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Committing the Future to MemoryHistory, Experience, Trauma$
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Sarah Clift

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823254200

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823254200.001.0001

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In Lieu of a Last Word

In Lieu of a Last Word

Maurice Blanchot and the Future of Memory (Today)

(p.172) Chapter Five In Lieu of a Last Word
Committing the Future to Memory

Sarah Clift

Fordham University Press

Chapter 5 develops the insights generated in Chapter 4 about the inextricability of the necessary and the contingent, and seeks to give it a concrete specificity in the writings of Maurice Blanchot. So the final chapter turns to Blanchot’s reading of Hegel in ”Literature and the Right to Death” and to questions of memory and mourning that arise in a neglected text by Blanchot in which he considers his own writing in terms of history. The language of après-coup (the title of Blanchot’s reflections and Lacan’s term for Freudian Nachträglichkeit) permeates Blanchot’s attempt to grasp two pre-war récits, and results in a failure to reconcile the past with what would turn out to be the future. This failure promotes the sense of a radical discontinuity between the past and the future, one that has largely escaped the few commentaries on this work, and it also provides the opportunity to reflect in concrete ways on how temporal discontinuity might inform an ethics of memory. For, while it is incontestable that Blanchot rejects all notions of the edifying power of memory, the chapter also suggests that he offers the possibility of a non-redemptive account of memory open to-indeed grounded in-that aspect of the future which it cannot possibly capture.

Keywords:   Maurice Blanchot, après-coup, Discontinuity, Historical trauma, Ethics of memory

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