanchot (via This Space)

In broad daylight

The work is no longer innocent; it knows whence it comes. Or at least it knows how to seek, and in this seeking how to approach always nearer to the origin, and in this approach how to keep without fail to the path where possibility is gambled, where the risk is essential and failure threatens. This is what the work seems to ask, this is where it pushes the artist: away from itself and from its own realisation. This experience has become so grave that the artist pursues it endlessly. Despairing of success yet at the same time concerned for the essential, he produces this experience in the broad daylight. He seeks to express it directly or, in other words, to make of the work a road toward inspiration – that which protects and preserves the purity of inspiration – and not of inspiration a road toward the work.

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


The leap is inspiration’s form or movement. This form or this movement makes inspiration unjustifiable. But in this form or movement inspiration also comes into its own: its principle characteristic is affirmed in this inspiration which is at the same time and from the same the same point of view lack of inspiration – creative force and aridity intimately confounded. Hölderlin undergoes the rigours of this condition when he endures poetic time as the time of distress, when the gods are lacking but where God’s default helps us: Gottes Fehl hilft. Mallarmé, whom sterility tormented and who shut himself into it with heroic resolve, also recognised that this deprivation did not express a simple personal failing, did not signify that he was deprived of the work, but announced his encounter with the work, the threatening intimacy of this encounter.

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