Maurice Blanchot by Ullrich M Haase; William Large

By Ullrich M Haase; William Large

With no Maurice Blanchot, literary thought as we all know it this day could were unthinkable. Jacques Derrida, Paul de guy, Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Gilles Deleuze: all are key theorists crucially encouraged by means of Blanchot's work.

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Maurice Blanchot

With no Maurice Blanchot, literary thought as we all know it this present day may were unthinkable. Jacques Derrida, Paul de guy, Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Gilles Deleuze: all are key theorists crucially motivated through Blanchot's paintings.

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The concept replaces the thing that was first of all negated by the word, and as a substitute or representative of the thing, it fills in the absence left behind by the power of language to negate the immediacy of things. What is referred to in language is not the actual thing itself, but the concept or the idea of the thing. The destructive power of language is transformed into something positive, whereby the absence of the thing is replaced by the presence of the concept. L A N G UAG E A N D L I T E R AT U R E 31 32 K E Y I D E AS THE DOUBLE ABSENCE OF LITERATURE In literature, however, the word does not transform the negativity of language into the positivity of the concept, but stubbornly maintains and preserves it.

For this point of view, Arria’s impassivity is no longer the sign of the preservation of her mastery, but the sign of an absence, of a hidden disappearance, the shadow of someone impersonal and neutral. (SL 102) The paradox of suicide, for Blanchot, leads to the experience of another death: neither death as a natural event, nor the human death to which the philosopher aspires, but an anonymous, impersonal and neutral death, which Blanchot calls a dying stronger than death. In the attempt to achieve the highest authenticity through the act of suicide, I discover another death beyond my grasp.

For literature, on the contrary, the very thing the exchange of information sees as unimportant, namely the material presence of words, is what is most essential, and rather than the words disappearing in the demand of reading, they remain. Blanchot’s aim in contrasting the language of literature to the language of information is not only to draw attention to this differing emphasis on the material presence of the word. What is decisive for Blanchot is the way in which this emphasis changes the relation between the word and the meaning it is supposed to express.

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