Over at Dennis Cooper's blog (which contains some porn -- so I've removed the hyperlink -- best be aware of the nature of Dennis's site if you are accessing it!) it seems to be Maurice Blanchot Day. Some excellent Blanchot resources on there. (The RSB Blanchot minsite, to which Dennis kindly links, is due to be updated -- along with the other RSB minisites -- in the next few weeks.)

If you put a gun to my head -- not that you would -- and asked me whom I'd consider the greatest writer of the 20th century -- not that asking my opinion is worth risking a police encounter -- I'd say, 'That's easy, put the gun down. Maurice Blanchot.' He's both my favorite fiction writer and my favorite writer of what's alternately dubbed philosophy or language theory. His Death Sentence is either my favorite novel of all time, or it's tied for favorite with Sade's 120 Days of Sodom. To me, Blanchot is to the written text as Bresson is to the captured image, which is to say not so much the greatest at his chosen medium -- obviously a ridiculous proposition -- as he is an artist as singular, ruthless, pure, and infested with belief in the abilities of language as anyone who has ever tried their hand at writing. He might also be the writer who most warrants the words 'not everyone's cup of tea.' Many find his work impossibly dense and cold. To quote from his unusually excellent Wikipedia entry, 'It is difficult yet imperative to note the particular experience of reading Blanchot: his grip on the reader and his ability to mix anguish, philosophical thought, an imagination of death, and a narrative where everything seems to almost happen is often particularly discomforting.' To me, his work's 'discomfort' is the formula for ecstacy. His work is one of the impossibly high standards against which I try to assess my own writing, which leaves me perpetually unsatisfied and disappointed with my efforts, which in turn causes me to keep working hard for whatever good it does.

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