Sunday, April 15, 2012

No sooner are you, than you are no longer, a writer

At the near centre of Maurice Blanchot's The Writing of the Disaster, this necessary counter to every misguidedly encouraging self-help writing programme:

What Schlegel says of philosophy is true for writing: you can only become a writer, you can never be one; no sooner are you, than you are no longer, a writer.


The mortal leap of the writer without which he would not write is necessarily an illusion to the extent that, in order really to be accomplished, it must not take place.


What happens through writing is not of the order of things that happen. But in that case, who permits you to claim that anything like writing ever does happen? Or is it that writing is not such that it need ever happen?

For, even -- or perhaps, above all -- when considering Kafka, who at one moment wrote that he was Literature:

How absurd it would be to address this question to the writer: are you a writer through and through? In everything you are, have you yourself become writing -- vital and activating? This would be to condemn the writer to death or foolishly to deliver his funeral eulogy.

And so, inevitably, this Blanchotian, sentence, which has Kafka in every part of it:

Whoever writes is exiled from writing, which is the country -- his own -- where he is not a prophet.