L'Arrêt de mort, Insomnia, Dreaming, Sleep: Derrida, Blanchot, Levinas

Derrida Today 5 (1):111-139 (2012)

In L'Arrêt de mort, as Derrida suggests, an ‘epochal suspension’ manifests itself, compulsively pulsating so as to conjure a certain spectrality beyond all consciousness, perception, or ordinary attentiveness. Re-reading Blanchot's text, I argue that it is on the borderlines of sleep that the ‘arrythmic pulsation’ of the arrêt de mort happens as impossible event – ‘the state of suspension in which it's over – and over again, and you'll never have done with that suspension itself’, to quote Derrida once more. While ‘Living On’ makes little of sleep, however, I take this cue to follow a pathway which leads from Blanchot to Levinas. Blanchot's writing exposes the sleep of reason which occurs in the very promise of perfect day, a promise which mutates in the dream he associates with the ‘other night’, a dream which harbours the irrepressible return of ‘time's absence’, and which opens on to the very ‘outside’ which the world – and the self – lacks or wants (as much as ‘world’ or ‘self’ seek to overcome this ‘outside’ as such). Levinas, meanwhile, wants to think irremissible pure existing (il y a) in terms of insomnia; in contrast, consciousness seeks to assert itself over the unremitting presence of the ‘there is’ through its capacity for unconsciousness or sleep. This essay seeks to attend to the complexities of a certain ‘fatality of being’ that threatens to sweep away the ‘ego’ as consciousness's capacity to sleep is confronted by the radical vigilance of insomnia and the deep anonymity of the night (Existence and Existents)
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DOI 10.3366/drt.2012.0031
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References found in this work BETA

Dissemination.Jacques Derrida - 1982 - University of Chicago Press.
Collected Philosophical Papers.Emmanuel Lévinas - 1987 - Duquesne University Press.
Existence and Existents.Emmanuel Lévinas - 1978 - Duquesne University Press.
Philosophy of Mind.G. Hegel, W. Wallace, A. Miller & Michael J. Inwood - 2007 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 69 (4):770-770.

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