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The Impossibility of Loving. Blanchot, Sexual Difference, Community

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Lars Iyer


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This paper aims to clarify Blanchot's notion of community and his practice of communism through, first, an account of his involvement in the Events of May 1968 and, second, an exploration of The Unavowable Community, in which Blanchot reads a short novel by Marguerite Duras, which recounts the tropisms of a brief relationship between a young woman and a homosexual man. As I show, Blanchot's affirmation of what he calls “the impossibility of loving”, which emerges from his reading of Duras, is linked to what he calls “worklessness [désoeuvrement]”; that is, the active process of loosening or undoing that contests any attempt to establish a community around a shared essence. I will claim that it is by attending to the relationship to worklessness that one might attend to what Blanchot calls the “spaces of freedom” that open around us: to those happenings which are not enclosed by prevailing determinations of the social space. A further aim of this paper is to address the concerns of Jacques Derrida, for whom Blanchot's writings on community betray what he calls in Politics of Friendship a “schematic of filiation”, in which the relation to the brother is the privileged model for the relation to the Other. I also provide an account of Blanchot's negotiation of Levinas's account of the relationship between ethics and eros as it is presented in Totality and Infinity.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Iyer L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: The Journal of Cultural Research

Year: 2003

Volume: 7

Issue: 3

Pages: 227-242

Print publication date: 24/06/2010

ISSN (print): 1362-5179

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/1479758032000135933


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