To Write Without “Writing”

Maurice Blanchot, “The Disappearance of Literature,” The Book to Come

To write without “writing,” to bring literature to that point of absence where it disappears, where we no longer have to dread its secrets, which are lies, that is “the degree zero of writing,” the neutrality that every writer seeks, deliberately or without realizing it, and which leads some of them to silence.

The Direct Gaze Upon the World

Yves Bonnefoy, “The Art of Poetry No 69,” interview by Shusha Guppy, The Paris Review 131 Summer 1994

I completely agree with you that poetry is also a formal use of language. Indeed, only form allows us to hear the tone of the words, and it is precisely because verse is sonorous reality that words in it are no longer subject to the sole authority of conceptual thought. This enables us to perceive reality otherwise than through language. Form in poetry silences the conceptual meaning of words; it is therefore the condition of the direct gaze upon the world.

No Eye is Uncontaminated

Karl Ove Knausgaard, A Man in Love – My Struggle: Book 2: 383

When I was outdoors, walking, like now, what I saw gave me nothing. Snow was snow, trees were trees. It was only when I saw a picture of snow or of trees that they were endowed with meaning. Monet had an exceptional eye for light on the snow, which Thaulow, perhaps the most technically gifted Norwegian painter ever, also had, it was a feast for the eyes, the closeness of the moment was so great that the value of what gave rise to it increased exponentially, an old tumbledown cabin by a river or a pier at a holiday resort suddenly became priceless, the paintings were charged with the feeling that they were here at the same time as us, in this intense here and now, and that we would soon be gone from them, but with regard to the snow, it was as if the other side of this cultivation of the moment became visible, the animation of this and its light so obviously ignored something, namely the lifelessness, the emptiness, the non-charged and the neutral, which were the first features to strike you when you entered a forest in winter, and in the picture, which was connected with perpetuity and death, the moment was unable to hold its ground. Caspar David Friedrich knew this, but this wasn’t what he painted, only his idea of it. This was the problem with all representation, of course, for no eye is uncontaminated, no gaze is blank, nothing is seen the way it is.

Book That Destroys Itself While Being Read

Alison Flood, “Artists Create Book That Turns Black As It is Read,” The Guardian 8 September 2014

It’s not how one would usually want to read: artist Camille Leproust and collaborator Andres Ayerbe have created a book printed on thermal paper, which heats and slowly blackens as it is read, giving the reader around four hours to finish before the text fades completely into black.

Leproust’s project will be part of an exhibition opening later this month at the London Art Book Fair. Nine artists have been commissioned to investigate “the future possibilities of the book as a printed object” and to “push the boundaries of how books can be experienced”. Her art work, in which the poem Anastylosis by Alissa Valles will disappear into blackness, will sit alongside a version of TS Eliot’s poem The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock which the poet is unlikely to have ever foreseen.

…Leproust said that her own artwork stems from discussions “about the value of the book as an object in itself regardless of its contents, how the very activity of reading transforms it: how the marks and traces of our engagement with the book render the mass-produced object something unique and personal”.

“From this conceptual groundwork we came up with the idea of a book that destroys itself while being read — an effect achieved with a combination of thermal paper and heat,” she said. “While there were a variety of inks and chemicals that we could have used to make the text disappear, we really liked the aesthetics and some of the conceptual implications of having the book slowly burn out.” …