Monday, 26 May 2014

One Who Speaks: The Impersonal

More thoughts after reading Texts for Nothing.

1. When we are reading we hear a voice, a “someone” – exhorting, suffering, gasping. When we close the book, the voice falls quiet; we press it back into silence. It can be resurrected at any time, by us or by another. Who is it? It is not quite Samuel Beckett. It is not quite me. This ‘someone’ is a kind of event.  It exceeds what we might call its causes: the ‘intentions’ and person of the writer, on the one hand, and, on the other, the presuppositions of a reader.  It happens ‘in between’ these two things, a kind of spectre, impersonal, perhaps uncanny.

2.    There is a face of writing turned away from the writer and towards the reader. The apparent symmetry of this formula is betrayed by the fact that the writer is one particular flesh and blood individual, whereas ‘the reader’ refers to anyone and everyone, a multitude, a vacancy. 'The Reader" is a face the writer never sees, an Other who lives outside and beyond him and inhabits precisely the territory untraversed by the writer. Perhaps this face of writing, the face turned to the reader, testifies to something in language which was never ‘his’, which speaks through and beyond him, something ‘without person’ and numberless. 

3.   Perhaps this “One” who speaks is the ghost of the indifferent universal that haunts any particular utterance.  When the ‘me’ speaks what also speaks is the indifferent universality of language, which will allow the text to zigzag from reader to reader – where none of these readers are émigré Protestant Irishmen – long after the writer is dead.

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