Britain's first book blogger (November 2000)

Monday, July 10, 2006

To write, not to win

Watching, for the umpteenth time, another nation win the World Cup instead of England hollows out a void within my chest that can be caulked only with so much patient routine and forgetfulness.

What can one expect with answered prayers anyway? Failure, searing regret and relentless defeat aren't so bad. They inject an emotional numbness that only empathy and joy can penetrate. Great!

I'm guessing.

And talking of failure, Joseph Joubert never wrote a book. He wrote all the time but never published a book. What a loser, eh? Well, not according to Blanchot.
Joubert had this gift. He never wrote a book. He only prepared himself to write one, resolutely seeking the right conditions that would allow him to write it. Then he forgot even this aim. More precisely, what he sought, this source of writing, this space in which to write, this light to define in space - demanded of him, asserted in him characteristics that made him unfit for any ordinary literary work, or made him turn away from it. He was thus one of the first entirely modern writers, preferring the center over the sphere, sacrificing results to the discovery of their conditions, and not writing in order to add one book to another, but to make himself master of the point whence all books seemed to come, which, once found, would exempt him from writing them. (From The Book to Come).
Read some more of Charlotte Mandell's translation of Blanchot's extraordinary essay (which, I have to say, I don't really follow, but that isn't always necessary with Blanchot) and then perhaps order The Notebooks of Joseph Joubert published by NYRB Books. A book? Yes, for as Blanchot also writes, elsewhere: Not to write - what a long way there is to go before arriving at that point.

1 comment:

  1. yes that is a great essay.
    i am reading "the thought and art of joseph joubert" by kinloch which is very good too, but different.... not as beautiful as that essay, but still interesting.

    ReplyDelete

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