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mokykliniai reikalai (2)

Maurice Blanchot, The Work of Fire, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995

What is strange about books like The Trial and The Castle is that they send us back endlessly to a truth outside of literature, while we begin to betray that truth as soon as it draws us away from literature, with which, however, it cannot be confused (1-2)

Subtlety, shrewdness, candor, loyalty, negligence are all equally the means to a mistake (a deception) that is in the truth of the words, in their exemplary power, in their clarity, their interest, their assurance, their power to lead us on, let us fall, pick us up again, in the unfailing faith in their meaning that does not permit one either to leave or to follow it. (4)

‘Then,’ he said, ‘the disaster happened.’ The disaster is the impossibility of death, it is the mockery thrown on all humankind’s great subterfuges, night, nothingness, silence. There is no end, there is no possibility of being done away with the day, with the meaning of things, with hope: such is the truth of Western man has made a symbol of felicity, and has tried to make bearable by focusing on its positive side, that immortality, of an afterlife that would compensate for life. But this afterlife is our actual life (8)

Existence is interminable, it is nothing but an indeterminacy; we do not know if we are excluded from it (which is why we search vainly in it for something solid to hold onto) or whether we are forever imprisoned in it (and so we turn desperately toward the outside). The existence is an exile in the fullest sense: we are not there we are elsewhere, and we will ever stop being there (9)

If [literature] has a mediocre purpose (for example, producing a well-written book), it demands an approach that is attentive to the whole and to details, mindful of the technique and composition, and aware of the power of the words; but if it aims higher (for example, examining the very meaning of life), then its approach is free of all these conditions, it can come about completely neglecting the very substance of which it is made (13)

Art can succeed where knowledge fails: because it is and is not true enough to become the way, and too unreal to change into an obstacle. Art is an as if. Everything happens as if we were in the presence of truth, but this presence is not one, that is why it does not forbid us to go forward. Art claims knowledge when knowledge is a step leading to eternal life, and it claims non-knowledge when knowledge is an obstacle drawn up in front of this life. It changes its meaning and its sign. It destroys itself while it survives (18-19)

To write is to engage oneself; but to write is also to disengage yourself, to commit oneself irresponsibly. To write is to call into question one’s existence, the world of values, and, to a certain extent, to condemn the good; but to write is always to try to write well, to seek out the good. And then, to write is to take on the impossibility of writing, it is, like the sky, to be silent, to be an echo only for the mute’: but to write is to name silence, it is to write while preventing oneself from writing (26)

What does writing care about? To free us from what is. [...] This liberation is accomplished by the strange possibility we have creating emptiness around us, putting a distance between us and things. [...] Literature’s law is this movement toward something else, toward a beyond that yet escapes us because it cannot be. (39-40)

Silence is part of language: if we are quiet, that is a way of expressing ourselves. It has meaning, like any gesture, any facial expression; and, moreover, it owes this meaning to the proximity of language, whose absence it manifests (62)

Poetry that is at once the awareness of this endless surpassing, its means, and this surpassing itself, is never given: poetry has nothing to do with the world in which we live, which is, at least in appearance, a world of things completely made. Thence the primacy of the imaginary, the call for the marvellous, the invocation of the surreal. Poetry and life are ‘elsewhere’, but ‘elsewhere’ does not designate a spiritual or temporal region: elsewhere is nowhere; it signifies that existence in never where it is (92)

for thanks to the revolution, poetry understands that neither poetry nor poetic values really exist except at the moment when man, having nothing more to do, because everything is done, discovers the meaning and value of this nothing, the proper object of poetry and freedom both (96)

the most uncommitted literature is at the same time the most committed, because it knows that to claim to be free in a society that is not free is to accept responsibility for the constraints of that society and especially to accept the mystifications of the word ‘freedom’ by which society hides its intentions (97)

the poem does not belong to the easy world of used things, of word already spoken (102)

the poem goes toward absence, but it is to reconstruct total reality with it; it is striving toward the imaginary, but it aims for the ‘productive knowledge of Reality’ (102)

The image is neither an ornament nor a detail of the poem, nor some product of man’s sensibility: it is the poem manifested starting with things, the movement of things and beings trying to unite the heaviness of the depths of the earth and dazzling transparency, the line of flight and stability of a stature immovably placed (110)

What Rimbaud asks of poetry: not to produce beautiful works, or to answer to an aesthetic ideal, but to help man go somewhere, to be more than himself, to see more than he can see, to know what he cannot know – in a word, to make of literature an experience that concerns the whole of life and the whole of being (155)

Miller’s motivation is neither cruelty not hatred but insurrection and defiance, a rebellion for ambiguous truth, because it asserts itself against constraints of very different natures, in the name of an instinct for freedom that does not know exactly what it is or what threatens it (168)

It is in the mode of the imaginary that [fictional work] meets the real, it is by fiction that it approaches the truth. Absence and constant disguise, it progresses by oblique ways, and the obviousness that is its own has the duplicity of light. The novel is a work of bad faith, bad faith on the part of the novelist who believes in his characters and yet sees himself behind them, who does not know them, realizes them as unknowns, and finds in the language of which he is a master the means of manipulating them without ceasing to believe that they are escaping him (192-193)

Literary art is ambiguous. That means that none of its demands can exclude the opposing demand; on the contrary, the more they oppose each other, the more they evoke each other (193)

Writing is nothing if it does not involve the writer in a movement full of risks that will change him in one way or another. Writing is only a worthless game if this game does not become an adventurous experience, in which the one who pursues it, involving himself in a path whose outcomes escapes him, can learn what he does not know and lose what prevents him from knowing (244-245)

The purer the success, the greater the failure. Poetry in this sense is the realm of disaster (263)

In every book, written and read by someone worthy of writing it and worthy of reading it, there is this ‘I cannot write, I cannot read’ that is at the heart of language (270)

Literature begins at the moment when literature becomes a question (300)

The only one who matters in the work is the person who reads it. The reader makes the work; as he reads it, he creates it; he is its real author, he is the consciousness and the living substance of the written thing; and so the author now has only one goal, to write for that reader and merge with him. A hopeless endeavour. Because the reader has no use for a work written for him, what he wants is precisely an alien work in which he can discover something unknown, a different reality, a separate mind capable of transforming him and which he can transform into himself. An author who is writing for public is not really writing; it is the public that is writing, and for this reason the public can no longer be a reader; reading only appears to exist, actually it is nothing. This is why works created to be read are meaningless. (306)

Silence and nothingness are the essence of literature (309)

[The book] is an infinite source of new realities, and because of these new realities existence will be something it was not before (314)

[...] literature has two slopes. One side of literature is turned toward the moment of negation by which things are separated from themselves and destroyed in order to be known, subjugated, communicated [...]
But there is another side to literature. Literature is a concern for the reality of things, for their unknown, free, and silent existence; literature is their innocence and their forbidden presence, it is the being which protests against revelation, it is the defiance of what does not want to take place outside. In this way, it sympathizes with darkness, with aimless passion, with lawless violence, with everything in the world that seems to perpetuate the refusal to come into the world. In this way, too, it allies itself with the reality of language, it makes language into matter without contour, content without form, a force that is capricious and impersonal and says nothing, reveals nothing, simply announces—through its refusal to say anything—that it comes from the night and will return to night. (330)

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