Britain's first book blogger (November 2000). This Space is now a major motion picture, or something.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Failing as utopians

The tenth issue of the online journal ATOPIA reflects "on the space left for literary, philosophical and artistic journals today." In the only original contribution in English, Lars Iyer discusses the attempt by Blanchot, among others, to set up a transnational journal in the 1960s.
The Revue Internationale was the Italian novelist’s Elio Vittorini’s idea, Blanchot remembers in 1996; he recalls that Italo Calvino, Hans-Magnus Enzensberger, Günter Grass, Ingeborg Bachmann and Uwe Johnson being associated with the project; Louis-René des Forêts was its secretary, and Maurice Nadeau and Roland Barthes were also involved.
"If the idea proves to be utopian" Blanchot wrote to participants, "then we should be willing to fail as utopians". They failed. You can find the full text of Blanchot's notes in Literary Debate: Text and Contexts. He also wrote four articles for the journal, and ATOPIA republishes a translation of The Conquest of Space (from The Blanchot Reader) commemorating Gagarin's journey into space, which, as in all Blanchot, is uncannily similar to a journey into literature:
[It] is extraordinary, we have left the earth. Herein lies ... the true significance of the experience: man has freed himself from place. He has felt, at least for a moment, the sense of something decisive: far away - in an abstract distance of pure science - removed from the common condition symbolized by the force of gravity, there was a man, no longer in the sky, but in space, in a space which has no being or nature but is the pure and simple reality of a measurable (almost) void.

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