Lars has written an excellent post on Blanchot, Foucault and language. A teaser:

For the early Levinas, the relation to being is impersonal; it does not allow mineness to be hollowed out, but, when it is encountered directly, undoes the form of the ‘I’ that Heidegger’s being elects it to be. Dense formulations! A paragraph where there should be a book! But the ‘I’ for Levinas emerges out of a prior field – emerges, but can also fall back there, into the pell-mell that precedes the subject and that always threatens to return.

This is why, for Levinas, being is a threat, and is to be thought of in terms of possession, of impersonal participation; existence is not a leap into the future, a projection on the basis of the prior leap of transcendence, but the result of a struggle, ever active and ongoing, whose achievement is the sense of a future we as human beings hold before us precariously and, too often, in delusion.

Something similar holds for Blanchot, but the tone is different – being, existence without existents, is encountered not only in horror, but in a kind of melting delight – there is joy (as Bataille might say) in the little deaths that deliver each of us over to possession, to dispossession. Which is, perhaps, only to say that Blanchot revives the ancient sense of inspiration as it implies another, stronger force with which the artist must be in contact: an alien power, masked by figures of gods or Muses, that asks of the would be-creator that he or she must first undergo a loss of self, an exposure.

It is only by returning from this initial detour that creation can begin; the stamp of the artist upon the work depends first of all on that contact – possessing, dispossessing – with what Blanchot also calls (confusingly, provocatively) the work, meaning by this (paradoxically) being as it draws the creator from existence, as it interrupts that projection, that plan, according to which the finished artwork is to be made.

It would be worthwhile to relate all of this to Deleuze’s various discussions of the impersonal, the prepersonal, and the pre-individual in his account of individuation. There are a number of instances where Deleuze makes reference to Blanchot, especially in Foucault. Read the rest here.

About these ads