A Sentence from Perec

This sentence is from Georges Perec’s A Void, which is why it does not include the letter ‘e’ anywhere in its substantial length.  It is a reflection on the idea of ‘the blank’, so it is also a reflection on the whole project of the novel itself.  It is a little difficult to follow at times, because of how Perec likes to play with words and with the voice of his characters, but I think its profounder moments make it worth the effort it might require.

“A blanks thus unfolds motu proprio out of its own contradiction, a vacant signal of that which is not in fact vacant, a blank such as you might find in a book across which its author’s hand ink’s an inscription implicating its own abolition: O, vain papyrus drawn back, unavoidably back, into its own blank womb; a tract of a non-tract, a nihilistic tract localising that oblivion, huddling, crouching, within a word, gnawing away at its own root, a rotting pip, a scission, a distraction, an omission both boasting and disguising its invincibility, a canyon of non-Colorado, a doorway that nobody would cross, a corridor along which no foot would pad, a no-man’s land in which all oral communication would instantly find, brought to light, a gaping pit consuming any possibility of a praxis, a bright, blazing conflagration that would turn anybody approaching it into a human torch, a spring run dry, a blank word put out of bounds, a word now null and void, always just out of sight, always contriving to avoid scrutiny, a word no mispronunciation can satisfy, a castrating word, a flaccid word, a vacant word connoting an insultingly obvious signification, in which suspicion, privation and illusion all triumph, a lacunary furrow, a vacant canal, a Lacanian chasm, a cast-off vacuum thirstily sucking us into this thing unsaid, into this vain sting of a cry arousing us, this fold wrinkling, on its margin, a mystificatory logic that still confounds us, tricks us, inhibiting our instincts, our natural impulsions, our options, damning us to oblivion, to an illusory dawn, to rationality, to cold study, to distortion and untruth, but also a mad authority, a craving for a purity which would synchronously affirm passion, starvation, adoration, a subtraction of unfactitious wisdom, of not-so-vain rumours, a human articulation at its most psychically profound point, as of a particularly clairvoyant spiritualist, or a saint, or any man not as moribund as most of mankind.”

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