If 'God' is just a word, do I mean by that it is only poetic? Well not quite. What I mean is that it can't be thought in terms of denotation (or even its supposed opposite connotation). An idea means something, which then has a reference to reality. Such a reference might be tortuous (which is what connotation is), but in the end it does refer to something. In Kant, for example, the idea of God has its ultimate reference in the subject. The word, however, does not denote or connote. It is not a reference, but a practice.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
A word names a thing, but it not that thing; rather, it is the absence of the thing. As Mallarmé famously writes about the flower.
I say: a flower! and outside the oblivion to which my voice relegates any shape, insofar as it is something other than the calyx, there arises musically, as the very idea and delicate, the one absent from every bouquet.
So words have a way of maintaining the absence of something they name without at the same time as negating them. When Blanchot says that in literature the word 'cat' does not mean cat, he does not mean that it is something else, rather it isn't anything at all. What it denotes is ambiguous and indistinct, and this is what happens to language generally in literature. When I say that what it denotes is ambiguous, I do not mean that it has a ambiguous denotation, which can, in a second moment, be made clear and distinct, but that ambiguity ruins its denotation. The consequence of this is devastating. It would mean that every interpretation is false. There can be no truth of literature. As soon as we say literature means this (and for 'this' substitute any interpretation that stands outside of the text, like, for example, Kafka's The Trial is about modern alienation), then we have betrayed its unsettling absence. I imagine literature as a rat eating away at the heart of sense.