An Expectation of Thought

EM Cioran, Exercices d’admiration (Anathemas and Admirations), 1986

We are increasingly interested not in what an author says but in what he may have meant, not in his actions but in his projects, less in his actual work than in the work he dreamed of. If Mallarmé intrigues us, it is because he fulfills the conditions of the writer who is unrealised in relation to the disproportionate ideal he has assigned himself… We are adepts of the work that is aborted, abandoned halfway through, impossible to complete, undermined by its very requirements. The strange thing in this case is that the work was not even begun, for of the book, that rival of the universe, there remains virtually no revealing clue; it is doubtful that its structure was outlined in the notes Mallarmé destroyed, those that have survived being unworthy of our attention. Mallarmé: an impulse of thought, a thought that was never actualised, that snagged itself on the potential, on the unreal, disengaged from all actions, superior to all objects, even to all concepts — an expectation of thought.

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