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A Child Writes

Rereading Benjamin's A Berlin Childhood Around 1900, I remembered what Deleuze insisted when questioned about his own childhood : 'what's interesting is to find the emotion of a child, not the child that one once was, but also the sense of being a child, any child whatsoever ("un enfant quelconque")'. Any child whatsoever: Deleuze insists on the formulation "I was a child', noting 'the indefinite article has an extreme richness'.

Borges quoted by Steve at In Writing: Everyone is defined forever in a single instant of their lives, a moment in which a man encounters his self for always. To encounter oneself - but what does one encounter? What would it mean to encounter oneself? Is it a question of a particular event, a particular revelation? Of a sign which would contain in minature the secret of a whole life? Or is it something different from a sign - an indication, a testimony of one, in me, who comes forward in the encounter. The one to whom the unknown opens before I grasp the unknown, to whom the event occurs before I can narrate that event. The one who maintains the unknowability of the unknown, who witnesses what cannot be synthesised in the articulation of identity. Who indicates the play of the self in a larger movement, in the great dance of folding and unfolding.

Encounter: Deleuze's child, a child, is the one who comes forward to take your place (the one who reveals there was never a place to take ...) A child belongs to the streaming from which the self coalesces and into which it disappears. Not, here, at the beginning and the end of a life, but ceaselessly, at every moment. Always it is a matter of living with the outside, of bending it in, making a place from which one lives (a place constantly displacing itself, which is displaced with respect to itself). All the while knowing that to enfold oneself is always to resist an unfolding - to stand against the vacancy which threatens to invade the place from which you strive to begin and rebegin. Invasion - but what invades? Perhaps a child is a way of naming what you become when you are claimed from without - when you are enfolded by what takes your place, revealing your place was taken.

A child: the one who, in me, outside of me, is undone in my place. A child - the one who relates in me not to what is known, narratable, but what is unknown. A Wokingham Childhood around 1977: is it a question of asking a child to write my autobiography? But a child is not the one who remembers; the child is forgetting itself ...

Deleuze: A writer does not appeal directly to his private life [...] does not dig through family archives, but rather remains a child of the world.

Let a child write - how? But it has already happened insofar in a kind of desire which opens across writing. Writing, no longer your writing, writes in your place even as you write. Writing with you, within you, which is also to say outside you, a child writes.

('What is this? Philosophy? Literature?' - 'Rhapsody. Theme and variations.' - 'What is supposed to achieve? Analysis? A kind of poetry?' - 'A repetition which will bring this post into relation with others. Which will lay itself alongside the others: a community of posts.' - 'And what do they amount to?' - 'A field of free associations. A place to surprise myself thinking. To play without responsibility.' - 'How pretentious!')

July 13, 2004 in Deleuze, Writing | Permalink