If literary avant-garde journals and their communities have been, in the twentieth century, a space for creating, if not sustaining, major political utopias, it should help explain why this “literary communism,” as Jean-Luc Nancy called it, is not a weakened or substitutional form of politics. No myth without narration, no implementation without an instrumentation, no organic unity without a political organ voicing its claim, in short: no organicity without an organon. But can there be a (literary) community that does not aim at the achievement of its own assumed truth, a form of writing in common that does not serve to convey a meaning, but bears witness, in its very form, to the fragmentation of meaning? This essay examines three attempts of an affirmative answer to this question by reappraising three interrelated experimental cases: Jena around 1800 and the Athenaeum journal of the Early Romantics; Walter Benjamin’s journal projects, from the Angelus Novus to the prison camp journal at the end of his life; Maurice Blanchot and the failed trans-European project of what was arguably the most ambitious intellectual journal enterprise of the century, the Revue internationale in the early 1960s.
Emmanuel Alloa; The Inorganic Community: Hypotheses on Literary Communism in Novalis, Benjamin, and Blanchot. boundary 2 1 August 2012; 39 (3): 75–95. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-1730626
Download citation file: