The Last Man


/ubu editions

The Last Man By Maurice Blanchot Translated by Lydia Davis, 1987 Originally published as Le Dernier Homme, Gallimard, Coll. Blanche, 1957 ©2007 /ubu editions

Cover image: Dirk Rowntree & Robert Fitterman, from Cedars Estates (2001). Cedars Estates can be found in UbuWeb’s Contemporary section.

/ubu editions /ubu editions series editor: Danny Snelson

The Last Man
maurice blanchot


who wouldn’t have the feeling of being that target? At these times.I AS SOON AS I was able to use that word. This goes on and on. I said what I must always have thought of him: that he was the last man. a barely perceptible planetary song. still. one had to attribute to him tioned us with surprise. and yet when it stops and 4 . useless. Maybe he was the most is something terrible there. but not modest. this could be read in his eyes. I don’t mean he wasn’t speaking to is terribly imposing in its gentleness and distance. How to answer? Listening me.” tences that seem infinite. ous when he wasn’t talking. but someone other than me was listening to him. imperithoughts which he gently rejected. sometimes that he withdrew too much into himself or outside of us. “I can’t think about myself: there others. Maybe he And what if he hadn’t said to me. scornful. but it’s like an arrow coming from too far away that won’t reach the target. he talks very fast in a sort of low voice: great sen- passing murmur. but also to feel vaguely protective. like a child’s eyes. of a silvery pallor. He was more retiring. almost nothing distinguished him from the others. In fact. then. be met”? changed everyone’s condition. sometimes that he was a little Certainly he talked very little. an expression that invited us to I believed that he had a kind of discretion. a difficulty that slips away. maybe only mine. in silence. In truth. an obstacle that can’t And right afterward: “He says he can’t think about himself: about Yet he was disturbing. Now I think that maybe he didn’t always exist or that he didn’t yet exist. one day. the most superfluous of all people. He disturbed me more than others. but his silence often went unnoticed. someone who was per- ubu. But I’m also thinking of something more extraordinary: he had a simplicity that didn’t surprise us. He wasn’t addressing anyone. with distress: why is that all you think? Why can’t you there was something childish about his face. that roll with the sound of waves. which queshelp me? His eyes were pale. about one other. the target quivers in the distance and comes to meet it. an all-encomto it. be considerate.

too carefree. I didn’t draw attention to him. did not trouble him. All ruin. very far away. With disconcerting promptness one word hid ubu. and he seems almost nothing at all. an admission that would probably have curiosity of the others. there is a feeling of loftiness and calm. quiet and tell that he has fallen silent at a certain moment. He was strangely weak his person seemed to expose him to an incomprehensible menace. capable of seeking him out where he was. but also when he The ear doesn’t know. confronting him. only the heartbeat discloses it. His near stammering. Down there. to dream endlessly of his admit that he didn’t doubt himself. I pass in front of his room. I was never mistaken about his step: somewhat slow. a little less than myself: more. almost too general. forgetfulness. or whom one would There are moments when I recover him as he must have been: a cer- tain word I read. too dispersed. that he but not heavy. I would have liked to make him annihilated me. more labored than one would have thought from his great lightness. even when he was advancing was coming from very far down. an odd noise. In this “we.” there is the of this is I before him. I was a little more. he said—and in fact it was a cold sort of groaning. still have reached. I surrounded him with attention. moves aside to make room for his own word. there is also the bitterness of an obscure constraint.” the presence and united force of the common spirit. what had been “I” had strangely awakened into a “we.the last man maurice blanchot haps richer. down the long hallway. that at another he has taken even. Down there. he hesitates almost con- 5 . I don’t know what could have reached him. in him. only causing one to imagine. I can notice of me. a sky that is not this sky. and yet more singular. calculations. I wanted to persuade him to disappear. A profound look. I hear him not only when he stops at my door. than all men. and finally pity. vaster. in any case. the power of the elements. A superficial glance directed at cion. He hesitates almost imperceptibly. I hear him coughing—like a wolf. hope. but I always protected him from the There were reasons for me to fear him. he was too light. It’s hard to judge: is he still coming? Is he already going away? behind doesn’t stop. troubled him less. and that he was still very far away. as though. write. severe. that he was always climbing a flight of stairs. earth. True. suspiand vulnerable where that was concerned. rather savage.

that is open on one side: a sleep whitens a little when one dies. or else hiding that madness inside him. present. That is horrifying too—a sleep that is never altogether closed. therefore he doesn’t see me”—injected into our relations the torment of an unspoken distress. If I ask myself: did he think more than you think? I see only his spirI imagined by thinking of the blackness under one’s eyelids that fades. almost never blaming us and prepared to consent simplest person would have found him too simple and when chatting about Docile. one had to reinvent for him alone the lost sense of what a fault was. “I solitude made me afraid for him. not arguing. I think he never dreamed. answer him. One had to draw him into a fault. I was in some sense forced to said. I again saw the door of that room. naively to everything that had to be done. A creature so irresponsible.” and immediately. but without a speck of madness. or only with everyone? The happiness of saying yes. gave him a pleasure people don’t understand: though not with everyone. and it seemed to me he returned to that moment when he was only a dead man making room for a 6 . Why that giving me the strength to look him in the face. so that to die might be to see. Passing in front of his door. speak of him in the past. so terribly not guilty.the last man maurice blanchot stantly. of him: seldom. I believe there were days when the the most unimportant things occupied him completely. He would express some thoughts: ubu. as did the nights. like a madman. for a moment. Yet there was something else: something like a canal lock would open and we would change levels in relation to each other. and to listen to him. that he wasn’t sleeping. they When. almost obedient. which made him innocent of the worst. I would have liked never to leave him alone. by someone who had just died. only his hesitation allows me to be somewhat sure of myself. they gave me this image “This is a room you’ll be able to have. almost submissive. afterward. of endlessly affirming.” I became convinced that I had first known him when he was dead. Or am I the one in the past? This feeling—”I see him. occupied. and contradicting very then when he was dying. though in a mirror? past? Did it bring me closer to him? Did it make him more discernible by saw him. it of lightness. always infallible: he was a burn in the eyes. the idea that he was sleeping. at certain moments.

where he has brought me. that I stantly go back near the point where everything could start up again as though with a new beginning? For this. It was here that his desire to talk miscarried ished him. it would be enough to . he inspired terror. it surpassed what we could bear: it was actually terrible. it wasn’t that he was invulnerable. And more than anything else his immeasurable not strike me. Each time. .” He gave me the feeling of eternity. I stopped struggling. ror and. I was lost to myself. Yes. the better to see them as invisi- ble to each other. nor what this wound weakness: this was what I didn’t have the courage to approach. this surprise was indicated and dissembled by a rapid “Now what do they mean by event?” —I read the question in his ubu. but it was a rather gentle terpossible for me. a shaft that did be a sore to the very end. The moment we met. The truthfulness. On the con- trary. . it could not be shared by anyone. To offend him was perhaps not like throwing a stone that would never be thrown back to me. something to me that I don’t know. his was a weakness that went beyond us. I mean he added can still struggle to get it back. He enriched me with my own ignorance. “But isn’t that what makes them bitter?” “Bitter? Slightly bitter. nothing imposes them. it would by knocking up against it. for a woman. in fact. I didn’t know whom I was wounding. He says it If he was so strong. even if only books that. Where does that come from? Where does it come from that in the space where I ousness of facts. one made great most strangely. but I also lost much more. how they immediately rise. what he told of his story was so obviously borrowed from efforts to avoid hearing him. I conwould be enough if. I went back to positing a God. and the surprising thing is that I struggle. He did not have any precise notion of what we call the seriflutter of his eyelids. nor heal over in anyone else. nothing disturbs them. the exactness of what has to be said aston- 7 . Often. much more so than someone absolutely powerful would have done. of a person who would need no justification. but the idea of offending him filled me with anguish: it was was.the last man maurice blanchot how light they are. warned immediately by a kind of suffering. tender and violent.

I missed those He didn’t make my life easy. and necessary. tation that removed me from myself. he was so important and he was so first moments. agitated. from the ends of his arms. slightly withdrawn.” sometimes what was vaguest and most indecisive. putting in my place a more general being. tired. that he behind what torments you. It is always more comforting to assume there is a secret doubt we surprised him. we suffered over being connected to one another by so many bonds— him and by what I still wanted to recognize of myself in him. here and there a correct note sounded. Yet one hardly looked at him. No was hiding himself. but at the slightest attempt to approach him he risked being torn by the long. so that needles of his innocence. with very poor and very ordinary words.the last man maurice blanchot recoil. but he lacked the concern for himself that would have allowed him to be curious about us. I don’t think his weakness could tolerate the hardness there is in our lives when they are recounted. but that secret thing was actually hiding in us. One could persuade oneself he was hiding something. And curiosity was the fault we ubu. I did not cease to be hampered. he was almost buried in the armchair. He was there. one saved looking at him for hill from the very beginning? What was he waiting for? What did he hope to avidly? Are you altogether forsaken? Can’t you speak for yourself ? Must we think in your 8 . For some. ed by random stories? Nevertheless. and foreign to him. but strong. his large hands hanging. disturbingly motionless. talking very little. When I picture him this way: was he a broken man? On his way down- thing that seemed to shut him in. But I suffered over every- later. fine on the inside composed of a thousand tiny edges of very hard crystal. he was curiously easy to approach. Later. It was this agiThen we suffered over being such a great number before him who was so alone. mediocre. he couldn’t even imagine it. for others. revealing someone who eternally asked for rounded by an innocence that was marvelously smooth on the outside. by insignificant. in my attempt to see him. die in your place? save? What could we do for him? Why did he suck in each of our words so He needed something firm to sustain him. sometimes “we. Or hadn’t anything real ever happened to him—an emptiness he concealed and illuminathelp without being able to indicate where he was. I became anxious. he was sur- like a cry from behind the mask.

I had to appeal. it had become too strong. tact. to maintain the ease of daily relations with us. true. we resisted him almost constantly. all of us. he appealed with such gentleness for discretion. falling silent as though ordeal. on the contrary. He seemed above all else afraid of not tentatively. witha closeness that seemed like a mistake. one had to talk without pausing. but. by intuition.the last man maurice blanchot couldn’t commit against him. to others. how hard it was for him not to look upon us as inhabitants of the other each of us. nication with that thought. And yet how diffi- treating us with enough consideration. He was there. on the contrary. burns you. was only trying to 9 . Can one live close to someone who listens passionately to every- sionate depth of forgetfulness. He. by preserving what was most central to us. I came to believe that there was a circle around us which he Yet we also resisted him. wasn’t to becomes so distracted it drops you as soon as it has grasped you. forgetfulness was always there. There were parts of us where he didn’t touch us. The strangest too imposing. because he needed to be disregarded. He dwelled on it. in myself. He must have known that for us he represented an He wasn’t a stranger to us. it had to be tested. the reserve of closed eyes. he was close to us with imagine. that we just barely sufficed for his presence and that one alone would not have kept him there. certainties of us. one appeals for forgetfulness. in a way I can’t cult it was for me actually to think of him: by myself. He fought confidently. Later I clearly saw he had only turned to me in order to be in more gentle commuthink the need to end spoke to him more and more imperiously. nor were we to be tempted to find out what he didn’t see he didn’t have access to. and he did his best to make it as light as possible for us. then. that was enough. I couldn’t manage it. that one not see him. not that he was needed to be one too many: one more. he was there as one of us. But it isn’t easy to conceal yourself from the sort of attention that see us as we were. thoughts we didn’t allow him to think. I thing? It wears you out. speaking to us. that was certainly the limit of thing was that we had the feeling. As I couldn’t cross. he asked for that. unless that wariness was the very thing we felt exposed to. before the pasout stopping. And maybe ubu. that one not see how much we had already disappeared from his eyes. One wants a little indifference. only one more.

maybe to love. not only indifferent to those who were there. one couldn’t do such violence to him. I learn about his weakness. deceives thought. it didn’t cause any embarerences. as though in safe custody. Maybe we didn’t approach of what he revealed to us. I curiosity. without his those very simple words. He was among us and yet he had hidden pref- hard not to go looking for the missing thought. A storm that changed us into a desert. But who are we after that. his simplicity did not consent to anyubu. for him? There is something terrible about imagining that I should have felt something I’m unaware of. but even though his thought such great innocence. At least this much is true: I never tried to discover these new feelthing strange. it gently killed time. He didn’t sepa- was something to respect. erased it. that I was bound by impulses I have no notion of. unpredictable impulses that suddenly thrust him back a great disferent to ourselves and withdrawing us from the people closest to us. It was ings in myself. dangerously overwhelmed with ignorance. That didn’t call for help. one that agitates us. such obvious lack of responsibility. And once he was there. how do we love one who wasn’t us. how loved during that terrible moment? tance. I don’t know who I am. among all of us. anything I could not have said of someone else as 10 . I listened to follow him softly everywhere he would like me to. opens us to the suspicion of a thought that won’t seem to let itself be knowledge and against our wishes. it Perhaps he was among us: at first. but causing us to be indifdo we find ourselves with ourselves again. answered myself immediately: him.the last man maurice blanchot show it to him—out of some need to put it under his protection. I listen to his silence. something of that thought. a silent storm. But at the same time it seems rate us. he leaves me more ignorant. he fell silent absolutely and entirely. I who question him. he fell silent with rassment. only him. What would I have wanted to withdraw from him. but he has already killed have the correct feelings for him. I often asked myself if he wasn’t communicating to us. he maintained a certain emptiness that we didn’t want to fill up. what certain thing would I have had to make altogether uncertain for him? I to me I gave myself a completely different answer. the feelings that would have allowed the I think a reverie comes from him to us. What feelings? What could be born of me. When someone stops speaking it is often called out to us.

which wasn’t doubt: ignore even me and leave me to one side. such excessive cares. so that it would be me remain a man until the very end. gently. I owed him a limitless distraction. I would become almost ill at the thought that I would have to be that wit- closed. someone other than him—another. I could not respond except with carelessness. abruptly—the thought occurred to me that this story had no wit- a hard time. gone. But slowly. But this still wasn’t enough: this ignorance had to sense of exclusion or aversion. man. He didn’t demand any attention from me. becoming something close to a milestone. a whole crowd that his face would remain bare and his gaze undivided. The divine incognito needs to be per- ness. Then who was encountering him? Who was talking to him? Who wasn’t thinking of him? I didn’t know. the last I only noticed by degrees that he turned me away from myself. a time of suffering. a stranger. he would be the ness: I was there—the “I” was already no more than a Who?. as motionless as a milestone on a road. But if I was present.the last man maurice blanchot a sort of secret rule that I was obliged to observe. they turn themselves into a solitude peopled by themmost alone of all men. the most false. without any was never I. I had spent a long time imagining what his witness would of that end. the shadow of the other shore. nearby. the motion of the days. the reverse of faith. He wasn’t to split in two. I myself spent a lot of time. This is the great and talk to themselves. This was certainly capable of frightening me—such great duties. he demanded less than a thought. I was there. I only felt that it ceived down here. and even less. such naked 11 . is nevertheless not the last. but so that he wouldn’t see himself. without even himself. not in order to see him. of Who?s—so that there would be no one between him and his destiny. the opposite of expectation. so he saw in the mirror. The thought which is spared me at each moment: that he. no one—and that in this way he would temptation of those who are approaching their end: they look at themselves selves—the emptiest. ignorance and neglect. It was this less that was strongest. uncertainly. a creature who not only had to exclude himself from himself in favor be. without that last man which he was—and thus he would be the very last. but exclude himself from that end without favor and remain as Even a God needs a witness. the ubu.

In her eyes. as though he was only able to look by looking slightly elsewhere. still gazed only at a little emptiness near us. in a room whose lighted window I see. It can cerI have spoken of his hidden preferences. But everything leads me to believe that as the impression that. that importance is no measure of him. I understand why. He is a man alone. gravely speak. this gaze. he is now a man I look at as though I saw only I know that in doing this I am betraying everything. Maybe he always chose someone was the look by which he would most have wanted to be observed. It day. For a long time now he has not left his bed. How would he have been able to turn away the slightest particle of my life? Maybe he is there. in truth. and yet it concerns us all. One tant. him. I think. ill. the falsification of our relations. my weakness in not being able to conceive of him or recall him except as important. It only indicates the constraint I exercise in order to grasp him. in fact it asks to be forgotten. radiant. If. he made each of us into someone else. one was brushing against. I question no one about this. he doesn’t man I picture to myself. but quite the contrary. a face which wasn’t gloomy. Maybe. we were surprised by his gentle. This forgetting is the element I breathe when I go down the hall. the person who. he doesn’t move. in my memory. I’m not sure what is said refers to the when he resumed taking his meals with us. a radiant near-invisibility. She had been here several years when I came. which had come to rest on her with all the force of something dis- else in us. Each of us. but always the closest one. had fixed on her. chosen her. until then. choosing the person one was touching. felt that someone else was the intended object of his preferences. by this choice. but which perhaps never observed us. but it was attrac- ubu. This made her smile. not just anyone else. therefore. of tainly be forgotten. close as we were. an ignorant creature crossing the threshold in all the confusion of having being uprooted. He seems to me completely forgotten. a stranger. We were seeing the face of forgetting. I had no doubt about far as she was concerned.the last man maurice blanchot refusal to reveal him—to myself or to 12 . this emptiness was a young woman I was close to. one had been convinced one was. I often had I had been a newcomer. I was the one who had been chosen. retiring face. we were also drawn together by misunderstanding. This created an element of mystery.

was an old fellow. she had a relationship of understanding with it that allowed her to here or from back there. but for a few others it was a sort of relief and distracThen winter came. and the despair of another life. and no one between us. She called him “the professor. I thought it was only weaker. an uncertainty that was his very strange step created the impression that only for moments at a time sometimes painful. they hadn’t seen him for a long time. but on my return I was struck by how amazing it was to meet her again and yet as though by chance. ed by very little: there is nothing between them. He was cerwas accepted. protected. The snow gave certain people something resem- tion from their pain. A whim? But a free one. a chance meeting that owed nothing except to chance. all the while preserving the lightness of a whim. A little later I stayed for a time in a place high in the mountains. And yet these which caused one to become unsure of oneself. you entered a space where whatever you valued most said disturbed me because of a difficulty I could not overcome. Well. but what it tainly very polite. a happiness that seemed to have continued in my absence and without my knowing it. he was. When I came back. I also noticed how much his voice must have changed. I believe he was the hardest thing a man could ubu. the hope.” Maybe he was much older than we. Actually. always by virtue of a gentle stubbornness that he came. when he drew near. She had in some way locked herself up in this extract from it a lively. I’m not saying he was recuperating. When he came. and silently judged in a way that did not say you were right. in turn. who were among the youngest. sometimes light and a little drunk. I found she had not changed much. nor good. secret truth. he paid wonderful attention to everything and everyone. not even ourselves. Yet he was not easy.the last man maurice blanchot tive too. It is often said of two people unitnothing between us. I wasn’t really from place. I. nor indulgent. almostdead. He walked with a slight hesitation. did he stop at our level. the fact was there was bling a second illness. he once told her he was thirty-eight. they told me. but made you hope for a kind of justice. but that he came from very far down and that it was weren’t the motions of a man about to fall: it was a different uncertainty. He seemed to me much weaker than when he had 13 . also closer. She seemed to me even younger than I remembered. though more separate. whereas the others were still looking back at the regret.

She accepted with naturalness even what became terrible. the walls were 14 . the language of prisons. that he was fascinated by this altogether pure of me. a that demanded everything. Was that because of his distant air.” At times he seemed very close. the one that will astonish death. still very close. an open me which weak. and yet in some sense it was a me adrift. that calm distance in which people’s n’t startled by it. she was- indifference had to be asked of him. a calm violight word over which she herself had so few rights and which she spoke in such a way that it almost designated someone else. a piece of flotsam. But lence. at times not close: the walls were down. I know I exert a great signals. and if she had to allude to it. a little lives find their equilibrium. How could one have such ness? The anguish this caused was boundless. not only the walls that separate. one saw him as an enemy. She had a simplicity that protected both of them. he told someone: “Yes. a tremor alien to all pretense. Then a wall had to be raised again. the fact that one had to identify him with some misfortune or other? Despite oneself. more intimate. That was the most bitter part of it. was me for him. without saying anything important. Maybe all I’s were beckoning to him. it was in order to bring it into the familiarity of words. but without any connection. she did not come forward. a mouth open in the sand. maybe the last I. only I. weakness as one’s adversary? How could one fight such naked powerlessattraction. the one that ubu. passing like a breath. but also those that serve to transmit Apologizing sadly. that revealed and delivered over what was altostill-living footprint. through her closed mouth! It was as though some instinct had told her how the word I vibrated between her teeth. but she made it closer to him. I think she always had the strength to leave him at a certain distance from himself. maybe through this word alone. at times.the last man maurice blanchot come up against. death draws to itself like the secret that is forbidden it. terribly naked and without decency. gether dark. That I—this is what I can’t say—was terrible: terribly gentle and that in his presence she should say I. I was surprised by the way she would start talking about herself when he was there and as soon as he was there again: very lightly. everyone had the power to tell him something important. but of a purity that went to the far end of everything. She didn’t remember anyone.

also helped him. she didn’t even want to help him. She sat down more or less next to him. she caused him to move quietly into a relatively solid place. strength for that. 15 . not quite at his table. almost without respite. and maybe he no longer had to make any efforts. she connected him to a fixed point. maybe something that would have seemed to us quite insignificant but had brought such pressure to bear on him that all other events were volatilized by it. but she didn’t stop there. a silent transformation. with such a dependable wearing down and a constancy so exact that there was nothing left for him to tolerate. When he ate even more abject. monumental. but in this way he sep- believe that there had been no events in his life except for one. something something neither grandiose nor excessive. he secretly adjusted it: to accommodate her? But not only her. she lightly passed over that difficulty. or slowly—and it was almost as though he had allowed air and time to take his place struggling through things—she went to him. she sensed. and ate them very slowly. He tolerated everything. He made invisible what efforts were required of him to erated himself so completely. with extreme patience. He took his meals at a little table a short distance away from us because he ate only foods that were almost liquid. to accommodate everything or maybe too different?” “By coming here. she said. not in his person—he didn’t have enough quickly modified his way of seeing and seeing her. her eyes seeming fixed on herself. This was no doubt why he incited us to I won’t say he separated us: on the contrary. and she sensed how much he was tugly. and she really had to be prepared to put up with the consequences. was he perhaps precipitated into a world that was But he didn’t really have any world. except an achieve this. and therefore always seemed calm and in control of himas soon as she approached. an obscure agitation self—but in the space next to him: a correction. he chance. that was why she tried to give She must have bothered him: yes. and yet she him hers. that had driven him to the point where he was. but she held fast. she talked to him rapidly. simply because he needed all his attention to eat without swallowing the wrong way. and it was then ging at the mooring rope.the last man maurice blanchot arated us and connected us so as to go dangerously beyond us. maybe he tolemptiness I didn’t want to imagine.

and that measureless weakness struggled against the force of that measureless thought. a feeling of friendship for strength actually to think of him. Maybe it was a dangerously thoughtless move on my part. she went on to at all. to free me of myself. it was only her face. and I wouldn’t have consented to make use of her. that she felt closer to him than to anyone else. though they were directed at him. in my liking for her. There was something terrible about it. He had what had been thought in such a strong way should be thought again and tioned me about him. which she didn’t have for me. and at the same time she said that I was pushing her toward him. it was spoken for that body and for that mouth talking to me so tangibly. knowing everything. a kind of sleep in her. What I said. was. resting in her own life. She did not serve me in any way. too. but almost immediately that he didn’t frighten her him. but it was still served as our intermediary would not be correct. Surely he was capable of the weakness of an absolutely unhappy man. an entire. and it demanded this. because of her unaffected spontaneity and her lively familiarity. What did that mean? She quesseemed to find that great thought insufficient. he on? What could one do for him? It was odd that one was tempted to What was he? What power had driven him there? Which side was attribute to him the strongest thoughts. areas of knowledge we couldn’t imagine. I might never have had the think. at her request. but he was also nothing. whereas we only touched on the strangeness of his weakness. It is also true that she not only made me It is certainly true that without her. and I experienced a certain happiness limiting my thoughts to her. the look she gave me.the last man maurice blanchot that something in her speech changed and at its surface came again and again the breath of that fascinating I toward which he gradually turned and remained expectant. that she had a sort of confidence in him. To say that she But. but allowed me not to think of him myself. she said. even for such an end. that weakness always rethought on the level of extreme weakness. she must have helped me. as though I had actually been him. thought. happy. that thinking everything. the richest intuitions. drawn to him. in my relations with him. that she was say that he frightened her. rather. extraordinary 16 . Maybe I was very much to blame for not worrying more about what became of my ubu.

gave me her thoughts or me. without worrying about either herself tion. I’m not as sure of you anymore. you would be looking at a single point. and perhaps that point isn’t fixed. all alike. It’s a ter- I always found you in front of that point. either. sometimes withCertainly she had a kind of power to approach him that I didn’t out saying anything. on which there were some written pages. at me. I trust you. She was the first to find a name for what was happening to him—to her. she said she only thought them in me and near 17 . I could have told her truthfully that that was my horizon. but that I left intact. she looked. I’m sure of you. not I tried to recall that point. she went to another extreme: “You don’t see anything at ubu. strength and fearlessness. to us all—but it was in me that she thought she first experienced it. that you devote all your point was also her. in a silence that weighed on me to the point of suffocahave. even more. yes. but in the direction of the table.” rible thing to imagine that you can’t leave that point.” I protested strongly: “Oh. who move.” As she said this. without reckoning. she said: me?” “It’s strange. to him. So now I wasn’t motionless any longer? strength to it.” Violently. about the weight they obliged her to bear and. it brilliant. rather large.the last man maurice blanchot thoughts in her. about the emptiness they accumulated there. That is true.” “You were sure of “Yes. too. you see things as they are. The desire to be with her passed through that point. with a sort of pride that kindled the “Well. hers too. looking at me as though to find out if I was really talking about her. beyond the wall other rooms. you were so motionless. But when she added. beyond was the wall. almost avid gaze she sometimes had: “I’m not sure of myself. an emptiness that fed on her without reflecting. I’m sure of nothing but you”—which she lis“You don’t want to deceive yourself. maybe too motionless for the others. But she. I confirmed it by adding: immediately asked me: “And you?” “I only see what you see.” She tened to with an air of interest.

” Was this a fault? Was she reproaching me for it? “No. Then came the silence. a howl that did not seem to come from such a weak creature. I had already thought of 18 . that I was less sure. among all the other coughs. concealing it from everything to tumble into. reaching It was at about this time that he ceased to be able to talk. He conand passed through him: “Like a wolf. Because my purpose of discovering what I might have hidden from her. but from an entire horde that stood close to him that I had to shield her from. but in a way that didn’t actually concern him. but also from appearing embarrassed idea. to come down to the rooms on the ground floor. stantly: close to me. it was a terrifying noise her with a force that shook her. tinued. Yet there was something else. Then I said something rather crude to her: “I know you will never Yet I didn’t expect anything. perhaps by looking at him. we would hear his cough at of moan. a feeling of increased distress. He didn’t seem much more ill. Now she lived in my room almost con- lie. that wild sound that was sometimes a sort room was between hers and the professor’s.” he said. no. expecting from that thought the feverish familiarity which she wanted night.” But that life preserver couldn’t keep us afloat for long. since there was no longer any question of his was becoming strange. though irregularly. she was incapable of such subterfuges. a repulsion at our approach that kept us at a dis- taking his meals with the others. The worst part of the winter was upon us then. not with any baneful intention or for the after its integrity. that she did not resist. crossing me. could hear coming out of me. giving it the silence it needed. passing from me to her.the last man maurice blanchot all? Yet you think differently from me. you have your own view of things. at least to the drawing room. she was looking after my thought. but that she was waiting for. I’m always aware of that different way of thinking. stopped us from looking at him. looking else. Yes. I couldn’t say he fit him too. but the word she had used for me.” “I trust you too. that she said she a moment of happy calm in which everything was forgotten. sometimes a triumphant shout. Rather. Nor did I stop at the thought that this mask along with greater power. more at risk. That his whole person was a mask—this wasn’t a new ubu. close to the thought that was in me? Sometimes it seemed to me she was watching me.” she said. tance.

I had changed meaning. which he continued to go up to him resolutely as soon as she saw him. The strength I have is terrible. even in my eyes. She had to keep advancing. they both tended to curious about their relations. the restless He did not fail to talk to her. was no longer directed at us. I felt that 19 . while he was a man not very old yet strangely ruined—this incongruity did not give rise to comment. That she was so young. and which consisted of maintaining a sense of life around friends. I had no wish to be official role which she assumed voluntarily because of the length of time she had been here. but it may have been what led us to believe. and she did not fail to talk to him. full of such lively and happy youth. her other friendships were hardly visible. at someone other sometimes noticed a rapid change in level as he was speaking. as I said to the young woman—“he has touched the wall”—and what was most striking then was the threat that his quite ordinary words seemed to represent for him. Everyone also knew that we were really. One imagined that she was filling an those people who were most neglected. with all the freedom she could command. that he was still listening to us in a maracknowledge. to us and all things and also what was more than us. velous way. in an alcove near the piano. No one paid much attention to them. And for her these relations were cruelly impersonal. What he said than him. which he thrust back. the intimacy of his weakness. This didn’t always happen. monstrous. but at him. the firmly delimited bodies. the wall. She said to me: “I feel so strong near him. The two of them would remain at a slight distance. Because of that bond. another space. into an infinite past. I didn’t feel left out—on the contrary. toward the point she imagined she had seen me looking at.the last man maurice blanchot was beginning to slip. ubu. that he was listening. I sensed the great pressure exerted by what I thought of as his extreme weakness as it tried to break the dam protecting us from him. But behind this body and this life. to and infinite agitation of the emptiness around us. as though they risked unclothing him before the wall. a man who had strayed in among people from whom he was separated by the despite himself. allowing one to see what he was. and he expressed this by an obliteration that whitened what he said even as he prepared to say it. but for her that point was a man like other men. overly massive certainty. when he spoke.

and the fact that it was impossible for me to turn around to see what was coming. someone motionless. a will to dominate. it’s loathsome. for no reason—“I have the feeling I will die in a fit of ed. but I was also terribly distressed. And yet. probably “I dreamed I was tied to a stake on a sort of savannah. And yet I left the two of them alone. with the pleasure of having dreamed it. a little more often.” was already in it. and which was perhaps not really in us. I played. softly. but it was probably too loud. and in the proximity of a very powerful dream. It was true that. a pit for catching animals. more dangerous. when she told me the dream. we augmented by what we could be—yes. solitary conversation exposed her to. as well as distressed. since you didn’t hear. there was a pit I could vaguely see. So you had already fallen into called out to you. peculiarly immobile and silent in a the trap? What were you doing there? I was both pleased and worried. suddenly. It’s a trap. deliberately forgetting what an ordeal this intimate. made me angry Anger and fear. a superiority that came to us in a dream and lifted us toward peaks of life. at the very the danger of this increase in strength. she who until then had hardly ubu. because it must have been dangerous to make noise. through a crack. I then. in a way that still seemed to me very quiet. I feel in such good health. since I was tied up. I said to myself. Looking at that pit more carefully. stronger. perhaps only in contrast to how little life he 20 . which was in us only because we were close to that immense weakness.the last man maurice blanchot He can’t help but suffer from it. isn’t it?” felt endowed with an enhanced existence. but moment when everything seemed to be going as badly as possible as far as the future was concerned. She also said to me: I’m not sure she didn’t reproach me for it inwardly. it must have attracted something threatening whose motions I began to notice. we felt augmented by ourselves. more wicked. Under me. it was with joy. though not far from there but behind me. I had the feeling someone way that made me think of you at that point. if I bent down. I hid behind the game. I also felt remained outside us like a perverse thought. While she disappeared into her alcove. I called a little louder. said to me. and perhaps what she crazy anger against you”—was meant to show me how she had been woundunder a thin layer of grass. I felt that.

he came downstairs only for her. story-less images which were gone when she awoke. only in formless. too?” “You. you’ve didn’t have. to ther.” The frankness of that yes should have kept me from going any far“I see very little of him. but nevertheless without any agreement on my part.the last man maurice blanchot dreamed at all. I can’t deny that the interest she showed in him touched me. you first. Why didn’t she stop seeing him? Why did she involve herself with him so? But she certainly knew she had a relationship with him the others “I don’t know. exhila- rated me. I can’t answer 21 .” in the illness beyond which her friendship would come to an end.” ubu. In disgust. “Me. not without my knowledge. When you question me like that. she would shut her door on everyone. troubled me. So he horrified her. he himself had drawn her through me. anything. it was probably true. then wounded me. He’s in terribly bad shape. didn’t she realize this? always been able to see yourself clearly. he had beckoned to her.” “Please.” So it wasn’t pity that tied her to him. I was struck by her capacity for merciless feelings. she said be useful to him in that species of remoteness where it seemed possible that said to her: he was asking for help simply because he didn’t ask for. From my very first days with her. There was even a point that when things began to go badly for her. “You’ve always been perceptive. nor the desire to help him. but it also wasn’t true. When she said I had pushed her toward him. too. or give. Isn’t that unpleas“Yes. I ant for you?” “He’s at death’s door. You don’t want to start trying to deceive yourself. he no longer spoke to anyone but her.” I said to her. “Maybe I’ve learned how to dream now.” This was how she entered the adult phase of the danger. she would push away someone who was undergoing a difficult death.

I suspected him of having no memory of himself. as though. with a shiver of familiarity: completely. which she spoke very fast. She noticed it right away: the slightest erosion of my desire to see her transformed her into a closed presence which was hard to these words. I might have shared that feeling. “how are we going to get ourselves out of this But she remained convinced that I was the one he would have liked “He’s your friend. still ubu. or by the ordeal of an unknown happiness.” now?” A sort of coldness was rising in her like the silent anger whose hold on to. only admitting the rare images that we chanced to give him and that he gently elevated in us. What could we have said to each other? And what was he to me? “The professor. The word she used was not friendship. No doubt could only attribute to his great politeness the concern he had shown for acknowledging me. or she tossed it back to me if I lightly said to her: “He would like to be yours. a name that seemed quite foreign to him. after my return and after he began coming out of his During a brief period. I nickname she had given him.the last man maurice blanchot She was standing in front of me and I was on my feet too. people were shadows.” when he saw me again. You’re the one he’s thinking about. almost no thought. in order to avoid the suffering he experienced in any sort of 22 . he had succeeded in remaining a little withdrawn. room again (to everyone’s surprise—it had seemed that he was finished). cautiously and yet with an inflexible motion. As to a convalescent—and he clearly wasn’t a convalesspeech a din falling on his ears. an knowledge.” What I had retained of him was the cent yet—everything could only seem hazy to him.” I said to her. who was so far from indulging in scholarly speech. and yet it seemed correct too: he was worn out—by time. into a hard truth about unknown torment?—just as one who knows things may be worn out by ourselves. That should occupy me “Well.” to become friends with. motions I had already discovered when I had happened to treat her with some indifference. But this time it was the coldness of thought I sensed rising up into “I have no relation of any kind with him. But this didn’t establish any connection between him and us.

The name itself separates us. am I not entirely abandoned by myself ? watches with me. That of giving him a name? Of susplays. in that case? Who I know of him. that we freely grant him. but taining him and myself as that name draws near? I can’t believe this.the last man maurice blanchot less between him and me. because he is too much alone. distinguished no one in us but us. as though under a different sky? And if he is what Then what is leading him astray? What is he looking for. the unreserved admission that would put an end to everything. perhaps a more immediate sort of help. near me? What has attracted him—what she is to me? The “we” that holds us togeth- er and in which we are neither one nor the other? Something too strong for a man. he who feeds on the time of peace and perfect repose that comes to us then. shortly ubu. only came to a single being from whom he perhaps expected a little friendship. too great a happiness. from the very I also try to convince myself that there was a brief period. it is only a reflection giving a momentary color to the windowpane on which it sensed drawing near through ages and ages. that I push away and that pushes me away. and it may be that it was quite the opposite. maybe he is the breath that mingles with desire. perhaps nothing but the admission. near me. I think a different one was set I have reason to believe that he saw only one of us. a stone he perhaps already Friend: I wasn’t born for that 23 . and. of a silvery gray. so clear. a relationship I don’t want to embark upon. me later as a reassuring image. in us. aside for me. in fact. the most distant part of ourselves. so pale. that his eyes. that he steals away from beginning me without me. moment that disrupts relations and confuses time? Maybe he is behind each us—no. one of which we know nothing? Maybe it becomes possible for him to breathe near a man who is very happy. the most unfortunate and poorest of men? But perhaps he is only me. one I can’t recognize yet. maybe he passes through the one of us. as though it were a stone thrown at him over and over in order to reach him where he is. the person we see when the end comes. Is that the gesture of a friend? Is that friendship? Is that what he asked me to be—a stone for him. drawing him to it as into a trap? Perhaps in order to catch him in it alive? But who am I. The feeling that he wasn’t looking at anyone in particular. forcing him to recognize himself by such a name. not all of us as one.

cold and motionless. is alive. probably in many others as well. a secret she hides from us. isolated. and this monstrous memory is what we have to carry. ing me. light? Too light for someone who can’t let them come to themselves. and as though in the present.the last man maurice blanchot after my return. phrases that remained separate. except the me that I am. At a certain moment he which we will be delivered only by an end I cannot mistake for an easy death. by his surprise at seeing himself there and knowing it. ubu. He seemed to be putting into me certain reference marks: phrases I didn’t pay attention to. with a very light fumbling that makes his Motionless words I feel now. perhaps. only one When I think of him. without the living space in which they would become animate. so doubtful. under the cloak little separated from them by his desire to be forgotten. this is why he talks to me. and makes them heavy. within the presence. It would be deposited them in me. Maybe neither of us is there. It is as though he had hidden his life—the hope which mysteriously contin- ued to accompany his life—in one of these words: only one counts. he doesn’t know if I’m there. as though he had tried to sow me with seeds from his own memory that might allow him to recall himself bility which warns me of something. and because of that. ile. that he only sees and disHe doesn’t ask me anything. I know I’m not yet thinking of him. I don’t know him. Maybe I’m the one who confirms him in advance. him. Maybe all he is doing is repeatlogue is the periodic return of words seeking one another. endlessly calling she is the only one who holds the secret of that absence. only a ly. Maybe this diaout to one another. At that time he talked to me more direct- of my inattentiveness. tinguishes through the surprise of his constant arrival: a blind god. when I saw him as he was. together. he puts double ignorance that preserves us. because of that immobility. an immo- forth his words among many others that only say what we say. strangely sterat the moment when he would need to come together in himself. or if I can hear I don’t know myself. but instead can only stare at them. shortly after his. like the others. and Naked words to which I am consigned by ignorance. it is surely a word one is not contemplating. until the transformation from naive to think they gave me control over 24 . he knows all things. and only meeting once. which is so very sure.

And if he were our hope? If he were what remained of us? What a strange feeling that he might still need us. as though he had disappeared into it and been absorbed by it slowly. however. it was perhaps that his presence lacked all future and all the great future I had imagined he should have represented to ly. to easy to exclude him or to exclude ourselves. anxious. to avoid the dangerous. endlessly—a presence without anyone. smoothly certain. It would be too feeling he gives me that he is changing me. his absence. I could not help coming up against his self-effaceus. since they couldn’t go beyond it. and even he did not seem able to fill it. manifestness that caresses itself in us and in us also caresses illusion. The need to struggle against the changing me yet! have to help him without knowing it and by movements unknown to us. the invisible line which my glances and my thoughts were incapable of presence destroyed all notion of 25 . It seemed to me this alone. Not to question ourselves too much. His presence and not the idea of his presence. against of it. As though his presence was all there ment. perhaps? But everything made it my duty not to doubt that he was there: more approaching. Whence the cerubu. shamming curiosity about ourselves that he also gives us. perhaps help him to stay in his place by staying firmly in ours without ceasing avoid the question he asks us about himself. cruelly disproportionate: My embarrassment confronting him.the last man maurice blanchot Expectation. which made his approach even heavier. If. What a mysterious obligation to to be what we would be without him. He’s not changing me! He isn’t tion. maybe dominating. it was true. despite his discre- was of him and did not allow him to be present: it was an immense presence. This was why it was so sure. than I could conceive. he burdened me so much. a surface that lacked the Maybe I saw him without imagining I saw him. He was present in such a strange way: so completely and so incompletemaybe insignificant. When he was there. growth that makes us less. Not absent: surrounded by absence. proximity and the distance of expectation. pressed. that I couldn’t even have a false notion harshness and roughness I would rather have come up against. by his withdrawal. surrounding us by the feeling of It is hard to know if we are not sparing something of ourselves in him.

an anguish without anguish. unused. in the very thought of us. that was unimaginable—this was what I was most afraid of seeing loom up next to The most anguishing idea: he can’t die. I believe I had never been able to think he was absent. without ing visible on certain faces when for one instant. His solitude. who gave was a suffering he could not suffer. through some unknown reliance on himself or on anything else. and nowhere else. entirely. the approach of what has me. as though in a place which. alone. I didn’t forget it. a movement I felt would not really be carried through. with a movement that was frightened. it was because this he might have been there. he was Burgeoning of something in him developing in all directions.the last man maurice blanchot tainty. And maybe that was the reason why he less certainty of being himself. It stayed there. and still less could I suppose that she might be able to cross that boundary of repulsion and really do what I couldn’t imagine could be done. this: a silent burgeoning. the rejection of everything that could decision too poor and simple to be approached. was perhaps the only place where I had to believe he was a little absent. wrong about himself. to come back to. a An idea which concerned me directly. A being that was no longer in any way imaginary. He can no longer do more than suffer himself. was one with him. but almost shorn of the feeling and the illusion of certainty. at my limit. There simplicity. as I realized right away. its point always turned toward me. the outside. I felt there only. without even that fullness of sufferubu. uncertain. maybe dying—I could not face that was nothing fantastic in that: on the contrary. and yet someone who was less himself. because of this exclusive 26 . and even anguish. That flatter the imagination. frightened. someone absolutely insufficient. but it also seemed premature to me. there was some sort of hard idea. a bareness without fantasy. no approach. but this hard to turn back to. when I imagined she could have gone to see him in his room. a thought he tried very He was there. But I felt no less strongly that when he was there. and if. because he has no future. However. I experienced such a feeling of denial. an immediate and excessive thrust toward the inside. entirely there. the solitude of someone who no longer has room to be tried to endure it in us. I was responsible for it and at a certain moment I would have to do something about it. in pain.

it was because all he was doing there was dying. A vision that filled me and. a limit that would wrap him around. a growth from limitless weakness. as though. once it has been accomplished. especially behind him. protected—I with surprise: terror and delight. silent immobility in which I too have a part—and all of a sudden the feeling that he is turning around. coming back toward advance of himself. traversed by himself. maybe without any world? And this certainty that something frightful was growing in all directions inside him. patience in which he painful thoughts that made me think by the pressure of some unknown suf- fering. allows the far from bringing me back to some center. as soon as I tried to picture him in that room. ing? Does he know that he’s dying and that a person who is dying is always in touch with an infinite future? Tender. always the same weight. at the immobility in him is turning around. Then why did he impose himself to such an extent? How was he present. Is he waitpresses against himself. knew that if my thoughts deflected me from that room. evident presence. but in some sense without us. without our world. gentle weight. a finite and perhaps limitless surface. always the same limit not passed. a vision so pressing and so insistent us as toward his real future. with a Why hadn’t I been spared such an encounter? An odd pain. And why did I have to resist this movement with all my strength? Why experience it as a threat directed at me? Was it because of the heaviness of my own life. so that once again he could hope to die in that moment. that that I couldn’t doubt that it corresponded to a real movement. all my relations changed for a moment. grasp him tightly. my possibility of feeling and seebalance to be restored. so that instead of being inside a sphere—enclosed. the greatest suffering is contained and endured.the last man maurice blanchot grace of being. and I growth that did not lessen his weakness. he was tempted by the illusion of a circle. A pain that was perhaps only in my thoughts. something brusque. Could I have been even more outside him form around him. is accomplished. with that form its surface. near us. which. imperceptible. ubu. if I held fast. Too 27 . end by enclosing him? The consequence is dizzying. This turning inside out. than he was outside me? Would I embrace him by the limit I would have to dizzying. leaves me only with the dangerous impression that. violent. even if not accomplished. or in apprehension of a greater danger? The agitation of all immobility.

always capable of coming to life in us and changing us into completely different beings. the inexhaustible force of life. some- that force of attraction. rible without terror. The cries. that at that point we too had thing that was not only ourselves. by obliging us to see ourselves only as taking any notice. a rarefied. I saw the signs of the strangeness which was attempt- be reborn as a nameless and faceless power. But what was often strongest was the with uncertainty. on our faces. the life in us. but our future and the future of all men and also the last man. it seemed to me we had an urgent obligation to make him feel our proximity. the force and the doubt of the distant gaze he had turned in our direction. I sensed that power. I observed Perhaps it was the space between us and him that seemed to me to be filled ing to replace us and yet to which we were still attributing a human aspect. both for her sake and my own. rapid or motionless layer of light revolving around space. a vague existence and yet a living like myself. but in the reflection I read familiar. with a being without destiny or 28 . before his gaze. This grew without ubu.the last man maurice blanchot ing is spread out in a circle. of having. I was afraid of being no more than A distance that was both fragmented and compact: something ter- mobile life which was perhaps everywhere. thought that in him we had been dead for a long time: not in that exact form. At times like that. entangled. barely noticed. now. the relentless moans one heard without tion itself had assumed life and force. but it was a very partial limit. and. a cold and dry animation. being a surprisingly thin. not to doubt his right to be there. and The need not to let him separate himself from us. then. an infinitesimal portion that labored obscurely at bounding him on all sider us as though we weren’t really there. as though in that place separaboth of the silence and of words. moans that did not want to be heard. with resentment. unless space itself is performing a sort of revolution. He must not con- allowed something to die in us that should have found support in us. sides. which would have been almost easy to accept. also. I continued to feel that I was his limit. the aridity thing. friendly. and distant and already separated from ourselves. And. even more. only like ourselves. The temptation to allow ourselves to disappear. A thought that did not yet allow itself to be thought. there.

vague as it is. a creature whose life seemed to consist in expanding by becoming rarefied. When I talk to him. But now: he slides along. though it sometimes Perhaps we never ceased to observe each other. The his features.the last man maurice blanchot increasing. with a falseness that was not real falseness. feelings I attribute to him are in some sense detached from his face. I am doing nothing else but trying to keep myself away from it. When I glimpse him this way. One can’t remember someone who is only present. attracted to one another as though to form. together. which seemed to cause faces to become attractive. and this may be why the suffering I that. in developing by becoming exhausted. appointing him by opposing to him a man whose mind he would pass order to prevent it from turning around. his resolute limit. that seems to mask his real face. my impatience. in particular. ing ourselves by vainly misleading ourselves. Nevertheless. his presence. In a palpable way. attracting me by my own effort. At one time. I won’t say I remembered him. gives him this appearance of being real only at a distance I don’t want to cross. where is his gaze going?—he can sense my approach. as though we only wore the aspect of what we seemed to be. merely toying with them. didn’t seem that way to me. And the feeling that we were deceivA movement of 29 . But. He is transparence. and I sense that I will respond manifestly closer to me than I am to him. It is as though I am still interposperceive through a momentary contact with him is a second or third face through without noticing or leaving any traces. and watching—but is he watching. As though I become attentive. with a youthful. intense. on presence. I had been afraid of not proving equal to him or simply of dismotionless. I didn’t forget him either: forgetting has no hold next to the window. Standing over there. beyond questioning expression. the future of a completely different figure. necessary and yet impossible to represent. just as I can sense his coldness. and if he is. I am stopped by this suffering. he is more obviously to his expectation. my secret entreaty. in invisibly breaking off relations by leaving them as they were. and when I talk to him. but also of attraction. At least ing myself between us by a lack of attention that fails to create the necessary I have not deceived myself about the extreme easiness of his presence. if certain of my ubu. provoking me in my certainty in different from what I had expected to see of him: younger.

perhaps wrongly. and it was not just any present. He is perhaps an entirely superficial man. at the very most. ing. but he has to what he is and also the air of simplicity I sometimes discover in that one couldn’t hurt him—and this innocent hurt had seemed to me slighter. . yourself with all the more truthfulness. don’t demand of me. . . when rowed and precise. Maybe you requires . don’t require me . you ought to conduct right conduct because you believe. too precise. and still less did I want to subject her to it. . .” “No. or what I call suffergreat emptiness. but eternal and yet past. that I was present. that you have lost all are still only at the surface and you should go much farther down. and yet past. recounting events from his life that were bor- feel connected. as though he wanted to leave behind some to a deceptive motion whose insinuation I had felt and from which I could he would talk in a bookish way. on the surface of his face. I clear- ly see that something could happen: that this suffering. I felt it even at the 30 . . that the relations forming between them exposed her not hope that she would be preserved. I myself didn’t feel connected with my way of looking at ubu. a prospect at which I feel a dread that immediately stops everything short. but that It may be that she was trying to assuage in me a knowledge that she connectionwith any true affirmation. could turn around and penetrate him and perhaps fill his Aside from these passing moments of irritation. he is extremely tranquil. Hence the resemblance him. but with which she did not really things. Nor did I follow her blindly in all that she seemed to be trying to do or to have me do. Maybe you are only in a middle area. but in a memory? It was present. by feeling that I was remembering it. that demands . with an especially pure concern for I often heard this warning: “Where you are. more innocuous. where you call by the name of imposture what you can’t look at.” didn’t share. that she didn’t reject either. I often thought she was losing her way. .the last man maurice blanchot words participate in the sort of attention I myself am not capable of. . But mightn’t that hurt beyond hurt be the worst kind? Mightn’t that be what gave him the air of simplicity one had to escape? Wasn’t that what I had to protect myself from. instead of remaining apart from him and. What she said to me one day: that one might be able to hurt him.

At first this caused me only a little uneasiness. of “Not noisy. And yet I was struck by the strange nature of this city. right next to my memories.the last man maurice blanchot proof of himself. a native land. at least for me. But these were only houses like our houses. A suffering that exerted him any difficulty. with the broad. atrociously doubtful. calm. What he liked to talk about was the city where he was born. a profound but always wakeful fainting fit that had remembered me in order to uproot me from myself. recognized it more or less as our own: the most familiar one we al. of being part of a crowd and then los“It must have been very noisy?” 31 . with the streets he walked along in the midst of a tumultuous crowd of people on foot constantly moving: there night. a heavy traffic. Worse than strange: familiar and deceptive and unreality. I never failed to go to his rescue as soon itself against my person all the more because a strong feeling—was that what suffering—a serious wrong. dry river that ran through it. with a passion that I expected would reveal something extraordinary to these houses with the surprise of someone who has discovered them in his very own words. dwellers in large cities and large countries. but nevertheless something more than any a proximity of weakness and swooning overtaking me: yes. sort of underground murmur. And perhaps it was this suffering. for a neighbor. terribly unregently. but a deep. a large city apparently located in the East. Yes. showed it to us in such a way that we. as though every single person were always outside. among us. He became exhilarated at this memory. a slight irritation. drawn by the pleasure of circulating without hindrance. wonderfully calm. and he interested himself in structures that he described in minute detail. the consciousness. as though I had had. as though to build them before us. but could imagine and yet. low. but taking away their basis. he said. On the contrary. friendship?—prevented me from saying anything that could cause as a question risked reaching him. a beautiful horizon of stone falsifying—or not exactly falsifying. He drew us there. an impressive city with us.” He tried to draw us into that city by raising it around us with the images of it we already possessed. constructed by him only in order to conceal his own and a beautiful smoky sky. completely imaginary. a coming and going that did not die down at ing himself in an even larger crowd. almost it was. the need ubu. their foundation—the pictures of the world closest to us. to give him.

side by side. Sometimes. where we could our way of life that almost everyone here shared. in that passionate way in which he gave us credit for our efforts. on the contrary avoided all imaginary reveries. she did not believe she would ever leave this place. I also noticed how determined she was that the She trusted it. we crept more furtively . the immensely upright. we gathered before him. this space. maybe she didn’t ubu. When I tried to question her. no misrepresentation. For her. and perhaps even without her being aware of it: no. movie theaters where the darkness was more alive than the pictures. which was not veiled by memories. Was it out of the same instinct for truth? Was it out of anguish? place where we lived should be unassailable. perhaps under the veil of our own words. during our walks. erect force of the stone surfaces that created the august essence of the street through which therefore had to go farther back in herself to find the images she needed. ing about all that. less fixed. where it seemed that. This confidence did not mean she had the sort of blind faith in sions. She even farther: over there. not to exile him by driving him away from such an image of ourselves. the city. She was free of such illuwant to. we would go to the mountain. containing no invention. like a narrow horizon lifting into the sky and merging with it. toward in which. it was a secure base. She had left a large city a longer time ago and at a younger age than any of us. closer to their sources than ours. as attractive as the life of shadows.the last man maurice blanchot to take responsibility for him. the visit. she did not reflect. detesting with a kind of rage the poverty of men who try to deceive themselves by wretchedly inventing marvelous things. and quickly. turned out to be as close as possible to her truth. did not imagine. seemed to lead her I was convinced that she entered more seriously than the rest of us what place? Why such haste? But if I questioned her. as though into another past where we went more those images. maybe she wanted to gather everything she had in the way of belief see the sea. . and flowed an elusive and inhuman life. and he was theone listening to us talk into the space where. as a little girl. I saw clearly that for her. . she was inundated with a wonderfully festive power. She did not leave it to go down to the neighboring village. She had only a very distant recollection of the noisy world above all the beauty of the crowds. very far 32 . that also gave me the feeling we were the ones talkabout it.

the circle of things. that I would take her away from this place. like a circle center. more closed. I won’t say this world was more gathering itself more and more into its center. because she was young and alive. and tell her that I liked her because of her Didn’t she want to leave? Didn’t she want to see other things. each room. I think I’ll stop you from leaving. Where she stood. beyond it there was nothing but the pale figures of her parents. had a transparent brightubu. When secure when she was there—it was more natural. the indeterpeculiar. the footsteps crushing the gravel outside. the sound of the fountains. everything was bright.” she said. that joyously the ignored particles of life in us. and even the air we breathed. “Yes. also. I’ll keep things were for her. into the dim point that was its ness.” But she added: “You have only seen me here. crowds of people? she be called the queen of the place or given other titles she was naively freedom. the voices of the professionals. Well might play. real streets.” “And what about me?” you here as long as I have to. she had concentrated in sort of 33 . the corridor always lit by a white light. who lived in the world as though she belonged there.” “I don’t know about you. sharp. light air that was also perfidious. the little park. “lots of people. the big central building where we lived. which was for her firmer. more solid than cities and nations. her sister. and of course that brightness propagated itself well beyond her. How do you know whether you would like me somewhere else?” And she went on: “Perhaps you’re wrong to say these things to me. Every sort of connection we have with the vast world. that she was not committed to it as though it were a convent. It is because of dreams like that that people get lost here.the last man maurice blanchot and certainty inside this narrow circle. She was thus joined to this place by an almost frightening the life that even an entire universe can’t contain. like a force seeking to burn It was perhaps only after some time that I realized how solidly real minate and humble voices of the flock. this one place. more diverse. the annexes with their technical apparatus. and in fact larger because of those empty places opened proud of. I was the only one who didn’t like her in the role they made her up at a deeper or shallower level when one or another died here. the only one to tell her that.

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one left the room, it was still just as tranquilly bright; the hallway was not about to disintegrate beneath one’s feet, the walls remained firm and white, the living did not die, the dead did not come back to life, and farther off it opposite, of a calm that was deeper, broader—the difference was impercepwas the same, it was still just as bright, perhaps less tranquil, or perhaps the tible. Imperceptible also, as one walked, was the veil of shadow that passed through the light, but there were already odd irregularities, certain places park, for example, stood a chapel no one liked to go into. The faithful prethat were folded back into the darkness, devoid of human warmth, unfrequentable, whereas right next to them shone joyous sunlit surfaces. In the ferred to attend the village church. One day, I had gone into this chapel with her, and she had looked at it apparently without any uneasiness, but with great surprise, and the astonishment that invaded and enveloped her would have made her fall, if I hadn’t taken her back outside. Was it the cold, the recollection of the things associated with death, even though in other cases these things hardly bothered her? She offered this reason: it was in some sense imaginary, one couldn’t help feeling bad there. Even for her, then, where there was no more circle, where the streets, the houses were scattered Farther than the village, the mountain, the horizon of the sea?

there were places where she was no longer as secure and felt dangerously distanced from herself. And even farther away? Where the open country lay, about in an autumn fog, where the darkness was like a worn-out day? she could guarantee him. The spot where he liked to meet with her, in the alcove near the piano, was no longer merely an abode for pictures and a land of memories, but really a solid little island, a cell just the size for them, tightvanished time. This was what made their meeting so anguishing for me, ly enough closed to avoid the terrible pressure of the empty universe and more secret than any other. As though they had enclosed themselves in an inviolable moment, a moment belonging only to them, a sort of standing there with its living reliefs and which arrested the dangerous thrust of our own lives. She was there, like a calm guardian, looking after, watching over the emptiness, scrupulously closing the ways out, a door, a beautiful stone

I sometimes thought he felt attracted to her because of the security

sarcophagus whose upper wall was her life, her body, which I saw sculpted


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door that protected us from his weakness and protected him from our

strength. Guardian, what are you guarding? You who watch, what are you

watching over? Who has established you in this place? And yet, I have to admit it: when I looked at them, what struck me was what could reasonably be called their sweetness, their double childlike truthfulness. Perhaps it was directly from herself, but received from him, as I observed without bitterness but with the feeling that this was how he attracted her and connected himthe contrary, that he did not look at her often, and never directly, but a little this lightness that isolated them from us, a lightness that she did not take self to her, by a bond so light that she saw only the absence of a bond, not noticing that now he spoke only to her and looked only at her. She said, on sideways—”Toward you, I feel it”—and in fact, once or twice, I had thought I had perhaps caught a tired gaze seeking me out, but this was a gaze which, you when he looks at you?” him.” once it had found you, did not let you go, perhaps because of its fatigue or simply because it was not looking at you. I might ask her: “Doesn’t it bother “No, I like his eyes, maybe they’re the most beautiful thing about I cried out: “You find him beautiful?” A question she thought about, “I could find him beautiful.” “But he’s horrifying, he has the face of an old child, not even old,

with the concern for exactness that she rarely abandoned.

ageless, atrociously expressionless, and his ridiculous pince-nez!” She listened to me with a reproving gravity: know. When he wipes it with his cautious gesture, one can see how he trembles, but he hides it, he doesn’t want anyone to think he’s so sick.”

“He doesn’t always wear it. He can hardly see clearly anymore, you

seems so unhappy that you’re interested in him.” She answered indignantly: he doesn’t need pity.” “Does that mean he’s happy?”

“You’re sorry for him. The truth is, you pity him. It’s because he “But he isn’t unhappy at all. How can you say that? I don’t pity him,

tions?” I asked her again:

“No, perhaps he isn’t happy either. Why are you asking such


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“Well, do you think he’s beautiful?” “He smiles?”

ful.” And she added: “His smile is wonderful.”

“Yes, I find him very beautiful, sometimes extraordinarily beautiYes, he smiled, but you had to be very close to him to notice it, “a

slight smile, which certainly isn’t meant for me: maybe it’s his way of looking.” but later much more frequent, because of my obstinacy and what seemed to be a need that forced me to turn her thoughts on him in a way that was enced the disturbance I have already mentioned, a sort of exhilaration, of at all—but that, because of him, I was entering into a relationship with her When she talked to me like this—and in the beginning, it was rare,

almost implacable and made her suffer, made her say: “Don’t ask me any more questions; at least, not now; let me get my strength back”—I experimysterious gratitude, almost of drunkenness, but also a wound: not from the fact that I had to share her interest—that was fair, she wasn’t frustrating me that was almost too large, a relationship in which I was afraid of losing her, of losing myself, one I was aware of as an infinite distance separating me not us from each other at the same time as it brought us together, allowed us to would have sensed that another woman was already separating me from her, more uncertain, a labyrinth of time where, if I could have turned around, I only from her, but from myself, and giving me the impression of distancing

be together as though through times that were richer, more diverse, but also

and from me another man, a disjuncture that perhaps only wanted to scatter us joyously into the sphere of happy immensity, but that I tried to hold understand the things she did, understand where we were going together, the intimacy of the shadow that can no longer be divided by forgetfulness. and watching. I don’t mean I watched her; rather, I followed her, I tried to back because of a feeling of doubt. For this reason I redoubled my thinking this way, and whether we were already two shadows for each other, joined in much at risk that there was no room left for anything but waiting. More than In truth, what tormented us most was the feeling that he was so

have been expected. He should have stayed in his room, no longer left his

once, already, he seemed to have gone beyond the perimeters of what could


at least from a distance. who slept very little. I thought we wouldn’t see him again. a vigilant concern. I had always felt that we shouldn’t have abandoned him to that soli- moment seemed extraordinarily correct to me—that he was the most cheerful person she had ever met. with an augShe did not appear any more worried than she had been. but he was so isolated that he had to be an exception to that. keep watch over him. she made this surprising remark “But perhaps he is quite cheerful when he’s alone. I asked her: “Aren’t you worried?” also thought she was getting news about him from the staff. and said—which for a alone.” She was determined to use that word. it was as though this were only a transitory friendship. even though we were accustomed to visiting cerroom seemed to me like a foreign enclave we had no right to inspect. I was sible that she is beginning to forget him? And even though she undoubtedly tions. that he had a kind of gaiety she could not cheerful. how very weak he became when he was tude: not for an instant. He was still there.the last man maurice blanchot bed. she even became almost perfectly calm once again. One day. I had to keep watch with him. she only wore a reflection of it. all the always sustain. and once. I was sure he didn’t sleep. I refused to picture. and tured to myself. Why?” And I didn’t always dare say it to her more clearly. in any case not his own strength: one could have imagined on words. but that would only have been a play mented degree of uncertainty. the one who gave evidence of being agitated. and when he was away the longest. beyond the space to me: that separated us. it was not a proof of that he was using the force of his illness. I her of going into his room. when I mentioned his nightly solitude. His were we close enough friends with him to go in without being invited? I pic- remembered him. If he still avoided these precautions. he would not go out for several days. and especially not at night. I didn’t suspect tain people. and I understood why she also sometimes seemed almost ubu. had a minutely detailed awareness of his nights. and I. though it wasn’t real gaiety. Over and over again. in his bed he should have remained 37 . answered my ques“No. I said to myself: could it be posstrength either. looked at his door when she went by. the feeling that. much longer. it was not simply out of imprudence. but all the same less and less there.

perhaps because one again became a suspicion that fed on each moment. I lost all sense of the existence of limits when I thought he might slip away from 38 . for her. with a lazy confidence that admired her. She was on the very edge of the bed. Could one leave him to himself ? And if he did actually turn to me. He couldn’t die this way. that the irreparable was happening. she had behaved as no one else could have behaved. bowing her head under the light and hugging her knees. Maybe my desire wasmerely the stood the simple truth of that movement. was so that I could remain at a distance. the strangest thing was that she ubu. When she didn’t answer. wanted to take it off her. She was sitting almost the coercive force of her animosity. had made it easy for me to wait. It wasn’t possible that this opportunity would be lost forever. constrained at that limit by ening. I had stolen away. it could only make me sad that I hadn’t underinformation. that I suddenly sensed to what an extent I had left it all in her hands. I had the feeling that he was in a very bad way. at this exact moment. But that didn’t mean I was released from As the days passed. it was much more ephemeral. as she liked to do. as with a space I was moving through feverishly. perhaps at this very moment. anxiously? Why didn’t I share it at all? Why did I have to point forcing me to remember? it happen that what. this calm I collided with. And why was she so tranquil? Where did happy with her and only with her. and the feeling that this time he wouldn’t get up this calm come from. her spirit and life almost obliterated. and it was also true that he was having any relationship with him. maybe because I had been sleeping deeply for a long be more worried the less she was? Why did she seem to forget him? Why did tainty. I turned on the lamp. But it was especially when I saw her so tranquil. I woke up with that cerOne night. in all her naturalness. What I wanted had nothing to do with quite human desire to get close to him. To me. I must have told her about it in the dim consciousness of just awakstraight up.the last man maurice blanchot more evident because it endowed her with the brilliance of a piece of finery. the sparkle of a precious material which attracted one. was forgetfulness crowded into me like a sharp time. The only reason I had And no doubt it was really true that she had been wonderful. I was overcome by a terrible desire: I wanted to ask him questions. I wasn’t really curious about him.

because the disappearance of sleep seemed to her such an incomprehensible misfortune. she immediately ubu. that he might be but which had taken shape in me a long time before: in a very bad way. and more frightened. and only a very particular set of circumstances would cause her middle of the night. thinking once again of my presentiment. since I was sleeping deeply. which lay farther down at the bend in “What in the world is wrong?” sleep alone.” in a small. and she had been overcome by one of those silent rages that closed her in on herself. I would like to see him. I tried to tell her about the feeling I had had. desperate voice. more so than any truly hard thing could be.” As I said that. But this time she didn’t answer. simply. I didn’t have time incredibly hard to me. I was as surprised to see her awake in the avoid being touched by something horrifying. “I would like to talk to him. At that moment I was too “How can I say what the matter is when you ask me with those lit- Her head was still bowed. I asked her if she had had a bad dream. Maybe she had been afraid and had called out to me. like a person who had clearly been awake for some time. Scarcely to study them. a agitated to find a way to bring her back to me. and in fact. if she had heard a strange noise and. When she couldn’t sleep. I wanted only to get her 39 . I hadn’t heard her. crying out indistinct words which surely expressed an excruciating ignorance and rejection. as though to I reached out my hand to her and finally touched her. she would say to me would also say. Of course I said to her: right away: “I can’t sleep. All I could think of saying was: “What’s the matter? What’s the matter?” Words she detested: tle words?” word. she contracted visibly. so that it was only by chance that one could draw her out: by a gesture. she to spend a whole night in her room. Her body seemed had I even grazed her than she leaped up. that we ought to find out: “Wasn’t she worried? Did she know something?” And I ended by saying something I shouldn’t have said. this way.the last man maurice blanchot was awake like that. as I would have been if I hadn’t found her next to me when I woke up. as occasionally happened. that there was nothing in the world sadder than to the corridor. a certain kind of attention or even a distraction that affected her without one knowing why or being able to predict it.

while she wept and wept. and even my interest in him. “Or someone added. only remember it: she had been overwhelmed. No one I know. now. jealous of what she said was his interest in me. She insistup to then. after that night and because of it. Maybe she was jealous of painful place. I never really knew what had happened to her that night. so that I seemed to be witnessing something very “How can you say that?” It almost made her 40 .” “Then were you asleep?” understand.” “But was it that horrible?” “No.” had been overwhelmed too. revealed some kind of deep jealousy on her part. she one when I had seen her so far away from me. “I don’t think so. touched me.” In the end I wondered if that scene hadn’t of loving me.” And seeing that I kept coming back to it. if waiting implied a responsibility that required of us an active adherence. she kept harking back to it. of a dreamlike fluidity. I couldn’t interpret that scene. or underancient or still to come. and I hadn’t been aware of it either.” Which she denied categorically: “Maybe someone else. made me as calm as she was. as though on the edge of the world we shared. about myself. I would like to see him”—words that had ubu. so very human and yet so barely credible to me. That thought. And what had she said? Childishly. incapable of recognizing me. it was a shout that didn’t mean anything. and in effect time “Maybe you mistook me for him. I felt. ly. I dared say to her: else?” stand it. became soft. that everything was simpler and ed too much on that preference of his. She answered: Maybe I didn’t even shout. about everything else. those words would have enlightened me about her. What are you trying to understand? There’s nothing to But I couldn’t help trying to get close to a moment as serious as that.the last man maurice blanchot collapsed in my arms. I questioned her desperately. I convinced myself that if I had heard them more clear“But I didn’t say anything. no. So we had to wait calmly. without being aware of it. “It’s nothing. as to a richer than I could even imagine. everything in her that was hard melted. I had been struck by what I had said to her—”I would like to talk to him.

and too lively for one to be able to control away from. yet again. with the 41 . I didn’t know the signs of gaiety. that she wouldn’t have been able to resist? When. but she was the one I was addressing when I said it. that tries to force me to retreat. just now. And perhaps this only said something about me. “But maybe I’m not calm. he made it through that bad episode. after some thought.” And then. There was something timid and irresistible about them that touched me: an adolescent sort of desire that could only have been conveyed here by the whole immensity of universal time. It was as though an inordiendowed him in turn with a power—to give it that name—superior to everythough each time I was distressed to see how much weaker he was in reality nate power had swept down on him and by crushing him so excessively had ubu. instead tormenting her with tireless questions. because of the very personal desire they had brought to the surface. whom I was touching now. I wasn’t relieved of it called an attack of the flu: scarcely even more tired than he had been. out of whether it was still far away or already absolutely present. she added: “There is often something like a point. that probably had to do with him. and not the calm at all. involving only me. she plaintively rejected. an extremely fine point. that I couldn’t accept. that answer was like the point she was telling me about.the last man maurice blanchot been almost shameful to me. not only weaker. And yet those words did not seem out of place to me. that suffering which nailed me in place and yet pushed me hither and thither because of an uneasiness that had all whose presence I felt: a suffering so sharp and fine that one couldn’t tell ly approaching. ting here. though constantwhat was conjured up by that point. words that could well have made her jealous by revealing to her how deep a desire existed. not wanting anything to do with a memory which you have seemed quite calm to me. only said what I wanted. not long after that night. this young woman sitand why had she been so overwhelmed? By a sadness I did not allow for. I said to her: “For some time now. a tireless investigation. tries to push me back into being calm. which they discreetly serious condition that was threatening him.” For me. than I remembered—and yet. as though at my very edge. However.” all she said was: her concern to be precise. I can only feel the point. There was something obscure about it that I was turning when.

but in a rather graceful position. then. entering him so deeply that nothing of him was from it. or pity. observing me slowly as though. remained vague. The effect was immediate and struck me with the promptness of a stab of pain piercing me in the most distant of my memories: pain that own pain. (What would happen to a man who came up against a death too strong for him? Every man who escapes violent death wears. his head bowed over his rapidly rising and falling chest. a powerlessness over which. It represented the secret breaking point. one that wasn’t accompanied by 42 . it had to embrace the entire expanse of a great crowd. from being the penetrating look I was hoping for. he made a better impression. for an instant.) So he was back in the same alcove. That “No. that one couldn’t question. On the contrary. now. For a moment. but far clearly directed at me. he sionally seen him leaning forward in that same armchair. his about it all too much. Today.” Despite the fact that this “No” was very gentle. maybe ironic. I had conjured it up. I had denied it. While he was looking at me in that disappointing way. instead of me. and also beyond him.” was terrible. his felt hat casting a shadow that looked in my direction. I had thought terrible than that of a child. with at first a very brief look that seemed to fall back on himself. a little suffering smile. I won’t say that I was only discovering it now. It was this. of an almost transparent tenuousness. then.the last man maurice blanchot thing. very any moaning. I had occamoved over his face. waiting for us. the very pain: he was filled with an unknown pain.” coming from a man who almost always said “Yes. I was at the gaming table and he was in the armchair. when it lifted again in my direction. I thought I maybe absent. Early on. the glimmer of very bad way. he also looked healthier. his large that new dimension. He must have felt that I was examining him. it indicated the area ubu. when he was asked: “Are you suffering?” he always patient. it grew broader. a pain brighter than the brightest day. though discerned the beginnings of a smile. fine point only became sharper and finer. the idea that he was suffering in a way that was beyond us. waiting for her. a suffering more visible anymore but unlimited weakness and the gentleness that resulted answered: “No. and I wasn’t at all reassured by this proof that he wasn’t in a body somewhat hunched over. that was conjured up by the point. no superiority had any hold. he was gently rejecting our was actually his own. but too ample.

when she had gone with him just now—he had withdrawn tolerate so much noise for long. as though she found herself there by chance. her lightness. with his kindness. with tance by which I felt endangered. the dis- vator door for him and held it open while he sat down on the seat inside. his suffering is naked. a speech that would be a sign of alliance? Maybe he can’t communicate For this reason. but before the whistling of the pulley was a pleasure of hers that she had been trying to inspire in me for a long her own reasons for going away. I had felt a pang.” Already. She lavished her gaiety on ubu. She opened the elethought they were going up together. but not suffering. but remained a slightly apart And the fact that they were hardly together. I thought he was 43 . I wanted to let her take my place. despite his willingness—seeing them walk past together.the last man maurice blanchot beyond which he regarded us. that she. in many others as well. too. I stopped. Yet she didn’t go far. what he is going through.” And she added with simplicimoment. I didn’t dare say to myself what I nevertheless read on his face and what she made me deal with by answering me in a sort of horrified way: when he doesn’t think. only increased.” tle. we “Why. which risked surviving him if he didn’t suffer it all the way through. he clearly could not from him in order not to get in his way as he walked. “That’s what had to happen. as no longer existing. her chance. In fact. Gambling it. and not only in me. maybe no one is there to take in what he is suffering. did not diminish. and ty: “He must be given a little thought that isn’t a thought of pain. to suffer it? A single and what an abyss it was drawing her to. she loved that chance and loved being loved time. he suffers. she was already back. instant. was still quite alone. drawing us to. I think that would be enough. though she wasn’t touching him. what an instinct— after a brief period of standing behind the gaming table.” So she tried to procure for him that little bit of time—that single “How can you say he isn’t suffering? When he thinks. I’m suffering a lit- were afraid of that suffering. walking near him. isn’t he willing to say: Yes. and even our suffering. but a true instant? What a dreadful complicity. a little moment that might allow him to recover the pain.

of the desire to relieve myself I took to be him was only the surviving. that calm which I now understood might have yet another. to a terrible degree. surely. Even the moans. and she gave me. attracting us. still had something dry about them that didn’t suffering he consumed in silence and with infinite patience. all the heavier because it was so light. I done anything up to now to stop her from approaching that area of suffer- ing to which. moving away from it. but distant. already. a slow torment. prey to a resentment she withdrawn: the fact that by touching her. at night. pushing us What would happen if he died too soon? If the suffering survived imperceptible decline that had to be connected with his own suffering. in order to spare them any painful vibration. a silence him? And immediately this thought: what if he were already dead? If what specter of an infinite pain that would henceforth remain with us. worked. an it was there around us. I had actually succeeded in touchwas so wonderful. moving us away. arouse pity. only a ruder silence and a rough. endlessly died? An abject thought. even though at the price of terrifying her—perhaps this was what that might always recur. or maintaining that motionlessness. the calls. not visibly preoccupied. didn’t reach anyone. I could only hold it against myself that I hadn’t the thought that perhaps he was not suffering. But this time she didn’t 44 . the not result in any calm. lacked any sort of musical quality any question about him. But this did and made the frequenting of places and people here very difficult. a calm that could not entertain and a noise which. scarcely even a thought. completely different meaning from what I had thought I saw in it: that calm might be similar to the calm one imposes on oneself near people who are very sick and suffering a great deal. born of that sufubu. She remained apart. any uneasiness. silent presence of his suffering. scattering us. going back. with such stinging promptness. I thought uneasily: and what if she stays like this? I recalled the night I had found her awake and yet so horribly and motionless. though in vain— back. the answer which the two of us now confronted. hard noise. the us as we lived.the last man maurice blanchot by chance. didn’t summon anyone. always? It was then that I boldly expressed to her couldn’t hold it against her. her face closed wouldn’t have been able to formulate. perhaps it was a wonder that might not always recur—or ing her. weigh upon fering. of the fatigue of that suffering. she turned and turned again. ceaselessly.

She ter.” down.” though receding to an infinite distance and yet also coming infinitely close to The cold. that confidence. She soon felt betsaid to me: kitchen. disturbed by our presence. but everything The front of the house rose a few steps away. without my doing anything to deflect her from it. and as we passed the vast kitchens. but the sky wasn’t a snowy us. its lower stories dimly lit. I became aware of the change that her words ble. not all of it was visiubu. there was a thicker layer of snow. which for sky. had made her dizzy and I had led her over to the rim of the basin that served as a fish pond for the only the noise of the water. Where we were. circumstances I had liked. and it was here that I saw how dark and confined space could be. We remained there side by side. already.” I took off her shoes. as I recalled only the circumstances of reasons of hygiene we weren’t allow to enter. There was already a little snow. it formed a powerful dark mass. in a veiled manner and without my noticing. She stayed that way. as “Look how dark the sky is. a mysterious. and probably the sudden chill of fear—she had always told me she was afraid of going out at night—as well as the constraint I had exerted on her to force her to look at the black sky. she had drawn me into the back courtyard. but once again she felt dizzy.. I would feel bet- lent pains in her head. She said: want?” “ 45 . One evening she had wanted to go out and walk on the lawn. living noise in which one sensed the confused agitation of the fish. complained of vio“I think if I were to put my bare feet in the snow.” “Is that what you “But where would we go?” at the top lost in darkness. right now it is. and slipped them “We shouldn’t go back to the house ever again. then she sank her feet in the snow which I gathered to her in a little pile. unfastened her stockings.” “Wherever you like.the last man maurice blanchot of it and relieve her of it too. It seemed to me she had alluded to it a long time ago. me with my arms around her legs. Everything was quiet and we heard ter and wanted to stand up. Help me.

It occurred to me that we should go back up to the room. as though seized once again by the same dizziWe were still in the library. walking very far away. in her cold. maybe. drawing her toward me little ness that had shaken her in the beginning. and now I knew I would be the one ubu. and yet going past. perhaps suffer.” “Are you afraid of An answer which at the time only seemed to me to contain a reaI suggested that she might not be able to tolerate it. though sure. while I tightly encircled her legs and her naked thighs. would have been dead a long time ago—so many people had died around her—if.” at that moment she had expressed the reality of the suffering one could not sonable fear. I can’t. she fell down next to me. but now I grasped it again as I had not been able to hear it before. That would mean going back up in his direction. under that sky reduced to a single point. but perhaps she had meant something quite 46 . and perhaps she had thereby revealed one of her most secret thoughts: that she. I can’t. I knew he wouldn’t stop. she had adapt- suffering?” She shivered. in order to die. in that through such a thickness of sufferings that were not fatal and if she had not been terrified of losing her way in an area of pain so dark that she would silent snowy landscape. but not suffer—no. going farther on. it would probably be very danger“Do you mean that I would have a relapse?” “Yes. “I’m not afraid of it. shivering presence.” “My whole life. I just can’t.” ous.the last man maurice blanchot seemed to announce in her. step. or I had managed not to look at it squarely. too. ed to living in such particular conditions. but hardly a life. one had not had to pass never find her way out of it. so that in the end. climbing from very far away and as though he were still he would enter. Did this mean she was prepared to abandon everything without any regrets? “Yes. I never seriously thought down the corridor where I had heard him approaching with his hesitant.” She thought for a moment: “I think I could die.” “But you’ve spent your whole life here. by little. I had not given that speech any real attention.

not my afterthoughts—and let it be without disgust. and the only movement that responded to that summons was a movement of abhorrence. let it be thoughts. without knowing it and without wishing it. to crush him or even merely to touch him. commensurate he would protect with his great frightened hands. but every time. Would I be alone? Yes. not It was low. and let my hand alone strike him. one had to descend too low to reach it. That’s where we’re going. the propensity of Dreadful daydreams. But I immediately thought: that is even ugly wound from which no one will recover. in greater suffering. more fanatical.the last man maurice blanchot who would go to his room someday. and yet to attack him also in the face. with his dissimulation. to draw it from its muteness. I would be alone. If I must assail him for something. make him even more himself. and if it is. hideous. my 47 . Such a thing can’t be. his derision would shine out: yes. and I’ll be more powerful. Everything him. which I resisted with some unknown part of myself. which I didn’t recognize myself. bother him. If I must be his destiny. even though it might And what would ensue from that moment? What could I do? Try to reach him in order to relieve him of himself. sordid. cunning attack. but by a slow. let that more cowardly. to lower him still further. thoughts that were too much for me and in in a friendly spirit. a dissolute reality that inspired disgust: around him and maybe in him. crush him. and every time he’ll be more degraded. to do with him was disturbance. weaker. an invasion of vulgar shames and banal resentments. not degrade him. And it won’t be ubu. protected soul. while behind them his fear. the need through any direct violence. make that suffering talk? There was something about it that was necessary. that leaves me the dignity of a tranquil. something wicked. after which we would be free. There was an area of disturbance around but revolting. my hand and not my destiny attack him. an just once. and happier. that’s the truth of this meeting. because of my approach. there would be an amazing moment of freedom and emptiness through which the force and impetus of an unknown happiness would fly to meet us. why force him to recognize in me. the express itself in the form of a cry that would overpower me? And why go frightful suffering he would otherwise endure in silence? Why talk to him. it can only be horrible. force it to express itself. that face which his distress. a repugnant misery. in order to give that suffering a face.

perhaps briefly. but I couldn’t answer with certainty. It could I accept them. the friendship she had for accepted him. what does she expect? I was able to ask myself the question. it was only because I had face? No doubt I hadn’t asked her that and hadn’t wanted to ask her. I had no doubt that at the point we had reached—and as I could still feel the vibration of their keen shafts in me—it would have required only a little encouragement for her to come to the conclusion I had been waiting for so long: “You must go see him. but I have accepted him. risked separating us for good. loving. What It occurred to me that some of the understanding. she rejected with violence. I don’ fact is that there couldn’t have been any room for such a question between 48 . I wanted passionately to caress that face. perhaps as a familiar visitor? If I had sometimes believed and never imagined it.” A speech which. what is she thinking. however rapidly and gently. conclude from this that she herself had already been to see him. she rejected. but the ubu. once it had established itself between us. not loving. but as soon as I put my hand near her at that moment. A dangerous reserve that kept an appearance of vivacity and seemed to model itself on her without altering her behavior. in turn. she had remained just as distant. Does she know that? And if she knows it. as she had told me one day when I said to her: “You don’t know who he is. Shouldn’t I. her face smooth. During the entire evening after the words had sprung from her that ought to have set her free. implacable concerning everything she couldn’t tolerate.the last man maurice blanchot this truth.” “No.” Yes. she accepted him—that word said a great deal. she turned her head away or stub- It was in the light of that word that I wanted to open the space bornly bowed it. and she was cruel. almost without contour. opinionated. And how could she have remained silent about such a thing? How could she have carried it around and hidden it behind her thin sometimes wished that she had gone into his room. and even so. Maybe he horrified her. him was the sort one has for an animal. for instance. but which. Sometimes she seemed cruel to me. But sometimes she was infinitely resourceful and wonderfully patient: with animals. is true that I had not answered her words. but she between us once again. she saw as merely the reflection of my coldness. nor if I complained about it. almost ugly. I couldn’t challenge them.

but only to the sent to stop pressing her and searching for her? Certainly I could often reproach myself for the way I had continued to pester her. to realize how difficult it would be for me to come to Then I had to think that maybe she had taken this step. and I participated in the same refusal by not questioning her. A moment so real that it consoled one for everything and exceeded all hope. but without any insistence either. I was sure she would not hide anything from me. drawing rather childish landscapes or exclusively female figures relattimes: “What I am to you. depended on me. would enter it. without any ubu. I had each other without reserve and talk to each other without lying. she would say. and all thought. on the question. by a difficult agreement. she would answer me immediately in the frankest way.the last man maurice blanchot us. all sadness. And yet I felt that if I managed to find an occasion to Everything. together in my room. even in her sleep and even in the calm with which she protected herself. as I would recall all the moments we spent ed to her by a vague resemblance—her sister.” what I would always remember. That was how she had learned things she wouldn’t have learned by going all the way. I could sense the element of hopelessness in the sudden horror that had made her leap out of that moment of the night in which I had touched her. Every time I went back over it. I had only to recall the night she had remained at such a distance from to leave intact. of luminousness in embracing her disorder. In this sort extent that I. That was down. not by tak- motion she had ought to have taken her all the way. Would I ever con- of interval. sensing that this was the only place we could henceforth reach me. though the natural always refuse to talk to me about it. and that her dream body had not been an image. which. Likewise. but because she had refused to take it. She said my look had little She wasn’t surprised to see me watching her constantly. that. She would remain on the balcony for hours. feeling her tears. I kept finding in myself the wonderful nature of that movement. Nevertheless. she would question her. lying 49 . but an intimacy overwhelmed by sobs. a distance which really seemed to lay down on her the reserve which it wasn’t enough for me simply to push away now. therefore. on the contrary. ing it. my sensation of joy in recapturing her. or at other other concern.

” “And yet you’re calm. us. in the always sure she could control. What place are they going to? Why such haste? Sometimes they separate and look at each other. maybe in the past. wrapped in In fact. she was somehow abandoned to a spirit of lightness she wasn’t “Yes. the most dis“It’s already in the past?” “Yes. so gravely. more furtively. tant sort of memory. that it made the things around her lighter. and her haste. “Is it as though you were alone?” “No. She had always been afraid of dying outside herself.” pane. in the past. with her inevitable concern for exactness. as though that draws a circle around them and isolates them. seemed to me. another memory lay between them. in dened by the present. in a space where people seem to walk more quickly. until she finds a way out that back there.” But. not a memory—forgetfulness. not childish. but it’s already almost like a memory.” at her with a certain drunkenness. that extremely fine sort of point which She rarely lifted her head.” “Us? Me too?” “Yes. she would say: fever keep her there. Only us. close together. but also to other days. knowingly insouciant.the last man maurice blanchot weight. that I could only look long run. I’m calm.” “Is it as though I were alone?” “Not that either: maybe it’s your look that is alone. to go back into the heart of the calm. Her essence. then. and it was no doubt this that gave her. too—yes. in some way motionless. her leads her to me. she took care to add: forces us to retreat. so present and yet so scarcely burturn. while she drew the lines with a hand that moved almost constantly. there on the other side of the window- she hastily tosses back the blankets. but so divorced from thoughts of the future. as though there had been other days: glide by. the feeling of lightness that made her almost drunk. comes into the room. a torment ubu.” “That point is still there. it sometimes happened that she couldn’t stay where she was: 50 .

so veiled that no one dared take notice of it: it hap- There was an allusion to that forgotten thing in everything she did. of the same white as the wall.” “You have to hold me firmly. without shadow. Later—it was already the opened her eyes. she had begun to want to recall something: she searched for it quietly. pened a little in the background. maybe it con- cerned both of them. behind her and behind him. with me. All the doors were alike. leaving a gap of a few steps between us. Words which he heard distinctly. as though she were playing a game: “Here?” “Or here?” “No. If she could have gotten up. with a certain uneasiness. she had now. hopeless middle of the night—without emerging from her immobility. He leaned over her and she which. having left the drawing rooms. which I had noticed before.the last man maurice blanchot you’re holding me. not completely level with me. looking at him with that serious. she would no doubt have gotten up to look for it in the room and all through the house. but also with great tact and firm patience. I must be struck at the point where At a certain ridor with door after door opening onto it. nowhere near here. without perspective. When she died. indistinguishable from it. It would be like that all the way down the famous corridor. indistinguishhospital corridor. as I listened to that noise. a narrow corsame white light. It was like the reminder of a promise were empty of people now.” an allusion so discreet. walk along by my side. it seemed to him. with a ceaseless. I thought time back. and crowded. all ubu. muffled din. she gave one the comforting. solitary look she was asking him to keep. as she could not help doing when she was “on bad terms” with As we were rising tranquilly. she was finishing the journey she had embarked upon a short but a little behind. me. no other noise between us but the whistling of that. She would open the door of the elevator. awash day and night with the 51 . like a white. motionless. she asked suddenly: “Am I the one who’s dying? Or is it you?” feeling that she was dying in order to remember it. which the pulley.

indifferent life. side by side. Once we were standing before the door. one end of time and I at the other—but in the same instant and in a shared preswhich lay farther down at the bend in the corridor. the sea. the eternity of my encounters and my desires. and that I would have no other landscape than that clean. ubu. and sometimes the silence of those who did it with a sense of its calm. equally silent. deep. I was seized by—what thought? By a thoughtless sadness. murmurs behind doors. and went off to her own room. everything seemed equally sonorous. knowing that for me the white solitude. could not be consoled. the whistling sounds of those who were having trouble breathing. voices. could say 52 . the changing. as though she were at one ence. there would lie the immense.the last man maurice blanchot able from one another except by the numbers on them. in that tunnel. out opening it. Did she understand that this was necessary? She gave the door a quick look. and curtly separated us. fits of coughing. as in a tunnel— footsteps. rustling fields. gave me a quick look too. that there my trees would grow. I liked that corridor. imposed nothing. I walked down future was there. happy slumbering and unhappy slumbering. cloud-filled sky—there. having come to a stop with- that asked nothing. not seem to be breathing anymore at all. and as one walked down it. was merely empty. sighs.

moves? Didn’t I have to be more lively in my study of that event. All I had to do was wait. as though to keep me on the edge of the between us. doubts. and except for that grave. and even though there was no real relation appearing infinitely distant and foreign. though more important what bound me to it. my thoughts. offered me a sort of immediate means of access. yielding me very long. to be equal to that calm. but with the motionless. and more real. I did not know In addition to that first impression. . and to be. too. and I didn’t even know that. This calm was a gripping sort of calm. less protected. But waiting . while I applied my mind to it. very close to the word that came from so far away: it wasn’t completely commensurate with me. almost too light.the last man maurice blanchot II IF I THINK ABOUT what happened. I only knew that I owed it some respect. it was more exposed. by precautions. But I had to beware of precisely that—beware of the even more enticing impression that ubu. what that calm was outside me. I had my own share in it. but that didn’t bother me. I would grave. it touched me. in myself. looking after the calm that was confided to my negligence? And yet. I was already enjoying this new state. I also felt that this space. lighter. motionless up to a spirit of lightness that threatened not to leave me at my own level for thought. it was even extraordinarily outside of moment when I would have to be calm. I had never been so free. I would have thought everything. an intimacy. that very recent event by which I felt I was being watched. it even pushed me back slightly. and solitary thought under whose cover my thoughts continued to express themselves so lightly. it wasn’t human yet. I would have to say that for me it almost merges with the calm that allowed me to face it. me. by means of which I was undoubtedly watching myself. If I had wanted to. but because that space was foreign to me. It seemed to me that if I managed to be calm. as though despite myself. a solitude that would perhaps have been suitable for a living being—a human being? No. I had the impression there was a space to which I felt bound by an expectation. because perhaps I also owed it a fierce lack of respect. . Had I made the decisive remain in balance not only with all my 53 . were freer.

so decided and so sure. if there hadn’t been my weakness. that every thought was ours. its weakness. as much. one of the ultimate 54 . not as an obstacle. and what held me back was something too easy in that approach. a distinctness that would have brought it too close to me. the calm also tance. and yet I dreaded. As soon as I leaning on my forehead. I could only be surcertainty. but light. I could have believed I had already reached some goal— an ultimate one. threatened. I won’t say that this space was already clearly delimited. my forehead But I did not doubt the kind of presence it constituted. continu- tion of my waiting. The doubt weighed powerfully on each of my steps. but Everything was so calm that if it hadn’t been for the soft. indestructible—it was final. I observed it. It had to find limits on me.the last man maurice blanchot we thought everything. I leaned lightly on it. and the certainty of the same nature as the doubt. but it could us. have been. but as a memory. and a doubt remained that it was delimited as soon as I entered it. perhaps. I experienced it. my weakness so superior to me. that I wasn’t sure I wasn’t exerting on it by my resistance and by the direc- ubu. Its instability was what suddenly scared me. If there hadn’t been an uncertainty between it and me that protected both of of the thought that was vast enough to contain the two of us. in its contact with me and exhaust me with that calm. nor as a dissense a danger even to itself. nor too strict: it could close up again. yet unshakable. just have frightened me more as a familiar thing than as a foreign thing. a word which here appeared opaque. And yet. affirm itself for so long: one gesture and always within my reach. allow it to gain strength from that waiting. It would ous pressure exerted on me. at least might have been. I realized once again. It was too simple. an extremely light and extremely firm pressure that were not too foreign to mine. A dangerous calm. which left it without any defense and me without any decision. and one that was in some seemed to interpose itself between us. true. I wouldn’t even have been able to be conscious was there. This easiness might have been what had deflected me prised at it and avoid it. but also to make me go forward. not only to push me back. Something warned me that the doubt should always be equal to the I had to wait. threatening. I felt that.

one that was even more useless and more hostile and that we both dreaded in the same way. over there in the useless region. But I stayed on the crest of that narrow drunken- ness. it does not fall it. It was dark. I tirelessly prowled around. became wily. recognized the places to follow.the last man maurice blanchot over there. nor adhere to it. I learned not to be content with it. an ultimate avidity which I had to 55 . far away even from the space. was an opening onto a different region. allowed itself to be seen rather than heard. It stole away. this immense speech which always said “We.” merged with its surface. I had before me a hungry evidence. and was calm as it grew. I had glimpsed some possibilities. in me. The only firm thing I had was the motionless where everything became denser. That din made me drunk. It seemed to me motionless. a sphere that tion of a speech in no way confused—and when it falls silent. it which sprang from me and which. as though it were drawn. not thought that enveloped us and perhaps protected US. and as though outA feeling that at no price should I make use of the agitation of that side were shining images. perhaps crazy. On either pushed me back down toward the bottom. only hear it while hearing myself in of joy. speech. and yet also in me. of an amazing lightness. I had lost every habit. It was like a slope one had only And yet. I never despaired. kept growing. an endless din. wily. far beyond the room where the space The sort of drunkenness that sprang from it came from that “We” ubu. on one of the slopes which I could only situate over there. joyous. It was at once powerful and empty. not controlling it. Abruptly. controlling a feeling of pain. a shining sphere. A terrible feeling that immediately made me draw back. It was side. it was a height that silence. a speech untouched by the uttered far away from here. it was cold. its temptation. The waiting (the calm) made me feel that which was why it disoriented me by its evasion. it kept stealing away. and yet not always. authoritarian and docile. But I. more real. It was light. frightened. high. every path. Maybe it had no center. its wiliness. too. by the sense of that center which it didn’t have or by that calm that awaited me. cramped against a phantom of lightness. and smooth. to return to myself. The agitasilent: I could distinguish myself from it. a slope that started off from calm and ended in calm. The space was evasive.

” “And who are the oldest and who the youngest?” “And who must be glorified. Never any stop to it. it shakes us. what began the first moment. Our own has the volume and A mysterious answer. rises endlessly. and what we said ceaselessly praised what we were: “What else is there now but us?” “No one. unity. what live turned toward ourselves as though toward a mountain lifting vertiginess ever drunker and calmer. obliged me to hear myself in that chorus whose base I situated over there.” “Then who must be loved?” “ 56 . Almost imperceptible. weak. somewhere in the direction of the sea.” “Who are the distant ones and who are the close ones?” “We here and we over there.the last man maurice blanchot began to enclose itself. over there. but it is also silent. who waits for us?” “We must and we do. hearing it is a disquieting. always continue. a strange murmur that disturbs us: the voice is something animal about it. a drunkenthat has always seen everything. knowing ubu. sublime radiates eternally from these days.” That was where we all were. We remain together. passes between us like a shadow.” “We are. Even though it may be a sort of ritual. We A feeling of immense happiness—this is what I can’t get rid of.” “And the sun—where does it get its light from?” “From us and only us. too physical. harsh like the squeak of a lizard. erect in the solitude of our strength of worlds added onto worlds. lies under our eyelids like a gaze nously from universe to universe. who comes to us. The other has surprise. “We”: the word glorifies itself eternally.” “And the sky—what exactly is it?” “The solitude that is in us. It is the shelter we hurry under. no limit. what makes that first moment still continue.

it be comes blackining it.the last man maurice blanchot nothing. It increases by one tone. what each of us then secretly says. Insouciance is the gift we have been 57 . but grows on. the sky changes color. but an aspiration always satisfied and always desiring. as though to show that the impenetrable has Everything. Sometimes. there is nothing solemn or always more immobile: eternity is achieved. What proves it is and we are all united within this point even in our separation. how could I bear it? Do you mean the sky sinks into us like the point of a needle?” “That’s it. and our mouths are also closed. it claims. that’s right. it is lightness itself. What is terrible about it at its highest point the intangible variation of the sky. it always goes farther. This grave about it. an immense column whose top and bottom. that terrible sky—this is what doesn’t preoccupy us. put us within reach of an infinite growth. that strange sun. withdrawn still further. and from the first moment. Such a discovery ening. if it weren’t as infinitesimal as the sharpest needle This point would therefore be what pierces the most distant of my point. I could be afraid I am the only one to realize this. No end. Already black. is common to us. This is probably “But if it weren’t a point. A terrible does not change. and protects me like a veil: that every time the black becomes blacker. united only communicated within our very midst. and yet we know that it varies imperceptibly in response to the source of the thought that has lain down on me. Yes. It unsettles us to praise ourselves er. Frivolity is what is best about us. rises from all sides into one common cry that cry. is accepted right away. it makes us laugh. No beginning and yet the soar of a perpetual awakthought scarcely weighs upon our shoulders. merging. How we nevertheless see things. our eyes closed. that wraps me around We wouldn’t tolerate the sky being a single point. It is always more indestructible. that is our way of examfor being frivolous: as though an unknown center were being touched in us. by a nuance that can only be alone reveals to us what we have caused ourselves alone to hear. But it also says this share is the same for everyone here and not elsewhere: this would be the ultimate goal. it was already a very old thing: the feeling of that altitude. in order to give reality to that sign. yes. except the sky: our share of solitude passes through this point. That is why it is terrible.” ubu. apparently always the same.

here we are attaining something that was not hoped for. going by every road joyous- ly toward ourselves. Why should all that have changed? Why should what past.the last man maurice blanchot memories. would remove us from the calm? Why is this equilibri- feeling we have that we must look after everyone around that moment of um. the calm from which our lightness has also eternally made us go forth. is our balance. and as soon as I move toward it more boldly. as though forever? What is the source of the calm. to put it better. and. we look at one another as though between us there were a mem- the brightness that comes from us. memory does not encounter it: we move about uselessly behind ourselves. one stops and bows one’s head as though to it to us. the touch of an instant. if one was running (perhaps one was runreflect. I don’t remember this. it seems we walked more quickly. throws us upon one another. not a memory—forgetfulness. and they are the joy of We knew those days. that cold moment whose memory is nevertheless strange to us? Why ance of a happy day. do we know that thing of which there is no knowledge? Imperceptibly the question raises us up. they are eterThe happiness of always saying Yes. It’s a unique moment. Speech informs us about it. the eternal. Back there. ever blacker and sharper. of endlessly affirming. then. which we find suddenly before us and which is there only to urge us to withdraw. but not that extremely fine and amazingly distant point: that black point we call the sky. that happens the very moment we expected the opposite: one gets up (if one was lying down). go back inside What. Is it the past—this suddenly visible face? nally those that are coming. True. they don’t belong to yesterday. Such is the mis“But nothing has changed. You have to raise yourself high enough to be able to say: that was. Toward what place? Why such haste? Sometimes. The greatest calm reigns. the hope that draws a circle and isolates us. maybe. the balknown other days. And yet. that comes unexpectedly. We have close together we glided more furtively. those that do not pass. moment. It’s only that you also have to know eternity in the ubu. without error or doubt. once attained. I run up against that that single changing point. lost 58 . Certainly. I remember many things—everything. image shows ning away). cease to be said? breached the wall. in the past. or. and they are the surprise of having had been said. one freezes. ory.

their boundless frivolity. Why do you let me believe that if I wanted you to. It is as though I had to hear it in the past too. that is simply there. I will talk calmly.the last man maurice blanchot sion now reserved for you. because in it everything “But aren’t they afraid to say. you who do not extremely fine. without interrupting myself. slowly. why would we be afraid? On the contrary. without violence. becoming terribly. indifferent to everything. guiltily heavy? Isn’t that question already the weight that which one doesn’t emerge except through lightness. thought that wraps me around and perhaps protects me. too light to remain there. even if I don’t talk. I don’t believe in that speech. make us tumble. It is when one moves an unmoving surveillance. even to silence. amazingly distant point that keeps inviting me. it must not be betrayed.” either. that they’re dead?” “No. think of myself. get up.” The answer is that perhaps we would fall back into the calm from Spirit of lightness.” “That proves their insouciance. solitary thought in which that point is no doubt hidden. and I feel that not to dug. as though I couldn’t.” “But that’s just what death is. to hear it said. It still protects. into an answer? becomes infinitely light. you who do not answer. even if I have no relation to the speech I am capable of uttering. I want to talk Motionless thought. it’s 59 . to withdraw into forgetfulness. Why isn’t everything over? Why can I with which I feel connected? You are not even silent. you could question you? Why are you there like a space in which I am still lingering and prises me: a cold. if we fell a little more? If we were capable of could precipitate us. with a movement that surto. and when I go toward you. but I don’t have the power to avoid it believe it is to fall more quickly than it is falling down the slope it has already away from it that the feeling of a constant thought turns into the feeling of it couldn’t bear down more than the gravity toward which we let ourselves fall. but it also bears down—”lightly”: intractable thought that doesn’t answer. grave. strange contact—as though I weren’t supposed ubu. I ask myself why such dialogues seem to hide a deep concern. I am allowed to. the to you. intimate. And where would we fall. being light. but with a cold authority.

a sign.the last man maurice blanchot become visible? Why do you let me talk to you using intimate words that sep- arate me from everyone else? Are you protecting me? Are you watching me? But you are simply there. or taken by surprise. and yet this is the breathing of profound repose. that cold moment which we don’t remember? And is it true that everyone is watching? Maybe only one. maybe we’re all still inside the calm. maybe we aren’t watching over anything. And the last judg- the common spirit by a mysterious gift. since you want me to. and all of tion of a moment of emptiness. is. do we continue to keep watch around it—that instant. but Within you. they leave us free. But this calm which penetrates us. a real wall. didn’t I enter the calm? What has drawn me out I would be ready to say: “All right. this freely—it couldn’t be won. strange thought. however. the smile and salva- ubu. how they immediately rise. at a time when peace and silence have found their place. Strange. in the end. far from enjoying the calm for himself alone. calm. doesn’t give it up. a firmer pressure. “Calm. nothing requires it either. but hands it over rids himself of his moment of repose. four walls that expected of me? Haven’t I. I look it in the face.” Why that word? maybe no one. taken. A wall. happy. the calm likes that. what do you want from me?” “Yes. how light thoughts are. hands it over to ment is perhaps this pure gift through which. and them back to me so that I can hear them. ever tot- moment of dying. Nothing sweeter than such thoughts. and the words that go to you go to a wall that sends Why not discourage me? That would be easy. source that is fed by each person when he dies. are 60 . who envelop us and perhaps protect us. who are motionless. they we question on and on without end. ever more restless. not call the eternal heart. in that place where we come and go. each person always which yields us the truth that impels us. ask questions. come and go. solitary and grave. therefore nothing forbids it. to think them is to think nothing. I’m giving it up. Strange image: it says when a person enters this intimate calm at the that person. the moving force that unites us. Why? What is this role I have to play? What is of the calm? Could the calm be destroyed? And yet.” form the boundaries of the place I live and make it a cell. if it is destroyed. the thing we dare nothing disturbs it. tering. and in this way them are that way—they are all innocent. an emptiness in the midst of everyone else. joyful.

that you protect me or cut me off from that shared it does not fall silent. that is already returning to the upper reaches. when I am able to say. I feel.” a firmness that safeguards me from the is to exhaust you. proves that you protect me by your gravity. the free sacrifice of the moment of for an instant from itself in the person who is dying. there wouldn’t be any other instants for him. in this case. by your calm that is to come. If back. with your help. which I believe in. which holds me back. the thought that is not thought by me. leading me up with a mad promptness. I address you. and I also hear myself soon as it reaches me. to give you back to the emptiness that I am. it traverses me. nor will you deny that if that instant were left to the person it is the fruit of the last labor. the surprise lightness that comes to me from the first lightness. eternal pressure. the happiness of always saying Yes. you are nothing. promise me nothing. when I address you. the appeal for a new must pour into the heart. more just than balance itself—and what are you? A little space. the free judgment. But the calm of these new bonds and the certainty of what is older. Experience. You who reached it. and perto be above what is highest. who give me nothing. from the immense speech which. turns into a feeling of infinite joy. a point in space? exaltation. This is the way it is. the blooming and balancing that death receives patience and reserve. ever emptier torment which. won’t deny it. it can’t be taken back. I will be nothing only with you. when I question you. through its barely perceptible. If you are deceiving me. in that chorus whose base I would like to situate over there. I want you to. the empty. Yet why do you. somewhere near the sea. Perhaps I’m not dead. and you’re here to obtain from me. therefore the mysterious gift. If what you expect from me Note that I am not excluding the idea of the trap you might repre- sent. and if it falls silent.the last man maurice blanchot and even though behind you is hidden the point which is the sky. a calm that no longer draws me but pushes me “I question you. if that is the ultimate goal. not altogether leading me up. drunkenness that always says We. as haps conceal the wiliness and the tip of a torment—why do you seem to me ubu. to be happier than all 61 . Why do I have confidence only in you? I feel connected only to you. must be accomplished: oh. it is not given. The calm is given. tirelessly urges me to retreat. I will reach it. I abide near it. from that shared insouciance.

with your charubu. thought against which I rest. a little chamber where someone has to live. these words that don’t reach you? Are you trying to you’re becoming upset. It seemed to me we were silent. that that room well. very cold space in which sterile space returns to space. once it touches us. Is it me you’re moving away from—these warn me of some danger? Would you like to speak? You’re becoming upset. And the thought that each of us is only the reflection of the universal reflection. I have to hold you fast. I would rather not makes us drunk with that lightness. lighter than our- selves. Why must I keep you. motionless thought. I have to overcome presence is an endless withdrawal. don’t express me—and to hold you fast so that you remain strictly delimited. my forehead on which my forehead lies heavy. watch your boundaries. I lay down for a moment. a room whose boundaries you define strictly. and then disappear.the last man maurice blanchot talk about it. I feel it. illuminated by being no more than a reflection of everyone else. As you know. It makes me upset too. from its surface to its single is ours. impassable gravity that yields sometimes. is our own eternal coming and going. the suspicion that there is no repose in your immobility and your enduring thoughts I don’t have. Against you. shine. this answer to our lightness. to address words to you that don’t reach you. to give me a feeling of the past. spark. To live this way in everything so far from everything. nev- ertheless. everything that is reflected in us of everyone comes to assume form. What emptiness here. In this way we have the most 62 . quickly becomes light Why do we think that? Because we think everything. enough to rise and take us with it. What calm next to you. I believe it is an image. every thought Propped against you. makes us ever lighter. I remember acteristic rigor. A memory of light comes in through creates the emptiness and is the brightness of that emptiness. and it’s a cold brightness that penetrates everywhere. and even the heaviest. and to sustain lightness as a weight. in this way everyone is reflected in each of us by an infinite glimmering that projects us into a radiant intimacy from which each returns to himself. because it is already dominated by the little window. and which I can’t leave. in the infinitely glimmering sphere which. there is someone inside this cell. you who keep me? It is a great concern.

How strange that the darkness of the night should way lit by the light. perilous. a stifled murmur. and who utters it? What is that single word on which the heaviness still in us concentrates and falls back. from the delusion into which everything goes. I could describe to you the space that I won’t go out.the last man maurice blanchot the outside. arid ited. One day. You are acquainted with shadows. pointless haste. How exact everything is. But you It wouldn’t take much for me to begin believing in my separate exis- tence again and for me to add faith to the truth of images. already my steps come to meet me. who? I ask this. this disturbs us. All these people I see wandering about. come and go without end: deceptive faith. But our words are so the calm that awaits me—and might you be there to lead me to say that word I don’t know but which will perhaps be the sign that I am renouncing obtain it freely from me? Who are you? You can’t be what you are. for an instant. However. in them. that we are too light for that. more exact than it should be. but why do you prevent me from flowing into this murmur? Why do you save me from being entirely night’s very breathing. I will say a word? Have you assumed the face and the form of what I love in order to light that they keep opening out into questions. solitary brightness. a too weighty feeling that breaks the circle and frees itself ? Is it true that we can’t ness? love each other. Why such haste? Toward what place? Do my words outside myself. perhaps without knowing it. I know that that would be to remember. and if I lean outside. from which everything comes back? What part do I have in the words that enclose me—but I’m afraid I won’t always resist them. why do you separate me from what speaks in me. Then. taking some unknown part of me with them? I 63 . delusion that is the also go toward that place. too joined together in our light- ubu. I see the hallobeying the murmur of the night. obliges us to hear. which says one must come and go. as though entreat me with a sweet lure to follow them and that I resist only because you to deflect me. and the time in which one can say I is limdesignating him to answer the general speech. I don’t even ask it. if I go out into it. But be this motionless. these similar figures you form. are someone. Then what is happening? What issues from the earth is a strange voice. that attraction to the vain region. It is like a flame coming to light on one or the other of us and cry. a dry.

whose surprise. that is no doubt that brightness itself. I. as they like. where you are is the suffering I haven’t been able to suffer. Somehow. destroys it but in keeping with its unity. feel. shadwould like to preserve you from it. reveals it as it consumes it. that was at an earlier time and that was each of us—with his murmur. the one who answers the general certainty—but The belief that one has reached the moment when everything is burning. The fire burns only in order to bring to light the living plan of ing a central fire strong enough to illuminate everything in a general blaze. perhaps. the link between the suffering and what ought to be my thought. necessity.the last man maurice blanchot explain. This must be what makes you so grave and solitary despite the bonds that Indifference. I distance. it has no name. The belief that the great edifice is now no longer capable of feedThere is a rumor which says that at a certain moment. the slow fire secret unity. a suffering that drives the darkness and memory of life back to the edges. as though. For a long time I have sensed that you suffer. with the cold passion of separate fires. collected. with a suffering that I don’t sense. though from a distance. perhaps we can’t very easily tolerate the Could you really be the presence—motionless. legible only in me. The everyone. a great me. but that is in unite us—but that weigh on you. the surprise of eternal chance. an even. too. The Perhaps we don’t love. when everything is randomly extinguished in myriad different hearths workbelief that we might be the gleaming signs of the fire’s writing. I had given you the suffering I couldn’t accept and even thought? Is it in you that I might still suffer—in you. Perhaps I have entered into forbidden relations with you that I can’t owless light that penetrates everything and keeps me outside 64 . and what connects us? your silent brightness. and so very far from ubu. and thought of the mysterious order whose fortuitous wonder. ing where they like. written in belief that this belief is nothing more than the sadness and suffering of the fire. extended through space—of the possibly infinite pain that exists in a single myself—ever since suffering moved beyond me. in a gift I can’t explain to myself. I am afraid. perhaps. we affirm through the caprice that is in us. which has become too weak and already nearly broken. and as though it were a complicity that passes painfully outside of consuming the other world will make manifest its internal movement and the great edifice.

tion to you. But consider how vain. We’re over there. It is understood that between us. how lightly I say it. and the absence of secrecy is our con- us: don’t think I’m indifferent to your fate. truthless we are already. force keeps it here. light. all the more impenetrable as it answer is excluded. but without wanting to. and I’m into silence. I don’t know why that word appeared here. with you. It is in me like a future taking me by surprise. The little thoughts are all the lighter because of it. Answering belongs to a region that the two of us must have left already dissipated? It’s true that I would like to come near. day and night. and yet it isn’t said completely in vain. How could I question you. I’m sorry that sadness. Even where impenetrability reigns. I pay more attention to it than I and always unsteady. more exalted in the calm How cold I am already. but no doubt it’s the law. a target that would grant it rest? This doesn’t allow itself to be held back either. dition. nothing is secret. always saying what never stops being said. which doesn’t even draw me a very long time ago. serve you from it. thought in which I suffer so very far away from myself. without taking part in it. that is our belief and our subsistence. and happy with your silence. or even of encountering the briefest instant of pain. insignificant. and don’t think I want to exert a power of I would like to talk in secret. and I have to confess that I don’t think I’m still capable of 65 . closer to everything. how coldly. Day and draws back moment by moment under pressure from you. indiscretion and influence over you. to the point where I don’t exist. in secret in relanothing is revealed that wasn’t revealed in the beginning. And yet. I don’t know what it describes or what and we are closer to ourselves. Even when I say I would like to preThought which allows me to be without suffering. I wouldn’t like you to be able to answer me. if every answer hadn’t does that mean near you? To look for you in you? To keep watch in your place? Though I’m not sure of it. pain have been given to thought.the last man maurice blanchot the sadness that can no longer sadden me? Might the arrow I didn’t hold back try to find you. every Don’t hold it against me. in secret in relation to everyone. It is like a new desire. which doesn’t answer. I clearly see that the space between us is ubu. you who have a torment in the center of your transparency that you hide from should. night.

and I imagine I would only barely arrives. for all of us together. in whose midst we are reborn ceaselessly into our who knows there is no one there. too bad. but also that it is thrust almost disdainfully out of those confines where you remain and where it You don’t like it that I accept the uncertainty I am filled with so in it. It is still only emptiness. which you preserve with your incomprehensible gravity. the little thoughts that are so light for us are less so for you. indestructible. and why over there? Why that shivering which. and small certainties. is uncertain. They all point. so far away from everything. one that so scarcely belongs to me? Together. But what do you want? One can’t have large over. though it may be pain in you. which owes nothing to ignorance? And the calm. have to affirm it a little more to make you yield. and your struggle is solitary. but the little room is 66 . discreet. Why are you struggling. jealously enclosing myself within the circle where I am the only one Don’t you admire this uncertainty. too. in that speech of exaltation that we contain moment easier for you? What is being prolonged in you that no longer has any importance for me? Would you like to offer death—which is only real. own lightness: a large question. perhaps entrusted to ubu. about mine in particular.the last man maurice blanchot growing. it has no attraction Uncertain. raised up toward us by the force of insouciance that scatters us among ourselves and reunites us death? As you see. is drunkenness in us? Surely. I know everything. and unrelated to our spirit of lightness. steady. I am surrounded by questions. which yields neither forgetfulness nor memory. I very easily put up with that uncertainty. What can I do for you? How can I make the they say. toward the center I took lightly—I even accept it joyfully. Even if a shared death results in disturb me—and wouldn’t it be a pity to try to appropriate such an old event for myself. motionless. you have trouble containing it. and you suffer from their delicious dispersal. It seems to me you’re struggling against something over there. What would you want to balance against that thought of a shared doubts about the death of each of us. which is too fragile to or truth except in the place where we hold it together. that is superfluous. some with a barbaric rigidity. together—the one thought that would give it a sweet equality with you. with itself ? Believe me. others with nonchalance. more difficult to embrace in a single memory. I know everything.

the last man maurice blanchot our negligence. impatience. without another day appearing. lightly I watched for the moment when the black would lose its day. I might be able to see lots of interesting details out the window. by losing it. I’m inclined to believe that you don’t illuminate. Remember: the eyes are shut. and the that only attracts images. strange vision? I would very much like you to merge with it or at least foretell it. would this cold transparency be the night? Like a day ubu. maybe in it. and warm. The last am immersed. the sun of the dead. I’m not sure that brightness has any relation to you. but the black was still alive. It probably happened in the room. strange pain—that very separate thought. and no doubt I was already dead in had the deep black. And you—are you fighting to keep it In that case. Would it be the black following the black without corruption or 67 . rich. which keeps in which I passed away? It’s not much. by a light that comes from nowhere. maybe forever. minates. you instant? Or are you only the patience that prepares me for it. cause the final whiteness to of snow. Under my eyelids I always feel reappearing behind them. growing thinner—is it all that is left to me of the living black going or to dissipate it? To announce the evidence that follows it or to denounce it? Strange. It mustn’t be betrayed. Maybe this is the very same white light in which I who lie in wait. then pushes them away. It went on for a long time. but I’m not curious about those be more likely to turn me away from there. others it also illu- then pushes them away. beyond what arrives. and my curiosity would ed on all sides this way. others it also illuminates with an even light. velvety. that you keep yourself withstrictly defined except at one point. that sleep preserves. for what doesn’t arrive. also prepares me to renounce it? Is this black point which we call the sky. I remained close to the black. at every instant. It is a great deal to be illuminatthings: it’s enough for me to know we’re over there. that dreams many parts of myself. in confines where the darkness whitens. recognize that I’m lying down in that pit of light. Are you the black that dies away little by little and allows the illusion to see clearly for an drawing back. attracts light thoughts. I There are spots here that your light illuminates. whose boundaries are so mouth is also shut. I waited without color and inevitably.

the last man maurice blanchot them—on the contrary. I know very well that you don’t exist anyway. And if I am apparently lighter than light with that weight you constantly load onto me. Know that I don’t want things to be prolonged. and you are the assault on Why don’t you want to think me? Is it powerlessness. But it is in this that I also risk uniting with you. Maybe the question of knowing if I am already. even though you perpetually oppose me. Sometimes I feel I am the great thought. then I would be where you are not yet. the great certainty within which you find no room. over which you keep watch: it it led by the desire not to think. similarly grave. This doubt—bitter. you shouldn’t trust my advances too much. asking you always the serious thought of earlier times that I have outdistanced? be the large me against which you are struggling by not letting yourself think Bitter. and that out dream and without image. indifference. And who is talking? So long as there exists a relationship of intimacy between us that you. strangers so as not to be confused me all the questions I answer only with a silence that doesn’t answer? Are Could you still be over there? and so as to maintain the equality of the balance? Are you in the night the thought that I am in the other night? Are you the only one speaking. who are only detachment. and you not yet. I have the feeling you will remain yourself. but because I am despite everything. I recognize that—is only a form it. I am so. bitter thought. without the obstinacy there is in 68 . not because I unloaded myself of all burdens. which this separate identity pushes back forever one from the other. Light with the weight this is what reunites us. which therefore does- of the lightness that keeps charming us. I form a Is it you? Is it me in you? Is it the murmur that keeps passing between us and ubu. I think it wouldn’t change anything between us. Edge of the empty brightness. Attached to you. the weight of refusal and forgetting which you are. I am without fatigue. can’t be broached. But doubt about myself greater than what you can tolerate. withmustn’t be altered. I’m not tired of you will load onto me. blind will? Are you on one side and I on the other? Are both of us the same thought. through a movement whose old ruses I remember. solitary and motionless. allows me to address you. I would n’t understand you in particular. bitter.

extreme thought. anyway: Notice that I’m not giving in to the ease of regarding you as the last thought. ble. Or does this immensity itself seem still not enough for you. our relations would quickly cease to be toleragather yourself with an inflexible authority. add it to the It is true that I. ly on top of yourself. by a slip that your strictness must of course reject as illusory. pinned as though on the vast thought into which you wanted to issue forth? Very little thought. in this case. the emptiness around which you change. the thought which opened space when I left it. answer to your question. What separates us is infinitesimal. came from a thought which can no longer Might you suffer. It would be very distressing to imagine that what is fixed about your motionless and sure as the sky. but calm. instead of presence. a moment of calm. the point on which you immensity to a simplicity which is like a face. which makes you as yourself. a loving memory. question whose answer you Why don’t you want to give in? Why do you tirelessly reduce this You go before me like a hope. yet I am also what you must 69 . how you seem to flee before the agitation which I draw you toward. all that. a moment of horror. that I might be able to see? Don’t you want to have the night. by that closure of suffering which refuses to speak. still have the desire to talk to you as to a face ubu. If you were my last thought. the end makes it vibrate to infinity. Aren’t you tempted by the happiness of the circle? You go before me. and it is in me that you will be able to rejoin yourself. mediocre and close yourself again in a terrible contraction? shabby by comparison to the point you preserve. a thought on which you remained pierced. I like you this way. by turning it away. We shouldn’t be afraid. the night I am for you. where you are. to immensity. a recollection of what hasn’t taken place. Let that not be. then. What is an end for you will surely be a beginning in me. and the sharp point you hide. how you shiver. Think about that. Whatever the thought.the last man maurice blanchot whose different echoes reach us from shore to shore? Oh. from being a very little thought. and perhaps keeps it open in order to let me go eternally by holding me back. as you are for me. too. the night in which you would sink down and place yourself exactwill be? We must melt into each other.

the calm. a profoundly forgotten point from which every memory radiates. I sense that I will only reach you minknow this . if I think this is what tempts us both: I. one last time. A pure. if. for a long time now. The movement would be the same. death as memory. if I must remember you only by forget- is exalted in memory from something which is forgotten. how could we have been? How can we be tomorrow?” But the lament I suddenly hear—in me? In you? “Eternal. . in which everything becomes memory. There is detail. But an unavailable power. in order to take desire and memory as far as pos- ible in a face. to be a thought and yet a face. to be a face for me once more. closed face? Last possibility of being looked at by died in order to recall this. Could it be that one dies in order to recall something? Could you be the intimacy of that memory? Do I have to talk so that you will place yourself just opposite me? And you—don’t you feel the need to be. Invisible face. the great thought. near the calm. The space of that face always more invisible. an infinitesimal ting you. if it is said that he who will remember will be profoundly forgotten getting. which remembers. and you. the great certainty. that thin. the unfortunate attempt to He said there is always a moment when remembering and dying— directionless 70 . we are eternal. A great power recall oneself to oneself. The desire to be visible in the night. Everything If I must eventually forget. between us. . the retreat before forgetfulness and the What does it remember? Itself. of memory. a minuscule fissure into which it passes in its entirety. It is as though I had sible. by himself and by that memory which he will not distinguish from his forgled with him and confused with the images that hide him from himself. memory in which one dies. that you be a face. then ubu. of which one would only have to know how to avail oneself in order to die retreat before death. the retreat. To remember only where one remembers nothing. what is vis- being dead. already. An immense To forget: to remember everything as though by way of forgetting. Therefore. and. so that it will invisibly fade away. eternal.the last man maurice blanchot confronting me over there on the horizon. perhaps—coincide. First to forget.

space of cold light into which you have drawn me without being there and in which I affirm you it. in the calm and the silence. waiting for a face. from Waiting. vain waiting for vain things. and to be. to prevent it from stopping. knowing that you are not there. perpetual agitation of the calm—is this what we call persevering? Could it be that for myself. to make it calm. are under the sway of the essential attraction. the eternal heart? Is this what we keep watch over in order and still be waiting for something that turns you into a memory of 71 . because of the grave motionlessness. silence. wanting all to be the only one for it. the delusion that lifts us up and involves us ubu. the rectiSometimes it seems that certain faces. But this isn’t quite what I want. neither beautiful. It seems that they all eternally rise toward one anothonly one for all the others. It seems that each would like to be the The images’ eternal yearning. wrapped in the lament I hear: Eternal. Some are very beautiful. all the others. try to tude that never turns away. toward which I go down ory. ever calmer. perhaps to the extent that they a face. there are many of them. even the face you certainly are. Maybe there are many faces. by coming together. yet that I also wait for. because of the refusal turbed. I am that terrible thing? To be dead waiting. but only one face. as far as I have been able to notice in the hallway. It seems that the emptiness is never empty enough. nor friendly. more silence there is. space of that memory. Strange that space can still hold such without seeing you. as could recall me to you. all themselves. face to face. it’s true. knowing makes so much noise. nor hostile. of which there is no memthough you. And only what is disturbed can appear. eternal. Here. are wonderfully attractive. simply visible: the face I imagine you are. not knowing it. Silence. were continuing to turn me into a memory and search for what Memory that I am. the more it changes into a clamor. er to cause that face to be present. who perhaps do not exist. which holds me back only where I have long since ceased to be. the transparency that cannot let itself be dissketch out such a face.the last man maurice blanchot toward you. far from you. for each. to appear that exists in you. great memory in which we are both held fast. and the the terrible thing. silence that to soothe it. in the calm persistence of what disappears. Growth of what cannot grow. Strange that what is darkest should have this great desire to look at have at least a certain beauty and a few.

really. As though it were necessary that you not renounce transparency and that. And yet I have to see instant in this face that must confront it. Maybe you will pass through the doors of terror without the shivering that is calm here. from wave to wave. already a thought—if it is possible that these words flowing between us tell us something that comes to us from us.” Strange. avid. just what the others are losing in their premature happiness at being visible. light watchkeepers around ourselves. the brightness that does not grow Why do you keep me away from them by this thought of the space that dark. beyond waiting and beyond reach. to transform you further. to draw you. once you were but seen. Face. The very last face. this light. so that there can be seen in you ly manifest. if it is true that we were alive together—and. Illusion. is the tremor of calm with which we you. through distance. perhaps. you remain ever brighter. I have to torment you until the great nocturnal space grows quiet for an exalt ourselves. the hapmight make you visible for an instant—more invisible? piness of the illusion—why resist it? Why can’t all these faces mislead me? Maybe you will be the exception. a refusal of the unthinkable to the very end. being bright. more visible than is possible and to the point that I won’t be able to endure it. presence where I touch you but which separates me from you: a pit of light. mere- am buried. slowly and near you. lost and always brought together again in an outburst of joy where we find each other again. strangers in everything we share. close you intact and where you hold me back at a distance. That is why you must watch over empty space in order to preserve it. at an earlier time wasn’t I always. the unforeseeable certainty. insatiable desire to see you and yet. Is it now that you say this? Could it be that he is ubu. as I must watch over it to alter it. where your face became the nakedness of a face and your mouth metamorphosed into a mouth? Wasn’t there a moment when you said to me: 72 . A face cannot be that. a distance formed of the unexpected of all expectation. yet withdrawn from what is expected. visible. I will become completely visible. Face which is the emptiness. into that point where you couldn’t any longer be anything “I have the feeling that when you die. a brightness in which I Oh. a fight in which we are together. face of expectation. you were Too beautiful troubled faces. into something more visible.the last man maurice blanchot incessantly in the disorder of the night. strange speech.

pain. near him? Could it be that he wasn’t dead 73 . . he . calm thought. is that the extremely fine and amazingly distant point that always slips away and by which. does he have ity. slowly. you draw him. He couldn’t ubu. strange enough. . talk about it with himself. infinitesimal thought. he asked himself how he had entered the calm. Only joy at feeling he was in harmony with the words: “Later. calm enough. memory even further.” Later. with authorThought. you push him back into forgetfulness? to carry desire.the last man maurice blanchot dying at this moment? Is it you who always die in him.

com/ubu ./ubu editions ubu.

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