The students are required to attend evening lectures given by the faculty each evening as part of our curriculum. Chris Fynsk was the second person to give an evening lecture during the August sessions.
Here Fynsk presents a preface to reading Blanchot's The Instant of My Death. The story isn't very long and so he read it in its entirety.
There is a sentence in this text which is already this "step not beyond" (9). We have here, then, a compassionate Blanchot.
This is an account of Blanchot's escape from a Nazi firing squad and for reasons unknown.
I asked Fynsk the following in light of the heady discussions we'd been having in the Manning/Massumi classes for the last couple of days.
"This fictive self, can it only be completed in the telling?"
The phrase "peut-être" comes up a couple of times at a key moment in the text:
In his place, I will not try to analyze. He was perhaps (Il était peut-être) suddenly invincible. Dead -- immortal. Perhaps (Peut-être l'extase) ecstasy. Rather the feeling of compassion for suffering humanity, the happiness of not being immortal or eternal. Henceforth he was bound to death by a surreptitious friendship.I think the choice to translate "peut-être" as "perhaps" twice rather than "maybe" in the second instance is a really interesting one to make.
If we're talking about compassion in Blanchot's thought I think we ought to consider deeply that these "peut-être"s are multiple calls to a mode of interbeing that is immanent and emergent. I say this because the root of the term perhaps is "hap" which we, in English, get from the Icelandic happ meaning "fate." Happenstance, happening, happiness, perhaps - these terms all reflect a relationship not unlike Nietzsche's amor fati. They are driven by the engine of event-ing, which sounds like Blanchot's "lived matrix of future thought."
"Hap" is an event. One finds happiness in aligning something like their lot, their fate. Is compassion also an event, such that the fictive self is completed in the telling?
(I've written about this etymology before)
Fynsk replied that, "We are not consummated (another word I offered as he thought about the question and jotted the notes to the etymology of "hap"), not completed. Writing is a becoming other - a passage that disrupts fate."
Avital Ronell suggests a PhD topic to us: Consider the ecstatic falls in the development of Modern thought - the epic falls of both Rousseau and of Barthes; these untellable near-death experiences.
As the conversation continued I thought about the difference between event and advent: