On the shelves stand monuments. They are not eternal. They are dead, all but the possibilities of resurrection. I think of Borges. I think of Bataille. I think of Blanchot.
Today, in this city of rain and glass, we examine countless volumes under a neutral sky. We examine, we do not read.
The sacred is dead. The space of literature lies in ruin. Transgression has become normative, mundane.
When will we enter again the library of Babel? When, beneath the dust of theory and the corpse of law, will another take up the infinite conversation? To speak, that is all. To speak despite the silence. To speak and to burn in the fire of one’s voice.
But who has the courage? To speak is to forget. To read is to give ourselves in passion, to come naked and open into rain and fire. Who can forget themselves, who?
No one. We no longer know ourselves. Primal subjectivity died with that noble Dane. We are trapped in the cogito, bound to ourselves as to an impossible object.
We see with the eyes of the Other. We walk in the crowd, hearts trembling with our politeness and our fear of judgment. Like hesitant fools, we fail to see the Other as truly Other. There is no longer alterity, only mutual isolation.
The one who sees is free. But freedom comes with a tragic price. A man saw, he truly saw. With the fury of his pen he sounded the depths of our crumbling vanity. We felt his words. We recoiled in shame, we denounced him as mad, now we study him, as if he was another case, another book to be examined. But why talk of Nietzsche? There is too much talk of Nietzsche. The point is to read him.
The point is to wonder, and wonder passionately.
I wonder if, beneath their mirth, Genet and Sade could cry.
I wonder if Lovecraft saw, and truly saw, something beyond the everyday. I wonder if he had the courage to keep on writing, to tell in coded fantasies what he saw as utterly real.
I wonder if Kafka could have ever stopped writing. I wonder if Artaud became finally free. I wonder if Roussel emerged from his labyrinth.
But they are only names.
I wonder how Hegel could have gained the courage to think till the end of history. I wonder if, deep within the recesses of an archive, Foucault’s feverish pen touched something of the madness he unearthed. I wonder if Heidegger remained silent because of fear. Did he not know of the camps?
I wonder what they once wondered. What did they think at our age?
I wonder what is thought. I wonder if we are truly thinking. I wonder if they ever did truly think. I wonder what pure thought is like. A pure thought, a thought with the force of lightning, an active thought plumbing the depth of the world.
Perhaps thought is wonder?
It is time to wonder, and to lose ourselves within our dangerous fascination.