Saturday, February 12, 2005


A nice write-up on Blanchot, Derrida, Shakespeare and the artist Robert Smithson at For something of a bit more substance, see "The City and the Stars: Politics and Alterity in Heidegger, Levinas and Blanchot" by Lars Iyer:

Is philosophy really homesickness, the desire to be at home everywhere? In Heidegger and Levinas, this is still the case even if both emphasize a certain alterity. But Levinas, as I have shown, criticizes Heidegger's determination of the unhomely from the perspective of saying whilst producing a politics that bears a structural similarity to that of his adversary. There are, however, other conceptual resources in Levinas, linked, as I will show, to the work of his friend Blanchot, to whom he attributes a critical function with respect to Heidegger.


Blanchot's practice of reading is a refusal of the exemplarism of both Heidegger and Levinas. Blanchot's poet-witness, the one whose writing must be witnessed in turn in its relation to the earth, to the il y a, is not the founder of a people who would permit in turn the setting up of the polis, the rekindling of a hearth, the inauguration of a temple. Blanchot's notion of reading invents a community of readers, not, he is adamant, a Volk, but a gathering of individuals each of whom is exposed to an irreducible openness. This non-people are not united by a shared memory, a shared civilization, or a shared myth. No cathedral, synagogue, no temple, no plastic form will contain them. They share no history, no solidarity; they belong neither to a religion nor to a nation. They are bound only by the reading that disperses them. They read, but what they read are signs and flashing indications. To what do they point? Not to the stars or to the astronomical order; but nor, simply, to the darkness that would exist before and after stars. They indicate the darkness that inhabits each star, to the earth from which the city is made that prevents either from settling into a pure relation.

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