Blanchot and Ambiguity (Essay) Blanchot and Ambiguity (Essay)

Blanchot and Ambiguity (Essay‪)‬

CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 2010, Dec, 12, 4

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Publisher Description

In a well-known and often quoted passage of The Work of Fire (1995) (La Part du feu [1949]), Maurice Blanchot introduces a notion that continues to perplex and challenge us: he speaks of an "existence without being" (Work 334) ("existence sans l'etre" [La Part 336]). This concept is interesting for many different reasons, but especially because it resonates with literary and philosophical preoccupations which are central to Western thought, including a major current of contemporary philosophical speculation also known as biopolitics. My primary interest in this article is to follow Blanchot closely as he brings his extremely mobile and malleable language and thought to bear on the idea of "existence without being," relates "existence without being" to a series of parallel literary and philosophical conceptualizations, and provides a possible example of "existence sans l'etre" through a discussion of the last seven minutes of Michelangelo Antonioni's film The Eclipse (L'Eclisse, 1962). The coupling of "existence" and "being" through the preposition "without" is simultaneously puzzling and seductive. The puzzlement derives from finding a separation where a conjunction is expected. It is not only Bishop Berkeley who would object to this idea, stressing that there simply cannot be existence without being. Even Christian cosmology, as well as idealism and metaphysics, would have trouble in accepting, let alone coming to terms with, such a notion. In fact, the very foundations of Western thought rest on the belief that "existence" is "being" and that "being" is "existence." How is it possible to contemplate an existence in the absence of being? Of course, it all depends on what one means by "being" and "existence." The seduction stems from the boldness of the formula which deliberately separates what ought to be inseparable. And yet, this separation is only apparent; it is only a separation managed by grammatical rules. As a matter of fact, "existence" and "being" are still facing each other, although across the distance of a "without." One could say that their separation is brought about by their mutual belonging, and that they are together through being separate. On the page and to the eye, they still appear as conjoined. The odd linking of "existence" and "being" by "without" pulls us in different directions, creating a degree of ambiguity of meaning, which we are not about to resolve but rather to expose.

GENRE
Professional & Technical
RELEASED
2010
December 1
LANGUAGE
EN
English
LENGTH
23
Pages
PUBLISHER
Purdue University Press
SELLER
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.
SIZE
78.1
KB

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