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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 www.ubu.com /ubu editions series editor: Danny Snelson
The Last Man
then. “I can’t think about myself: there others. like a child’s eyes. Maybe he And what if he hadn’t said to me. He was more retiring. which queshelp me? His eyes were pale. sometimes that he was a little Certainly he talked very little. one had to attribute to him tioned us with surprise. an expression that invited us to I believed that he had a kind of discretion. In truth. I said what I must always have thought of him: that he was the last man. a difficulty that slips away. of a silvery pallor. He disturbed me more than others. almost nothing distinguished him from the others. scornful. still. but not modest. a barely perceptible planetary song.com 4 . who wouldn’t have the feeling of being that target? At these times. imperithoughts which he gently rejected. sometimes that he withdrew too much into himself or outside of us. but it’s like an arrow coming from too far away that won’t reach the target. but his silence often went unnoticed. with distress: why is that all you think? Why can’t you there was something childish about his face. someone who was per- ubu. this could be read in his eyes. useless. In fact. Now I think that maybe he didn’t always exist or that he didn’t yet exist. he talks very fast in a sort of low voice: great sen- passing murmur. and yet when it stops and falls. about one other.” tences that seem infinite. but someone other than me was listening to him. an obstacle that can’t And right afterward: “He says he can’t think about himself: about Yet he was disturbing. the most superfluous of all people.I AS SOON AS I was able to use that word. be considerate. the target quivers in the distance and comes to meet it. an all-encomto it. Maybe he was the most is something terrible there. in silence. But I’m also thinking of something more extraordinary: he had a simplicity that didn’t surprise us. He wasn’t addressing anyone. maybe only mine. be met”? changed everyone’s condition. How to answer? Listening me. This goes on and on. I don’t mean he wasn’t speaking to is terribly imposing in its gentleness and distance. but also to feel vaguely protective. ous when he wasn’t talking. one day. that roll with the sound of waves.
Down there. there is also the bitterness of an obscure constraint. to dream endlessly of his admit that he didn’t doubt himself. I can notice of me. than all men. I didn’t draw attention to him. an odd noise. he was too light. the power of the elements. he hesitates almost con- 5 . I was a little more. and he seems almost nothing at all. In this “we. a sky that is not this sky. I was never mistaken about his step: somewhat slow. did not trouble him. only the heartbeat discloses it.” there is the of this is I before him. quiet and tell that he has fallen silent at a certain moment. His near stammering. A profound look. and that he was still very far away. troubled him less. It’s hard to judge: is he still coming? Is he already going away? behind another. what had been “I” had strangely awakened into a “we. a little less than myself: more. Down there. rather savage. in him. and finally pity. almost too general. confronting him. he said—and in fact it was a cold sort of groaning. down the long hallway. capable of seeking him out where he was. an admission that would probably have curiosity of the others. that he but not heavy. vaster. but I always protected him from the There were reasons for me to fear him. very far away. He hesitates almost imperceptibly. but also when he The ear doesn’t know.the last man maurice blanchot haps richer. even when he was advancing was coming from very far down. All ruin. and yet more singular. I hear him not only when he stops at my door. severe. that at another he has taken even. write. A superficial glance directed at cion. or whom one would There are moments when I recover him as he must have been: a cer- tain word I read. earth. I pass in front of his room. in any case.com doesn’t stop. I wanted to persuade him to disappear. suspiand vulnerable where that was concerned. there is a feeling of loftiness and calm. I don’t know what could have reached him. as though. only causing one to imagine. I hear him coughing—like a wolf. forgetfulness. still have reached.” the presence and united force of the common spirit. too carefree. hope. calculations. He was strangely weak his person seemed to expose him to an incomprehensible menace. With disconcerting promptness one word hid ubu. too dispersed. that he was always climbing a flight of stairs. I would have liked to make him annihilated me. I surrounded him with attention. more labored than one would have thought from his great lightness. moves aside to make room for his own word. True.
by someone who had just died. they When.” I became convinced that I had first known him when he was dead. naively to everything that had to be done. or only with everyone? The happiness of saying yes. answer him. or else hiding that madness inside him. present. though in a mirror? past? Did it bring me closer to him? Did it make him more discernible by saw him. so terribly not guilty. occupied. That is horrifying too—a sleep that is never altogether closed. which made him innocent of the worst. almost never blaming us and prepared to consent simplest person would have found him too simple and when chatting about Docile. and contradicting very then when he was dying. and it seemed to me he returned to that moment when he was only a dead man making room for a living. He would express some thoughts: ubu. almost submissive. and to listen to him. Passing in front of his door. I was in some sense forced to said. always infallible: he was a burn in the eyes. One had to draw him into a fault. at certain moments. of him: seldom. like a madman. that he wasn’t sleeping. not arguing. Or am I the one in the past? This feeling—”I see him. afterward. Yet there was something else: something like a canal lock would open and we would change levels in relation to each other. gave him a pleasure people don’t understand: though not with everyone. therefore he doesn’t see me”—injected into our relations the torment of an unspoken distress. I believe there were days when the the most unimportant things occupied him completely.” and immediately. I would have liked never to leave him alone. only his hesitation allows me to be somewhat sure of myself. 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. so that to die might be to see. speak of him in the past. as did the nights. one had to reinvent for him alone the lost sense of what a fault was. A creature so irresponsible. the idea that he was sleeping. almost obedient.the last man maurice blanchot stantly. “I solitude made me afraid for him. they gave me this image “This is a room you’ll be able to have.com 6 . Why that giving me the strength to look him in the face. for a moment. it of lightness. that is open on one side: a sleep whitens a little when one dies. I think he never dreamed. of endlessly affirming. but without a speck of madness. I again saw the door of that room.
the last man maurice blanchot how light they are. I stopped struggling. it surpassed what we could bear: it was actually terrible. ror and. Where does that come from? Where does it come from that in the space where I am. it could not be shared by anyone. even if only books that. the better to see them as invisi- ble to each other. what he told of his story was so obviously borrowed from efforts to avoid hearing him. it would by knocking up against it. where he has brought me. one made great most strangely. He enriched me with my own ignorance. nothing disturbs them. his was a weakness that went beyond us. It was here that his desire to talk miscarried ished him. Often. . Each time. nor what this wound weakness: this was what I didn’t have the courage to approach. something to me that I don’t know. nothing imposes them. this surprise was indicated and dissembled by a rapid “Now what do they mean by event?” —I read the question in his ubu. but I also lost much more. . of a person who would need no justification. I mean he added can still struggle to get it back.” He gave me the feeling of eternity. and the surprising thing is that I struggle. in fact.com ousness of facts. Yes. The truthfulness. much more so than someone absolutely powerful would have done. it wasn’t that he was invulnerable. that I stantly go back near the point where everything could start up again as though with a new beginning? For this. nor heal over in anyone else. but the idea of offending him filled me with anguish: it was was. On the con- trary. He says it If he was so strong. but it was a rather gentle terpossible for me. it would be enough to . for a woman. I didn’t know whom I was wounding. how they immediately rise. To offend him was perhaps not like throwing a stone that would never be thrown back to me. the exactness of what has to be said aston- 7 . tender and violent. warned immediately by a kind of suffering. I conwould be enough if. a shaft that did be a sore to the very end. “But isn’t that what makes them bitter?” “Bitter? Slightly bitter. The moment we met. he inspired terror. I was lost to myself. I went back to positing a God. And more than anything else his immeasurable not strike me. He did not have any precise notion of what we call the seriflutter of his eyelids.
revealing someone who eternally asked for rounded by an innocence that was marvelously smooth on the outside. but he lacked the concern for himself that would have allowed him to be curious about us. It is always more comforting to assume there is a secret doubt we surprised him. I became anxious. 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. putting in my place a more general being. from the ends of his arms. agitated. that he behind what torments you. here and there a correct note sounded.com 8 . disturbingly motionless. Or hadn’t anything real ever happened to him—an emptiness he concealed and illuminathelp without being able to indicate where he was. One could persuade oneself he was hiding something. He was there. 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. he was sur- like a cry from behind the mask. fine on the inside composed of a thousand tiny edges of very hard crystal. I missed those He didn’t make my life easy. tation that removed me from myself. he was almost buried in the armchair. Yet one hardly looked at him. mediocre. and necessary. but strong. he was curiously easy to approach. and foreign to him. When I picture him this way: was he a broken man? On his way down- thing that seemed to shut him in. by insignificant. And curiosity was the fault we ubu. No was hiding himself.” sometimes what was vaguest and most indecisive. but that secret thing was actually hiding in us.the last man maurice blanchot recoil. talking very little. his large hands hanging. for others. slightly withdrawn. with very poor and very ordinary words. 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. Later. he couldn’t even imagine it. in my attempt to see him. sometimes “we. I did not cease to be hampered. so that needles of his innocence. It was this agiThen we suffered over being such a great number before him who was so alone. I don’t think his weakness could tolerate the hardness there is in our lives when they are recounted. but at the slightest attempt to approach him he risked being torn by the long. ed by random stories? Nevertheless. he was so important and he was so first moments. For some. But I suffered over every- later. tired.
I had to appeal. falling silent as though ordeal. unless that wariness was the very thing we felt exposed to. and he did his best to make it as light as possible for us. then. that one not see how much we had already disappeared from his eyes. tact. it had become too strong. how hard it was for him not to look upon us as inhabitants of the other shore. He. before the pasout stopping.the last man maurice blanchot couldn’t commit against him. to maintain the ease of daily relations with us. nication with that thought. that one not see him. He dwelled on it. because he needed to be disregarded. And yet how diffi- treating us with enough consideration. that was certainly the limit of thing was that we had the feeling. that was enough. in a way I can’t cult it was for me actually to think of him: by myself. As I couldn’t cross. he asked for that. He must have known that for us he represented an He wasn’t a stranger to us. One wants a little indifference. all of us. I couldn’t manage it. witha closeness that seemed like a mistake. only one more. 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. on the contrary. thoughts we didn’t allow him to think. the reserve of closed eyes. I thing? It wears you out. Can one live close to someone who listens passionately to every- sionate depth of forgetfulness. nor were we to be tempted to find out what he didn’t see he didn’t have access to. to others. not that he was needed to be one too many: one more. that we just barely sufficed for his presence and that one alone would not have kept him there. but. by preserving what was most central to us. he was there as one of us. true. one had to talk without pausing. he was close to us with imagine. burns you. He was there. by intuition. certainties of us. He fought confidently. The strangest too imposing. And maybe ubu. wasn’t to becomes so distracted it drops you as soon as it has grasped you. But it isn’t easy to conceal yourself from the sort of attention that see us as we were. on the contrary. one appeals for forgetfulness. it had to be tested. was only trying to 9 . He seemed above all else afraid of not tentatively. I came to believe that there was a circle around us which he Yet we also resisted him. we resisted him almost constantly. There were parts of us where he didn’t touch us. in myself. speaking to us. forgetfulness was always there.com each of us. he appealed with such gentleness for discretion.
he fell silent absolutely and entirely. dangerously overwhelmed with ignorance. It was ings in myself. I often asked myself if he wasn’t communicating to us. A storm that changed us into a desert. it didn’t cause any embarerences. but causing us to be indifdo we find ourselves with ourselves again. but he has already killed have the correct feelings for him. only him. he leaves me more ignorant. one couldn’t do such violence to him. unpredictable impulses that suddenly thrust him back a great disferent to ourselves and withdrawing us from the people closest to us. anything I could not have said of someone else as well. answered myself immediately: him. his simplicity did not consent to anyubu. but even though his thought such great innocence. how loved during that terrible moment? tance. something of that thought.the last man maurice blanchot show it to him—out of some need to put it under his protection. deceives thought. among all of us. I listen to his silence. And once he was there.com 10 . At least this much is true: I never tried to discover these new feelthing strange. I don’t know who I am. he maintained a certain emptiness that we didn’t want to fill up. not only indifferent to those who were there. He didn’t sepa- was something to respect. What would I have wanted to withdraw from him. I listened to follow him softly everywhere he would like me to. how do we love one who wasn’t us. erased it. I curiosity. I who question him. a silent storm. I learn about his weakness. He was among us and yet he had hidden pref- hard not to go looking for the missing thought. What feelings? What could be born of me. But at the same time it seems rate us. it Perhaps he was among us: at first. that I was bound by impulses I have no notion of. maybe to love. When someone stops speaking it is often called out to us. That didn’t call for help. opens us to the suspicion of a thought that won’t seem to let itself be knowledge and against our wishes. Maybe we didn’t approach of what he revealed to us. such obvious lack of responsibility. one that agitates us. for him? There is something terrible about imagining that I should have felt something I’m unaware of. as though in safe custody. without his those very simple words. it gently killed time. he fell silent with rassment. But who are we after that. the feelings that would have allowed the I think a reverie comes from him to us. what certain thing would I have had to make altogether uncertain for him? I to me I gave myself a completely different answer.
I was there. someone other than him—another. the shadow of the other shore. without any was never I. I would become almost ill at the thought that I would have to be that wit- closed. man. It was this less that was strongest. such naked feelings. ignorance and neglect. The thought which is spared me at each moment: that he. I owed him a limitless distraction. But slowly. I had spent a long time imagining what his witness would of that end. he demanded less than a thought. I myself spent a lot of time. no one—and that in this way he would temptation of those who are approaching their end: they look at themselves selves—the emptiest. This is the great and talk to themselves. the most false. of Who?s—so that there would be no one between him and his destiny. he would be the ness: I was there—the “I” was already no more than a Who?. becoming something close to a milestone. the ubu. so he saw in the mirror. He didn’t demand any attention from me. the last I only noticed by degrees that he turned me away from myself. and even less. The divine incognito needs to be per- ness. I could not respond except with carelessness. which wasn’t doubt: ignore even me and leave me to one side. but so that he wouldn’t see himself. a creature who not only had to exclude himself from himself in favor be. the motion of the days. Then who was encountering him? Who was talking to him? Who wasn’t thinking of him? I didn’t know. abruptly—the thought occurred to me that this story had no wit- a hard time. the reverse of faith. is nevertheless not the last. a time of suffering. gone.com 11 . not in order to see him. I only felt that it ceived down here. a stranger. uncertainly. nearby. But this still wasn’t enough: this ignorance had to sense of exclusion or aversion. so that it would be me remain a man until the very end. the opposite of expectation. but exclude himself from that end without favor and remain as Even a God needs a witness.the last man maurice blanchot a sort of secret rule that I was obliged to observe. This was certainly capable of frightening me—such great duties. He wasn’t to split in two. they turn themselves into a solitude peopled by themmost alone of all men. without that last man which he was—and thus he would be the very last. as motionless as a milestone on a road. without even himself. But if I was present. such excessive cares. gently. a whole crowd that his face would remain bare and his gaze undivided.
If. We were seeing the face of forgetting. It can cerI have spoken of his hidden preferences. in a room whose lighted window I see. This created an element of mystery. I often had I had been a newcomer. but it was attrac- ubu. choosing the person one was touching. In her eyes. still gazed only at a little emptiness near us. but always the closest one. I think. Each of us. by this choice. I’m not sure what is said refers to the when he resumed taking his meals with us. I had no doubt about far as she was concerned. This forgetting is the element I breathe when I go down the hall. But everything leads me to believe that as the impression that. an ignorant creature crossing the threshold in all the confusion of having being uprooted. therefore. One tant. we were surprised by his gentle. She had been here several years when I came. the person who. one was brushing against.the last man maurice blanchot refusal to reveal him—to myself or to him. ill. that importance is no measure of him. It day. I was the one who had been chosen. as though he was only able to look by looking slightly elsewhere. he made each of us into someone else. of tainly be forgotten. Maybe he always chose someone was the look by which he would most have wanted to be observed. in fact it asks to be forgotten. he is now a man I look at as though I saw only I know that in doing this I am betraying everything. this emptiness was a young woman I was close to. Maybe. It only indicates the constraint I exercise in order to grasp him. He is a man alone. not just anyone else. a face which wasn’t gloomy. he doesn’t move. until then. one had been convinced one was. I question no one about this. he doesn’t man I picture to myself. had fixed on her. we were also drawn together by misunderstanding. radiant. in my memory. close as we were. gravely speak. but quite the contrary. For a long time now he has not left his bed.com 12 . and yet it concerns us all. but which perhaps never observed us. this gaze. This made her smile. chosen her. a stranger. in truth. How would he have been able to turn away the slightest particle of my life? Maybe he is there. which had come to rest on her with all the force of something dis- else in us. a radiant near-invisibility. retiring face. felt that someone else was the intended object of his preferences. my weakness in not being able to conceive of him or recall him except as important. He seems to me completely forgotten. I understand why. the falsification of our relations. him.
ed by very little: there is nothing between them. Actually. they hadn’t seen him for a long time. and no one between us. but made you hope for a kind of justice. A little later I stayed for a time in a place high in the mountains. I believe he was the hardest thing a man could ubu. he paid wonderful attention to everything and everyone. when he drew near. nor indulgent. She had in some way locked herself up in this extract from it a lively. I thought it was only weaker. A whim? But a free one. I’m not saying he was recuperating. always by virtue of a gentle stubbornness that he came. I found she had not changed much. She called him “the professor. nor good.com 13 . and the despair of another life. though more separate. you entered a space where whatever you valued most said disturbed me because of a difficulty I could not overcome. 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. but on my return I was struck by how amazing it was to meet her again and yet as though by chance. who were among the youngest. they told me. but what it tainly very polite. Yet he was not easy. was an old fellow. in turn. protected. the fact was there was bling a second illness. and silently judged in a way that did not say you were right. sometimes light and a little drunk. When I came back. I also noticed how much his voice must have changed. all the while preserving the lightness of a whim.” Maybe he was much older than we. When he came. It is often said of two people unitnothing between us. the hope. secret truth. a happiness that seemed to have continued in my absence and without my knowing it. She seemed to me even younger than I remembered. almostdead. an uncertainty that was his very strange step created the impression that only for moments at a time sometimes painful. he once told her he was thirty-eight. He was cerwas accepted. not even ourselves. he was. but for a few others it was a sort of relief and distracThen winter came. did he stop at our level. Well. she had a relationship of understanding with it that allowed her to here or from back there. also closer. And yet these which caused one to become unsure of oneself. He seemed to me much weaker than when he had arrived. a chance meeting that owed nothing except to chance. The snow gave certain people something resem- tion from their pain. whereas the others were still looking back at the regret. I wasn’t really from place.the last man maurice blanchot tive too. He walked with a slight hesitation. I.
But lence. How could one have such ness? The anguish this caused was boundless. passing like a breath. a tremor alien to all pretense.com 14 . I know I exert a great signals. maybe the last I. at times not close: the walls were down. everyone had the power to tell him something important. death draws to itself like the secret that is forbidden it. but also those that serve to transmit Apologizing sadly. he told someone: “Yes. that he was fascinated by this altogether pure of me. That I—this is what I can’t say—was terrible: terribly gentle and that in his presence she should say I. was me for him. and if she had to allude to it. That was the most bitter part of it. and yet in some sense it was a me adrift. weakness as one’s adversary? How could one fight such naked powerlessattraction.” At times he seemed very close. but without any connection. she did not come forward. She accepted with naturalness even what became terrible. still very close. a that demanded everything. Then a wall had to be raised again. a piece of flotsam. one saw him as an enemy. an open me which weak. She had a simplicity that protected both of them. terribly naked and without decency. a little lives find their equilibrium. the language of prisons. Maybe all I’s were beckoning to him. a calm violight word over which she herself had so few rights and which she spoke in such a way that it almost designated someone else. the one that ubu. she was- indifference had to be asked of him. only I. She didn’t remember anyone. I think she always had the strength to leave him at a certain distance from himself. 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. that calm distance in which people’s n’t startled by it.the last man maurice blanchot come up against. maybe through this word alone. a mouth open in the sand. but she made it closer to him. but of a purity that went to the far end of everything. at times. the fact that one had to identify him with some misfortune or other? Despite oneself. that revealed and delivered over what was altostill-living footprint. through her closed mouth! It was as though some instinct had told her how the word I vibrated between her teeth. it was in order to bring it into the familiarity of words. without saying anything important. gether dark. the one that will astonish death. the walls were down. Was that because of his distant air. more intimate. not only the walls that separate.
strength for that. she lightly passed over that difficulty. He took his meals at a little table a short distance away from us because he ate only foods that were almost liquid. maybe something that would have seemed to us quite insignificant but had brought such pressure to bear on him that all other events were volatilized by it. but she held fast. something something neither grandiose nor excessive. He made invisible what efforts were required of him to erated himself so completely.the last man maurice blanchot arated us and connected us so as to go dangerously beyond us. she sensed. She sat down more or less next to him. This was no doubt why he incited us to I won’t say he separated us: on the contrary. and it was then ging at the mooring rope. she talked to him rapidly. and she really had to be prepared to put up with the consequences. When he ate even more abject. but in this way he sep- believe that there had been no events in his life except for one. also helped him. evenubu. not quite at his table. she caused him to move quietly into a relatively solid place. her eyes seeming fixed on herself. maybe he tolemptiness I didn’t want to imagine. an obscure agitation self—but in the space next to him: a correction. and yet she him hers. and ate them very slowly. she connected him to a fixed point. and she sensed how much he was tugly. was he perhaps precipitated into a world that was But he didn’t really have any world. and maybe he no longer had to make any efforts. with such a dependable wearing down and a constancy so exact that there was nothing left for him to tolerate. that was why she tried to give She must have bothered him: yes. He tolerated everything. he secretly adjusted it: to accommodate her? But not only her. almost without respite. 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. except an achieve this. that had driven him to the point where he was. simply because he needed all his attention to eat without swallowing the wrong way. but she didn’t stop there. she said.com 15 . not in his person—he didn’t have enough quickly modified his way of seeing and seeing her. and therefore always seemed calm and in control of himas soon as she approached. with extreme patience. he chance. a silent transformation. to accommodate everything or maybe too different?” “By coming here. monumental. she didn’t even want to help him.
that thinking everything. in my relations with him. He had what had been thought in such a strong way should be thought again and tioned me about him. which she didn’t have for me. that she had a sort of confidence in him. the richest intuitions.com 16 . though they were directed at him. that she was say that he frightened her. even for such an end. rather. I might never have had the think. What did that mean? She quesseemed to find that great thought insufficient. an entire. but allowed me not to think of him myself.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 said. the look she gave me. Surely he was capable of the weakness of an absolutely unhappy man. and I experienced a certain happiness limiting my thoughts to her. Maybe I was very much to blame for not worrying more about what became of my ubu. areas of knowledge we couldn’t imagine. and that measureless weakness struggled against the force of that measureless thought. she went on to at all. a kind of sleep in her. as though I had actually been him. and at the same time she said that I was pushing her toward him. Maybe it was a dangerously thoughtless move on my part. There was something terrible about it. at her request. extraordinary experience. and I wouldn’t have consented to make use of her. To say that she But. She did not serve me in any way. knowing everything. she must have helped me. in my liking for her. because of her unaffected spontaneity and her lively familiarity. it was spoken for that body and for that mouth talking to me so tangibly. thought. a feeling of friendship for strength actually to think of him. too. was. that she felt closer to him than to anyone else. and it demanded this. drawn to him. resting in her own life. What I said. it was only her face. but he was also nothing. It is also true that she not only made me It is certainly true that without her. but it was still served as our intermediary would not be correct. 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. that weakness always rethought on the level of extreme weakness. to free me of myself. but almost immediately that he didn’t frighten her him. happy. whereas we only touched on the strangeness of his weakness.
” I protested strongly: “Oh. who move. but in the direction of the table. with a sort of pride that kindled the “Well. rather large. I could have told her truthfully that that was my horizon. I trust you. That is true. I’m sure of nothing but you”—which she lis“You don’t want to deceive yourself. But she. sometimes withCertainly she had a kind of power to approach him that I didn’t out saying anything. you see things as they are. too. gave me her thoughts or me. she said she only thought them in me and near me. she went to another extreme: “You don’t see anything at ubu. you would be looking at a single point. without reckoning. that you devote all your point was also her. about the weight they obliged her to bear and. strength and fearlessness. all alike. she looked.” “You were sure of “Yes. about the emptiness they accumulated there. It’s a ter- I always found you in front of that point. I confirmed it by adding: immediately asked me: “And you?” “I only see what you see. on which there were some written pages. I’m not as sure of you anymore. in a silence that weighed on me to the point of suffocahave. to us all—but it was in me that she thought she first experienced it.” rible thing to imagine that you can’t leave that point.” As she said this. at me.com 17 . but that I left intact. looking at me as though to find out if I was really talking about her. But when she added. She was the first to find a name for what was happening to him—to her. hers too. So now I wasn’t motionless any longer? strength to it. it brilliant. without worrying about either herself tion. an emptiness that fed on her without reflecting. yes. not I tried to recall that point.” Violently. beyond was the wall. beyond the wall other rooms. to him. I’m sure of you. and perhaps that point isn’t fixed. maybe too motionless for the others. even more. almost avid gaze she sometimes had: “I’m not sure of myself.” She tened to with an air of interest. either.the last man maurice blanchot thoughts in her. she said: me?” “It’s strange. The desire to be with her passed through that point. you were so motionless.
I had already thought of it. at least to the drawing room. we would hear his cough at of moan. that wild sound that was sometimes a sort room was between hers and the professor’s. but in a way that didn’t actually concern him. The worst part of the winter was upon us then. but also from appearing embarrassed idea. a repulsion at our approach that kept us at a dis- taking his meals with the others. Nor did I stop at the thought that this mask along with greater power. to come down to the rooms on the ground floor.” she said. that I was less sure. That his whole person was a mask—this wasn’t a new ubu. that she said she a moment of happy calm in which everything was forgotten. not with any baneful intention or for the after its integrity. but that she was waiting for. no.” “I trust you too. you have your own view of things. looking else. perhaps by looking at him. she was looking after my thought. tinued.” But that life preserver couldn’t keep us afloat for long. stantly: close to me. Because my purpose of discovering what I might have hidden from her. it was a terrifying noise her with a force that shook her. more at risk. she was incapable of such subterfuges. passing from me to her. giving it the silence it needed. close to the thought that was in me? Sometimes it seemed to me she was watching me. since there was no longer any question of his was becoming strange.” Was this a fault? Was she reproaching me for it? “No. but the word she had used for me. I couldn’t say he fit him too. crossing me. stopped us from looking at him. Then came the silence. sometimes a triumphant shout. He didn’t seem much more ill. He conand passed through him: “Like a wolf. Yes. among all the other coughs.com 18 . concealing it from everything to tumble into. but from an entire horde that stood close to him that I had to shield her from. expecting from that thought the feverish familiarity which she wanted night. could hear coming out of me. tance. a howl that did not seem to come from such a weak creature.” he said. a feeling of increased distress. Now she lived in my room almost con- lie. though irregularly. reaching It was at about this time that he ceased to be able to talk. I’m always aware of that different way of thinking. Yet there was something else. Then I said something rather crude to her: “I know you will never Yet I didn’t expect anything. Rather.the last man maurice blanchot all? Yet you think differently from me. that she did not resist.
I had changed meaning.com curious about their relations. but at him. in an alcove near the piano. Because of that bond. She had to keep advancing. No one paid much attention to them. Everyone also knew that we were really. What he said than him. but it may have been what led us to believe. overly massive certainty. velous way. But behind this body and this life. that he was still listening to us in a maracknowledge. The two of them would remain at a slight distance. while he was a man not very old yet strangely ruined—this incongruity did not give rise to comment. another space. toward the point she imagined she had seen me looking at. ubu. the restless He did not fail to talk to her. and which consisted of maintaining a sense of life around friends. This didn’t always happen. That she was so young. And for her these relations were cruelly impersonal. at someone other sometimes noticed a rapid change in level as he was speaking. the intimacy of his weakness. which he thrust back. even in my eyes.the last man maurice blanchot was beginning to slip. to us and all things and also what was more than us. that he was listening. The strength I have is terrible. full of such lively and happy youth. and he expressed this by an obliteration that whitened what he said even as he prepared to say it. I felt that 19 . allowing one to see what he was. the wall. a man who had strayed in among people from whom he was separated by the despite himself. I had no wish to be official role which she assumed voluntarily because of the length of time she had been here. I didn’t feel left out—on the contrary. they both tended to disappear. as though they risked unclothing him before the wall. into an infinite past. when he spoke. which he continued to go up to him resolutely as soon as she saw him. 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. the firmly delimited bodies. but for her that point was a man like other men. 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. to and infinite agitation of the emptiness around us. She said to me: “I feel so strong near him. her other friendships were hardly visible. monstrous. One imagined that she was filling an those people who were most neglected. with all the freedom she could command. was no longer directed at us. and she did not fail to talk to him.
I then. It’s a trap. I played. I had the feeling someone way that made me think of you at that point. and which was perhaps not really in us. which was in us only because we were close to that immense weakness. through a crack. a pit for catching animals. and in the proximity of a very powerful dream. a superiority that came to us in a dream and lifted us toward peaks of life. probably “I dreamed I was tied to a stake on a sort of savannah. it’s loathsome.the last man maurice blanchot He can’t help but suffer from it. it must have attracted something threatening whose motions I began to notice. I feel in such good health. but I was also terribly distressed. since you didn’t hear. with the pleasure of having dreamed it. more dangerous. Under me. She also said to me: I’m not sure she didn’t reproach me for it inwardly. While she disappeared into her alcove. for no reason—“I have the feeling I will die in a fit of ed. Looking at that pit more carefully. because it must have been dangerous to make noise. there was a pit I could vaguely see. solitary conversation exposed her to. stronger. I felt that. It was true that. peculiarly immobile and silent in a the trap? What were you doing there? I was both pleased and worried. made me angry Anger and fear. And yet. we felt augmented by ourselves. and the fact that it was impossible for me to turn around to see what was coming. when she told me the dream. a will to dominate. in a way that still seemed to me very quiet. a little more often. I said to myself. deliberately forgetting what an ordeal this intimate. So you had already fallen into called out to you.com 20 . but moment when everything seemed to be going as badly as possible as far as the future was concerned. and perhaps what she crazy anger against you”—was meant to show me how she had been woundunder a thin layer of grass. isn’t it?” felt endowed with an enhanced existence. said to me. softly. perhaps only in contrast to how little life he had. since I was tied up. we augmented by what we could be—yes. she who until then had hardly ubu. at the very the danger of this increase in strength. suddenly. but it was probably too loud.” was already in it. And yet I left the two of them alone. I called a little louder. it was with joy. more wicked. I also felt remained outside us like a perverse thought. as well as distressed. if I bent down. I hid behind the game. though not far from there but behind me. someone motionless.
There was even a point that when things began to go badly for her. he came downstairs only for her.” in the illness beyond which her friendship would come to an end. but it also wasn’t true.” I said to her. didn’t she realize this? always been able to see yourself clearly. 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. too?” “You. to ther. In disgust.com 21 .the last man maurice blanchot dreamed at all. you first. only in formless.” This was how she entered the adult phase of the danger.” The frankness of that yes should have kept me from going any far“I see very little of him. You don’t want to start trying to deceive yourself. I can’t answer you. you’ve didn’t have. When she said I had pushed her toward him. 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. I was struck by her capacity for merciless feelings. he had beckoned to her. too. I ant for you?” “He’s at death’s door. When you question me like that. From my very first days with her. he himself had drawn her through me. anything. So he horrified her. or give.” “Please. but nevertheless without any agreement on my part. it was probably true. troubled me. exhila- rated me. not without my knowledge. I can’t deny that the interest she showed in him touched me. she would shut her door on everyone. he no longer spoke to anyone but her. “Me. nor the desire to help him. “Maybe I’ve learned how to dream now. He’s in terribly bad shape. then wounded me. story-less images which were gone when she awoke. Isn’t that unpleas“Yes.” So it wasn’t pity that tied her to him.” ubu. she would push away someone who was undergoing a difficult death. “You’ve always been perceptive.
a name that seemed quite foreign to him.” to become friends with.the last man maurice blanchot She was standing in front of me and I was on my feet too. he had succeeded in remaining a little withdrawn. which she spoke very fast. But this time it was the coldness of thought I sensed rising up into “I have no relation of any kind with him. into a hard truth about unknown torment?—just as one who knows things may be worn out by ourselves. people were shadows. motions I had already discovered when I had happened to treat her with some indifference. only admitting the rare images that we chanced to give him and that he gently elevated in us. with a shiver of familiarity: completely. an knowledge.” now?” A sort of coldness was rising in her like the silent anger whose hold on to. That should occupy me “Well. What could we have said to each other? And what was he to me? “The professor. I nickname she had given him.” when he saw me again. or she tossed it back to me if I lightly said to her: “He would like to be yours. I suspected him of having no memory of himself. and yet it seemed correct too: he was worn out—by time.com 22 . “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. 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. who was so far from indulging in scholarly speech.” What I had retained of him was the cent yet—everything could only seem hazy to him. as though. after my return and after he began coming out of his During a brief period. almost no thought. in order to avoid the suffering he experienced in any sort of reflection. As to a convalescent—and he clearly wasn’t a convalesspeech a din falling on his ears. room again (to everyone’s surprise—it had seemed that he was finished). You’re the one he’s thinking about.” I said to her. No doubt could only attribute to his great politeness the concern he had shown for acknowledging me. But this didn’t establish any connection between him and us. The word she used was not friendship. still ubu. or by the ordeal of an unknown happiness. I might have shared that feeling. cautiously and yet with an inflexible motion.
as though under a different sky? And if he is what Then what is leading him astray? What is he looking for. the most unfortunate and poorest of men? But perhaps he is only me. a stone he perhaps already Friend: I wasn’t born for that role. the most distant part of ourselves. The name itself separates us. perhaps a more immediate sort of help. only came to a single being from whom he perhaps expected a little friendship. near me? What has attracted him—what she is to me? The “we” that holds us togeth- er and in which we are neither one nor the other? Something too strong for a man. from the very I also try to convince myself that there was a brief period. one I can’t recognize yet. distinguished no one in us but us.com 23 . perhaps nothing but the admission. am I not entirely abandoned by myself ? watches with me. that he steals away from beginning me without me. moment that disrupts relations and confuses time? Maybe he is behind each us—no. I think a different one was set I have reason to believe that he saw only one of us. but taining him and myself as that name draws near? I can’t believe this. in that case? Who I know of him. not all of us as one. Is that the gesture of a friend? Is that friendship? Is that what he asked me to be—a stone for him. so pale. so clear. too great a happiness.the last man maurice blanchot less between him and me. in us. that I push away and that pushes me away. the unreserved admission that would put an end to everything. a relationship I don’t want to embark upon. he who feeds on the time of peace and perfect repose that comes to us then. near me. the person we see when the end comes. forcing him to recognize himself by such a name. maybe he passes through the one of us. it is only a reflection giving a momentary color to the windowpane on which it sensed drawing near through ages and ages. that his eyes. as though it were a stone thrown at him over and over in order to reach him where he is. shortly ubu. The feeling that he wasn’t looking at anyone in particular. and it may be that it was quite the opposite. because he is too much alone. maybe he is the breath that mingles with desire. one of which we know nothing? Maybe it becomes possible for him to breathe near a man who is very happy. in fact. aside for me. drawing him to it as into a trap? Perhaps in order to catch him in it alive? But who am I. that we freely grant him. and. me later as a reassuring image. That of giving him a name? Of susplays. of a silvery gray.
he doesn’t know if I’m there. that he only sees and disHe doesn’t ask me anything. but instead can only stare at them. which is so very sure. At that time he talked to me more direct- of my inattentiveness. a secret she hides from us. He seemed to be putting into me certain reference marks: phrases I didn’t pay attention to. him. together. and Naked words to which I am consigned by ignorance. shortly after his. under the cloak little separated from them by his desire to be forgotten. by his surprise at seeing himself there and knowing it. and this monstrous memory is what we have to carry. It would be deposited them in me. I don’t know him. cold and motionless. I know I’m not yet thinking of him. like the others. and as though in the present. strangely sterat the moment when he would need to come together in himself. this is why he talks to me. until the transformation from naive to think they gave me control over him. only one When I think of him. and makes them heavy. without the living space in which they would become animate. 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. light? Too light for someone who can’t let them come to themselves. only a ly. Maybe all he is doing is repeatlogue is the periodic return of words seeking one another. tinguishes through the surprise of his constant arrival: a blind god. when I saw him as he was. phrases that remained separate. Maybe I’m the one who confirms him in advance. or if I can hear I don’t know myself. and only meeting once. with a very light fumbling that makes his Motionless words I feel now. ubu. Maybe neither of us is there.com 24 . an immo- forth his words among many others that only say what we say. so doubtful. isolated. is alive. endlessly calling she is the only one who holds the secret of that absence. Maybe this diaout to one another.the last man maurice blanchot after my return. he knows all things. perhaps. within the presence. as though he had tried to sow me with seeds from his own memory that might allow him to recall himself bility which warns me of something. and because of that. At a certain moment he which we will be delivered only by an end I cannot mistake for an easy death. he puts double ignorance that preserves us. it is surely a word one is not contemplating. probably in many others as well. except the me that I am. because of that immobility. ing me. ile.
growth that makes us less.com 25 . Not absent: surrounded by absence. a surface that lacked the Maybe I saw him without imagining I saw him. however. and even he did not seem able to fill it. anxious. pressed. shamming curiosity about ourselves that he also gives us. the invisible line which my glances and my thoughts were incapable of presence destroyed all notion of itself. It seemed to me this alone. which made his approach even heavier. to easy to exclude him or to exclude ourselves. as though he had disappeared into it and been absorbed by it slowly. As though his presence was all there ment. And if he were our hope? If he were what remained of us? What a strange feeling that he might still need us. What a mysterious obligation to to be what we would be without him. Whence the cerubu. perhaps? But everything made it my duty not to doubt that he was there: more approaching. It would be too feeling he gives me that he is changing me. his absence. than I could conceive. He was present in such a strange way: so completely and so incompletemaybe insignificant. since they couldn’t go beyond it. surrounding us by the feeling of It is hard to know if we are not sparing something of ourselves in him. If. it was true. to avoid the dangerous. He’s not changing me! He isn’t tion.the last man maurice blanchot Expectation. The need to struggle against the changing me yet! have to help him without knowing it and by movements unknown to us. cruelly disproportionate: My embarrassment confronting him. His presence and not the idea of his presence. endlessly—a presence without anyone. This was why it was so sure. against of it. despite his discre- was of him and did not allow him to be present: it was an immense presence. proximity and the distance of expectation. manifestness that caresses itself in us and in us also caresses illusion. When he was there. I could not help coming up against his self-effaceus. maybe dominating. he burdened me so much. by his withdrawal. that I couldn’t even have a false notion harshness and roughness I would rather have come up against. Not to question ourselves too much. perhaps help him to stay in his place by staying firmly in ours without ceasing avoid the question he asks us about himself. smoothly certain. it was perhaps that his presence lacked all future and all the great future I had imagined he should have represented to ly.
I believe I had never been able to think he was absent. a An idea which concerned me directly. a movement I felt would not really be carried through. There simplicity. he was Burgeoning of something in him developing in all directions. entirely there.the last man maurice blanchot tainty. It stayed there. wrong about himself. the solitude of someone who no longer has room to be tried to endure it in us. uncertain. and even anguish. He can no longer do more than suffer himself. in the very thought of us. and yet someone who was less himself. 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. A being that was no longer in any way imaginary. and if.com 26 . when I imagined she could have gone to see him in his room. And maybe that was the reason why he less certainty of being himself. but it also seemed premature to me. this: a silent burgeoning. no approach. through some unknown reliance on himself or on anything else. an anguish without anguish. there was some sort of hard idea. an immediate and excessive thrust toward the inside. with a movement that was frightened. because he has no future. was one with him. without even that fullness of sufferubu. but almost shorn of the feeling and the illusion of certainty. that was unimaginable—this was what I was most afraid of seeing loom up next to The most anguishing idea: he can’t die. maybe dying—I could not face that was nothing fantastic in that: on the contrary. a bareness without fantasy. I felt there only. it was because this he might have been there. a thought he tried very He was there. but this hard to turn back to. as I realized right away. because of this exclusive affirmation. in pain. But I felt no less strongly that when he was there. as though in a place which. frightened. and nowhere else. alone. its point always turned toward me. I experienced such a feeling of denial. the rejection of everything that could decision too poor and simple to be approached. without ing visible on certain faces when for one instant. That flatter the imagination. the approach of what has me. His solitude. at my limit. the outside. who gave was a suffering he could not suffer. to come back to. I was responsible for it and at a certain moment I would have to do something about it. However. was perhaps the only place where I had to believe he was a little absent. I didn’t forget it. entirely. unused. someone absolutely insufficient.
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. Then why did he impose himself to such an extent? How was he present. but in some sense without us. Could I have been even more outside him form around him. without our world. a finite and perhaps limitless surface. silent immobility in which I too have a part—and all of a sudden the feeling that he is turning around. my possibility of feeling and seebalance to be restored. end by enclosing him? The consequence is dizzying. it was because all he was doing there was dying. evident presence. coming back toward advance of himself. Too 27 . that that I couldn’t doubt that it corresponded to a real movement. gentle weight.the last man maurice blanchot grace of being. with that simple. something brusque. a growth from limitless weakness. once it has been accomplished. or in apprehension of a greater danger? The agitation of all immobility. he was tempted by the illusion of a circle.com form its surface. so that once again he could hope to die in that moment. even if not accomplished. traversed by himself. a limit that would wrap him around. imperceptible. grasp him tightly. maybe without any world? And this certainty that something frightful was growing in all directions inside him. with a Why hadn’t I been spared such an encounter? An odd pain. especially behind him. a vision so pressing and so insistent us as toward his real future. if I held fast. the greatest suffering is contained and endured. A vision that filled me and. as though. This turning inside out. which. allows the far from bringing me back to some center. A pain that was perhaps only in my thoughts. all my relations changed for a moment. than he was outside me? Would I embrace him by the limit I would have to dizzying. violent. ubu. ing? Does he know that he’s dying and that a person who is dying is always in touch with an infinite future? Tender. Is he waitpresses against himself. so that instead of being inside a sphere—enclosed. always the same limit not passed. and I growth that did not lessen his weakness. always the same weight. near us. is accomplished. patience in which he painful thoughts that made me think by the pressure of some unknown suf- fering. protected—I with surprise: terror and delight. as soon as I tried to picture him in that room. leaves me only with the dangerous impression that. knew that if my thoughts deflected me from that room. at the immobility in him is turning around.
a vague existence and yet a living like myself. the relentless moans one heard without tion itself had assumed life and force. And. some- that force of attraction. friendly. A thought that did not yet allow itself to be thought. before his gaze. He must not con- allowed something to die in us that should have found support in us. moans that did not want to be heard. an infinitesimal portion that labored obscurely at bounding him on all sider us as though we weren’t really there. The cries. it seemed to me we had an urgent obligation to make him feel our proximity. 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. the aridity thing. thought that in him we had been dead for a long time: not in that exact form. that at that point we too had thing that was not only ourselves. as though in that place separaboth of the silence and of words. the force and the doubt of the distant gaze he had turned in our direction. by obliging us to see ourselves only as taking any notice. also. both for her sake and my own. I saw the signs of the strangeness which was attempt- be reborn as a nameless and faceless power. with a being without destiny or truth. not to doubt his right to be there. but our future and the future of all men and also the last man. always capable of coming to life in us and changing us into completely different beings. the inexhaustible force of life. unless space itself is performing a sort of revolution. with resentment. a rarefied. I continued to feel that I was his limit. I was afraid of being no more than A distance that was both fragmented and compact: something ter- mobile life which was perhaps everywhere. the life in us. But what was often strongest was the with uncertainty. rible without terror. and The need not to let him separate himself from us. a cold and dry animation. which would have been almost easy to accept. then. on our faces. but in the reflection I read familiar. only like ourselves. and distant and already separated from ourselves. and. The temptation to allow ourselves to disappear. of having.com 28 . now. At times like that. even more. rapid or motionless layer of light revolving around space. I sensed that power. being a surprisingly thin.the last man maurice blanchot ing is spread out in a circle. entangled. but it was a very partial limit. This grew without ubu. there. barely noticed. sides.
The his features. and when I talk to him. as though we only wore the aspect of what we seemed to be. Nevertheless. vague as it is. He is transparence. that seems to mask his real face. beyond questioning expression. though it sometimes Perhaps we never ceased to observe each other. And the feeling that we were deceivA movement of separation. and I sense that I will respond manifestly closer to me than I am to him.the last man maurice blanchot increasing. and if he is. with a falseness that was not real falseness. he is more obviously to his expectation. his presence. As though I become attentive. But. in developing by becoming exhausted.com 29 . One can’t remember someone who is only present. just as I can sense his coldness. which seemed to cause faces to become attractive. where is his gaze going?—he can sense my approach. In a palpable way. my secret entreaty. together. the future of a completely different figure. appointing him by opposing to him a man whose mind he would pass order to prevent it from turning around. gives him this appearance of being real only at a distance I don’t want to cross. provoking me in my certainty in different from what I had expected to see of him: younger. 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. But now: he slides along. merely toying with them. I am stopped by this suffering. with a youthful. intense. ing ourselves by vainly misleading ourselves. and watching—but is he watching. in invisibly breaking off relations by leaving them as they were. his resolute limit. Standing over there. on presence. I am doing nothing else but trying to keep myself away from it. I had been afraid of not proving equal to him or simply of dismotionless. a creature whose life seemed to consist in expanding by becoming rarefied. necessary and yet impossible to represent. attracted to one another as though to form. I didn’t forget him either: forgetting has no hold next to the window. if certain of my ubu. feelings I attribute to him are in some sense detached from his face. but also of attraction. At one time. attracting me by my own effort. When I talk to him. didn’t seem that way to me. in particular. It is as though I am still interposperceive through a momentary contact with him is a second or third face through without noticing or leaving any traces. and this may be why the suffering I that. When I glimpse him this way. my impatience. I won’t say I remembered him.
What she said to me one day: that one might be able to hurt him. . could turn around and penetrate him and perhaps fill his Aside from these passing moments of irritation. ing. that you have lost all are still only at the surface and you should go much farther down. Maybe you are only in a middle area. . a prospect at which I feel a dread that immediately stops everything short. when rowed and precise. with an especially pure concern for I often heard this warning: “Where you are. 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. but with which she did not really things. Nor did I follow her blindly in all that she seemed to be trying to do or to have me do. that the relations forming between them exposed her not hope that she would be preserved. I clear- ly see that something could happen: that this suffering. that she didn’t reject either. but that It may be that she was trying to assuage in me a knowledge that she connectionwith any true affirmation. that demands . perhaps wrongly. don’t require me . . but in a memory? It was present. that I was present. recounting events from his life that were bor- feel connected. don’t demand of me. by feeling that I was remembering it. he is extremely tranquil. too precise. .” “No. I often thought she was losing her way. but eternal and yet past. where you call by the name of imposture what you can’t look at. at the very most. and yet past. and still less did I want to subject her to it. you ought to conduct right conduct because you believe. more innocuous. or what I call suffergreat emptiness. 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.the last man maurice blanchot words participate in the sort of attention I myself am not capable of.” didn’t share. . yourself with all the more truthfulness. Hence the resemblance him. and it was not just any present.com 30 . . instead of remaining apart from him and. Maybe you requires . I felt it even at the beginning. on the surface of his face. 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. . . I myself didn’t feel connected with my way of looking at ubu. He is perhaps an entirely superficial man.
a coming and going that did not die down at ing himself in an even larger crowd. with the streets he walked along in the midst of a tumultuous crowd of people on foot constantly moving: there night. among us. drawn by the pleasure of circulating without hindrance. low. a large city apparently located in the East. He drew us there. atrociously doubtful. a profound but always wakeful fainting fit that had remembered me in order to uproot me from myself. as though every single person were always outside. as though I had had. And perhaps it was this suffering. a beautiful horizon of stone falsifying—or not exactly falsifying. the need ubu. Worse than strange: familiar and deceptive and unreality. I never failed to go to his rescue as soon itself against my person all the more because a strong feeling—was that what suffering—a serious wrong. wonderfully calm. A suffering that exerted him any difficulty. constructed by him only in order to conceal his own and a beautiful smoky sky. completely imaginary. the consciousness. and he interested himself in structures that he described in minute detail. he said. at least for me. terribly unregently. What he liked to talk about was the city where he was born. but a deep. a native land. But these were only houses like our houses. calm. right next to my memories. of “Not noisy.com 31 . but nevertheless something more than any a proximity of weakness and swooning overtaking me: yes. dry river that ran through it. dwellers in large cities and large countries.” He tried to draw us into that city by raising it around us with the images of it we already possessed. but taking away their basis. friendship?—prevented me from saying anything that could cause as a question risked reaching him. for a neighbor. 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. an impressive city with us. but could imagine and yet. On the contrary. recognized it more or less as our own: the most familiar one we al. sort of underground murmur. Yes. almost it was. And yet I was struck by the strange nature of this city. to give him. At first this caused me only a little uneasiness. He became exhilarated at this memory. a slight irritation. showed it to us in such a way that we. a heavy traffic. of being part of a crowd and then los“It must have been very noisy?” was.the last man maurice blanchot proof of himself. as though to build them before us. with the broad. their foundation—the pictures of the world closest to us.
no misrepresentation. containing no invention. and perhaps even without her being aware of it: no. we would go to the mountain. maybe she didn’t ubu. in that passionate way in which he gave us credit for our efforts. ing about all that. she was inundated with a wonderfully festive power. movie theaters where the darkness was more alive than the pictures. this space. as attractive as the life of shadows. She did not leave it to go down to the neighboring village. For her. and quickly. This confidence did not mean she had the sort of blind faith in sions. 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. side by side. did not imagine. turned out to be as close as possible to her truth. that also gave me the feeling we were the ones talkabout it. and flowed an elusive and inhuman life. I saw clearly that for her. as a little girl. the visit. toward in which. where it seemed that. closer to their sources than ours. which was not veiled by memories. She even farther: over there. less fixed. I also noticed how determined she was that the She trusted it. the immensely upright. perhaps under the veil of our own words. on the contrary avoided all imaginary reveries. it was a secure base. as though into another past where we went more those images. we gathered before him. we crept more furtively . she did not reflect. where we could our way of life that almost everyone here shared. the city. maybe she wanted to gather everything she had in the way of belief see the sea.the last man maurice blanchot to take responsibility for him. Was it out of the same instinct for truth? Was it out of anguish? place where we lived should be unassailable. not to exile him by driving him away from such an image of ourselves. She had left a large city a longer time ago and at a younger age than any of us. during our walks. very far away. . she did not believe she would ever leave this place. 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.com 32 . and he was theone listening to us talk into the space where. detesting with a kind of rage the poverty of men who try to deceive themselves by wretchedly inventing marvelous things. When I tried to question her. She was free of such illuwant to. . Sometimes. She had only a very distant recollection of the noisy world above all the beauty of the crowds. like a narrow horizon lifting into the sky and merging with it.
When secure when she was there—it was more natural. the footsteps crushing the gravel outside. into the dim point that was its ness. more solid than cities and nations. 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. which was for her firmer. because she was young and alive.” “I don’t know about you. had a transparent brightubu. the corridor always lit by a white light. each room. the indeterpeculiar. the circle of things. like a circle center. that I would take her away from this place. the voices of the professionals. everything was bright. I won’t say this world was more gathering itself more and more into its center. and tell her that I liked her because of her Didn’t she want to leave? Didn’t she want to see other things. the big central building where we lived. Well might play. also. 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. She was thus joined to this place by an almost frightening the life that even an entire universe can’t contain. crowds of people? she be called the queen of the place or given other titles she was naively freedom. more diverse. that she was not committed to it as though it were a convent. Every sort of connection we have with the vast world. beyond it there was nothing but the pale figures of her parents. more closed. and even the air we breathed. the little park.” “And what about me?” you here as long as I have to. this one place.the last man maurice blanchot and certainty inside this narrow circle. her sister.com 33 . and in fact larger because of those empty places opened proud of. “Yes. the annexes with their technical apparatus.” But she added: “You have only seen me here. the only one to tell her that. she had concentrated in sort of understanding. 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. and of course that brightness propagated itself well beyond her. I’ll keep things were for her. Where she stood. sharp.” she said. who lived in the world as though she belonged there. “lots of people. It is because of dreams like that that people get lost here. the sound of the fountains. light air that was also perfidious. that joyously the ignored particles of life in us. real streets. I think I’ll stop you from leaving.
the last man
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
the last man
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 quesubu.com
the last man
“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
beyond the space to me: that separated us. at least from a distance. and I. and especially not at night. but he was so isolated that he had to be an exception to that. the one who gave evidence of being agitated. but that would only have been a play mented degree of uncertainty. much longer. in his bed he should have remained motionless.com 37 . and said—which for a alone. even though we were accustomed to visiting cerroom seemed to me like a foreign enclave we had no right to inspect. and I understood why she also sometimes seemed almost ubu. all the always sustain. answered my ques“No. with an augShe did not appear any more worried than she had been. and when he was away the longest. she only wore a reflection of it. he would not go out for several days. I thought we wouldn’t see him again. 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. had a minutely detailed awareness of his nights. when I mentioned his nightly solitude. I had to keep watch with him. I refused to picture. that he had a kind of gaiety she could not cheerful. Over and over again. I said to myself: could it be posstrength either.the last man maurice blanchot bed. I her of going into his room. I didn’t suspect tain people.” She was determined to use that word. One day. He was still there. a vigilant concern. she made this surprising remark “But perhaps he is quite cheerful when he’s alone. and once. looked at his door when she went by. I was sure he didn’t sleep. 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. she even became almost perfectly calm once again. If he still avoided these precautions. how very weak he became when he was tude: not for an instant. 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. and tured to myself. keep watch over him. the feeling that. in any case not his own strength: one could have imagined on words. I asked her: “Aren’t you worried?” also thought she was getting news about him from the staff. though it wasn’t real gaiety. who slept very little. I was sible that she is beginning to forget him? And even though she undoubtedly tions. it was as though this were only a transitory friendship. it was not simply out of imprudence.
Maybe my desire wasmerely the stood the simple truth of that movement.com 38 . I woke up with that cerOne night. 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. the strangest thing was that she ubu. She was on the very edge of the bed. at this exact moment. But it was especially when I saw her so tranquil. she had behaved as no one else could have behaved. it was much more ephemeral. Could one leave him to himself ? And if he did actually turn to me. it could only make me sad that I hadn’t underinformation. in all her naturalness. bowing her head under the light and hugging her knees. I had stolen away. with a lazy confidence that admired her. She was sitting almost the coercive force of her animosity. that I suddenly sensed to what an extent I had left it all in her hands. wanted to take it off her. And why was she so tranquil? Where did happy with her and only with her. this calm I collided with. I must have told her about it in the dim consciousness of just awakstraight up. The only reason I had And no doubt it was really true that she had been wonderful. When she didn’t answer. I turned on the lamp. I wasn’t really curious about him. I was overcome by a terrible desire: I wanted to ask him questions. the sparkle of a precious material which attracted one. To me. was so that I could remain at a distance. that the irreparable was happening. was forgetfulness crowded into me like a sharp time. as she liked to do. as with a space I was moving through feverishly. constrained at that limit by ening. perhaps because one again became a suspicion that fed on each moment. He couldn’t die this way. for her. her spirit and life almost obliterated. perhaps at this very moment. and the feeling that this time he wouldn’t get up this calm come from. What I wanted had nothing to do with quite human desire to get close to him. and it was also true that he was having any relationship with him. But that didn’t mean I was released from As the days passed.the last man maurice blanchot more evident because it endowed her with the brilliance of a piece of finery. anxiously? Why didn’t I share it at all? Why did I have to point forcing me to remember? it happen that what. had made it easy for me to wait. I lost all sense of the existence of limits when I thought he might slip away from me. It wasn’t possible that this opportunity would be lost forever. I had the feeling that he was in a very bad way.
and she had been overcome by one of those silent rages that closed her in on herself.the last man maurice blanchot was awake like that.com 39 . Her body seemed had I even grazed her than she leaped up. she would say to me would also say. like a person who had clearly been awake for some time. she to spend a whole night in her room. Scarcely to study them. a certain kind of attention or even a distraction that affected her without one knowing why or being able to predict it. Maybe she had been afraid and had called out to me. which lay farther down at the bend in “What in the world is wrong?” sleep alone. I tried to tell her about the feeling I had had.” As I said that. simply. a agitated to find a way to bring her back to me. that he might be but which had taken shape in me a long time before: in a very bad way. because the disappearance of sleep seemed to her such an incomprehensible misfortune. as though to I reached out my hand to her and finally touched her. crying out indistinct words which surely expressed an excruciating ignorance and rejection. since I was sleeping deeply. 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. this way.” in a small. I wanted only to get her back. and in fact. thinking once again of my presentiment. and more frightened. I hadn’t heard her. desperate voice. “I would like to talk to him. if she had heard a strange noise and. Of course I said to her: right away: “I can’t sleep. more so than any truly hard thing could be. When she couldn’t sleep. 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. as I would have been if I hadn’t found her next to me when I woke up. I was as surprised to see her awake in the avoid being touched by something horrifying. as occasionally happened. she contracted visibly. so that it was only by chance that one could draw her out: by a gesture. All I could think of saying was: “What’s the matter? What’s the matter?” Words she detested: tle words?” word. that there was nothing in the world sadder than to the corridor. and only a very particular set of circumstances would cause her middle of the night. she immediately ubu. I didn’t have time incredibly hard to me. But this time she didn’t answer. I asked her if she had had a bad dream. I would like to see him.
it was a shout that didn’t mean anything. That thought. jealous of what she said was his interest in me. now. 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. I felt. if waiting implied a responsibility that required of us an active adherence. after that night and because of it. no. “It’s nothing. I convinced myself that if I had heard them more clear“But I didn’t say anything. She answered: Maybe I didn’t even shout.” And seeing that I kept coming back to it. so that I seemed to be witnessing something very “How can you say that?” It almost made her laugh. and in effect time “Maybe you mistook me for him. I questioned her desperately. while she wept and wept. touched me. And what had she said? Childishly. incapable of recognizing me. she one when I had seen her so far away from me. those words would have enlightened me about her. or underancient or still to come. without being aware of it. “I don’t think so. that everything was simpler and ed too much on that preference of his. made me as calm as she was. of a dreamlike fluidity. only remember it: she had been overwhelmed.” “But was it that horrible?” “No. as though on the edge of the world we shared. “Or someone added. I had been struck by what I had said to her—”I would like to talk to him. everything in her that was hard melted. she kept harking back to it. about myself. revealed some kind of deep jealousy on her part. and even my interest in him. So we had to wait calmly. She insistup to then. as to a richer than I could even imagine. ly.” Which she denied categorically: “Maybe someone else. No one I know. and I hadn’t been aware of it either. I would like to see him”—words that had ubu.com 40 . about everything else. so very human and yet so barely credible to me.the last man maurice blanchot collapsed in my arms. I never really knew what had happened to her that night. Maybe she was jealous of painful place. I couldn’t interpret that scene. I dared say to her: else?” stand it.” had been overwhelmed too.” “Then were you asleep?” understand.” In the end I wondered if that scene hadn’t of loving me. became soft.
she plaintively rejected.” And then. “But maybe I’m not calm. with the 41 . out of whether it was still far away or already absolutely present. that tries to force me to retreat. 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. However. and not the calm at all. whom I was touching now. And yet those words did not seem out of place to me. yet again. he made it through that bad episode.com away from. a tireless investigation. I said to her: “For some time now. involving only me. that probably had to do with him. tries to push me back into being calm. that answer was like the point she was telling me about. she added: “There is often something like a point. as though at my very edge. just now. words that could well have made her jealous by revealing to her how deep a desire existed. instead tormenting her with tireless questions. that she wouldn’t have been able to resist? When. this young woman sitand why had she been so overwhelmed? By a sadness I did not allow for. ting here. only said what I wanted. after some thought. There was something obscure about it that I was turning when. I can only feel the point. And perhaps this only said something about me. but she was the one I was addressing when I said it. 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.” For me. not only weaker. and too lively for one to be able to control it. which they discreetly serious condition that was threatening him. though constantwhat was conjured up by that point.the last man maurice blanchot been almost shameful to me.” all she said was: her concern to be precise. not wanting anything to do with a memory which you have seemed quite calm to me. because of the very personal desire they had brought to the surface. that I couldn’t accept. not long after that night. an extremely fine point. I wasn’t relieved of it called an attack of the flu: scarcely even more tired than he had been. 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. than I remembered—and yet. I didn’t know the signs of gaiety.
his felt hat casting a shadow that looked in my direction. but far clearly directed at me. his head bowed over his rapidly rising and falling chest. of an almost transparent tenuousness. no superiority had any hold. Today. That “No. 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. For a moment.) So he was back in the same alcove.” was terrible. I had thought terrible than that of a child. he also looked healthier. I thought I maybe absent. a little suffering smile. then.the last man maurice blanchot thing. the idea that he was suffering in a way that was beyond us. then. he sionally seen him leaning forward in that same armchair. one that wasn’t accompanied by 42 . waiting for us. I had denied it. instead of me. it had to embrace the entire expanse of a great crowd. now. very any moaning. the very sharp. It was this. his about it all too much. I was at the gaming table and he was in the armchair. that was conjured up by the point. He must have felt that I was examining him. It represented the secret breaking point. On the contrary. (What would happen to a man who came up against a death too strong for him? Every man who escapes violent death wears. it grew broader. the glimmer of very bad way. though discerned the beginnings of a smile. a suffering more visible anymore but unlimited weakness and the gentleness that resulted answered: “No. and I wasn’t at all reassured by this proof that he wasn’t in a body somewhat hunched over.” Despite the fact that this “No” was very gentle. I had conjured it up. a pain brighter than the brightest day. a powerlessness over which. or pity. with at first a very brief look that seemed to fall back on himself. but in a rather graceful position. I won’t say that I was only discovering it now. when it lifted again in my direction. fine point only became sharper and finer. he made a better impression. entering him so deeply that nothing of him was from it. and also beyond him. for an instant. waiting for her. when he was asked: “Are you suffering?” he always patient. it indicated the area ubu. While he was looking at me in that disappointing way. from being the penetrating look I was hoping for. he was gently rejecting our was actually his own. observing me slowly as though.com pain: he was filled with an unknown pain. his large that new dimension. maybe ironic. Early on. that one couldn’t question.” coming from a man who almost always said “Yes. I had occamoved over his face. but too ample. remained vague.
and not only in me. I stopped. I’m suffering a lit- were afraid of that suffering. 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. which risked surviving him if he didn’t suffer it all the way through. in many others as well. a speech that would be a sign of alliance? Maybe he can’t communicate For this reason. too. was still quite alone. “That’s what had to happen. she loved that chance and loved being loved time. I wanted to let her take my place. drawing us to. In fact. as though she found herself there by chance. but remained a slightly apart And the fact that they were hardly together. I had felt a pang. he clearly could not from him in order not to get in his way as he walked. as no longer existing. but not suffering. a little moment that might allow him to recover the pain. Gambling it. and ty: “He must be given a little thought that isn’t a thought of pain. to suffer it? A single and what an abyss it was drawing her to. that she. her chance. and even our suffering.the last man maurice blanchot beyond which he regarded us. though she wasn’t touching him. with his kindness. the dis- vator door for him and held it open while he sat down on the seat inside. did not diminish. his suffering is naked. isn’t he willing to say: Yes. walking near him. we “Why. what an instinct— after a brief period of standing behind the gaming table.” tle. she was already back. her lightness. he suffers.” And she added with simplicimoment. but a true instant? What a dreadful complicity. 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. what he is going through. She lavished her gaiety on ubu. I think that would be enough.” Already. only increased. despite his willingness—seeing them walk past together. She opened the elethought they were going up together.com 43 . I thought he was dying.” 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. maybe no one is there to take in what he is suffering. with tance by which I felt endangered. instant. when she had gone with him just now—he had withdrawn tolerate so much noise for long.
endlessly died? An abject thought. Even the moans. 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. scarcely even a thought. ceaselessly. moving us away. that calm which I now understood might have yet another. the us as we lived. 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. going back. the calls. but distant. weigh upon fering. hard noise. I could only hold it against myself that I hadn’t the thought that perhaps he was not suffering. But this time she didn’t play. the answer which the two of us now confronted. an it was there around us. she turned and turned again. a slow torment. already. scattering us. all the heavier because it was so light. attracting us. born of that sufubu. didn’t summon anyone. arouse pity.the last man maurice blanchot by chance. 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. not visibly preoccupied. lacked any sort of musical quality any question about him. though in vain— back. with such stinging promptness.com 44 . But this did and made the frequenting of places and people here very difficult. the not result in any calm. and she gave me. prey to a resentment she withdrawn: the fact that by touching her. only a ruder silence and a rough. surely. of the desire to relieve myself I took to be him was only the surviving. I had actually succeeded in touchwas so wonderful. even though at the price of terrifying her—perhaps this was what that might always recur. of the fatigue of that suffering. didn’t reach anyone. to a terrible degree. 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. silent presence of his suffering. moving away from it. always? It was then that I boldly expressed to her couldn’t hold it against her. I done anything up to now to stop her from approaching that area of suffer- ing to which. still had something dry about them that didn’t suffering he consumed in silence and with infinite patience. perhaps it was a wonder that might not always recur—or ing her. at night. a calm that could not entertain and a noise which. her face closed wouldn’t have been able to formulate. in order to spare them any painful vibration. or maintaining that motionlessness. worked. any uneasiness. She remained apart.
Help me. and as we passed the vast kitchens. unfastened her stockings. and slipped them “We shouldn’t go back to the house ever again. She ter. as I recalled only the circumstances of reasons of hygiene we weren’t allow to enter.the last man maurice blanchot of it and relieve her of it too. I became aware of the change that her words ble. then she sank her feet in the snow which I gathered to her in a little pile. not all of it was visiubu. 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. and it was here that I saw how dark and confined space could be. but once again she felt dizzy. She stayed that way.” down. She soon felt betsaid to me: kitchen..” though receding to an infinite distance and yet also coming infinitely close to The cold.com 45 . circumstances I had liked. but the sky wasn’t a snowy us. It seemed to me she had alluded to it a long time ago. One evening she had wanted to go out and walk on the lawn. but everything The front of the house rose a few steps away. We remained there side by side. there was a thicker layer of snow. which for sky. There was already a little snow. She said: want?” “Yes.” I took off her shoes. without my doing anything to deflect her from it. disturbed by our presence. complained of vio“I think if I were to put my bare feet in the snow. right now it is. a mysterious.” “Wherever you like. already. living noise in which one sensed the confused agitation of the fish. Everything was quiet and we heard ter and wanted to stand up.” “Is that what you “But where would we go?” at the top lost in darkness. that confidence. she had drawn me into the back courtyard. Where we were. as “Look how dark the sky is. 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. I would feel bet- lent pains in her head. it formed a powerful dark mass. me with my arms around her legs. its lower stories dimly lit. in a veiled manner and without my noticing.
but not suffer—no. in her cold. shivering presence. but now I grasped it again as I had not been able to hear it before. ed to living in such particular conditions. Did this mean she was prepared to abandon everything without any regrets? “Yes. so that in the end. and perhaps she had thereby revealed one of her most secret thoughts: that she.” She thought for a moment: “I think I could die. while I tightly encircled her legs and her naked thighs. I can’t. I just can’t. and yet going past.” “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. but perhaps she had meant something quite different. one had not had to pass never find her way out of it. under that sky reduced to a single point. but hardly a life. in order to die.” “But you’ve spent your whole life here. drawing her toward me little ness that had shaken her in the beginning. she had adapt- suffering?” She shivered. she fell down next to me. would have been dead a long time ago—so many people had died around her—if. as though seized once again by the same dizziWe were still in the library.com 46 . and now I knew I would be the one ubu.the last man maurice blanchot seemed to announce in her. maybe.” “My whole life. It occurred to me that we should go back up to the room. going farther on. or I had managed not to look at it squarely. by little. perhaps suffer. climbing from very far away and as though he were still he would enter.” ous. too. I had not given that speech any real attention. “I’m not afraid of it. 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. step. I can’t. though sure. That would mean going back up in his direction. I never seriously thought down the corridor where I had heard him approaching with his hesitant. it would probably be very danger“Do you mean that I would have a relapse?” “Yes.” at that moment she had expressed the reality of the suffering one could not sonable fear. walking very far away.
that’s the truth of this meeting. after which we would be free. an just once. to draw it from its muteness. not degrade him. 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. in greater suffering. more fanatical. and every time he’ll be more degraded. the need through any direct violence. Would I be alone? Yes. because of my approach. thoughts that were too much for me and in in a friendly spirit. make him even more himself. not my afterthoughts—and let it be without disgust. If I must assail him for something. 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. commensurate he would protect with his great frightened hands. not It was low. that leaves me the dignity of a tranquil. which I resisted with some unknown part of myself. bother him. force it to express itself. Such a thing can’t be. protected soul. one had to descend too low to reach it. weaker. 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 where we’re going. a dissolute reality that inspired disgust: around him and maybe in him. hideous. cunning attack. the propensity of Dreadful daydreams. in order to give that suffering a face. why force him to recognize in me. If I must be his destiny. make that suffering talk? There was something about it that was necessary. and if it is. and let my hand alone strike him. to lower him still further. a repugnant misery. But I immediately thought: that is even ugly wound from which no one will recover. that face which his distress. an invasion of vulgar shames and banal resentments. while behind them his fear. crush him. my thoughts. to do with him was disturbance. I would be alone. and I’ll be more powerful. his derision would shine out: yes. something wicked. but every time. with his dissimulation. Everything him. and happier.the last man maurice blanchot who would go to his room someday. let it be thoughts. which I didn’t recognize myself. my hand and not my destiny attack him. without knowing it and without wishing it. And it won’t be ubu. let that more cowardly. it can only be horrible. There was an area of disturbance around but revolting. and yet to attack him also in the face. but by a slow. sordid. and the only movement that responded to that summons was a movement of abhorrence. to crush him or even merely to touch him.com 47 .
it was only because I had face? No doubt I hadn’t asked her that and hadn’t wanted to ask her. for instance. A dangerous reserve that kept an appearance of vivacity and seemed to model itself on her without altering her behavior. 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.” Yes. But sometimes she was infinitely resourceful and wonderfully patient: with animals. perhaps briefly.com fact is that there couldn’t have been any room for such a question between 48 . what is she thinking. she rejected. however rapidly and gently. It could I accept them. and even so. Does she know that? And if she knows it. I wanted passionately to caress that face. her face smooth. opinionated. implacable concerning everything she couldn’t tolerate. Sometimes she seemed cruel to me. him was the sort one has for an animal. not loving. but the ubu. she rejected with violence. she accepted him—that word said a great deal. 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. loving. what does she expect? I was able to ask myself the question. but she between us once again. but I have accepted him. 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. conclude from this that she herself had already been to see him. in turn. she had remained just as distant. I don’t. I couldn’t challenge them. almost without contour. the friendship she had for accepted him. During the entire evening after the words had sprung from her that ought to have set her free. but which.” A speech which. is true that I had not answered her words. but I couldn’t answer with certainty. perhaps as a familiar visitor? If I had sometimes believed and never imagined it. Maybe he horrified her. and she was cruel. nor if I complained about it. What It occurred to me that some of the understanding. as she had told me one day when I said to her: “You don’t know who he is.” “No. once it had established itself between us. risked separating us for good. she saw as merely the reflection of my coldness.the last man maurice blanchot this truth. Shouldn’t I. almost ugly. but as soon as I put my hand near her at that moment.
She would remain on the balcony for hours. I had each other without reserve and talk to each other without lying. my sensation of joy in recapturing her. as I would recall all the moments we spent ed to her by a vague resemblance—her sister. ing it. lying 49 . drawing rather childish landscapes or exclusively female figures relattimes: “What I am to you. she would question her. on the question. And yet I felt that if I managed to find an occasion to Everything. I was sure she would not hide anything from me. That was how she had learned things she wouldn’t have learned by going all the way. feeling her tears. therefore. too. That was down. by a difficult agreement. but because she had refused to take it. but without any insistence either. A moment so real that it consoled one for everything and exceeded all hope.com together in my room. In this sort extent that I. and all thought. all sadness.the last man maurice blanchot us. I kept finding in myself the wonderful nature of that movement. on the contrary. even in her sleep and even in the calm with which she protected herself. she would answer me immediately in the frankest way. to realize how difficult it would be for me to come to Then I had to think that maybe she had taken this step. not by tak- motion she had ought to have taken her all the way. and I participated in the same refusal by not questioning her.” what I would always remember. She said my look had little She wasn’t surprised to see me watching her constantly. a distance which really seemed to lay down on her the reserve which it wasn’t enough for me simply to push away now. or at other other concern. 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. though the natural always refuse to talk to me about it. Every time I went back over it. but an intimacy overwhelmed by sobs. Likewise. she would say. without any ubu. that. which. sensing that this was the only place we could henceforth reach me. depended on me. and that her dream body had not been an image. Nevertheless. 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. I had only to recall the night she had remained at such a distance from to leave intact. of luminousness in embracing her disorder. would enter it. Would I ever con- of interval.
” at her with a certain drunkenness. as though that draws a circle around them and isolates them. close together. not a memory—forgetfulness. in dened by the present.” “Is it as though I were alone?” “Not that either: maybe it’s your look that is alone. a torment ubu. as though there had been other days: glide by. and her haste. so gravely. there on the other side of the window- she hastily tosses back the blankets. more furtively. another memory lay between them. until she finds a way out that back there.” “And yet you’re calm. but also to other days. in the always sure she could control.” pane. I’m calm. to go back into the heart of the calm. that I could only look long run. tant sort of memory. She had always been afraid of dying outside herself. What place are they going to? Why such haste? Sometimes they separate and look at each other. us. it sometimes happened that she couldn’t stay where she was: 50 . too—yes. knowingly insouciant. in the past. Only us. with her inevitable concern for exactness. maybe in the past. she was somehow abandoned to a spirit of lightness she wasn’t “Yes. but so divorced from thoughts of the future. not childish. she would say: fever keep her there.” But.” “Us? Me too?” “Yes. her leads her to me. comes into the room.com In fact. and it was no doubt this that gave her. Her essence.the last man maurice blanchot weight. while she drew the lines with a hand that moved almost constantly. but it’s already almost like a memory.” “That point is still there. the most dis“It’s already in the past?” “Yes. that extremely fine sort of point which She rarely lifted her head. wrapped in blankets. in some way motionless. in a space where people seem to walk more quickly. she took care to add: forces us to retreat. so present and yet so scarcely burturn. seemed to me. the feeling of lightness that made her almost drunk. “Is it as though you were alone?” “No. then. that it made the things around her lighter.
with me. without shadow. She would open the door of the elevator. she was finishing the journey she had embarked upon a short but a little behind. like a white. she asked suddenly: “Am I the one who’s dying? Or is it you?” feeling that she was dying in order to remember it. so veiled that no one dared take notice of it: it hap- There was an allusion to that forgotten thing in everything she did.com ridor with door after door opening onto it.the last man maurice blanchot you’re holding me. All the doors were alike. no other noise between us but the whistling of that. with a ceaseless. not completely level with me. she would no doubt have gotten up to look for it in the room and all through the house. behind her and behind him. having left the drawing rooms. Later—it was already the opened her eyes. without perspective. as I listened to that noise. me. awash day and night with the 51 . indistinguishable from it. and crowded. which the pulley. indistinguishhospital corridor. with a certain uneasiness. all ubu. It would be like that all the way down the famous corridor. motionless. pened a little in the background. solitary look she was asking him to keep. nowhere near here. but also with great tact and firm patience. it seemed to him. looking at him with that serious. When she died. which I had noticed before.” an allusion so discreet. muffled din. of the same white as the wall. Words which he heard distinctly. If she could have gotten up. I must be struck at the point where At a certain moment. a narrow corsame white light. as though she were playing a game: “Here?” “Or here?” “No. walk along by my side. It was like the reminder of a promise were empty of people now. she gave one the comforting. she had now. as she could not help doing when she was “on bad terms” with As we were rising tranquilly. hopeless middle of the night—without emerging from her immobility. maybe it con- cerned both of them. she had begun to want to recall something: she searched for it quietly. He leaned over her and she which. I thought time back. leaving a gap of a few steps between us.” “You have to hold me firmly.
as though she were at one ence. side by side. I was seized by—what thought? By a thoughtless sadness. ubu. and went off to her own room. having come to a stop with- that asked nothing. knowing that for me the white solitude. was merely empty. and as one walked down it. deep.the last man maurice blanchot able from one another except by the numbers on them. as in a tunnel— footsteps. Once we were standing before the door. cloud-filled sky—there. Did she understand that this was necessary? She gave the door a quick look. and curtly separated us. gave me a quick look too. everything seemed equally sonorous. fits of coughing. murmurs behind doors. I liked that corridor. rustling fields. and that I would have no other landscape than that clean.com 52 . voices. could say nothing. happy slumbering and unhappy slumbering. imposed nothing. the eternity of my encounters and my desires. could not be consoled. 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. in that tunnel. I walked down future was there. not seem to be breathing anymore at all. the sea. the whistling sounds of those who were having trouble breathing. equally silent. sighs. there would lie the immense. the changing. and sometimes the silence of those who did it with a sense of its calm. indifferent life. out opening it. that there my trees would grow.
looking after the calm that was confided to my negligence? And yet. me. and more real. yielding me very long. it touched me. an intimacy. If I had wanted to. too. I would have to say that for me it almost merges with the calm that allowed me to face it.com 53 . moves? Didn’t I have to be more lively in my study of that event. I had the impression there was a space to which I felt bound by an expectation. and to be. it even pushed me back slightly. what that calm was outside me. and except for that grave. but with the motionless. I only knew that I owed it some respect. less protected. almost too light. because perhaps I also owed it a fierce lack of respect. I also felt that this space. and I didn’t even know that. I did not know In addition to that first impression. very close to the word that came from so far away: it wasn’t completely commensurate with me. it wasn’t human yet. But waiting . Had I made the decisive remain in balance not only with all my thoughts. I had my own share in it. But I had to beware of precisely that—beware of the even more enticing impression that ubu. This calm was a gripping sort of calm. a solitude that would perhaps have been suitable for a living being—a human being? No. lighter. that very recent event by which I felt I was being watched. doubts. I would have thought everything. to be equal to that calm. I had never been so free. . All I had to do was wait. offered me a sort of immediate means of access. motionless up to a spirit of lightness that threatened not to leave me at my own level for thought. were freer. but that didn’t bother me. as though despite myself. It seemed to me that if I managed to be calm. my thoughts. though more important what bound me to it. . it was more exposed. I was already enjoying this new state. by means of which I was undoubtedly watching myself. I would grave. it was even extraordinarily outside of moment when I would have to be calm. and even though there was no real relation appearing infinitely distant and foreign.the last man maurice blanchot II IF I THINK ABOUT what happened. but because that space was foreign to me. by precautions. as though to keep me on the edge of the between us. and solitary thought under whose cover my thoughts continued to express themselves so lightly. in myself. while I applied my mind to it.
affirm itself for so long: one gesture and always within my reach. one of the ultimate goals. but Everything was so calm that if it hadn’t been for the soft.the last man maurice blanchot we thought everything. I won’t say that this space was already clearly delimited. I observed it. Its instability was what suddenly scared me. A dangerous calm. not only to push me back. that every thought was ours. my forehead But I did not doubt the kind of presence it constituted. It was too simple. so decided and so sure. I realized once again. continu- tion of my waiting. It had to find limits on me. its weakness. I could only be surcertainty. a word which here appeared opaque. This easiness might have been what had deflected me prised at it and avoid it. threatening. It would ous pressure exerted on me. Something warned me that the doubt should always be equal to the I had to wait. And yet. as much. at least might have been. in its contact with me and exhaust me with that calm. As soon as I leaning on my forehead. but it could us. perhaps. a distinctness that would have brought it too close to me. and yet I dreaded. just have frightened me more as a familiar thing than as a foreign thing. which left it without any defense and me without any decision. and a doubt remained that it was delimited as soon as I entered it. and one that was in some seemed to interpose itself between us. true. I experienced it. I felt that. an extremely light and extremely firm pressure that were not too foreign to mine. I wouldn’t even have been able to be conscious was there. and what held me back was something too easy in that approach. threatened. I leaned lightly on it. but as a memory. 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. yet unshakable. The doubt weighed powerfully on each of my steps. and the certainty of the same nature as the doubt. nor too strict: it could close up again. that I wasn’t sure I wasn’t exerting on it by my resistance and by the direc- ubu. but light. the calm also tance.com 54 . my weakness so superior to me. nor as a dissense a danger even to itself. but also to make me go forward. if there hadn’t been my weakness. indestructible—it was final. have been. not as an obstacle. I could have believed I had already reached some goal— an ultimate one. allow it to gain strength from that waiting.
Maybe it had no center. and yet also in me. by the sense of that center which it didn’t have or by that calm that awaited me. an endless din. it was a height that silence. But I stayed on the crest of that narrow drunken- ness. A terrible feeling that immediately made me draw back. its wiliness. I had lost every habit. speech. Abruptly. over there in the useless region. The space was evasive. wily. and smooth. I never despaired. one that was even more useless and more hostile and that we both dreaded in the same way. It was side. The only firm thing I had was the motionless where everything became denser. as though it were drawn. was an opening onto a different region. I learned not to be content with it. The agitasilent: I could distinguish myself from it. every path. an ultimate avidity which I had to escape. not controlling it. it kept stealing away. On either pushed me back down toward the bottom. It stole away. It was dark. frightened. a shining sphere. It seemed to me motionless. and yet not always. its temptation. in me. far beyond the room where the space The sort of drunkenness that sprang from it came from that “We” ubu.the last man maurice blanchot over there. It was at once powerful and empty. But I. a speech untouched by the uttered far away from here. high. I had glimpsed some possibilities. a sphere that tion of a speech in no way confused—and when it falls silent. controlling a feeling of pain. It was light. authoritarian and docile. kept growing. more real. perhaps crazy. allowed itself to be seen rather than heard. on one of the slopes which I could only situate over there. I tirelessly prowled around. only hear it while hearing myself in of joy. it does not fall it. That din made me drunk.” merged with its surface. it which sprang from me and which. and was calm as it grew.com 55 . far away even from the space. not thought that enveloped us and perhaps protected US. and as though outA feeling that at no price should I make use of the agitation of that side were shining images. nor adhere to it. to return to myself. recognized the places to follow. The waiting (the calm) made me feel that which was why it disoriented me by its evasion. of an amazing lightness. it was cold. too. became wily. I had before me a hungry evidence. joyous. It was like a slope one had only And yet. a slope that started off from calm and ended in calm. cramped against a phantom of lightness. this immense speech which always said “We.
Never any stop to it.” “Who are the distant ones and who are the close ones?” “We here and we over there. erect in the solitude of our strength of worlds added onto worlds. but it is also silent. knowing ubu. too physical. We A feeling of immense happiness—this is what I can’t get rid of. no limit.” “And who are the oldest and who the youngest?” “And who must be glorified. unity.” “And the sun—where does it get its light from?” “From us and only us. lies under our eyelids like a gaze nously from universe to universe. what live turned toward ourselves as though toward a mountain lifting vertiginess ever drunker and calmer.” “We are. Our own has the volume and A mysterious answer. always continue.” That was where we all were. Even though it may be a sort of ritual. Almost imperceptible. a drunkenthat has always seen everything. “We”: the word glorifies itself eternally. who comes to us.com 56 . rises endlessly. passes between us like a shadow.the last man maurice blanchot began to enclose itself. who waits for us?” “We must and we do.” “And the sky—what exactly is it?” “The solitude that is in us. what makes that first moment still continue. and what we said ceaselessly praised what we were: “What else is there now but us?” “No one. what began the first moment. sublime radiates eternally from these days.” “Then who must be loved?” “I. We remain together. somewhere in the direction of the sea. The other has surprise. a strange murmur that disturbs us: the voice is something animal about it. hearing it is a disquieting. obliged me to hear myself in that chorus whose base I situated over there. it shakes us. harsh like the squeak of a lizard. over there. It is the shelter we hurry under. weak.
it claims. No beginning and yet the soar of a perpetual awakthought scarcely weighs upon our shoulders. What proves it is and we are all united within this point even in our separation. withdrawn still further. an immense column whose top and bottom. How we nevertheless see things. This grave about it. and protects me like a veil: that every time the black becomes blacker. Yes. united only communicated within our very midst. Such a discovery ening. No end. but an aspiration always satisfied and always desiring. the sky changes color. Frivolity is what is best about us. is accepted right away. except the sky: our share of solitude passes through this point. as though to show that the impenetrable has Everything. apparently always the same. it be comes blackining it. how could I bear it? Do you mean the sky sinks into us like the point of a needle?” “That’s it. and yet we know that it varies imperceptibly in response to the source of the thought that has lain down on me. It increases by one tone. it makes us laugh.com 57 . it was already a very old thing: the feeling of that altitude. there is nothing solemn or always more immobile: eternity is achieved. by a nuance that can only be alone reveals to us what we have caused ourselves alone to hear. it always goes farther. and our mouths are also closed. it is lightness itself. What is terrible about it at its highest point the intangible variation of the sky. our eyes closed. yes. that’s right. Already black. rises from all sides into one common cry that cry. It is always more indestructible. that terrible sky—this is what doesn’t preoccupy us. It unsettles us to praise ourselves er. Insouciance is the gift we have been given.the last man maurice blanchot nothing.” ubu. but grows on. Sometimes. That is why it is terrible. if it weren’t as infinitesimal as the sharpest needle This point would therefore be what pierces the most distant of my point. that is our way of examfor being frivolous: as though an unknown center were being touched in us. that wraps me around We wouldn’t tolerate the sky being a single point. put us within reach of an infinite growth. I could be afraid I am the only one to realize this. what each of us then secretly says. that strange sun. and from the first moment. in order to give reality to that sign. This is probably “But if it weren’t a point. A terrible does not change. is common to us. But it also says this share is the same for everyone here and not elsewhere: this would be the ultimate goal. merging.
I don’t remember this. ever blacker and sharper. Back there. the balknown other days. in the past. You have to raise yourself high enough to be able to say: that was. lost again. memory does not encounter it: we move about uselessly behind ourselves. The greatest calm reigns. without error or doubt. True. as though forever? What is the source of the calm. if one was running (perhaps one was runreflect. that happens the very moment we expected the opposite: one gets up (if one was lying down). and. not a memory—forgetfulness. once attained. I run up against that that single changing point. cease to be said? breached the wall. one stops and bows one’s head as though to it to us. to put it better. but not that extremely fine and amazingly distant point: that black point we call the sky. going by every road joyous- ly toward ourselves. Toward what place? Why such haste? Sometimes. and as soon as I move toward it more boldly. Why should all that have changed? Why should what past. one freezes.the last man maurice blanchot memories. And yet. ory. go back inside What. Speech informs us about it. Is it the past—this suddenly visible face? nally those that are coming. the eternal. would remove us from the calm? Why is this equilibri- feeling we have that we must look after everyone around that moment of um. It’s only that you also have to know eternity in the ubu. We have close together we glided more furtively. is our balance. it seems we walked more quickly.com 58 . then. here we are attaining something that was not hoped for. image shows ning away). It’s a unique moment. that comes unexpectedly. do we know that thing of which there is no knowledge? Imperceptibly the question raises us up. Such is the mis“But nothing has changed. the hope that draws a circle and isolates us. and they are the surprise of having had been said. moment. which we find suddenly before us and which is there only to urge us to withdraw. that cold moment whose memory is nevertheless strange to us? Why ance of a happy day. throws us upon one another. they don’t belong to yesterday. we look at one another as though between us there were a mem- the brightness that comes from us. those that do not pass. they are eterThe happiness of always saying Yes. the touch of an instant. of endlessly affirming. the calm from which our lightness has also eternally made us go forth. or. Certainly. and they are the joy of We knew those days. I remember many things—everything. maybe.
their boundless frivolity. without interrupting myself. it must not be betrayed.” The answer is that perhaps we would fall back into the calm from Spirit of lightness. it’s reassuring. the to you.” “But that’s just what death is. solitary thought in which that point is no doubt hidden. because in it everything “But aren’t they afraid to say. but with a cold authority. think of myself. into an answer? becomes infinitely light. Why do you let me believe that if I wanted you to. that is simply there. indifferent to everything.” “That proves their insouciance. you who do not extremely fine. becoming terribly. and when I go toward you. being light. make us tumble. if we fell a little more? If we were capable of could precipitate us. amazingly distant point that keeps inviting me. It is as though I had to hear it in the past too. and I feel that not to dug. And where would we fall. you who do not answer. even if I don’t talk.com 59 . even if I have no relation to the speech I am capable of uttering. I don’t believe in that speech. 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. intimate. slowly.” either. I will talk calmly. to withdraw into forgetfulness. thought that wraps me around and perhaps protects me. grave.the last man maurice blanchot sion now reserved for you. without violence. I want to talk Motionless thought. even to silence. as though I couldn’t. guiltily heavy? Isn’t that question already the weight that which one doesn’t emerge except through lightness. strange contact—as though I weren’t supposed ubu. I am allowed to. why would we be afraid? On the contrary. get up. with a movement that surto. It is when one moves an unmoving surveillance. It still protects. that they’re dead?” “No. I ask myself why such dialogues seem to hide a deep concern. Why isn’t everything over? Why can I with which I feel connected? You are not even silent. too light to remain there. but it also bears down—”lightly”: intractable thought that doesn’t answer. you could question you? Why are you there like a space in which I am still lingering and prises me: a cold. to hear it said.
a sign. I look it in the face. but hands it over rids himself of his moment of repose. the moving force that unites us. ask questions. and all of tion of a moment of emptiness. And the last judg- the common spirit by a mysterious gift. a real wall. not call the eternal heart. the smile and salva- ubu. however. taken. joyful. an emptiness in the midst of everyone else. is. maybe we aren’t watching over anything. doesn’t give it up. and yet this is the breathing of profound repose. and in this way them are that way—they are all innocent. Strange. to think them is to think nothing. strange thought. in the end. if it is destroyed. tering. Nothing sweeter than such thoughts.” Why that word? maybe no one. what do you want from me?” “Yes. the calm likes that. a firmer pressure. four walls that expected of me? Haven’t I. nothing requires it either.” form the boundaries of the place I live and make it a cell. I’m giving it up. and the words that go to you go to a wall that sends Why not discourage me? That would be easy. and them back to me so that I can hear them. since you want me to. Strange image: it says when a person enters this intimate calm at the that person. who envelop us and perhaps protect us. A wall. each person always which yields us the truth that impels us. how light thoughts are. “Calm. they leave us free. Why? What is this role I have to play? What is of the calm? Could the calm be destroyed? And yet. in that place where we come and go. hands it over to ment is perhaps this pure gift through which. maybe we’re all still inside the calm. that cold moment which we don’t remember? And is it true that everyone is watching? Maybe only one. didn’t I enter the calm? What has drawn me out I would be ready to say: “All right. But this calm which penetrates us. they we question on and on without end. come and go. this freely—it couldn’t be won. the thing we dare nothing disturbs it. solitary and grave.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. calm. therefore nothing forbids it. are free. at a time when peace and silence have found their place.com 60 . far from enjoying the calm for himself alone. happy. do we continue to keep watch around it—that instant. who are motionless. source that is fed by each person when he dies. ever more restless. or taken by surprise. but Within you. ever tot- moment of dying. how they immediately rise.
a calm that no longer draws me but pushes me “I question you. I want you to. leading me up with a mad promptness. won’t deny it. which I believe in. and you’re here to obtain from me. the empty. the happiness of always saying Yes. I abide near it. the free judgment. If what you expect from me Note that I am not excluding the idea of the trap you might repre- sent. I feel. to be happier than all happiness. when I question you. the blooming and balancing that death receives patience and reserve. with your help. it is not given. by your calm that is to come. that is already returning to the upper reaches. If you are deceiving me. more just than balance itself—and what are you? A little space. turns into a feeling of infinite joy. the appeal for a new must pour into the heart. I will reach it. Yet why do you. The calm is given. drunkenness that always says We. I will be nothing only with you. the surprise lightness that comes to me from the first lightness. from that shared insouciance. a point in space? exaltation. ever emptier torment which. Experience. it can’t be taken back. not altogether leading me up. when I am able to say. the thought that is not thought by me. it traverses me. the free sacrifice of the moment of for an instant from itself in the person who is dying. Why do I have confidence only in you? I feel connected only to you. You who reached it. if that is the ultimate goal. and if it falls silent. must be accomplished: oh. through its barely perceptible. therefore the mysterious gift. when I address you. This is the way it is.” a firmness that safeguards me from the is to exhaust you. from the immense speech which. which holds me back. in that chorus whose base I would like to situate over there. as haps conceal the wiliness and the tip of a torment—why do you seem to me ubu. Perhaps I’m not dead. promise me nothing. there wouldn’t be any other instants for him.the last man maurice blanchot and even though behind you is hidden the point which is the sky. and perto be above what is highest. nor will you deny that if that instant were left to the person it is the fruit of the last labor. proves that you protect me by your gravity. somewhere near the sea.com 61 . you are nothing. tirelessly urges me to retreat. But the calm of these new bonds and the certainty of what is older. If back. that you protect me or cut me off from that shared it does not fall silent. who give me nothing. eternal pressure. I address you. and I also hear myself soon as it reaches me. to give you back to the emptiness that I am. in this case.
there is someone inside this cell. I would rather not makes us drunk with that lightness. that that room well. motionless thought. from its surface to its single is ours. because it is already dominated by the little window. I believe it is an image. everything that is reflected in us of everyone comes to assume form. shine. It makes me upset too. 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. As you know. illuminated by being no more than a reflection of everyone else. to address words to you that don’t reach you. and which I can’t leave. and to sustain lightness as a weight. in the infinitely glimmering sphere which. It seemed to me we were silent. I have to overcome presence is an endless withdrawal. I lay down for a moment. and it’s a cold brightness that penetrates everywhere. to give me a feeling of the past. these words that don’t reach you? Are you trying to you’re becoming upset.the last man maurice blanchot talk about it. What emptiness here. I feel it. Why must I keep you.com 62 . a room whose boundaries you define strictly. a little chamber where someone has to live. and even the heaviest. enough to rise and take us with it. the suspicion that there is no repose in your immobility and your enduring thoughts I don’t have. every thought Propped against you. don’t express me—and to hold you fast so that you remain strictly delimited. with your charubu. quickly becomes light Why do we think that? Because we think everything. What calm next to you. I have to hold you fast. you who keep me? It is a great concern. A memory of light comes in through creates the emptiness and is the brightness of that emptiness. In this way we have the most people. is our own eternal coming and going. spark. Is it me you’re moving away from—these warn me of some danger? Would you like to speak? You’re becoming upset. this answer to our lightness. thought against which I rest. lighter than our- selves. makes us ever lighter. and then disappear. nev- ertheless. once it touches us. very cold space in which sterile space returns to space. I remember acteristic rigor. Against you. watch your boundaries. impassable gravity that yields sometimes. To live this way in everything so far from everything. my forehead on which my forehead lies heavy. And the thought that each of us is only the reflection of the universal reflection.
It is like a flame coming to light on one or the other of us and cry. but why do you prevent me from flowing into this murmur? Why do you save me from being entirely night’s very breathing. 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. why do you separate me from what speaks in me. in them. too joined together in our light- ubu. a stifled murmur. perilous. if I go out into it. obliges us to hear. that we are too light for that. and who utters it? What is that single word on which the heaviness still in us concentrates and falls back. I know that that would be to remember. But be this motionless. 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. who? I ask this. One day. already my steps come to meet me. a dry.the last man maurice blanchot the outside. taking some unknown part of me with them? I sense. 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. 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. How exact everything is. I don’t even ask it. Why such haste? Toward what place? Do my words outside myself. Then what is happening? What issues from the earth is a strange voice. Then. these similar figures you form. However. this disturbs us. from the delusion into which everything goes. which says one must come and go. that attraction to the vain region. and the time in which one can say I is limdesignating him to answer the general speech. delusion that is the also go toward that place. arid ited. solitary brightness. All these people I see wandering about. a too weighty feeling that breaks the circle and frees itself ? Is it true that we can’t ness? love each other. are someone. I see the hallobeying the murmur of the night. and if I lean outside. for an instant.com 63 . perhaps without knowing it. You are acquainted with shadows. more exact than it should be. I could describe to you the space that I won’t go out. as though entreat me with a sweet lure to follow them and that I resist only because you to deflect me. How strange that the darkness of the night should way lit by the light. come and go without end: deceptive faith. pointless haste.
when everything is randomly extinguished in myriad different hearths workbelief that we might be the gleaming signs of the fire’s writing. the surprise of eternal chance. feel. which has become too weak and already nearly broken. The belief that the great edifice is now no longer capable of feedThere is a rumor which says that at a certain moment. but that is in unite us—but that weigh on you. an even. For a long time I have sensed that you suffer. and so very far from ubu. written in belief that this belief is nothing more than the sadness and suffering of the fire. The everyone. whose surprise. perhaps. with a suffering that I don’t sense. ing where they like. Perhaps I have entered into forbidden relations with you that I can’t owless light that penetrates everything and keeps me outside everything. perhaps we can’t very easily tolerate the Could you really be the presence—motionless. it has no name.the last man maurice blanchot explain. and what connects us? your silent brightness. I. too. I distance. collected. in a gift I can’t explain to myself. necessity. where you are is the suffering I haven’t been able to suffer. 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.com 64 . as they like. I am afraid. the link between the suffering and what ought to be my thought. the slow fire secret unity. extended through space—of the possibly infinite pain that exists in a single myself—ever since suffering moved beyond me. a great me. 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. the one who answers the general certainty—but The belief that one has reached the moment when everything is burning. shadwould like to preserve you from it. legible only in me. with the cold passion of separate fires. I had given you the suffering I couldn’t accept and even thought? Is it in you that I might still suffer—in you. we affirm through the caprice that is in us. reveals it as it consumes it. as though. This must be what makes you so grave and solitary despite the bonds that Indifference. that is no doubt that brightness itself. Somehow. though from a distance. destroys it but in keeping with its unity. that was at an earlier time and that was each of us—with his murmur. The Perhaps we don’t love. a suffering that drives the darkness and memory of life back to the edges. perhaps. and thought of the mysterious order whose fortuitous wonder.
with you. a target that would grant it rest? This doesn’t allow itself to be held back either. dition. without taking part in it. more exalted in the calm How cold I am already. all the more impenetrable as it answer is excluded. thought in which I suffer so very far away from myself. night. It is like a new desire. truthless we are already. how coldly. and I’m into silence. but no doubt it’s the law. It is understood that between us. which doesn’t even draw me a very long time ago. We’re over there. 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. Even when I say I would like to preThought which allows me to be without suffering. how lightly I say it.com 65 . tion to you. I clearly see that the space between us is ubu. closer to everything. and yet it isn’t said completely in vain. I wouldn’t like you to be able to answer me. or even of encountering the briefest instant of pain. light. And yet. How could I question you. in secret in relation to everyone. but without wanting to. serve you from it. and the absence of secrecy is our con- us: don’t think I’m indifferent to your fate. It is in me like a future taking me by surprise. and I have to confess that I don’t think I’m still capable of suffering. every Don’t hold it against me. insignificant. day and night. nothing is secret. I’m sorry that sadness. I pay more attention to it than I and always unsteady. The little thoughts are all the lighter because of it. force keeps it here.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. which doesn’t answer. you who have a torment in the center of your transparency that you hide from should. Even where impenetrability reigns. and happy with your silence. indiscretion and influence over you. to the point where I don’t exist. But consider how vain. Day and draws back moment by moment under pressure from you. that is our belief and our subsistence. always saying what never stops being said. and don’t think I want to exert a power of I would like to talk in secret. in secret in relanothing is revealed that wasn’t revealed in the beginning. 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. I don’t know why that word appeared here. pain have been given to thought. I don’t know what it describes or what and we are closer to ourselves.
But what do you want? One can’t have large over. What would you want to balance against that thought of a shared doubts about the death of each of us. 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. They all point. I know everything. raised up toward us by the force of insouciance that scatters us among ourselves and reunites us death? As you see. perhaps entrusted to ubu. discreet. own lightness: a large question. it has no attraction Uncertain. I very easily put up with that uncertainty. and small certainties. some with a barbaric rigidity. for all of us together. is drunkenness in us? Surely. steady. so far away from everything. which yields neither forgetfulness nor memory. with itself ? Believe me. motionless. What can I do for you? How can I make the they say. one that so scarcely belongs to me? Together. I am surrounded by questions. 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. too bad.the last man maurice blanchot growing. the little thoughts that are so light for us are less so for you. have to affirm it a little more to make you yield. more difficult to embrace in a single memory. others with nonchalance. which you preserve with your incomprehensible gravity. and your struggle is solitary. It seems to me you’re struggling against something over there. and why over there? Why that shivering which. and you suffer from their delicious dispersal. and I imagine I would only barely arrives. jealously enclosing myself within the circle where I am the only one Don’t you admire this uncertainty. about mine in particular. together—the one thought that would give it a sweet equality with you. Why are you struggling. indestructible. in whose midst we are reborn ceaselessly into our who knows there is no one there. which owes nothing to ignorance? And the calm. though it may be pain in you. It is still only emptiness. is uncertain. that is superfluous. I know everything. 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. toward the center I took lightly—I even accept it joyfully. too. and unrelated to our spirit of lightness. you have trouble containing it. which is too fragile to or truth except in the place where we hold it together.com 66 . but the little room is larger.
strange pain—that very separate thought. maybe in it. by losing it. maybe forever. lightly I watched for the moment when the black would lose its day. I There are spots here that your light illuminates. and the that only attracts images. at every instant. cause the final whiteness to rise. I’m inclined to believe that you don’t illuminate. It went on for a long time. strange vision? I would very much like you to merge with it or at least foretell it. that you keep yourself withstrictly defined except at one point. and my curiosity would ed on all sides this way. the sun of the dead. rich. I remained close to the black. Would it be the black following the black without corruption or 67 . Remember: the eyes are shut. And you—are you fighting to keep it In that case. whose boundaries are so mouth is also shut. minates. but the black was still alive. then pushes them away. The last am immersed. Under my eyelids I always feel reappearing behind them. impatience. It mustn’t be betrayed. and no doubt I was already dead in had the deep black. would this cold transparency be the night? Like a day ubu. that sleep preserves. by a light that comes from nowhere. others it also illu- then pushes them away. in confines where the darkness whitens. that dreams many parts of myself. It probably happened in the room.com of snow. which keeps in which I passed away? It’s not much. others it also illuminates with an even light. you instant? Or are you only the patience that prepares me for it. It is a great deal to be illuminatthings: it’s enough for me to know we’re over there. but I’m not curious about those be more likely to turn me away from there. without another day appearing. also prepares me to renounce it? Is this black point which we call the sky. attracts light thoughts. I’m not sure that brightness has any relation to you. 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. and warm. for what doesn’t arrive. I waited without color and inevitably. Maybe this is the very same white light in which I who lie in wait. Are you the black that dies away little by little and allows the illusion to see clearly for an drawing back. beyond what arrives.the last man maurice blanchot our negligence. velvety. I might be able to see lots of interesting details out the window. recognize that I’m lying down in that pit of light.
Sometimes I feel I am the great thought. bitter thought. Know that I don’t want things to be prolonged. But it is in this that I also risk uniting with you. I’m not tired of you will load onto me. indifference. not because I unloaded myself of all burdens. and you not yet. can’t be broached. who are only detachment. over which you keep watch: it it led by the desire not to think. And if I am apparently lighter than light with that weight you constantly load onto me. 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. I would n’t understand you in particular. I think it wouldn’t change anything between us. but because I am despite everything. I know very well that you don’t exist anyway. I am so. I am without fatigue. which therefore does- of the lightness that keeps charming us. Maybe the question of knowing if I am already. without the obstinacy there is in fatigue. 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. you shouldn’t trust my advances too much.com 68 . Light with the weight this is what reunites us. withmustn’t be altered. then I would be where you are not yet. bitter. solitary and motionless. blind will? Are you on one side and I on the other? Are both of us the same thought. allows me to address you. and you are the assault on Why don’t you want to think me? Is it powerlessness. similarly grave. which this separate identity pushes back forever one from the other. Edge of the empty brightness. through a movement whose old ruses I remember. the great certainty within which you find no room. Attached to you. I form a Is it you? Is it me in you? Is it the murmur that keeps passing between us and ubu. and that out dream and without image. I recognize that—is only a form it. And who is talking? So long as there exists a relationship of intimacy between us that you. even though you perpetually oppose me. This doubt—bitter. But doubt about myself greater than what you can tolerate. the weight of refusal and forgetting which you are. I have the feeling you will remain yourself.the last man maurice blanchot them—on the contrary.
a thought on which you remained pierced. which makes you as yourself. Let that not be. Whatever the thought. 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. What is an end for you will surely be a beginning in me. a moment of horror. anyway: Notice that I’m not giving in to the ease of regarding you as the last thought. how you shiver. how you seem to flee before the agitation which I draw you toward.com 69 . extreme thought. all that. If you were my last thought. What separates us is infinitesimal. and it is in me that you will be able to rejoin yourself. yet I am also what you must rejoin. a loving memory. It would be very distressing to imagine that what is fixed about your motionless and sure as the sky. Think about that. our relations would quickly cease to be toleragather yourself with an inflexible authority. pinned as though on the vast thought into which you wanted to issue forth? Very little thought. the emptiness around which you change. came from a thought which can no longer Might you suffer. I like you this way. in this case. the end makes it vibrate to infinity. the thought which opened space when I left it. answer to your question. by that closure of suffering which refuses to speak. where you are. from being a very little thought.the last man maurice blanchot whose different echoes reach us from shore to shore? Oh. We shouldn’t be afraid. too. the point on which you immensity to a simplicity which is like a face. instead of presence. ble. by turning it away. a recollection of what hasn’t taken place. ly on top of yourself. and perhaps keeps it open in order to let me go eternally by holding me back. to immensity. add it to the It is true that I. Aren’t you tempted by the happiness of the circle? You go before me. and the sharp point you hide. mediocre and close yourself again in a terrible contraction? shabby by comparison to the point you preserve. then. but calm. the night in which you would sink down and place yourself exactwill be? We must melt into each other. as you are for me. a moment of calm. by a slip that your strictness must of course reject as illusory. that I might be able to see? Don’t you want to have the night. still have the desire to talk to you as to a face ubu. Or does this immensity itself seem still not enough for you. the night I am for you.
To remember only where one remembers nothing. the calm. if. if I must remember you only by forget- is exalted in memory from something which is forgotten. how could we have been? How can we be tomorrow?” But the lament I suddenly hear—in me? In you? “Eternal. we are eternal. 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. The space of that face always more invisible. It is as though I had sible. closed face? Last possibility of being looked at by died in order to recall this. already. An immense To forget: to remember everything as though by way of forgetting. then ubu. the retreat before forgetfulness and the What does it remember? Itself. The movement would be the same.com 70 . the great thought. so that it will invisibly fade away. First to forget. between us. what is vis- being dead. The desire to be visible in the night. Invisible face. Therefore. that thin. 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. Everything If I must eventually forget. a minuscule fissure into which it passes in its entirety. to be a face for me once more. A great power recall oneself to oneself. for a long time now. the unfortunate attempt to He said there is always a moment when remembering and dying— directionless memory. death as memory. of memory. memory in which one dies. to be a thought and yet a face. of which one would only have to know how to avail oneself in order to die retreat before death. the great certainty. in order to take desire and memory as far as pos- ible in a face. A pure. if it is said that he who will remember will be profoundly forgotten getting. perhaps—coincide. and you. which remembers. a profoundly forgotten point from which every memory radiates. But an unavailable power. the retreat. There is detail. near the calm. one last time. if I think this is what tempts us both: I. that you be a face. . . in which everything becomes memory. I sense that I will only reach you minknow this .the last man maurice blanchot confronting me over there on the horizon. an infinitesimal ting you. eternal. and.
not knowing it. simply visible: the face I imagine you are.com 71 . of which there is no memthough you. more silence there is. as could recall me to you. Here. all the others. by coming together. all themselves. Strange that what is darkest should have this great desire to look at have at least a certain beauty and a few. there are many of them. are under the sway of the essential attraction. the more it changes into a clamor. But this isn’t quite what I want. which holds me back only where I have long since ceased to be. to make it calm. because of the refusal turbed. far from you. And only what is disturbed can appear. in the calm persistence of what disappears. great memory in which we are both held fast. and the the terrible thing. the rectiSometimes it seems that certain faces. waiting for a face. to appear that exists in you. perpetual agitation of the calm—is this what we call persevering? Could it be that for myself. space of cold light into which you have drawn me without being there and in which I affirm you it. were continuing to turn me into a memory and search for what Memory that I am. Strange that space can still hold such without seeing you. it’s true. try to tude that never turns away. wanting all to be the only one for it. are wonderfully attractive. but only one face. knowing that you are not there. eternal. silence. perhaps to the extent that they a face. silence that to soothe it. as far as I have been able to notice in the hallway. I am that terrible thing? To be dead waiting. It seems that each would like to be the The images’ eternal yearning. because of the grave motionlessness. in the calm and the silence. wrapped in the lament I hear: Eternal. the delusion that lifts us up and involves us ubu. knowing makes so much noise. nor friendly. It seems that the emptiness is never empty enough. even the face you certainly are. to prevent it from stopping. Silence. space of that memory. er to cause that face to be present. the transparency that cannot let itself be dissketch out such a face. for each. 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. neither beautiful. yet that I also wait for. from Waiting. ever calmer. nor hostile.the last man maurice blanchot toward you. It seems that they all eternally rise toward one anothonly one for all the others. Some are very beautiful. Maybe there are many faces. Growth of what cannot grow. toward which I go down ory. who perhaps do not exist. and to be. face to face. vain waiting for vain things.
Maybe you will pass through the doors of terror without the shivering that is calm here. more visible than is possible and to the point that I won’t be able to endure it. you were Too beautiful troubled faces. is the tremor of calm with which we you. a refusal of the unthinkable to the very end. face of expectation. 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. through distance. I will become completely visible. That is why you must watch over empty space in order to preserve it. into that point where you couldn’t any longer be anything “I have the feeling that when you die. Face which is the emptiness. I have to torment you until the great nocturnal space grows quiet for an exalt ourselves. to transform you further. into something more visible. once you were but seen. The very last face.” Strange. the unforeseeable certainty. A face cannot be that. a brightness in which I Oh. insatiable desire to see you and yet. mere- am buried. just what the others are losing in their premature happiness at being visible. strangers in everything we share. Face. as I must watch over it to alter it. perhaps. the brightness that does not grow Why do you keep me away from them by this thought of the space that dark. beyond waiting and beyond reach. a distance formed of the unexpected of all expectation. really. to draw you. at an earlier time wasn’t I always. this light. As though it were necessary that you not renounce transparency and that. Is it now that you say this? Could it be that he is ubu.com near you. close you intact and where you hold me back at a distance. if it is true that we were alive together—and. already a thought—if it is possible that these words flowing between us tell us something that comes to us from us. Illusion. strange speech. lost and always brought together again in an outburst of joy where we find each other again. slowly and darkly. yet withdrawn from what is expected. And yet I have to see instant in this face that must confront it. avid. being bright. a fight in which we are together. 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 . light watchkeepers around ourselves. you remain ever brighter. from wave to wave. visible. so that there can be seen in you ly manifest.the last man maurice blanchot incessantly in the disorder of the night. presence where I touch you but which separates me from you: a pit of light.
with authorThought. memory even further. you draw him. . pain. 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 which. you push him back into forgetfulness? to carry desire. He couldn’t ubu. he . talk about it with himself. near him? Could it be that he wasn’t dead enough. infinitesimal thought. calm thought.” Later. he asked himself how he had entered the calm.the last man maurice blanchot dying at this moment? Is it you who always die in him. .com 73 . strange enough. calm enough. slowly. does he have ity.
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