Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A small room inside a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

A thud.

On the floor beside me is the book I fell asleep reading. I pick it up and look for where I left off so I can mark its page and put it to bed too.

Elizabeth Rottenberg's translation of Maurice Blanchot's Friendship (1997).

In "The Birth of Art", Blanchot writes:

"...man does not become a man through all that is human in him, strictly speaking, and through what distinguishes him from other living beings; but only when he feels confident enough in his differences to grant himself the ambiguous power of seeming to break away from them and of glorifying himself, not in his prodigious acquisitions but rather by relinquishing these acquisitions, by abolishing them, and, alas, by expiating them -- it is true, also by overcoming them."

I am reminded here of Irigaray's "self-limitation," adrift as I am on what it means to be "ambiguous," which is among our finest art supplies -- ambiguity -- that which certain venture collectors secretly hope to crush in the artists they collect, aware that the artist draws his or her power from that which threatens those who seek certainty and, of those seekers, who deploy ambiguity to increase certainty's yield. This is the point of Adam Curtis's lyric documentary HyperNormalisation (2016), from Kissinger's "constructive ambiguity" to thugs like Putin and Trump.

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