Tag Archives: Blanchot

TO FORGET IS ESSENTIAL TO SPEECH

Forgetting: non-presence, non-absence.

To open to forgetting as accord with what hides. Forgetting, with each event forgotten, is the event of forgetting. To forget a word is to encounter the possibility that all speech could be forgotten, to remain close to all speech as though it  were forgotten, and close also to forgetting as speech. Forgetting causes language to rise up in its entirety by gathering it around the forgotten word.

In forgetting there is what turns away from us and there is the detour that comes from forgetting itself. There is a relation between the detour of speech and the detour of forgetting. From this it follows that, even saying the thing forgotten, speech does not fail forgetting but speaks on its behalf. The movement of forgetting.

When we are missing a forgotten word it still indicates itself through this lack; we have the word as something forgotten, and thus reaffirm it in the absence it seemed made to fill and whose place it seemed made to dissimulate. We seize in the word forgotten the space out of which it speaks, and that now refers us back to its silent, unavailable, interdicted and still latent meaning.

In forgetting a word, we sense that the capacity to forget is essential to speech. We speak because we have the power to forget, and all speech that works in a utilitarian manner against forgetting (all speech of recall, encyclopedic knowledge) runs the risk – risk nonetheless necessary – of rendering speech less telling.

Speech ought therefore never forget its secret relation to forgetting; which means that it ought to forget more profoundly, hold itself, in forgetting, in relation to the sliding that belongs to forgetfulness.

Maurice Blanchot, from The Infinite Conversation

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