Levinas, Blanchot, Jabes: Figures of Estrangement by Gary D. Mole

By Gary D. Mole

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Additional info for Levinas, Blanchot, Jabes: Figures of Estrangement (Crosscurrents : Comparative Studies in European Literature and Philosophy)

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Hence, while the world of beings would be studied from the point of view of its attributes, physiology, or history, ontology attempts to experience that which gives existence itself by immersing itself in the very "thereness" of things. The second trait of Heidegger's philosophy that interests Lévinas is the way Heidegger considers man as a being whose essence consists in existence. What man is is at the same time his way of being, his way of being there (Dasein), of temporalizing himself. Man, for Heidegger, is not a substantive but a verb, and this verbal resonance of being the temporalization of time as the event of the comprehension of being makes man the object of Heidegger's ontological analysis of Dasein.

9 And a fortiori, then, he could not have for L'Idylle. It is true, however, that by the 1930s Kafka's work was known to the French reading public and that by 1937 André Breton was assimilating Kafka to surrealism. It may therefore seem extraordinary that Blanchot could have remained oblivious to these publications, as he himself admits in Après coup: "I was surprisingly étranger to the surrounding literature and knew only the so-called classical literature, with an opening nevertheless on Valéry, Goethe, and Jean-Paul" (B-AC, 92).

But what about this nothingness itself? Something is happening, even if it is only the night and silence of nothingness. The indeterminacy of this "something is happening" is not the indeterminacy of the subject and does not refer to a substantive. Like the third-person pronoun in the impersonal form of the verb, it designates not an uncertainly known author of an action but the characteristic of this action that somehow has no author and is anonymous. This impersonal, anonymous, but inextinguishable "consummation" of being, which murmurs in the depths of nothingness itself, we shall designate by the term there is.

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