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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

aside for me. forcing him to recognize himself by such a name. as though it were a stone thrown at him over and over in order to reach him where he is. perhaps nothing but the admission. too great a happiness. That of giving him a name? Of susplays. but taining him and myself as that name draws near? I can’t believe this. not all of us as one. it is only a reflection giving a momentary color to the windowpane on which it sensed drawing near through ages and ages. one of which we know nothing? Maybe it becomes possible for him to breathe near a man who is very happy. I think a different one was set I have reason to believe that he saw only one of us. The name itself separates us. of a silvery gray. he who feeds on the time of peace and perfect repose that comes to us then. only came to a single being from whom he perhaps expected a little friendship. in that case? Who I know of him. the most unfortunate and poorest of men? But perhaps he is only me. me later as a reassuring image. as though under a different sky? And if he is what Then what is leading him astray? What is he looking for. because he is too much alone. drawing him to it as into a trap? Perhaps in order to catch him in it alive? But who am I. that his eyes. a stone he perhaps already Friend: I wasn’t born for that role. the person we see when the end comes. The feeling that he wasn’t looking at anyone in particular. maybe he passes through the one of us. that I push away and that pushes me away. 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 23 . from the very I also try to convince myself that there was a brief period. and it may be that it was quite the opposite. maybe he is the breath that mingles with desire. perhaps a more immediate sort of help. shortly ubu. in fact. one I can’t recognize yet. and. so pale. near me. in us. am I not entirely abandoned by myself ? watches with me. moment that disrupts relations and confuses time? Maybe he is behind each us—no. distinguished no one in us but us. so clear. the unreserved admission that would put an end to everything. Is that the gesture of a friend? Is that friendship? Is that what he asked me to be—a stone for him. the most distant part of ourselves. a relationship I don’t want to embark upon. that he steals away from beginning me without me.the last man maurice blanchot less between him and me. that we freely grant him.

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

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

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

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

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

I am doing nothing else but trying to keep myself away from it. that seems to mask his real face. When I glimpse him this way. At one time. my secret entreaty. as though we only wore the aspect of what we seemed to be. the future of a completely different figure. in invisibly breaking off relations by leaving them as they were. I didn’t forget him either: forgetting has no hold next to the window. provoking me in my certainty in different from what I had expected to see of him: younger.the last man maurice blanchot increasing. and if he is. And the feeling that we were deceivA movement of separation. I won’t say I remembered him. and watching—but is he watching. necessary and yet impossible to represent. together. 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. which seemed to cause faces to become attractive. vague as it is. As though I become attentive. But. The his features. and when I talk to him. didn’t seem that way to me. But now: he slides along. and I sense that I will respond manifestly closer to me than I am to him. where is his gaze going?—he can sense my approach. 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. feelings I attribute to him are in some sense detached from his face. When I talk to him. merely toying with 29 . I had been afraid of not proving equal to him or simply of dismotionless. Nevertheless. with a falseness that was not real falseness. attracting me by my own effort. ing ourselves by vainly misleading ourselves. in particular. gives him this appearance of being real only at a distance I don’t want to cross. One can’t remember someone who is only present. a creature whose life seemed to consist in expanding by becoming rarefied. his presence. in developing by becoming exhausted. just as I can sense his coldness. on presence. with a youthful. beyond questioning expression. my impatience. intense. his resolute limit. In a palpable way. he is more obviously to his expectation. He is transparence. and this may be why the suffering I that. I am stopped by this suffering. Standing over there. appointing him by opposing to him a man whose mind he would pass order to prevent it from turning around. if certain of my ubu. though it sometimes Perhaps we never ceased to observe each other. attracted to one another as though to form. but also of attraction.

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

a slight irritation. as though I had had. as though every single person were always outside. dwellers in large cities and large countries. to give him. friendship?—prevented me from saying anything that could cause as a question risked reaching him. And yet I was struck by the strange nature of this 31 . of “Not noisy. a beautiful horizon of stone falsifying—or not exactly falsifying. What he liked to talk about was the city where he was born. On the contrary. 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. He became exhilarated at this memory. he said. but could imagine and yet. a coming and going that did not die down at ing himself in an even larger crowd. a native land. low. and he interested himself in structures that he described in minute detail. almost it was. Yes. their foundation—the pictures of the world closest to us. recognized it more or less as our own: the most familiar one we al.” He tried to draw us into that city by raising it around us with the images of it we already possessed.the last man maurice blanchot proof of himself. an impressive city with us. He drew us there. the consciousness. A suffering that exerted him any difficulty. constructed by him only in order to conceal his own and a beautiful smoky sky. Worse than strange: familiar and deceptive and unreality. And perhaps it was this suffering. the need ubu. at least for me. dry river that ran through it. with the broad. drawn by the pleasure of circulating without hindrance. showed it to us in such a way that we. but taking away their basis. a heavy traffic. of being part of a crowd and then los“It must have been very noisy?” was. a large city apparently located in the East. atrociously doubtful. At first this caused me only a little uneasiness. for a neighbor. wonderfully calm. among us. as though to build them before us. 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. with the streets he walked along in the midst of a tumultuous crowd of people on foot constantly moving: there night. right next to my memories. completely imaginary. calm. But these were only houses like our houses. but a deep. but nevertheless something more than any a proximity of weakness and swooning overtaking me: yes. sort of underground murmur. terribly unregently. a profound but always wakeful fainting fit that had remembered me in order to uproot me from myself.

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

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

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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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. The movement would be the same. A great power recall oneself to oneself. the great thought. and you. memory in which one dies. I sense that I will only reach you minknow this . eternal. The space of that face always more invisible. Everything If I must eventually forget. Therefore. near the calm. death as memory. for a long time now. if I must remember you only by forget- is exalted in memory from something which is forgotten. the retreat before forgetfulness and the What does it remember? Itself. a minuscule fissure into which it passes in its entirety. . a profoundly forgotten point from which every memory 70 . closed face? Last possibility of being looked at by died in order to recall this. between us. perhaps—coincide. the unfortunate attempt to He said there is always a moment when remembering and dying— directionless memory. in order to take desire and memory as far as pos- ible in a face. of memory. which remembers. if. and. . But an unavailable power. of which one would only have to know how to avail oneself in order to die retreat before death. what is vis- being dead. then ubu. to be a face for me once more. that thin. so that it will invisibly fade away. an infinitesimal ting you. Invisible face.the last man maurice blanchot confronting me over there on the horizon. 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. First to forget. A pure. to be a thought and yet a face. An immense To forget: to remember everything as though by way of forgetting. that you be a face. if I think this is what tempts us both: I. the great certainty. one last time. we are eternal. The desire to be visible in the night. There is detail. It is as though I had sible. already. if it is said that he who will remember will be profoundly forgotten getting. the calm. To remember only where one remembers nothing. 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. the retreat.

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

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

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

/ubu editions .

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