The Writing of the Disaster by Maurice Blanchot

By Maurice Blanchot

Smooth historical past is haunted through the mess ups of the century—world wars, focus camps, Hiroshima, and the Holocaust—grief, anger, terror, and loss past phrases, yet nonetheless shut, nonetheless imminent. How will we write or take into consideration catastrophe while through its very nature it defies speech and compels silence, burns books and shatters meaning? The Writing of the Disaster displays upon efforts to abide in disaster’s endless chance. First released in French in 1980, it takes up the main severe projects of writing: to explain, clarify, and redeem while attainable, and to confess what's impossible. Neither bargains consolation. Maurice Blanchot has been praised on either side of the Atlantic for his fiction and feedback. The thinker Emmanuel Levinas as soon as remarked that Blanchot's writing is a "language of natural transcendence, with no correlative." Literary theorist and critic Geoffrey Hartman remarked that Blanchot's impact on modern writers "cannot be overestimated."

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Jeshajahu Weinberg and Rina Elieli, The Holocaust Museum i n Washington (Ne w York: Rizzoli, 1995) , 17. 21. Daniel Libeskind, Countersign (Ne w York: Rizzoli, 1992) , 86-87. 22. For a more extensive discussion , se e Liliane Weissberg, "Memory Confined," documents 4-5 (1994) : 81-98; reprinted in Cultural Memory an d the Construction o f Identity, ed . Dan BenAmos and Liliane Weissberg (Detroit: Wayne State University Press , 1999) , 45-76. 23. Miles Lerman, undated letter mailed t o potential donors , spring 1993 .

Yet, Maus remains different from the older tradition o f the enlightenin g anima l fable . I f the anima l fabl e (Georg e Orwell's Animal Farm a s a twentieth-century fictiona l example) had enlightenment a s its purpose through either satire or moral instruction, Maus remain s thoroughly 31 Of Mice an d Mimesis ambiguous, if not opaque , to the possible succes s of such enlightenment. Rather than providing us with an enlightened moral or with a happy reconciliation between high an d low, human an d animal, traum a an d memory, the aestheti c an d emotional effect of Maus remains jarring throughout.

Still Lives In the winte r o f 1993, th e Magnu m photographer Eric h Hartmann returne d t o Germany t o tak e pictures o f concentration camp s tha t wer e later gathere d in a volume entitled In the Camps, Hartmann had left Germany with his family in the summe r of 1938 for America, and his journey back was emotionally charged. The tim e chosen— a couple of years before the fiftiet h anniversar y o f Germany's surrender an d the en d of World War II—as well a s the seaso n seeme d carefully chosen: The weathe r was fitting—nearl y alway s overcast and wet; ofte n ther e was snow on the ground and sometimes heavy fog in the air.

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