To live authentically within the ruins of our culture today, to practise the ritual of writing solemnly, without regard for fame and fortune and the flickering nonsense of panel shows, to be in the world as God’s secretary, meticulous and devoted to something larger than your own life, to live truly to each of these profound obligations requires the artist to withdraw both from the world and the relentless publicity machine of publishing. Today authenticity demands samizdat, not marketable publications. It is by circulating words and thought outside the merchant machines that writing can find its way out of the dark wood in which it cries out for a saviour. No saviour will come, and each writer must risk an ocean of silence in response to truthful words. Blanchot, for all his obscurities, prefigured the writer to come in his rigorous refusal, not of friendship, but of any promotion of the marketed figure of the writer. He did so from a place of high culture and secure publication. Today his heirs know the simplest act of pressing a button can secure the circulation of their ideas, if not any guarantee of a response, and to withhold a photo and a profile of the author of obscure samizdat renews the author’s sacred bond with Andrei Rubelev and a thousand anonymous icon painters.
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