Sunday, January 14, 2007

Writers of the No

Writers of the No

The haunting words of von Hofmannsthal's Lord Chandos: "I have completely lost the ability to think or speak in a connected manner about anything.", this rejection of expression, this acceptance of the futility of mere words, is adopted by Enrique Vila-Matas as the theme of his book/novel/fiction Bartleby & co.

Bartleby of course is Melville's Bartleby, a copy clerk whose passivity becomes the means by which he unshackles from the world, retreating into nothingness, into inexpression. As Vila-Matas writes:

"...for some time now I have studied the illness, the disease...the negative impulse or attraction towards nothingness that means that certain creators...never manage to day they become literally paralysed for good."

Paradoxically, Vila-Matas believes that the impulses which belies this sudden silence is the highest form of expression itself, the writing of the No - an unwritten creation by unwilling creators. He continues:

"Only from the negative impulse, from the labyrinth of the No, can the writing of the future appear."

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