Sunday, August 19, 2007

Philosophy and the Novel

Today, Descartes would probably be a novelist; Pascal certainly. A genre becomes universal when it seduces minds which have no reason to embrace it. But, ironically, it is just such minds that are sapping the novel from within: they introduce problems heterogeneous to its nature, diversify it, pervert and overburden it until they make its architecture crack. If the future of the novel is not close to your heart, it should please you to see a philosopher writing one. Whenever philosophers insinuate themselves into Letters, it is to exploit their confusion or to precipitate their collapse.
EM Cioran in The Temptation to Exist (1956).
To write in ignorance of the philosophical horizon - or refusing to acknowledge the punctuation, the groupings and separations determined by the words that mark this horizon - is necessarily to write with facile complacency (the literature of elegance and good taste).
Blanchot in The Writing of the Disaster (1980).

It is perhaps instructive that one of our most elegant writer of novels displaying the utmost good taste should concern himself with Science writing - a philosophy without doubt in itself. Where, then, can we find the true philosophical horizon?

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