Maurice Blanchot and the Limit of Disaster

An excerpt from The Writing of the Disaster
Hisaharu Motoda’s 'Neo-Ruin' of the contemporary Tokyo landscape
Hisaharu Motoda’s 'Neo-Ruin' of the contemporary Tokyo landscape

The opening of Maurice Blanchot's The Writing of the Disaster, a fragmentary philosophical text that begins to address some of the problems and difficulties of representing or conceiving catastrophe:
The disaster ruins everything, all the while leaving everything intact. It does not touch anyone in particular; "I" am not threatened by it, but spared, left aside. t is in this way that I am threatened; it is in this way that the disaster threatens in me that which is exterior to me—an other than I who passively become other. There is no reaching the disaster. Out of reach is he whom is threatens, whether from afar or close up, it is impossible to say: the infiniteness of the threat has in some way broken every limit. We are on the edge of disaster without being able to situate it in the future: it is rather always already past, and yet we are on the edge or under the threat, all formulations which would imply the future—that which is yet to come—if the disaster were not that whih does not come, that which has put a stop to every arrival. To think the disaster (if this is possible, and it is not possible inasmuch as we suspect that the disaster is thought) is to have no longer any future in which to think it.

Maurice Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster
Translated by Ann Smock
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