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PDF | Waiting and expecting structurally presuppose a futurity tion” to the existing two through Blanchot's Awaiting Oblivion, which .. title: Beckett's rst play ever on waiting, Waiting for Godot, Maurice Blanchot's L'attente. Maurice Blanchot, Awaiting Oblivion trans. John Gregg (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, ). Maurice Blanchot and Jacques Derrida, The Instant of My. 84 this point. As an instance of a disjoint temporality, Awaiting Oblivion resourcefully exploits its Blanchot develops this notion in particular through his critique of Hegel's licities of Paradox: Blanchot on the Null-Space of Literature“ in Maurice Blanchot.

So, when I write in my opinion, I remove all weight from the judgement. The complete opposite is equally valid. Despite this, we still make definite choices in what to read, watch or listen to, as if hoping, despite everything, for something more than nothing. The act of choice itself speaks of a need: for nourishment, entertainment or distraction, or all three combined.

But we have little guidance on what and why to choose. Perhaps the recent proliferation of award ceremonies and prize competitions for each art form is no coincidence: the award-winning novel, the platinum-selling album, the blockbuster movie. We want a guarantee of value. At the same time, however, we know, like a General Election, it is meaningless. Nothing changes. Such is the totality of Liberal Democracy.

Awaiting Oblivion (French Modernist Library)

Worse still, the condition has a retrospective affect. Nothing escapes its scything action.

History is flattened too, shorn of meaning. Even critiques of the condition become just an opinion under the smiling curve of the scythe. Blanchot does not propose an answer. Rather, he looks at how this condition might have arisen, offering in the process a startling revision of our understanding of what literature is.

Might the asymmetry of art and world be what makes it vital and important? In the Phaedrus, Socrates says that speech has the guarantee of the living presence of the speaker. One can ask questions and receive answers; there is always the movement of dialogue with those involved always mindful of truth. In dialogue, progress is possible. Behind the words of the written work, nobody is present; but language gives voice to this absence, just as in the oracle, when divinity speaks, the god himself is never present in his words, and it is the absence of god which then speaks.

Leslie Hill If, as Blanchot says, the voice of the divine and the voice of literature are comparable, they are effectively indistinguishable, thereby doubling the threat to the human project represented by Socrates. Of course, Socrates went on to pay with his life for his commitment to the more serious matter of debate.

And while his sacrifice remains emblematic of our notion of the freedom of speech, his dismissal of writing and art sounds very familiar, very now, particularly to anyone searching for truth in art.

It is attractive as there is another correlation, perhaps the most important: both are also liberations. In each case, freedom is granted to those previously enslaved to truth. Writers can let their imagination run wild; there is no comeback. Instead of celebrating or lamenting this development, Blanchot considers the silence of the gods revealed in the written word.

He wonders what it is that disarms Plato and Socrates so much that they deny it is even relevant, and compels us, their descendants, to fill the empty space with reductive theories: social, psychological, post-colonial. For a possible answer, he turns to Heraclitus, the first poet-philosopher, pre-dating Socrates, the first rationalist.

Leslie Hill It does not base itself on something which already is. This could be the cry of the opponents of the kind of literature that does not engage with current events or familiar social relations, and where the style, language and subject matter — or lack of it — resists the utility of common understanding.

Is modern literature, then, prophetic? The nature of the question means the answer cannot be stated as such, only experienced. However, this is not to distinguish experience and literature. Contrary to popular opinion, literature is intimate with daily experience. Murmuring questions. What are they worth? What do they say? These are still more questions. Yet we spend most of our lives avoiding or sedating it with entertainment-distraction, drugged socialising, or plausible theories of hominid brain development.

When he reviews a book, rather than judging it within set external criteria, such as the persuasiveness of character or plot, or its relevance to the breaking news of the moment, he asks certain questions that emerge from the experience of reading the book itself.

Here is a book that has no justification. It has no sensitive social analysis. It is scornful of polite taste and ridicules all notions of the redeeming power of art. It makes much fun of its struggle to efface the author with the usual means of the suspension of disbelief, before spiralling into a calamitous verbal free fall. Molloy could be Beckett writing in his own room. Eventually, Molloy invents another narrator, Moran, a police detective, who narrates his own story, in this case the pursuit of Molloy.

Beckett is having fun with the conventions of the novel — which is why so many readers see only absurdity in his work. That threat begins to appear in Malone Dies. Malone is bedridden, having only a pencil for company. No, it is not a question of understanding. Of what then? Here I go none the less, mistakenly. Night, storm and sorrow, and the catalepsies of the soul, this time I shall see that they are good.

The last word is not yet said between me and — yes, the last word is said. Perhaps I simply want to hear it said again. Just once again. No, I want nothing. The Unnameable begins without his support for the stories. So really, it cannot continue. It continues anyway. In The Unnameable phantoms and visions encircle a consciousness stuck in an ornamental jar at the entrance to a restaurant.

Words circle on the page too, stumbling on without even the relief of punctuation. Sacha Rabinovitch This is the language of the future. Seeing and hearing her, he was bound to her by a presentiment that he did not want to miss. W hat, then, was responsible for his failure? W hy did she repudiate so sadly what she had said? Was she repudiating herself? He thought that at a certain moment he had done something wrong.

He had questioned her too brutally. He did not remember questioning her, hut that was no excuse; he had questioned her in a more urgent manner by his silence, his waiting, and the signs he had made to her.

He had induced her to say the truth too openly, a truth that was direct, disarmed, irrevocable. But why had she spoken to him? If he were to start seeking answers to this question, he would be unable to proceed any further. And yet it was essential as well. As long as he did not discover the correct reason, he would never be sure that she had truly said to him what he now did not doubt that he had heard-he owed this conviction to her presence, to the murmur of the words: the air continued to speak here.

But later? He did not have to worry about later; he would not try to find any guarantees for another time. He would let her remain free. Perhaps he did not want to push her into other confidential revelations; perhaps, on the contrary, he secretly desired to keep her on this very tack.

That appealed to him, but it also made him feel very uneasy. And so he discovered that he had other motives. Hadn't these motives altered, without his realizing it, what he had written with so much assurance? No, he said to himself. He experienced a vague feeling of despair when he thought of her despondent disavowal of what he had written. To be faithful, this is what was being asked of him: to take hold of this slighdy cold hand that would lead him, by way of unusual meanders, to a place where she would disappear and leave him alone.

But it was difficult for him not to wonder to whom this hand belonged. He had always been like this. He thought about the hand, about the person who had held it out to him, and not about the itinerary.

Therein without a doubt lay his mistake. While he gathered together the sheets of paper-and now she was watching him through curious eyes-he could not help feeling that he was bound to her by this failure.

He did not understand very well why. It was as if he had touched her across the void; he had seen her for an instant. A few minutes ago. He had seen who she was. That did not encourage him; it suggested rather the end of everything.

Blanchot Awaiting Oblivion

He had been aiming for something else that was more familiar to him, that he knew and with which he seemed to have lived in joyous freedom. He was astonished to discover that it was perhaps her voice. It is the voice that was entrusted to him. What an astonishing thought! He picked up the sheets of paper and wrote, ''It is her voice that is entrusted to you, not what she says. What she says, the secrets that you collect and transcribe so as to give them their due, you must lead them gendy, in spite of their attempt to seduce, toward the silence that you first drew out of them.

But it was something that she must not hear, that they must not hear together. Perhaps she was speaking, but on her face, no expression of good will with respect to what she was saying, no agreement to speak, a barely living affirmation, a scarcely speaking suffering. He would have liked to have the right to say to her, "Stop speaking, if you want me to hear you. He understood quite well that she had possibly forgotten everything.

That did not bother him. He wondered if he did not want to take possession of what she knew, more by forgetting than by remembering.

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But forgetting It was necessary that he, too, enter into forgetting. Why, even when you speak, do you keep listening? Why do you attract in me these words that I must then say?

And never do you answer; never do you make something of yourself heard. But I will say nothing; be aware of this. What I say is nothing. But never did she recognize her words in mine. Did I unwittingly change something in them? Did something change on their way from her to me? In a low voice for himself, in a lower voice for him. An utterance that must be repeated before it has been heard, a traceless murmur that he follows, wandering nowhere, residing everywhere, the necessity of letting it go.

Something happened to him, and he can say neither that it was true, nor the contrary. Later, he thought that the event consisted in this manner of being neither true nor false. How cold it is here, 4 how litde I live in you. Don't I remain here only so that I can efface all the traces of my stay? And so he waited. He was, confined with her, in the great shifting circle of waiting.

It seems to me that I hear you.

You never address anyone that way. To hear, only to hear. It was a kind of struggle that she was pursuing with him, a silent dispute through which she asked him for and gave him justification. She nonetheless continues to use the formal DOHs throughout this fragment.

On many occasions, the characters address each other in the familiar form, although wus is used most of the time. With his youthful vigor, he had not hesitated then to respond. It was a brillant period when everything still seemed possible and when he threw caution to the wind, randomly taking note, always with sovereign rectitude, of the essential detail and entrusting the rest to his flawless memory.

Perhaps in order to reinforce the certainty that she was really there. In this extreme point of waiting where for a long time what is awaited has served only to maintain the waiting, in what may be the last moment, perhaps the infinite one: man still among us.

To try to remain ignorant of what one knows, only that. What absence of himself was weighing so heavily on him? Narrow and long, abnormally long perhaps.

To begin with, he would know nothing and he could see how much he had wanted to know ; moreover, he would never perceive at what moment he would be on the verge of finishing. What a 6 serious, frivolous existence with no resolution, with no perspective, would result; as for his relations with her, a perpetual lie. When he enters, he does not notice it: it is a hotel room no different from those he has always lived in, the kind he likes, in a modest hotel.

But as soon as he wants to describe it, it is empty, and the words that he uses apply only to the emptiness. Yet with what interest she watches him when he says to her: here is the bed, there a table, over where you are, an armchair. She imagined-at least this was his impression-that he had at his disposal a great power that he could have used to reach the heart of this truth that she seemed to have constantly before her without succeeding in making it real; but through an incomprehensible negligence, he refused to do anything with this power.

Why are you telling me this? His desire to hear her well had long since given way to a need for silence whose indifferent background would have been formed 7 by everything that she had said. But only hearing could nourish this silence.

T hey both searched for poverty in language. On this point , they ag reed For her there were always too many words and one. Although she was apparently not very learned, she always seemed to prefer abstract words, which evoked nothing.

Wasn't she trying, and he along with her, to create for herself at the heart of this story a shelter so as to protect herself from something that the story also helped attract?

There were moments when he believed this and sentences that made him believe this. Perhaps, by proposing this story to him, she wanted only to destroy in him the will to express himself, to which she sought at , the same time, to reduce him.

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He experiences the impression of being in the service of an initial distraction that would let itself be reached only when dissimulated and dispersed in acts of extreme attention. Waiting, but subordinated to that which could not allow itself to be awaited. To wait seems to signify for her the relegation of herself to a story that she would make it his obligation to carr y through to the end and that must have as its outcome its progressive movement toward a goal.

The attention should be exerted, so to speak, by this narrative in such a way as to draw it slowly out from the initial distraction, without which, however-he senses it well-attention would become a sterile act.

She manifested her surprise if he asked her this question because for her, it was a word that sufficed on its own. As soon as one waited for something, one waited a litde less. For quite some time they had no longer been hoping to arrive at the end that they had set for themselves. He no longer even knew if she continued to talk to him about this thing.

He was looking at her furtively. Perhaps she was speaking, but on her face, no expression of good will with respect to what she was saying If you do it, I will desire it. It is so transparent that it lets what she says pass through, including the word itself.

Story, what does she mean by that? He remembers the words that had one day burst into his life. As soon a:s one waited for something, one waited a little less. Where does this part of me go? Is it in you that it turns against me?

This is what they do not cease to evoke at every instant. Secretly before the gaze of everyone. As if pain's proper dimension were thought. This forgetting was part o f what she would have liked to say to him.

In the beginning, with his youthful vigor and brilliant certainty, he had reveled in this forgetting, which seemed to him at the time very close to what she knew, closer perhaps than recollection, and it is through forgetting that he sought to gain possession of it. But forgetting. It would have been necessary that he, too, enter into forgetting.

Act in Juch a W'!She manifested her surprise if he asked her this question because for her, it was a word that sufficed on its own. Wait- therefore the limit experience Blanchot proposes is "to forget forgetting" ing is always a wait for waiting, wherein the beginning is withheld, the But I will say nothing; be aware of this.

Yet the rebels themselves are divided into two camps. How they suffocated together in these close quarters, where the words she said could signify nothing other than this confinement. What absence of himself was weighing so heavily on him? We take our precautions.

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