Tumult of anxiety provoked by waiting for the loved being, subject to trivial delays (rendezvous, letters, telephone calls, returns). I. I am waiting for an arrival, a return, a promised sign. This can be futile, or immensely pathetic: in Erwantung (Waiting), a woman waits for her lover, at night, in the forest; I am waiting for no more than a telephone call, but the anxiety is the same. Everything is solemn: I have no sense of proportions. 2. There is a scenography of waiting: I organize it, manipulate it, cut out a portion of time in which I shall mime the loss of the loved object and provoke all the effects of a minor mourning. This is then acted out as a play. The selling represents the interior of a cafe; we have a rendezvous, I am waiting. In the Prologue, the sole actor of the play (and with reason). I discern and indicate the other’s delay; this delay is as yet only a mathematical, computable entity (I look at my watch several times); the Prologue ends with a brainstorm: I decide to “take it badly,” I release the anxiety of waiting. Act I now begins; it is occupied by suppositions: was there a misunderstanding as to the time, the place? I try to recall the moment when the rendezvous was made, the details which were supplied. What is to be done (anxiety of behavior)? Try another cafe? Telephone? But if the other comes during these absences? Not seeing me, the other might leave, etc. Act 1 is the act of anger; I address violent reproaches to the absent one: “All the same, he (she) could have .. . ” “He (she) knows perfectly well .. . ” Oh, if she (he) could be here, so that I could reproach her (him) for not being here! In Act In, I attain to (I obtain?) anxiety in the pure state: the anxiety of abandonment; I have just shifted in a second from absence to death; the other is as if dead: explosion of grief: I am internally livid. That is the play; it can be shortened by the other’s arrival; if the other arrives in Act I, the greeting is calm; if the other arrives in Act 11, there is a “scene”; if in Act II, there is recognition, the action of grace: I breathe deeply, like Pelleas emerging from the underground chambers and rediscovering life, the odor of roses. (The anxiety of waiting is not continuously violent; it has its matte moments; I am waiting, and everything around my waiting is stricken with unreality: in this cafe, I look at the others who come in, chat, joke, read calmly: they are not waiting.) 3. Waiting is an enchantment: I have received orders not to move. Waiting for a telephone call is thereby woven out of tiny unavowable interdictions to infinity: I forbid myself to leave the room, to go to the toilet, even to telephone (to keep the line from being busy); I suffer torments if someone else telephones me (for the same reason); I madden myself by the thought that at a certain (imminent) hour I shall have to leave, thereby running the risk of missing the healing call, the return of Mother. All these diversions which solicit me are so many wasted moments for waiting, so many impurities of anxiety. For the anxiety of waiting. in its pure state, requires that I be sitting in a chair within reach of the telephone, without doing anything. 4. The being I am waiting for is not real. Like the mother’s breast for the infant, “I create and re-create it over and over, starting from my capacity to love, starting from my need for it”: the other comes here where 1 am waiting, here where I have already created him/ her. And if the other does not come, I hallucinate the other: waiting is a delirium. The telephone again: each time it rings, I snatch up the receiver, 1 think it will be the loved being who is calling me (since that being should call me); a little more effort and I “recognize” the other’s voice, I engage in the dialogue, to the point where I lash out furiously against the importunate outsider who wakens me from my delirium. In the cafe, anyone who comes in, bearing the faintest resemblance, is thereupon, in a first impulse, reorganized. And, long after the amorous relation is allayed, 1 keep the habit of hallucinating the being 1 have loved: sometimes 1am still in anxiety over a telephone call that is late, and no matter who is on the line, I imagine 1 recognize the voice I once loved: I am an amputee who still feels pain in his missing leg. 5. “Am 1 in love? – Yes, since I’m waiting.” The other never waits. Sometimes I want to play the part of the one who doesn’t wail; I try 10 busy myself elsewhere, to arrive late; but I always lose at this game: whatever I do, I find myself there, with nothing to do, punctual, even ahead of time. The lover’s fatal identity is precisely: am one who wails. (In transference, one always waits-at the doctor’s, the professor’s, the analyst’s. Further, if I am wailing at a establish aggressive whose indifference unmasks and irritates my subjection; so that one might say that wherever there is waiting there is transference: I depend on a presence which is shared and requires time 10 be bestowed- as if were a question of lowering my desire, lessening my need. The constant prerogative of all power, "age old pastime humanity.” 6. A mandarin fell in love with a courtesan. “I shall be yours,” she told him, “when you have spent a hundred nights waiting for me, sitting on a stool, in my garden, beneath my window.” But on the ninety-ninth night, the mandarin stood up, put his stool under his arm, and went away.
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The tug of Sameness, which is neither uniformity nor ster-ility, interrupts the efforts of the human spirit to transcend that universal humanism that incorporates all (national) pecu-liarities. The dialectical process of opposition and transcendence has, in Western history, singled out the national ideal as a special target, which had to be negated and then crushed. In this situation, the individual, in his capacity as the ultimate instrument of transcendence, has managed to as sert in a sub-versive way his right to defy this particular process, while being a part of it. But, in order to feed its daim to universality, the ideal of Sameness required (had need of) the flesh of the world. The other is a source of temptation. Not yet the Other as possible basis for agreement, but the other matter to be consumed. 50 the peoples of the world were exposed to the predatory impulses of the West, before discovering that they were the object of emotional sublimation by the West. Diversity, which is neither chaos nor sterility, means the hu-man spirit's striving for a cross-cultural relationship, without universalist transcendence. Diversity needs the presence of peoples, no longer as objects to be swallowed up, but with the intention of creating a new relationship. 5ameness requires fixed Being, Diversity establishes Becoming. Just as 5ameness began with expansionist plunder in the West, Diversity came to light through the political and armed resistance of peoples. As Sameness rises within the fascination with the individual, Diversity is spread through the dynamism of communities. As the Other is a source of temptation of Sameness, Wholeness is the demand of Diversity. You cannot become Trinidadian or Quebecois, if you are not; but it is from now on true that if Trinidad and Quebec did not exist as accepted components of Diversity, something would be missing from the body of world culture-that today we would feel that loss. In other words, if it was necessary for Sameness to be revealed in the solitude of individual Being, it is now imperative that Diversity should "pass" through whole communities and peoples. Sameness is sublimated difference; Diversity is accepted difference. If we do not count the fundamental effects of this passage (from Sameness to Diversity) that are seen in political struggles, economic survival, and if we do not compute the essential epi-sodes (in the annihilation of peoples, migrations, deporta-tions, perhaps the most serious aberration that is assimila-tion), and if we insist on the global view, we will see that the ideal of Sameness, product of the Western imagination, has known a progressive enrichment, a place in harmony with the world, to the extent that it has managed to "slip by" almost without having to declare itself, from the Platonic ideal to the lunar rocket. National conflicts have been the internaI reper-cussions of the West's striving for a single goal, that of impos-ing the who le of its own values on the world, as if they were universal. This is also how the very specifie slogan of the French bourgeoisie in 1789, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," has tended for a long time to be considered in an absolute way as one of the cornerstones of universal humanism. The irony was that it, in fact, meant that. This is how the positivism of Auguste Comte, in fact, became a religion in South America among an alienated elite. What is called almost everywhere the acceleration of his-tory, which is a consequence of the saturation of Sameness, like a liquid overflowing its vessel, has everywhere released the pent-up force of Diversity. This acceleration, swept along by political struggles, has suddenly allowed peoples who yester-day inhabited the hidden side of the earth (just as there was for a long time a hidden si de of the moon) to assert themselves in the face of a total world culture. If they do not assert them-selves, they deprive the world of a part of itself. This self-assertion can take a tragic form (Vietnam wars, crushing of the Palestinians, massacres in South Africa), but also manifests itself in politico-cultural expression: salvaging of traditional African tales, politically committed poetry, oral literature ("oraliture") from Haiti, shaky union of Caribbean intellec-tuais, quiet revolution in Quebec. (Without taking into ac-count the intolerable aberrations: African "empires," South American "regimes," self-inflicted genocide in Asia, which could be considered the-inevitable?-negative side of such a worldwide movement.) 1 define nationalliterature as the urge for each group to assert itself: that is, the need not to dis-appear from the world scene and on the contrary to share in its diversification. Let us take the literary work's widest impact; we can agree that it serves two functions: the first is that of demythifica-tion, of desecration, of intellectual analysis, whose purpose is to dismantle the internaI mechanism of a given system, to ex-pose the hidden workings, to demystify. It aiso has a hallow-ing purpose in reuniting the community around its myths, its beliefs, its imagination or its ideology. Let us say, in a parody of Hegel and his discussion of the epic and the conscience of the community, that the function of hallowing wouid be the product of a still-naive collective consciousness, and that the function of desecration is the effect of a politicized way of thinking. The main difficulty facing nationailiteratures today, as they are defined here, is that they must combine mythifica-tion and demystification, this primaI innocence with a Iearned craftiness. And that, for example, in Quebec the barbed sneers of Jacques Godbout are as necessary as the inspired flights of Gaston Miron. The fact is that these literatures do not have the time to develop harmoniously from the collective lyricism of Homer to the mordant scrutiny of Beckett. They must in-cIude ail at once struggle, aggressiveness, belonging, lucidity, distrust of self, absolute love, contours of the landscape, emp-tiness of the cities, victories, and confrontations. That is what 1 calI our irruption into modernity.
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