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Critical Analysis of The Space of Literature by Maurice Blanchot
Although Maurice Blanchot is a literary heavyweight, he is largely ignored by the mainstream public due to the dense obscurity of his work. Blanchot’s literature remains largely decorative, like a work of baroque opera through which philosophical threads are threaded. I would like to discuss the thoughts that came to me while reading his magnum opus: The Space of Literature.
Maurice Blanchot begins his work by characterizing writing as solitude. What is loneliness in everyday life? It means inner peace or tranquility. The question is whether the writer writes out of loneliness or excitement. He quotes Rilke: ‘I did not make a single work: my solitude overwhelmed me’. Why can’t a writer be disturbed while writing his work? I’m sure Nietzsche wrote: Thus spake Zarathustra when he was passing through fits of madness. Freud’s ID is provoked into the necessity of writing. Even mystics are never alone when they meditate. They exist in a state of deep contemplation. One can write for the passion of writing, but one can never be lonely while one is in the state of writing. When we are in the process of writing, we gravitate to the center of meaning. Therefore, I would like to reformulate Blanchot’s solitude as excitement, agitation, passion and contemplation. The mind can never be alone.
Again Blanchot continues that the writer never knows whether his work is finished or not. In one sense it is true, but in another sense it is not. Any work of literature is only partial and does not fully depict art. But again, in a literary work there is a beginning and an end. Take the example of James Joyce’s Ulysses. The novel spans eight hundred pages and describes twelve hours of someone’s life mainly Bloom, Stephen and Molly. A work has a beginning and an end. Blanchot is partly right when he says that no work of art is finished. A work of art has only degrees of perfection. Similarly, Blanchot also mentions that the reader enters solitude while encountering the work. Pulp fiction readers are causal readers. The work of a serious reader is characterized by the phenomenology of reading. The mind of the serious reader works like an intertextual machine. Reading mixes with what has been read in the past. The ontology of existentialism, the autobiographical possession of the reader comes to the fore during reading. There is a perfect reading, but there are only imperfect interpretations.
Through absence, the river being of the writer emerges. I would like to refute this claim by saying that writing is an affirmation of presence, its saturation. Being is expressed in the becoming of meaning. In writing, there is surrender to the meaning of existence. Writing is the excess of existence. The presence of being is an affirmation for the writer.
He continues again that the writer never reads his work. That may be true to some extent. Would a writer really enjoy editing his work? A writer does not function as a reader. The writer only proof reads his work.
For a writer, the word is something that cannot be mastered. How could that be the case? The writer is a language maniac. He finds new uses for existing ones. He or she also creates new words: for example neologisms. The writer invents language tropes. How is this possible without mastery? Writing is not sterile, but active and dynamic.
To write means to break the connection between words and oneself. I would like to say that writing is a catharsis. The connection between writing, words and the self is unison. Writing is similar to having sex. The self and the word are tied to the writer.
The writer belongs to a language that no one speaks. Yes, writing is inventive and seeks new paradigms of discovering meaning. Tropics belong to the language of creation and novelty. Writing is a process of self-discovery.
When we admire the tone of a work, we do not think of style or the virtues of language, but of silence. Blanchot isn’t sure what the silence is. We are fascinated and cathartic when we uncover the images used by the writer. There is intellectual and emotional satisfaction. We do not face work in silence.
What is a diary? It is not romantic, it is not essentially confessional. He is a writer when he is not writing. I feel that Blanchot is unclear there. Again, the diary continues to be written out of fear and anxiety. Magazine writing is no longer historical. Romanticism has taken on new shades of meaning in blog writing. Bloggers experiencing a new experience romanticize taste, art and culture. As Wordsworth said, ‘poetry is a spontaneous overflow of feeling’. To be romantic is to be in a state of mind that is in passion. Writing a diary can also be confessional. Being a confessor means being passionate and expressive. My writing about adultery is confessional. It is wrong to say that the magazine is not historical. Take Ann Frank for example. Ann Frank is a passionate outburst of the oppression she faced during the Nazi regime. Thus, the magazine can be confessional, romantic and historical.
To write means to surrender to the absence of time. I would like to disagree with the statement. Time in writing flows like streams of consciousness. Time is reflective and contemplative when a writer is engaged in writing. Writing cannot be characterized by the absence of time.
Fascination is the gaze of solitude. To write is to let fascination rule the language. The writer’s gaze could be sexual; it can also be subjective, philosophical, materialistic and transcendental. The view is intentional and confirms what is suppressed in the ID.
Again he quotes Mallarme: ‘When I write in verse, I encounter nothingness, the absence of God and my own death. It is questionable to ask Blanchot how negation can enter the realm of writing. Negation is nihilism, a negative affirmation when something positive does not happen. The writing is self-proclaimed and affirmative. Yes, after Nietzsche’s declaration that “God is dead,” writing became anthropocentric. How can a writer enter the realm of death? Does the writer kill himself when he enters the writing rut? According to Cami, by writing we enter into philosophical suicide. Yes, there is the death of the real self and the birth of the creative self.
Again Blanchot makes a distinction between a rough word and a decorative word. When we say that the flower is in the garden, we are using rough language or the language of communication. If I use it: I make her lips bloom, I decorate her tongue ornamentally. The writing is ornamental, decorative and hyperbolic. He continues again: poetry is a universe of words where relationships and configurations are achieved through sound, figure and rhythmic language. Poetry is similar to the musicality of words, it flows with a Dionysian rhythm and is attended by Orpheus figures.
Kafka began his writing out of true despair. It should be known that Kafka had a stormy relationship with his father. He was also an exiled Jew. Kafka despised authority. Writing for Kafka grew out of a protest against authoritarianism. This is especially true when we analyze his work – Metamorphoses. The work is allegorical and shows the negation of individuality by authority. The individual is reduced to fragments in the Metamorphosis. Writing was spiritual and psychological salvation for Kafka. Kafka said that nothing else satisfies me except literature. The more Kafka writes: the less sure he is of himself.
Art is primarily an awareness of misfortune, not its consolation. How can art be only awareness of misfortune? Art can be experienced through the consciousness of joy and affirmation. Let’s diagnose Picasso’s painting Guernica. Was Picasso filled with anxiety over the bombing of the Basque Country? Or he affirmed creativity by painting Guernica. When I meditate on Dali’s painting: The Persistence of Memory, I am filled with cathartic interpretation. I appreciate his meaning to show time as streams of consciousness. I also admire the melting clock placed on the frozen embryo and interpret it as Dali’s own Oedipal trauma.
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