Becoming The Abyss
Literature, Foucault argues, forces a passage to the outside escaping the mode of being of discourse. In essence, it escapes representation and finds an outside space that Blanchot calls "the abyss". By stepping away from its own 'reflection' into a nameless void, Literature unveils its being and speaks in a dispersed voice. For a literary work to be one, however, it requires a writer and a reader, that is, one who discloses, and one who creates. The meaning and life of a text, therefore, is contained not in words, but in the silence, or distance that separates writer and reader. In Nabokov's Invitation to a Beheading, Cincinnatus C is sentenced to death by beheading for not being transparent enough to the gaze of others. However, he is not told the hour of his end. C's ability to step out of the materialist world that imprisons him and slip into a world of experience and fluid essences is Mallarmé's "sole act of writing", an act through which one encounters one's own death as an abyss. C writes his memoirs, waiting each day as if it were his last. Through his writing, he discovers that his beheading does not mean his end, but his immortality. In order to circumvent his unknown hour of the abyss, he becomes the abyss through his creative work. This paper argues that writing, an act of Literature, is the supreme act of Anonymity, an act that is a descent into a void from which voices speak freely. This creative descent through which meaning is engendered, is an anonymous embodiment that allows for an inventive and autonomous engagement with the world.
Keywords: Anonymity, The abyss, Literature/Writing, Space, Freedom, The Inside/Outside, Nabokov, Vladimir, Foucault, Michel, Blanchot, Maurice
Mr Niven Kumar
PhD Candidate, Department of English, Division of Humanities, Macquarie University