On Origins

Here is Maurice Blanchot representing the Freudian response to the concern with “origins.”

“What is striking is the way in which Freud is animated by a kind of passion for the origin – which he also first experiences in reverse form as a repulsion with regard to the origin. He thus invites each of us to look back behind ourselves in order to find there the source of every alteration: a primary ‘event’ that is individual and proper to each history, a scene constituting something important and overwhelming, but also such that the one who experiences it can neither master nor determine it, and with which he has essential relations to insufficiency. On the other hand, it is a matter of going back again to a beginning. This beginning will be a fact; a fact that is singular, lived as unique, and, in this sense, ineffable and untranslatable. But this fact at the same time is not one: it is rather the center of a fixed and unstable set of oppositional and indentificatory relations. It is not a beginning inasmuch as each scene is always ready to open onto a prior scene, and each conflict is not only itself but the beginning again of an older conflict it revives and at whose level it tends to resituate itself. Every time, this experience has been one of a fundamental insufficiency; each of us experiences the self as being insufficient…To be born is, after having everything, suddenly to lack everything, and first of all being, inasmuch as the infant exists neither as an organized, self-contained body or as a world… This absence, which is the absence of nothing, is at first the infant’s sole presence.”

Maurice Blanchot, The Speech of Analysis; The Infinite Conversation, University of Minnesota Press, 1993.


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