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To Make the Hands ImpureArt, Ethical Adventure, the Difficult and the Holy$
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Adam Zachary Newton

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823263516

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823263516.001.0001

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Blaise Pascal, Henry Darger, and the Book in Hand

Blaise Pascal, Henry Darger, and the Book in Hand

(p.95) Chapter 3 Blaise Pascal, Henry Darger, and the Book in Hand
To Make the Hands Impure

Adam Zachary Newton

Fordham University Press

Chapter 3 examines the limit-case of what might be called écriture trouvé: found writing that has fallen into the hands and under the critical gaze of (unintended) readers. “Touch” and “tact” in the sense developed in the book’s Introduction, provide a fulcrum for exposition. The twinning of religious and secular currents continues in this chapter, and the pairing of figures is purposefully off-kilter: mathematician and inventor, philosopher and pietist Blaise Pascal and “author, artist, sorry saint, protector of children” Henry Darger. Each figure serves to illustrate the pathos of authority and molestation (Edward Said’s terms for an originating act of creative will and subsequent encroachments upon it by time and convention), as they impinge upon authorial intention and method. Their coupling is illuminated with recourse to Levinasian tropes of sensibility and “friction” in sympathetic resonance with Walter Benjamin’s more familiar notion of aura.

Keywords:   Touch, Tact, Sensibility, Henry Darger, Blaise Pascal, Emmanuel Levinas, Friction, Aura

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