ISSN (Online): 2583-0090

WRITING THE “OTHER” INTO THE SPACE OF LITERATURE: PAUL AUSTER’S GHOSTS AND THE ETHICAL FINITUDES OF THE LITERARY ENCOUNTER

Authored by
Swayamdipta DasSwayamdipta Das,State Aided College Teacher, Department of English,Narasinha Dutta College
on 01/11/2022

Abstract

The article would attempt to read Paul Auster's Ghosts as a text that problematizes the ethics of “literary representation” and gestures towards the differential alterity of the radical “other” (the subject of literary representation) that eludes the “light” and the intentional contours of the writing “self”. Levinasian ethical subjectivity evinces a gesture of un-doing the “intentional consciousness” and all its machinations for reducing the otherness of the other into the contours of the sameness of the reading/writing “cogitative self”. In Paul Auster’s Ghosts, Blue, a private “eye/I”, is hired by White to investigate a man called Black and to send weekly reports of his life and activities based on his observations. Here, the private eye becomes a representative of the writing “self” who is put to the task of representing the differential space of the “other” (Black) within the totalizing space of the logocentric “self” and the hermeneutic order of light and visibility. While the earlier part of the The New York Trilogy, City of Glass, hinted at the substitution of the detective “eye/I” with the authorial figure, Ghosts extends the thematic metaphor and delves deeper into the ethicality of writing as detection and the differential realm of the radical “other” that evinces an impossible ethical gesture towards it. The article would subsequently take up Maurice Blanchot’s ideas (in The Space of Literature) on the ethical realm of “il y a” (the “things” and existents prior to their negation and interpellation within logos and the hermeneutic order) and its relation to the gaze of Orpheus which Blanchot envisions as the intentional space of the literary gaze itself. The article would thus attempt to understand how Auster’s Ghosts evokes the space of the “literary” as an ethical movement of infinite negation unto itself, an undoing of all that it inscribes, and in Samuel Beckett’s words, a “literature of the unword”, an “aesthetics of failure” or a “silence without possibility”


Keywords : Literary representation, Levinasian ethicality, il y a , literature of the unword


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