14 October 2006

The Lack of Conclusion

From "Kierkegaard and the Novel" by Gabriel Josipovici, in The Singer on the Shore: Essays 1991-2004:
As Kierkegaard puts it: all we ever have in life are gossip and rumours; our world is the world of the newspaper and the barber-shop, it is not the world of Jesus and his Apostles. A person seduced by our culture's admiration for art into becoming a writer embarks on a more dangerous enterprise than he or she may realise. If they embark on a work of fiction they imply that they have escaped the world of rumour, that instead of living horizontally, as it were, they live vertically, in touch with some transcendental source of authority. And we who read them do so because we feel that this must indeed be the case. But the closer they get to the end the clearer it becomes that there is no vertical connection. And should they try to bring their work to a close the contradiction between what it implies and the truth of the matter will become quite obvious. The only way for some semblance of truth and clarity to emerge is for the author to recognise that the conclusion, that which would finally give authority to the book, is lacking, to feel this quite vividly and to make us feel it as well.