Posted by: glue | May 5, 2010


In thinking about WD as a set of instructions, I began to ask more questions concerning the ability (or inability) of language (or writing) to communicate the disaster or the real. When Blanchot writes, “For what escapes all that can be said is not only what must be said: it escapes only under the auspices of Saying and when kept back by the restraint that is Saying’s alone,” (114) he is suggesting that “saying something” is a possibility (in contrast to Wittgenstein’s basic philosophy of language). K.S.


The Theory declares — do this.  And we attempt, we experiment with the possibility. Wittgenstein, working from a more positivist or scientistic? position (in the Tractatus), is a product of the cultural moment in Vienna that promoted the “fact/value” split.  Wittgenstein believed that “value” was outside the empirical world, and so we should keep silent when it came to such matters.  His is a version of the disenchantment of the world, which Heidegger described, quoting Holderlin, as the withdrawal of the gods, meaning, the disappearance of any guarantee of meaning, any measure (“is there any measure  on earth?”) by which to evaluate the worth  of an action or event.   Blanchot’s position is that we go “into” this outside evacuated nothingness.  In our  context, we take this gesture as leadership with respect to the  invention of the new apparatus, the  outside referring to what is other than orality or literacy.  Avatar, by means of the apparatus, descends outside (Avatar mourns).

Blanchot concludes: “Whence the obligation not to speak on language without bearing in mind that one is confining oneself to the limitations of a particular body of knowledge, but rather to speak on the basis of language, which is precisely not a basis, except inasmuch as it is the unspeakable demand which nevertheless is that of speaking.” (133)  Memory, and also expectation, anticipation.  Humans are distinguished by this “futural” capacity, our need to plan and form projects.  Disaster is the interruption of projects, the surprise (this is the definition of what  counts as “information”).  We experience time (past and future) in the present moment through emotion, affect, state of mind, mood.  The seminar last year approached the  experiment through Spinoza (Deleuze)’s affective axis of joy/sadness.  Hope and fear are the reins by which the multitude is directed (we may hear an echo of Aristotle poetics of tragedy).  The proposal of our experiment is to respond by  asking, “how do we experience what these concepts name?”  We may begin by asking, “how was I brought into the orbit of writing (language) in the first place?”  “What is my investment in writing/language?” (beyond my merely professional interest).

Blanchot, following Heidegger, tests the possibility of suspending, abandoning (?) the position of individual self, or even subject, to adopt instead (as prosthesis) of position (subject position) of language itself, that is, a collective or group subject (the event called “Ereignis”).  In practice this means “saying” not from my intention, but what the prosthesis will allow, relative to my being.  The outside is the other, everything beyond this ego or self (the restricted economy of self-interest).  It may be an updating of the arrangement one imagined with one’s muse, but it would be better to use the analogy with  the Daimon, originally one’s “guardian angel,” but updated in the Enlightenment (Goethe), as an experience of limit.  Language offers me possibilities, some of which I pass along, and other that I refuse.

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