Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Without Night

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Asleep, I recited or imagined myself reciting lines (to be exact: though I was saying nothing, I was nonetheless in the same emotional state as someone reciting his lines); but upon waking (already half-conscious), discovering that I will truly have to invent my lines instead of merely acting as if I were reciting them, I come up with a compromise. I continue to speak, but only in order to speak about speaking my lines. (150-151)
Michel Leiris' Nights as Day, Days as Night made me smarter. (And I was already pretty smart.) Though I'm not sure just how much I would appreciate Leiris' book had it not been for the inspired choice to use Maurice Blanchot's "Dreaming, Writing" as a Forward.

I've read a lot of Blanchot in my life. I wrote a dissertation over him. But I can't say that I knew this work before. Now I can write that the eleven-page "Dreaming, Writing" is one of my favorite works by Blanchot and one of his most astute. To summarize: dreaming is a kind of writing; writing, a kind of dreaming.
In Blanchot's words: "Dreams are a temptation for writing because writing may well also deal with this same neutral vigilance that the nighttime of sleep seeks to extinguish but that the nighttime of dream awakens and maintains, even as it perpetuates being by a semblance of existence" (22). I have no idea how anyone who's never studied phenomenology can get anything out of that, but as someone who's studied phenomenology—I wrote a dissertation over that—I can say that this blows my mind with its simplicity and insight.
Blanchot writing on Leiris writing on dreaming as the dream of dream-writing. This is the book that Jacques Derrida tried to write with Of Grammatology. And Writing and Difference.
This morning I was reading without a pencil, and since I didn't want to disturb the cat who was asleep on my lap, I dogeared page 145 to remind me to go back to this page for something else I'm working on. As I continued reading on to page 148, the morning sun shining through the window made the page translucent. I could see the fold on the previous page through the page I was currently reading: a lambent-trace of a shadow-mark remaining, shining-through in writing's unnightly dreamreading…

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