File spoon-archives/blanchot.archive/blanchot_2004/blanchot.0404, message 9

Date: Fri, 16 Apr 2004 14:48:32 -0400
Subject: Re: MB:  passivity/re-sponsibility

Thank you very much, for responding.

I'm an undergrad, writing a thesis, seeking reassurance (and perhaps 
distraction or the unexpected)--might as well say so. 


Thoughts admittedly loose, but their release is something of a relief, hope 
they can be forgiven.
Vaguely wondering if there is a kind of irony in a potential distinction 
between Blanchot and Derrida on one hand, and Nancy and Agamben on the other.  
The former seeming more melancholy, the latter less encumbered, and yet the 
former insisting on a certain refusal perhaps more vehemently, an insistence on 
the most difficult aporias and affirmation, on difficulty, even.  The latter 
more subsumptive and maybe less interested in dwelling on distinctions, or 
perhaps on resisting/refusing the heritage of a metaphysics--perhaps also 
original sin?  The former don't dwell on shame, and yet they are more 
melancholy, a deeper sadness at the core.  Blanchot's perhaps: 'Death is God' 
and Derrida's:  The other as God?  and then Agamben's:  "The self is, at 
bottom, shame."  As a question of style(s)--the former sometimes seem to 
embrace a different (at once more anonymous and intimate?) reader 
responsiveness, or dwelling, or patience, cummulative(?) désoeuvrement...anyway 
a different relation toward a will to disappear, maybe, and also toward the 
meaning of humility.

I am fascinated by passages--such as on "automatic writing"--where Blanchot 
speaks of a certain "lightness" that is without "the anxiety of a guilty 
conscience" and yet "not without risks and never in the calm of an indifferent 
spontaneity" (_Space_, 187).  Does this "lightness" pierce through the cracks 
of the disaster, through intimacy, friend(sh)ip, a certain on-tology of touch 
ever untouched or unmarked by distaster?  (Shaviro) Bataille without the 
battle?  At least without the ceremony of facing lines?  Believing only in 
death as impossible, not in any pure originary Being, how is ligthness 
possible?  Is true lightness always at its core an apocalyptic white heat, 
white night (white Knight?).  The need for two languages/\/\ and yet a need to 
distinguish also between guilt and responsibility?  An ethics without 
redemption, the madness of decision (the decision of madness?), the inability 
to ever grasp and extract the sliver, that in-finite less, always less. 

Gerard Bruns ends his book on a consistent note, if one that seems to use the 
word, "anarchy" as a mantric spur in ways both productive and ultimately 
foreclosing (Nancy also wonders at the pin of Hegel's "State"--today the 
increasingly ironic worship of the image maybe both encourages and frustrates 
pin-ility in new ways?):        

"Blanchot's thought seems to be this:  there is poetry after Aushwitz, and also 
philosophy, but it is no longer possible for these things to go on in good 
conscience.  Of course poetry (since Plato's time a discourse of survival) is 
interminable, incessant; that is, thinking of poetry in terms of its place in 
the history of philosophy, Blanchot has always understood it (as he has 
understood everything else, perhaps himself as well) in bad conscience.  Bad 
conscience, just to summarize, is internal to the exigency of writing.  The 
question is whether philosophy could ever respond to this exigency, becoming, 
in effect, anarchic ("without intentions, without aims, without the protective 
mask of the character beholding itself in the mirror of the world, reassured 
and posing.  Without name, without situation, without titles").  This question 
is Blanchot's provocation, or perhaps his gift, to philosophy."  (Bruns, 264-

Can radical abstraction be so wedded to anarchy or even an-archy?  Or to a 
wiling 'whatever'?  What do these pins conceal?  (Do they puncture the skin? 
terrorize the blood?)

A look that cannot be exchanged
      I would prefer not to
             Il faut
          (Pas au-dela) 
             Il faut
      I would prefer not to
A look that cannot be exchanged

happy in fatigue,



> Matt,
> These are not naive questions at all.  They are well put.  I think about,
> obsess about, them myself.  I will only say now that I read in Sylvan
> Tomkins (sp?) about patients, children, who suffered shame to the extend
> of being ashamed of their shame and hiding or repressing it.  Shame is at
> bottom ashamed of itself.  Like Being in Heidegger, and I think Agamben
> makes that point.  So finally, the question of shame may depend on how one
> comes to terms with Heidegger's thought of Being.
> Thomas Wall


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