In his recent post "against science", Steve Mitchelmore writes of this tendency. He notes that Jonathan Gottschall's attempted "scientific" refutation of Barthes' notion of "the death of the author" "relies on a reduction of a complex essay to a 'statement'". Later in the post, Steve quotes at length from Blanchot's "The Essential Solitude"--at length, he says, because
Blanchot's writing - its unique and relentless patience - is performative rather than didactic. Neither information or wisdom is being imparted but, as Barthes says, it is writing "borne by a pure gesture of inscription" tracing "a field without origin - or which, at least, has no other origin than language itself, language which ceaselessly calls into question all origins".Performative rather than didactic: I quote this in order to help myself keep this in mind. When I've spoken of my difficulty with these texts, I realize that this is the primary difficulty I've had. I want to force the text to teach me something, as an authority. I want it to impart information, for this is the mode of writing I have been accustomed to. But if Blanchot's writing is not giving me information, if it is performative, how do I approach it? I'm a notoriously poor note-taker, but it strikes me that, though with some sorts of text this is ok (the lack of detailed notes), with Blanchot, instead, I must take notes, I must attempt to scrupulously record my questions, my confusions, my reading. I must write alongside of Blanchot's writing.
Which is a long preamble to the point, which is that--in the spirit of the blog as common reader and reading log--this post hopes to inaugurate a series of posts documenting my reading of Blanchot's The Space of Literature. I don't know how this will go. I may write some foolish things. I will likely state and re-state the same things in different ways; I may well lapse into incoherence. I hope to be able to articulate something of what I find in the text. I can't predict how long I will be able to maintain the series. Nor can I say how often posts will appear.