'Since we have been a dialogue': Blanchot's 'Entretiens'

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McKeane, John (2013)

At the turn of the 1960s, Maurice Blanchot began publishing texts that he named entretiens, this change in his writing responding to what deconstruction sees as the closure of logocentric or continuous discourse. Paradoxically, this closure does not prevent such discourse, in which philosophical enquiry and technological change are intertwined, from dominating the modern world. By changing his writing, and by reiterating the dialogical form so central to metaphysical tradition since Plato, Blanchot gives voice to the tensions between continuity and its ‘outside’, between philosophy and literature. This is one sense in which his entretiens do not engage in a representation of difference, but instead open themselves to the inflections of what Jean-Luc Nancy calls le partage des voix.
  • References (26)
    26 references, page 1 of 3

    1 From Friedrich Hölderlin's 'Celebration of Peace', after Philippe LacoueLabarthe's translation into French in L'animal, 19-20 (Winter 2008), 154.

    2 The Infinite Conversation/L'entretien infini (Paris: Gallimard, 1969). Henceforth abbreviated to EI. All translations are my own, and references are given to the French texts. See also Awaiting Oblivion/L'attente l'oubli (Paris: Gallimard, 1962), which opens on the failure of a male writer to engage a woman in a dialogue of equals.

    3 In Lautréamont and Sade/Lautréamont et Sade, 2nd rev. ed. (Paris: Minuit, 1963), 14.

    4 It is well known that Socrates's presence was particularly notable, insofar as he fulfilled the role of maître with all its personal and erotic magnetism: on this and other questions, see Sarah Kofman, Socrate(s) (Paris: Galilée, 1989).

    5 As Jean-Luc Nancy writes: 'We can better understand the “dia-” [of dialogue] or the “dis-” [of distribution]: by understanding that they are of absolute necessity also a “syn-” or a “cum-”. (That all this should also therefore be political is obvious (. . .))' in Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy, 'Dialogue sur le dialogue' in Les études théâtrales, 31-32 (2004-5), 79-96 (88).

    6 Several critics have looked at this meta-subjective position, for instance Joseph Libertson, who describes it as 'panoramic or synoptic' in Proximity: Levinas, Blanchot, Bataille, and Communication (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1982), 279; Leslie Hill, who is aware of 'Blanchot's growing reservations regarding the term “dialogue” - on the grounds that it subordinates the multiple to the One' in Blanchot: Extreme Contemporary (London: Routledge, 1997), 259; and Timothy Clark, who contrasts Blanchot's use of entretiens to Levinas's avoidance of them - despite or due to his desire to think how the Other disturbs our phenomenological horizons - in Derrida, Heidegger, Blanchot: Sources of Derrida's Notion and Practice of Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 97-8.

    7 This text follows Blanchot being called to an interview with a juge d'instruction in the wake of his role in the 'Declaration on the Right to Insubordination' ('Déclaration sur le droit à l'insoumission') in the context of the Algerian War: after this encounter with Blanchot, the judge was reportedly given leave for 'moral exhaustion'! See Alain Robbe-Grillet, Angelica or Enchantment/Angélique ou l'enchantement (Paris: Minuit, 1987), 204.

    8 In Friendship/L'amitié (Paris: Gallimard, 1971), 142.

    9 In Political Writings/Écrits politiques: 1953-1993, ed. by Éric Hoppenot (Paris: Gallimard, 2008), 29.

    10 In 'The Pain of Dialogue' ('La douleur du dialogue') in The Book to Come/Le livre à venir (Paris: Gallimard, folio/essais, 1959), 207-18 (210).

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