In His Voice: Maurice Blanchot's Affair with the Neuter
A creative study of Maurice Blanchot’s theory of literary voice.
In His Voice considers the idea of the neuter in Maurice Blanchot’s work, and seeks to work out through an exercise of literary impersonation, or ventriloquism, how and why Blanchot relied on this form. Neither active nor passive, the neuter expresses a kind of third voice beyond the command of the author, one that speaks paradoxically of what lies outside of speaking but nonetheless exerts an irrepressible influence on thought. The neuter is exilic, messianic, and fragmentary. Since it cannot be directly accounted for, Blanchot uses a number of indirect approaches—notably, myth—to announce the key elements of his view. Orpheus, Odysseus, and principally Narcissus figure his conception and elaborate the operation of giving voice. Through a distillation of Blanchot’s narrative and critical texts—focusing on the late works, The Step Not Beyond, and The Writing of the Disaster—and through an emphasis on performance, In His Voice enacts the event of writing in search of how author’s inscriptive reality appears in the world.
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absence alchemical alchemical dream amphiboly antinomously appearance attestation auditory Blanchot writes calls child-Narcissus cissus consciousness conversation counterlife Dasein death Derrida desire dialectical différance disaster double dying echo Echo’s empty enunciation erotic Eurydice event everyday excess experience fascination force forgetting Freud gaze gift give voice hearing Heidegger identity image’s imaginary immortality impossible infinite inscribed inscription intentionality interiority Jacques Derrida jouissance Kevin Hart killing lack language Levinas linguistic listening living mark mastery Maurice Blanchot meaning memory mimes mimetics mourning mute myth narcissistic Narcissus Narcissus myth Narcissus’s neuter voice neutral never object one’s oral Torah Orpheus other’s passivity phonemic play possibility present primal reader reading recalls relation remains remembrance repetition resonance responsibility rhythm sacred secret sense signifier singular Sinngebung space speaks Stanford takes thing thought tion traces transgressive turn University Press ventriloquized vision vocalic vociferation witness words