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VEKKIVA/BLANCHOT/BOLTANSKI Image 1: "Monument: The Children of Dijon' Vol 28 (200V: 96 THE COMPAKATIST DERRIDA/BLANCHOT/BOLTANSKI: BORDERDISCOURSE Stephen Barker It was almost easy for him, there where he lived, to live almost without a sign, almost without a self, as ifat the border of writing; close to this word, barely a word, rather a word too many, and in that nothing but a word. (Blanchot, The Step Not Beyond 7) We face a border crisis, the radical transformation of the very idea of border.1 And those now rather quaint lines at the boundaries ofwhat we at least for the moment still call nations, across which some ofus can go with rather troubling ease are, for all their complex ephemerality, only the simplest of notions of the border with which we now must deal. Though this radical sans frontières evolution in what Jacques Derrida calls "world-wide-ization" is playing, socially and politically, the double role of making us strangers to borders, and simultaneously catalyzing a fundamental re-examination and re-assessment of the very nature of national borders, and therefore of"foreignness" or "strangeness," as they become increasingly chimerical at the literal level. But this border crisis has deeper figurative implications. The triangulation in my title—Derrida /Blanchot/Boltanski—suggests a discourse that evaporates the borders of philosophy, literature, art, and aesthetic theory. As a triangulation, it will present itself as both closed and radically open, a finite field and an entretien infini pointing toward the relationship between identity and territory, and an evolution in our sense ofthe semiotics of discourse—in the slippage between word and image, for example—being re-made more rapidly than we can recognize, define, or assimilate it. The aesthetics of information technology, virtual reality and virtual imagery, and digital identity—not to mention the infinite images ofterrorist destruction—are not causes but effects or manifestations of the re-bordered Zeitgeist: it is borderdiscourse that is the frame, the topic, and thus the subtext, of that larger conversation. And that conversation is central to aesthetics and theoretical critique . If, as Nietzsche said more than a century ago, the world has been remade as a work of art, then at the beginning of this century we must re-critique the aesthetics of this transformation, as a case in point rethinking the ongoing borderdiscourse in the writing of Jacques Derrida and Maurice Blanchot, but then unfolding and enfolding another border and its permeation: here between Derrida and Blanchot—more correctly Derrida/Blanchot—and their laminated textualpoiesis, already extraordinarily complex in its investigation and analysis of the interaction of the palimpsestic nature of subjectivity and textuality, and the visual imagery of Christian Boltanski, the contemporary French artist whose works are uncanny exempla of the borderdiscourse initiated by Derrida/ Vole 28 (200V: 97 VEKKIVAfBLANCHOTiBOLTANSKJ Blanchot. The result ofthis juxtaposition is an orchestration of récits, as texts, images, and themes ofborderdiscourse. The schema ofthe relation among these three poles is that of the shifting movement of figure and ground, each slipping from the one to the other and back (already an uncanny border issue), against and within the figure and ground of the others,invoking,interrogating, and subverting notions of identity, subjectivity , textuality.relationality,and aesthetics, in a vital and conflicted thematic borderdiscourse, as prolegomenon for a future aesthetics. One of the most intriguing border crossings in contemporary literature and theory is the conversation between Jacques Derrida and Maurice Blanchot. The fascination here is that they read each other, as readers and as writers; and what is unique about their quasi-mutual work is that they read each other while and in writing, dictating a new, richer, and more complex sense of the ré-cit as citation and re-citation. As Derrida says in "Living On: Border Lines," in his circular conversation with Blanchot it has become impossible to say which one quotes the other, and above all which forms the border ofthe other. Each includes the other, comprehends the other, which is to say that neither comprehends the other. Each 'story'(and each occurrence of the word 'story,' each 'story' in the story) is part of the other, makes the other a part...


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