Friday, January 26, 2007

the apocalypse is disappointing

Re: among other things (or, to repeat old things):
The invocation of the end is a tribute necessarily paid to infinity, as Blanchot makes clear by pointing at the end to the self-defeating paradox of Wittgenstein's famous conclusion to the Tractatus. To speak of the end is always to defer the end; no sooner is it pronounced than the finality of the apocalyptic 'come!' in fact suspends the end as a moment of perpetual (re)beginning. Apocalypse in Blanchot is therefore not an apocalypse, for it is an apocalypse without end, truth or finality. It is, as Derrida had predicted, apocalypse without apocalypse. (Hill, Maurice Blanchot: Extreme Contemporary, 208)

...Writing must "revoke" the pretension of any "end," even while it cannot help but imply such a thing the moment it begins.

Last witness, end of history, close of a period, turning point, crisis--or, end of (metaphysical) philosophy...But if (since there is no other way of putting this) a decisive historical change is announced in the phrase "the coming comes," making us come into our "most proper," or "own-most" (being), then one would have to be very naive not to think that the requirement to withdraw ceases from then on. And yet it is from then on that "withdraw" rules--more obscurely, more insistently...Why does writing--when we understand this movement as the change from one era to a different one, and when we think of it as the experience (the inexperience) of the disaster--always imply the words inscribed at the beginning of this "fragment," which, however, it revokes? It revokes them even if what they announce is announced as something new which has always already taken place, a radical change from which the present tense is excluded. (Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster, 102)

Writing then refuses the present, but never in the same way as the phrase, "end of history," forecloses on the present (or to use another formulation, never in the same way twice). If writing has the power to transform eras, or more precisely if writing itself is the change between eras, there is a sense in which writing both hears and refuses its own present. Certainly it refuses its own presence as a representation of direct power over "the" future, in any simply sense.

What might be called "Blanchot's politics of writing," particularly in Leslie Hill's reading, is nothing if not a responsibility (very much in the sense Derrida gives to this word) to alterity and to the Other, as irriducibly other. Perhaps only a radical indifference to the first of Derrida's two futures––to the one that is prescribed or merely "possible" (that is, in the "weak" sense) ––can clear a space for the opening of a genuinely 'other' time. Would such a time be held ruthlessly open – correctly judged only as a ceaseless prelude, forever without over-hasty or absolute distinctions between "enemies" and "friends"?

The Politics to which Blanchot's writing gives an eschatology--eschatology beyond eschatology--which addresses the future not as power but as judgement, not as imminent presence but as infinite promise. The hope is not for more, or better representation, but rather for the destruction of the present as such and thus for a revolution that would open time itself to the otherness that presence always excludes (Hill, 209).

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