The Last Word

last word

Death of the Last Writer

“We can dream about the last writer, with whom would disappear, without anyone noticing it, the little mystery of writing. To give a touch of the fantastic to the situation, we can imagine that Rimbaud, even more mythical than the real one, hears that speech fall silent in him, and it dies with him. Finally we can suppose that, throughout the world circle of civilization, this final end would be noted. What would be the result? Apparently a great silence. That is what it is polite to say when some writer disappears: a voice has fallen silent, a way of thinking has disappeared. What a silence then if no-one else spoke in that exalted way that is the language of texts that come accompanied by the rumour of their reputation.

Let us daydream about that. Such eras have existed, will exist, such fictions are reality at some time in our lives. To the surprise of common sense, the day this light goes out, the era without language will arrive not because of silence but because of the recoil of silence, the rending of the silent density and, through this rending, the approach of a new sound. Nothing serious, nothing loud; scarcely a murmur, which will add nothing to the great tumult of cities from which we think we suffer. Its only characteristic: it is incessant. Once heard it cannot stop being heard, and since one never truly hears it, since it escapes all understanding, it also escapes all distraction, it is all the more present when we turn away from it: the echo, in advance, of what has not been said and will never be said.”

Text quoted from Maurice Blanchot, The Book to Come, Stanford University Press 2003: pp.218