Distant Relation

Distant Relation: Time and Identity in Spanish American Fiction

Eoin S. Thomson
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    Distant Relation
    Book Description:

    The Distant Relation breaks down the artificial division between philosophy and literature by weaving contemporary philosophic arguments through close readings of Carpentier, Rulfo, Paz, and Garcia Marquez. Thomson draws the reader into the largely uninhabited space between philosophy and literature, providing new critical strategies that allow text and reader to respond to the very distance they share. These strategies involve a reconceptualization of distance that recognizes the productive and affirmative nature of separation.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6421-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. Introduction: Towards a New Philosophy of Relation
    (pp. xv-xxvi)

    At the beginning ofThe Infinite Conversation,Maurice Blanchot writes these inimitable lines:

    Writing, the exigency of writing: no longer the writing that has always ... been in the service of the speech or thought that is called idealist (that is to say, moralizing), but rather the writing that through its own slowly liberated force (the aleatory force of absence) seems to devote itself solely to itself as something that remains without identity, and little by little brings forth possibilities that are entirely other: an anonymous, distracted, deferred, and dispersed way of being in relation, by which everything is brought...

  5. Section 1 Being Too Great for Words
    (pp. 1-22)

    Common conceptions of the ineffable place it at the border between what language is capable of representing and what it fails to represent, as “that which ... cannot be adequately verbalized” (Kawin 1982, 5) and as a moment experienced in a particular silence.¹ As we will see, this definition immediately opens the problem for us by prioritizing language and silence in the construal of a putative Outside that is beyond expression. In short, the relationship between the ineffable and thefailureof language is seen as essential, a relationship that allows Emmanuel Levinas to say that “the ego is ineffable,...

  6. Section 2 Interlude
    (pp. 23-72)

    I argued above that Levinas’ employment of resemblance is based on an assumption about the “ego” and its recognition of itself. During that argument I also made the claim that Levinas’ understanding of self-identicality was squarely rooted in the priority of language as that which inserts itself between the “closed society” of the couple and as that which maintains the transcendence of the “ego” and the “other.” Both these arguments turn around a common centre: recognition. But the question remains: upon what is recognition based such that “I” could appear to itself and, having done so, could recognize the face...

  7. Section 3 Return to Opacity
    (pp. 73-94)

    Carpentier discovers that writing, in fact, distills the authorial voice through the duplication and multiplication of voices opened by the repetition of texts that have preceded the author’s own. In this way, no text (indeed, no system of signification) can purport to be the one unique text, the text that could, through its own unity, lead us towards a unified totality. The notion of a unified literary tradition in which a singular voice could take on the value of the whole is therefore constantly dissolved in the multiplicity of voices that tradition is constituted by. What this finally discloses is...

  8. Section 4 The Time of the Between
    (pp. 95-136)

    Perhaps the time will never arrive when our common manner of speaking reflects a disavowal of the voice as the repository of being. And perhaps this refusal signifies, above all else, the unyielding reign of ontology. However, there are reasons to believe this regime is being challenged by discourses that desimplify traditional exigencies and propel thought in the direction of the unthinkable - that disturbing situation in which, or because of which, identity can no longer approach within the confines of a beyond accessible through language. While I cannot cling to any hard and fast conclusions here, it is nonetheless...

  9. Section 5 Postponement: In Lieu of an Ending
    (pp. 137-148)

    It is a common conception, held generally by adults but also by some adolescents, that as we grow through our early years, we exhibit certain characteristics that somehow define us as children. This conception serves the impression that our growth brings us into contact with our elders because we learn to leave behind our childish ways and, for better or worse, become like our parents and teachers. But in reality we do not traverse the distance that separates us from these people. In reality, that distance is infinite. When, immersed in a self-reflective moment, we turn towards our youth and...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 149-160)
  11. Index
    (pp. 161-163)