Monday, June 15, 2009

The Love Affair Continues

"In the night one can die; we reach oblivion. But this other night is the death no one dies, the forgetfulness which gets forgotten. In the heart of oblivion it is memory without rest," writes Maurice Blanchot in the context of his discussion on the various forms of night: night, the first night, and the other night.

For Blanchot, when everything disappears in the night, it is in reality the appearance of
the disappearance. At least, this is what happens in the other night. It's when absence shows up, when the wound is revealed. You can see where I'm going with this: back to trauma (the absence) and midrash (the night that reveals the disappearance): "Here the invisible is what one cannot cease to see; it is the incessant making itself seen."

And now my own ego brings it back to me.

Blanchot writes, "Those who think they see ghosts are those who do not want to see the night. They crowd it with the terror of little images, they occupy and distract it by immobilizing it--stopping the oscillation of eternal starting over."

I go through periods of time where I experience night terrors consistently--where I wake up and experience a hallucination. These nights are crowded with the terror of little images. And then there are periods of time where I experience only the memory of the terror. On these nights I fall peacefully into the revelation of absence, quite content to see "the incessant."

Perhaps I have only myself to blame for the terrors with which I have crowded
my night. I want the invisible made accessible, the absence illuminated, but sometimes the night contains the unbearable textures of sadness. I've written about this before in some way-- about Levinas's notion of the Il y a, the nothingness/somethingness that represents the rumbling I hear when I put the old seashell up next to my ear. I'll defer to someone else here.

I have a feeling none of this really makes sense. But Blanchot just does this to me: the chaos that brings everything into order.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Night terrors...yes. But it is not only terror, right? Or rather, the terror provides a context/backdrop for a kind of exultant aloneness--an opportunity to stand in the midst of nothing and keep one's self, or one's soul, or one's composure/one's cool; a chance to stare down the il y a--which will not blink, of course; but there is something wonderful in one's own defiant not-blinking--a stand-off--and with such an adversary!
All is gone, dark, black, there is no one: and yet, incredibly, there you are, somehow swallowed up, yet utterly unmoved. I am rambling, Monica. (Many things only make sense after 2 a.m.) At any rate: I hope you know what I mean. Let me shut up and give you Tyutchev instead:

When sacred Night sweeps heavenward, she takes
the glad, the winsome day, and, folding it
rolls up the golden carpet that had been
spread tight across the wide abysmal pit.

Gone, vision-like, is the external world!
And man, that homeless orphan, has to face
in shrinking nakedness, alone,
the daunting blackness of immeasurable space.

Upon himself he has to lean; with mind abolished, thought unfathered.
In the dim depths of his soul he sinks,
for nothing comes from outside to support or limit him.

All life and brightness seem an ancient dream.
In the very substance of the night/
Unraveled, alien,
he now perceives/
that fateful something
that is his by right.