Maurice Blanchot


I have spent a solid chunk of time reading Maurice Blanchot’s Infinite Conversation this semester.  I assigned the bulk of it to myself for Independent Study and I believe that I am far enough into it to finally clarify how and why it moves me.


In the section on “Limit-Experience,” Blanchot opens the territory that Georges Bataille operated from, that of “interior experience,” which is preferably referred to here as less an experience and more a response, or, as Blanchot notes—“the response that man encounters when he has decided to put himself radically in question.”  By putting oneself in question, especially as a writer, one must partner negative thought which, and not to be confused with skepticism, arises from the notion that man is capable of everything in as much as we “all live from the perspective of a terminated history.”  There is something outside the whole then, even when the whole, in being whole, tends to exclude an outside.  This outside, or perhaps the unknowable, should be interrogated.


In thinking about this notion, I am also propelled to discuss Reginald Shepherd’s recent anthology Lyric Postmodernisms, which, being packed with critical acuity, explores poets whose work itself explores the poem “as a form of thinking.”  There are many notes that elaborate this notion but for the majority of Shepherd’s introduction one can infer that the work included attempts to expand boundaries and it is here where I think of limit-experience.  In coming to a boundary, there must be contestation, there must be a negation that no longer has to negate, and if one arrives here Blanchot calls the manner of interior experience that which is “affirmed” because it no longer has anything to negate.  Limit-experience thus becomes the heightened reaction to an awareness that one is at the highest peak of forever sustaining the power to question what may be outside the whole. 


For me, I find solace in misreading Blanchot.  For instance, I constantly revert back to the idea of preventing the person I am when I write from existing in the written product.  This would be a way of not allowing speech to, as chance, warble the auspices of the mind.  Even when I am talking to myself in writing this things begin to become unmeasured, false in their particularity, lost in perhaps an acceptance that they are within the whole.  So I write them, aware of an outside, threatened by the wild lurch of blabbering hoards of voices that will surround me in the thirty minutes it takes to bus around and accidentally stumble upon televisions, crosswalks, and checkout lanes. 


I prefer limit to interior in speaking about experience because the interior seems to plentiful and intentionally inward, whereas the limit presents the fence that must be trammeled and in doing so expresses that the self is also the fence.  Hopefully, I can cushion this discussion enough for some others to sit and discuss.  Until then, just a few thoughts on it all, to keep gaming.      



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