Friday, April 15, 2005

of vanity, anonymity and cults

From time to time this blog likes to photocopy certain passages from its namesake, in the perhaps vain hope of encouraging those googling over to actually read a bit of Blanchot. So, without further ado:

The vain struggle for the anonymous. Impersonality is not enough to guarantee the anonymous. The work, even if it is without author and always becoming in relation to itself, delimits a space that attracts names, a possibility of reading that is determined every time, a system of references, a theory that appropriates it, a meaning that clarifies it. Of course, we have dispenses with these (although again this is not sure) with the great names. At the same time that Nietzsche–again a very great name–lets us know that the work, that of the artist or of the philosopher, invents only after the fact he who, having created it, must have created it, we know that the work, in its historical necessity, is always modified, transformed, traversed, separated from itself, delivered to its outside, by all the works that seem to come only after it, according to a movement of recurrence whose model Hegel provided. We are not dupes of the present that would make us believe in an authority we have or in an influence we exercise, still less are we concerned with the past, still less presumptuous of a future. We penetrate the pretended impersonal responsibility of groups in which is affirmed, secretly or directly, the right of some to lead in aggrandizing their name with that of the group. The "cult of personality" does not begin with the person who places himself above others to incarnate a historical truth. It begins with this truth itself, whether it is that of the party, of the country, of the world, truth always ready, once it immobilizes itself, to unify itself in a name, a person, a people, an epoque. How then does one arrive at this anonymous whose only mode of approach is haunting intimacy, uncertain obsession that always dispossesses.

The exteriority that excludes every exterior and every interior, as it precedes their succeeding, ruining for them every beginning and every end, and in such a way that it hides itself in the revelation that represents it at once as law there where every law is failing, as return there where every arrival is lacking, as eternal Same when non-identity unmarks itself in it without continuity without interruption, as repetition there where nothing is counted: this is the "concept" (non-conceptualizable) that should help us to maintain ourselves, we the named, close to the inhospitable host who has always preceded us into our house or into our self, even though he has always withdrawn us from our best or most faulty intimacy to relate us, half complacent, half moribund, to this very relation that collapses into anonymous passion.

Let us be clear that we will never have gotten away from the name, even if we are marked by the pre-original anonymous. The anonymous is given to us in the name itself, not freeing us in any way from ourselves, from our identity and from this face that needs, to refuse itself any access, the faceless, the gazeless, mask that transforms everything into a mask and that nothing unmasks. The more strong and justified the name, the more it gives hold to the perversion of the anonymous; the more that greatness, creative force, indubitable truth present themselves in a name, the more it is ready to denounce itself as the error or the injustice which has thrived at the expense of the nameless. But, in return, everything happens as if the anonymous, shadow of which light would be unaware that it shines only to project it, arranged the whole comedy of glories, of powers, of sanctities, in order to bring itself near to us, signalling to us across signification and precisely there where every sign would be lacking.

When we sign, affirming our identity, we become responsible well beyond this signature, to the point that this responsibility has forever put us aside, signing to disappropriate us, like a forgerer who would not try to pass as true, but would make the true shine out as false....(Le Pas au-delà, 36-37)

Translated (the only one, so far) by Lycette Nelson. Brought to you by the council on truth in advertising.

Update: There's a new website, still in its infancy, dedicated to Blanchot here. (Leslie Hill is among the editors.)

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