Britain's first book blogger (November 2000)

Saturday, June 25, 2005

On the solitude of the long-distant blogger

Why did I add 'the fire's blog' to the title? (Actually, I'd prefer it to be lower case but the strip is hard-coded. If anyone knows how to change it without reloading a new template, please advise!)

I changed it because This Space is too bland. At first, I liked it bland. It is supposed to focus on the space of writing rather than what is apparently beyond it; a beyond that many other blogs, professing to be literary, assume to be literature's salvation.

So, thinking of Blanchot's La Part du Feu, I added the added bit. So what does that mean?

I'm not sure. In her introduction to the translation of Blanchot's book, Charlotte Mandell says the title The Work of Fire is 'inadequate to all portended' by the original. And a lot is portended! (In his review in th TLS, Gabriel Josipovici says he prefers The Fire's Share).

What I take it to refer to is the various roles of fire: to lighten, to heat and to destroy. The essays are about that part of literature incinerated when appropriated or adapted to culture. Most, if not all, of that which lightens and warms is destroyed when turned into cultural capital.

We soon turn our reading experience into cultural capital. Dan Green provides the resistance to its common manifestations, while Sandra of Book World links to an amusing and sinister example of its excesses. But the peculiarity of the literary experience makes such examples inevitable in sociopathic publications.

(This evanescent quality of literature also prompted the blog's title in the first place, as Blanchot wrote in Lautréamont & Sade: Critical discourse is this space of resonance within which the unspoken, indefinite reality of the work is momentarily transformed and circumscribed into words. And as such, due to the fact that it claims modestly and obstinately to be nothing, criticism ceases being distinguished from the creative discourse of which it would be the necessary actualization or, metaphorically speaking, the epiphany.)

There is still, however, in the rest of us, the sense of something other than chat about fashion, plot and character; of something burned away that cannot be spoken of and ordered so readily. It's there in the same people who write such nonsense as linked to above. Hence a near-universal frustration with literary discussion; a sense of inadequacy; a preference for silence, the carefree distress of inertia, the resort to cynicism and, more lately, infantilism, or as alternative to all these that is, in fact, no different: productivity.

I have practised most myself.

Perhaps this thing burned away is solitude; the movement of abandon in reading and writing that seems to be the precise opposite; a solitude experienced where solitude ends. But vice versa too.

A solitude that is not loneliness but the time when one is suddenly – slowly as a narrative proceeds and yet, all at once, in the first sentence – adandoned. Here, culture appears as the relief-giving fire break.

4 comments:

  1. Charlotte Mandell12:42 am

    Actually I heard that Blanchot himself liked the title "The Work of Fire."

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Actually, I'd prefer it to be lower case but the strip is hard-coded. If anyone knows how to change it without reloading a new template, please advise!"

    Just seen this. If you still want the change, it's easily done.

    Go into "change your template." And where the code says:

    #description {
    margin:0 5px 5px;
    padding:0 20px 20px;
    border:1px solid #ee9;
    border-width:0 1px 1px;
    max-width:700px;
    font:78%/1.4em "Trebuchet MS",Trebuchet,Arial,Verdana,Sans-serif;
    text-transform:uppercase;
    letter-spacing:.2em;
    color:#a83;
    }

    change it to:

    #description {
    margin:0 5px 5px;
    padding:0 20px 20px;
    border:1px solid #ee9;
    border-width:0 1px 1px;
    max-width:700px;
    font:78%/1.4em "Trebuchet MS",Trebuchet,Arial,Verdana,Sans-serif;
    text-transform:lowercase;
    letter-spacing:.2em;
    color:#a83;
    }

    i.e. you're changing the line

    text-transform:uppercase;

    to

    text-transform:lowercase;

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, or just get of that line altogether if you want "One sixth of Britlitblogs" to remain in uppercase. Then you can use whichever case you want.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks Jon! It had to be that simple didn't it?

    ReplyDelete

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