The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony


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During the later years of his life, he repeatedly wrote against the intellectual attraction to fascism, and notably against Heidegger 's post-war silence over the Holocaust.

The Instant of My Death Demeure Fiction and Testimony Meridian, Stanford, California English and F

Blanchot wrote more than thirty works of fiction, literary criticism, and philosophy. Up to the s, he worked continually in his writing to break the barriers between what are generally perceived as different "genres" or "tendencies", and much of his later work moves freely between narration and philosophical investigation.

This work inspired The Inoperative Community , [7] Jean-Luc Nancy 's attempt to approach community in a non-religious, non-utilitarian and un-political exegesis. Blanchot's work is not a coherent, all-encompassing 'theory', since it is a work founded on paradox and impossibility. The thread running through all his writing is the constant engagement with the 'question of literature', a simultaneous enactment and interrogation of the profoundly strange experience of writing.

For Blanchot, 'literature begins at the moment when literature becomes a question' Literature and the Right to Death. In the everyday use of language, words are the vehicles of ideas. The word 'flower' means flower that refers to flowers in the world.

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No doubt it is possible to read literature in this way, but literature is more than this everyday use of language. For in literature 'flower' does not just mean flower but many things, and it can only do so because the word is independent from what it signifies. This independence, which is passed over in the everyday use of language, is the negativity at the heart of language. The word means something because it negates the physical reality of the thing.

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Only in this way can the idea arise. The absence of the thing is made good by the presence of the idea.


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What the everyday use of language steps over to make use of the idea, and what literature remains fascinated by, is the absence of the physical materiality of thing, annihilated from its existence. Literary language, therefore, is a double negation, both of the thing and the idea. It is in this space that literature becomes possible where words take on a strange and mysterious reality of their own, and where also meaning and reference remain allusive and ambiguous [ citation needed ].

Blanchot engages with Heidegger on the question of the philosopher's death, showing how literature and death are both experienced as anonymous passivity, an experience that Blanchot variously refers to as "the Neutral" le neutre.

Maurice Blanchot

Unlike Heidegger, Blanchot rejects the possibility of an authentic relation to death, because he rejects the possibility of death, that is to say of the individual's experience of death. He thus rejects, in total, the possibility of understanding and "properly" engaging with it; and this resonates with Levinas ' take too. Blanchot reverses Heidegger's position on death as the "possibility of the absolute impossibility" of Dasein , instead viewing death as the "impossibility of every possibility". Blanchot also draws heavily from Franz Kafka , and his fictional work like his theoretical work is shot through with an engagement with Kafka's writing.

Blanchot's work was also strongly influenced by his friends Georges Bataille and Emmanuel Levinas. Blanchot's later work in particular is influenced by Levinasian ethics and the question of responsibility to the Other. On the other hand, Blanchot's own literary works, like the famous Thomas the Obscure , heavily influenced Levinas's and Bataille's ideas about the possibility that our vision of reality is blurred because of the use of words thus making everything you perceive automatically as abstract as words are [ citation needed ].

Maurice Blanchot - Wikipedia

The main intellectual biography of Blanchot is by Christophe Bident: Maurice Blanchot, partenaire invisible. Many of Blanchot's principal translators into English established reputations as prose stylists and poets in their own right; some of the more well-known include Lydia Davis , Paul Auster , and Pierre Joris.

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Encyclopedia of Postmodernism. Blanchot's narrative concerns a moment when a young man is brought before a firing squad during World War II and then suddenly finds himself released from his near death. The incident, written in the third person, is suggestively autobiographical—from the title, several remarks in the text, and a letter Blanchot wrote about a similar incident in his own life—but only insofar as it raises questions for Blanchot about what such an experience might mean.

The accident of near death becomes, in the instant the man is released, the accident of a life he no longer possesses. The text raises the question of what it means to write about a non experience one cannot claim as one's own, and as such is a text of testimony or witness. Derrida's reading of Blanchot links the problem of testimony to the problem of the secret and to the notion of the instant.

The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony
The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony
The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony
The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony
The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony
The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony
The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony
The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony
The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony

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