The Other Night: Dreaming, Writing, and Restlessness in Twentieth-Century Literature

The Other Night: Dreaming, Writing, and Restlessness in Twentieth-Century Literature

Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    The Other Night: Dreaming, Writing, and Restlessness in Twentieth-Century Literature
    Book Description:

    I sleep, but my heart wakes,says the Song of Songs. The other nightnames the sleepless night we spend in dreams.From The Interpretation of Dreams to Finnegans Wake, many of the great writing projects of the first half of the twentieth century articulate experiences of waking in the very depths of sleep, where no Ican declare itself present though the heart still beats. After World War II, in the cold light of the closure of the age of dreambooks, Beckett and Blanchot discover with new clarity, and new fatigue, that what wakes when the Isleeps doesn't sleep when the Iwakes.Revisiting Freud's argument that the dream is a form of writing, The Other Night looks at how life becomes literature in this wakefulness. Though we seem to be seeing things in our dreams, we are actually confronted with a kind of writing. This writing is not in our power, and yet it is ours. We are responsible for it in the same strange way that we are responsible for our lives.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4826-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: The Other Night
    (pp. 1-22)

    Every night is two nights, according to Maurice Blanchot. The night the body spends in sleep is not the same as the night the dreamer spends in dreams. The sleeping body may lie under the stars, and the dreamer may dream of the stars—even of a journey to the stars—but the night of the dream is a night without stars. The dreamer may dream that it’s day, but the light in which he or she sees his or her dream is not the light of the sun or of the star of any other world. The world of...

  5. ONE The Dream as Writing: Freud’s Theory
    (pp. 23-47)

    Some dreams, like the dreams of prophets, may be dreamt to be told to others, but only the dreamer can perceive his or her dream. This defining characteristic of the experience of a dream has been cited both to dismiss dreams as meaningless and to grant them special authority. Freud’s first thesis in theInterpretation of Dreamsis that dreams are meaningful and capable of being interpreted. But he argues that they are not meaningful considered as perceptual experiences. Rather, Freud finds that the meaning of a dream can be approached only if the dream is treated as what the...

  6. TWO Dream and Writing in Blanchot
    (pp. 48-68)

    In his critical works, Blanchot often speaks of an “experience”:The Experience of MallarméorThe Experience ofIgitur,The Experience of ProustandThe Experience of Lautréamont.¹ This “experience” is neither the extra-textual experience of a subject placed at the origin of writing nor the experience of a written object conceived as the product of the work of such a subject. Blanchot’s “experience”—the experience of Blanchot—is the experience of writing understood, itself, as experience. Consequently, Blanchot’s reflections on the “experiences of” other writers entangle themselves thoroughly in the reflexive webbing ofthe experience of the experience of...

  7. THREE Beckett’s Restlessness
    (pp. 69-88)

    Writing is the center of the action in Beckett’s trilogy (Molloy;Malone Dies; andThe Unnamable). The comic energy of Molloy’s account of his journey to see his mother is derived not from the slow unfolding and ultimate dissipation of the action of that journey in space but from the fits and starts of the unfolding of his writing in a strange present in which the journey is both over and not over. From his mother’s room he writes: “But now I do not wander any more, anywhere any more, and indeed I scarcely stir at all, and yet nothing...

  8. FOUR Finnegans Wake
    (pp. 89-108)

    The “quaqua on all sides” that Beckett’s speakers distantly hear in the mud and whisper back to the mud in which they hear it echoes a call thatFinnegans Wakemakes to its readers (and to the birds): “Quoiquoiquoiquoiquoiquoiquoiq!”¹

    Joyce’s “Quoiquoiquoiq . . .” is the answer of Shem, Sham, Shames (James),² a Stephen Dedalus–like figure for the writer inFinnegans Wake(seen here in the person of Mercius), to the accusation, thrown at him by his brother Shaun (seen here in the person of Justius),³ that Shem’s pen creates nothing, originates nothing, and does nothing but kill. Concluding...

  9. AFTERWORD: The Dream and Writing of Socrates
    (pp. 109-118)

    Since the day of Socrates’ death, philosophy has been defined as a particular way of approaching death. Being philosophical has meant being philosophical about death. Waiting for sunset—the appointed hour of his death—Socrates discusses calmly what awaits him. No true philosopher, he says, should fear death, because philosophy pursues the separation of the soul from the body that death completes.¹ The true philosopher is already “nearly dead” (64b). And, indeed, Socrates shows no fear. From his quasi-suicidal apology up until the end, he shows himself ready to die. The death of Socrates is exemplary in its ease. As...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 119-138)
    (pp. 139-148)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 149-152)