Maurice Blanchot: Everyday Speech (1962) from The Everyday
The everyday is what we are most of all, and most often – ourselves ordinarily.
The everyday is unperceived. Whatever its other aspects, the everyday has this essential trait: it allows no hold. It belongs to insignificance, and the insignificant is without truth, without reality, without secret, but perhaps also the site of all possible signification.
The everyday escapes.
The everyday is unperceived: one has always looked past it, it can not be reviewed; that is enclosed within a panoramic vision. The everyday is what we never see for a fist time, but only sees again, having always already seen it by an illusion that is, as it happens, constitutive of the everyday.
Nothing happens; this is the everyday
Despite massive development of means of communication, the everyday escapes. This is its definition. We cannot help but miss it if we seek it through knowledge, for it belongs to a region where there is still nothing to know, just as it is prior to all relation in so far as it has always already been said, even while remaining unformulated, that is to say, not yet information. It is not the implicit (of which phenomenology has made broad use); to be sure, it is always already there, but that it may be there does not guarantee its actualization. On the contrary, the everyday is always unrealized in its very actualization which no event, however important or however insignificant, can ever produce. Nothing happens; this is the everyday.
- What is the meaning of this stationary (stillstand) movement?
- At what level is nothing happens situated?
- For whom does nothing happen if, for me, something is necessarily always happening?
- What corresponds to the who of everyday?
- Why, in this nothing happens, is there the affirmation that something essential might be allowed to happen?
The everyday is life in its equivocal dissimulation (hverdagen er livet i sin ambivalente, vage og uklare tilsløring). Life is an anarchy of clair-obscure. Nothing is ever completely realized, everything interpenetrates without direction, in an impure mix.
But Pascal’s argument misses the everyday: the ordinary of each day is not such by contrast with some extraordinary moment. The everyday in all its insignificance is all around all the time: Boredom is the everyday become manifest.
The everyday is the movement by which the individual is held, as though without knowing it, in human anonymity
In the everyday we have no name, little personal reality, scarcely a face, just as we have no social to sustain or enclose us. (I work daily, but in the day-to-day I am not a worker belonging to the class of those who work. The everyday of work tends to keep me apart from this belonging to the collectivity of work that founds its truth). The everyday breaks down structures and undoes forms, even while ceaselessly re-gathering itself behind the form whose ruin it has insensibly brought about.
The everyday escapes because it is without subject. The hero, while still a man of courage, is he who fears the everyday; fears it not because of e is afraid of living in it with too much ease, but because he dreads meeting in it what is most fearful: a power of dissolution. The everyday challenges heroic values, but even more it point the finger at all values and the very idea of value, disproving always anew the unjustifiable difference between authenticity and inauthenticity.
The everyday is our portion of eternity: everyday man is the most atheist of men. He is such that no God whatsoever could stand in relation to him. For in the everyday we are neither born nor do we die: hence the weight and the enigmatic force of everyday truth. In whose space, however, there is neither true nor false.
These are thoughts I will try to reinvent, reuse, in my own work on House and Home in contemporary art and literature.