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The Imperative to WriteDestitutions of the Sublime in Kafka, Blanchot and Beckett$
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Jeff Fort

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823254699

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823254699.001.0001

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Pointed Instants

Pointed Instants

Blanchot’s Exigencies

Chapter:
(p.163) Chapter 5 Pointed Instants
Source:
The Imperative to Write
Author(s):

Jeff Fort

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823254699.003.0006

This chapter provides an overview of Part 2 of the book, devoted to Maurice Blanchot (chapters 5-7), arguing that the separation between writing and life so categorically asserted by Blanchot is belied by the traces, residues and remnants of past time scattered throughout his narrative fictions. Focusing especially on the period beginning in the late 1940s, when Blanchot articulated something of an ontology of literary language, in both essays and narratives, this chapter places Blanchot’s work in relation to Heidegger’s thought, particularly with respect to the notion of “world.” Blanchot’s insistence on literature’s being “the other of every world” is questioned, in order to rethink the notion of an “exigency” that is fundamental to Blanchot’s texts during this period. An analysis of Blanchot’s essays on Proust brings into view a newly complicated understanding of the disastrous temporality at issue in Blanchot’s narratives or récits. Figures of punctual violence and melancholic loss pervade these texts, as shown particularly in “The Instant of My Death” and “(A Primal Scene?)” from The Writing of the Disaster, which restage the sublime as radically empty and voided of transcendence, while nonetheless suggesting the compensations of an interminable affirmation, and the violent initiaton of a vocation.

Keywords:   Maurice Blanchot, Martin Heidegger, Marcel Proust, The Instant of my Death, “A primal scene?”, writing and life, disastrous temporality, world, melancholy, récits

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