It was the ‘1907–‘ on the copyright page that intrigued, that open-ended question, as much as a non-presence that could make Pynchon and Salinger look like social butterflies. His work was cool and pure and impermeable like a knife-blade: because the arts of solitude and absence, writing as a writing-out, were his as a possession–or rather a dispossession, a disposition. (As with Perec’s La disparition.)
‘A writer who writes, “I am alone?” can be considered rather comical. It is comical for a man to recognize his solitude by addressing a reader and by using methods that prevent the individual from being alone.’
It’s a curious sense of loss, then–more accurately, the loss of loss–as if Blanchot’s death disperses the forces by which he had gathered absence around himself like a pearl. ‘I had no idea he was still alive,’ some said in unwitting irony, hearing the news. And that reversal, that cultivation of self-effacement, was his lasting achievement: it’s as if he exposed the bathos of death.