Saturday, December 18, 2004

Blanchot, again

() The question he did not ask him. "What would you do if you were alone?"--"Well, the question wouldn't be asked."--"You mean there'd be no one to ask it."--"And no one to answer it."--"There'd be no time for that."

() For there to be a play of questions and answers, time must keep its unitary structure with its three variables. The predominance of the present as thought and as life (the intemporal present and presence to oneself in the living distant) is perhaps all the more marked by the near impossibility of not relating past and future to an actuality that has become or is to come; that is, of not thinking one and the other as a present that has fallen due or will fall due. The accomplishment of history would be this taking back, in the present henceforth actual, of any historical possibility: being always thinks itself and speaks itself in the present. When the affirmation of the Eternal Return of the Same imposes itself on Nietzsche, in the revelation that overwhelms him, it seems at first that it privileges, in giving it the colors of the past and the colors of the future, the temporal demand of the present: what I live today opens time to the depths, giving it to me in this unique present as the double infinity that would come to reunify itself in the present; if I have lived it an infinite number of times, if I am called upon to relive it aninfinite number of times, I am there at my table for eternity and to write it eternally: all is present in this unique instant that repeats itself, and there is nothing but this repetition of Being in its Same. But Nietzsche came very quickly to the thought that there was no one at his table, neither present in the Being of the Same, nor Being in its repetition. The affirmation of the Eternal Return had provoked either temporal ruin, leaving nothing else to think but dispersion as thought (the open-eyed silence of the prostate man in a white shirt), or, perhaps even more decisive, the ruin of the present alone, henceforth stricken with prohibition and, with it, the unitary root of the whole torn out. As if the repetition of the Return had no other function than to put in parentheses, in puttting the present in parentheses, the number 1 or the word Being, compelling thereby an alternation that neither our language nor our logic can admit. For even if we dared to designate the past conventionally in numbering it 0 and the future in number [sic] it 2, while postulating the suppression, with the present, of any unity, we would still have to mark the equal power of the 0 and the 2 in the unmarked and unmeasurable distance of their difference (such as the demand by which the future and the past would affirm themselves as the same supposes it, if, in the catastrophe of the Eternal Return, it were not precisely any common denominator or numerator that had disappeared with the form of the present) and to mark that this equal power would not allow us to identify them, nor even to think them together, but not to exclude them from one another either, since the Eternal Return says also that one would be the other, if the unity of Being had not, by an inadmissible interruption, in fact ceased to order the relations.

() The past was written, the future will be read. This could be expressed in this form: what was written in the past will be read in the future, without any relation or presence being able to establish itself between writing and reading.

() "I can do no better than to entrust myself to your loyalty."--"You do better, nonetheless, and rightly, because even if I am loyal, how would we put up with a loyalty without law?"

() I am not master of language. I listen to it only in the effacement, effacing myself in it, towards this silent limit where it waits for one to lead it back in order to speak, there where presence fails as it fails there where desire carries it.
(Le Pas au-dela, Trans. Lycette Nelson, 29-30)

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