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Neutered Narration and the Scn'ptive Fate of the Spirit of Ressentiment "Bartieby the Scrivener" and Herman iMelviiie

David S. Randall This self-overcoming of justice, one knows the beautiful name it has given itselfmercy; it goes without saying that mercy remains the privilege of the most powerful man, or better, hisbeyond the iaw. Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Geneoiogy of Morals Moraiity, insofar as it condemns for the sake, and not out of regard for the concems, considerations, and contrivances of iife, is a specific error with which one ought to have no pityan idiosyncrasy of degenerates which has caused immeasurable harm Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the idols The man of ressentiment is the man of profit and gain. Moreover, ressentiment could oniy be imposed on the world through the triumph of the principle of gain, by making profit not only a desired and a


way of thinking but an economic, social and theological system, a complete system, a divine mechanism A failure to recognize profitthis is the theological crime and the only crime against the spirit. It IS in this sense that slaves have a morality, and that this morality is that of utility Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy Contemporary critical theory has radically called into question the complacent presumption that the text presents a truth, a religious principle or a moral lesson. This event has evolved in a "strangely concerted development," according to Jacques Derrida, as a questioning of the "structure" of meaning itself, which receives "a formidable impulse from an anxiety about languagewhich can only be an anxiety of language, within language itself"' (my emphasis) In the essay "Force and Signification," Derrida suggests "literary criticism is structuralist in every age" while detailing the structuralist "perspective" as a proposed science of applied poetics, replete with a panoramagramic methodology that allows it not merely a panoptic vision of particular texts, but totalizing sights of the definitive characteristics of literary discourse in general The metaphorical tensions and energies of the spatializatton and schematization informing this structuralist instrument and Its analyses is what Derrida foregrounds in his definition of structure as the "formal unity of form and meaning" or "meaning rethought as form" {WD, 5), The metaphor of structure, or "a construction . . governed by a unifying principle," necessarily blueprints and configures an entity, an object, a literary thing itself m which "the internal unity of (the) assemblage" dictates that all its parts are interconnected m an architecture that produces the organic harmony of the composition However, Derrida warns of the figural displacements at work beyond the spatialization and schematization of structuralist entelechies .. Hence, for as long as the metaphorical sense of the notion of structure is not acknowledged as such, that IS to say interrogated and even destroyed as concerns its figurative quality so that the nonspatiality or original spatiality designated by it may be revived, one runs the risk, through a kind of sliding as unnoticed as It IS efficacious, of confusing meaning with its geometric, morphological, or, in the best of cases, cinematic model. One risks being interested in the figure itself to the detriment of the play going on within It metaphorically ., {WD, p 16). Derrida's critique of the implicit metaphysical tenor of structuralism and Its "common denominator"^ of a self-regulating system in which all the elements are interrelated and hence mutually inferable


calls into question its entelechial metaphors, notably "teleologisnn" and "prefomfiationisnn" By extension, the circularity of narrative structure IS linked to a theological taw of composition which organizes a comprehensive simultaneity, a condition that reduces to inconsequentiaiity every aspect of a literary text "not intelligible in the light of a 'pre-established' teleological framework" {WD, p 25). Form fascinates, Derrida asserts, when one no longer has the force to understand force from within Structuralism lives within and on the difference between its promise and its practice. Whether biology, linguistics, or literature is in question, how can an organized totality be perceived without reference to its end, or without presuming to know its end, at least? And if meaning is meaningful only within a totality, could It come forth if the totality were not animated by the anticipation of an end, or by an intentionality which, moreover, does not necessarily and primarily belong to a consciousness? If there are structures, they are possible only on the basis of the fundamental structure which permits totality to open and overflow itself such that it fa/res on meaning by anticipating a telos which here must be understood in Its most indeterminate form {WD, p. 26) What Derrida designates as the structuralist "consciousness" IS the aporia between form and force, the contradiction between its appeal to and presupposition of the theological simultaneity of the work of art and its methodological rejection of finaiism. As a means for recognizing, ordering and assembling themes, significations, constants and correspondences, "ultrastructuralism" finds the "rejection of finaiism is a vow of infidelity to telos which the actual effort can never adhere to" (IVQ p. 26). Derrida further aligns structural consciousness with a "catastrophic" consciousness, "simultaneously destroyed and destructive, destruotunng, as is all consciousness, or at least the moment of decadence, which is the period proper to all movement of consciousness" {WD, p 6) The "melancholy pathos" of structural consciousness and criticism, then, constructs the oppositional conflict and the defeat of force by form in the work of art, which illustrates "the fact that literary criticism has already been determined, knowingly or not, voluntarily or not, as the philosophy of literature" (IVQ p 28). We will not pursue m "Force and Signification" Derrida's notion of an "inaugural" writing, which no desire nor resolve of authorial intent nay hinder from its adventurously excessive and always unscheduled rounds, nor the related question posed regarding the closure of metaphysics and the strategic possibilities of delimiting this classical system. Instead, this critique of structuralism as a forgetting of its Tietaphoric constitution and its tendency to teleotheologic totalizations


Will assist us m an engagement with the highly structured, conventional concept of parable. In the tradition, parable ostensibly signifies a discourse expressed m poetic, figurative or ornamented language. Perhaps more specifically, parable is a fictitious narrative intended allegorically to "convey" truth, a religious principle or a moral lesson in an obscure or enigmatic, but less offensive and more alluring, manner or form. One structuralist perception of the form of parable suggests, "A literary interest in parables offers, in a relatively time- and history-free way, the discovery of literary structures as the way to find the meaning of parables"^ The interrelated elements which contribute to the teleotheologic structure of a parable include a certain economic brevity, acute and energetic figures of speech in service of a unified account, restricted character development and a concentrated plot which may twist powerfully in the end to achieve a spirited aesthetic balance Furthermore, an essential element of the parable by definition as a literary genre is its intended memorableness As memorable, parables are crucially recited and repeated, detached from their "original" contexts for the purpose of being retold Designed to attend a valonzed oral tradition, the parable is necessarily autotelic. For A T Cadoux, parables are to be radically distinguished from other literary genres. In Its most characteristic use the parable is a weapon of controversy, not shaped like a sonnet in undisturt>ed concentration but improvised in conflict to meet an unpremeditated situation. And with this handicap it has at its best a deiicacy and complexity of aptitudes showing a range of mind and genius of association beyond that required for the similes and metaphors of other poetic compositions*

This quotation, which wouid purport to define parable as "a weapon of controversy," inadvertently introduces us to the fact that parable is a word derived from the Greek verb paraballo, to lay by the side of, to compare; and so a likeness, a similitude. The ontotheologica determination of paraballo in Latin as parabolare, to talk, to discourse, and in French as parler, to speak, transposes the Greek verbs paraballo and paroimia, emphasizing any dark saying, proverb, speech, talk, discourse, which allegedly shadows forth edifying and didactic truth Yet "saying" may well be but a figure of speech in the abstruse story which is the extended and elaborate metaphor Cadoux wishes to name parabie. The first sentence of this definition compares parable by means of metaphorical substitution to a "weapon of controversy." Unlike the sonnet which is composed in "undisturbed concentration"a phrase that trenchantly intimates a scene of writing through tranquil recollectionthe parable is devised during the disconcerting strife and struggle of an "unpremeditated situation." Weapons, however, either offensive or defensive instruments, are never envisioned, processed or


implemented without forethought or deliberation of applicable scenarios, regardless of the habitual lack of imaginative evidence these scenarios exhibit Hence, it is extremely ambiguous whether parable signifies in this instance a weapon of controversy or a controversial weapon, the difference being the degree to which a particular metaphor may be demonstrated to turn (vertere) against (contra) itself The second sentence of this quotation delineates the degree to which this definition of the parabolic portentously reverses itself, in a concerted effort to elude or escape its "simply figurative, or metaphorical" constitution, as well as its pretension to literally assert a "truth spiritual and heavenly." Parable it appears, disadvantaged by an improvisatory imperative, is supenorto the "similes and metaphors" and other tropes of all prosodic structures. Its prestige may be inferred from Its "delicacy and complexity of aptitudes" which manifest "a range of mind and genius of association" a writer such as Kierkegaard could conjure and embody to "deceive the hearer mto truth"' However, the prosopopeia or personification of parable m this definition attributes to It a catachrestic, dissimiiated prestige (praestigiae) For its esteemed reputation as a literary genre privileged over fable, myth, proverb or allegory, presupposes an efficacious transfer from the vehicle transporting the truth to a presumably more disclosive, infinitely less figurative, exegetical discourse which renders the "larger intent of the text transparent" Yet the very conveyance of parabolic truth or moral and religious principies appears to precipitously depend upon a notion of allegory as a rhetorical structure which is, according to Paul de Man, "rational and dogmatic in its reference to a meaning that it does not Itself constitute"' An extended critique of the parable would hypotheticaiiy proceed by way of an analysis of the binary dyad improvisation/iterabiiity, as well as with a consideration of the verb "to convey" These movements would require a reientless attention to the double register of parable as a privileged literary genre, and "parable" as paradigm case in relation to the unexamined structure of literary criticism as a determined phiiosophy of literature. Let it suffice to suggest two points of summary. First, the assertions proposed above are formulated with the dupiicity of the term "conveyance" affirmed, and especiaiiy that connotation presaging a clandestine "spinting away," a furtive transference, purloining or concealment. As Kierkegaard's pseudonymous authorship suggests, the ruses and implications of a seductive escort certainly portend a potential theft of truth Second, in his essay "Melville's Parable of the Walls," Leo Marx argues that "Bartieby the Scrivener" must be read as a parable of the author's own fate as a writer' After all, in traditionally representational terms, the story may be asserted to be about a writer, a person who serves as a penman, a public clerk or notary, a kind of scribe, a "copyist." When this scrivener bizarrely rebels against the demands of a certain kind of lawful discourse, refusing to perform certain inscribed duties, according to Marx, "under the circumstances there can be iittie doubt about the connection between Bartieby's diiemma and Melville's own" {MP, p. 85). However, it is this "little doubt" that


disturbs and disrupts Marx's parabolic structuring of this narrative by calling into question "the implication of the end in the beginning, the strange relationships between the subject who writes the book and the subject of this book, between the consciousness of the narrator and that of the hero" {WD, p. 22). That is to say, we will contend a little doubt may call into question the concepts of parable and structure simultaneously, by means of what Maurice Blanchot has called the "neutered" narrative As the attorney, the alleged narrator of this account, suggests, "the reader of nice perceptions" will recall that there are four keys circulating to his chambers on Wall Street Judiciously, he explains who possesses each of three keys and why, concluding. "The fourth 1 knew not who had"' But possession of the mysterious fourth key is perhaps not so problematic; it seems at the disposal of Leo Marx who asserts It not only unlocks the wall enclaved chambers but Melville's account, or the "parable," of Bartleby as well. For Marx reads this account, as myriad others who could be cited as well, as a "parable of walls," ostensibly recalled by a nameless attorney who, despite this anonymity, is called the "center of consciousness" of the tale {MP, p 86). By means of this "eminently safe" gesture, which m Derridean terms limits the forceful freeplay of this text, Marx makes this appeal in flagrant disregard of the attorney/narrator's initial admission "While of other law-copyists I might write the complete life, of Bartleby nothing of the sort can be done I believe that no materials exist for a full and satisfactory biography of this man It is an irreparable loss to literature. Bartleby was one of those beings of whom nothing is ascertainable . what my astonished eyes saw of Bartleby, that is all I know of him" {BS, p. 476) Marx's misreading of Melville's text, focusing as it does architectonically on the walled windows of the lawyer's chambers, overlooks the fact that for the postulated centered consciousness with "astonished" eyes absolutely nothing of the "unaccountable" Bartleby is discernible. This notion of astonishment, or fascination, and its decentering of the attorney's professionally distanced gaze will be addressed in relation to neutered narration. Presently, attention to Marx's attempt to unlock and relock Melville's allegedly less ambiguous, less astonished view of the "inscrutable scrivener" is in order For with regard to the fourth key, Marx asserts that Melville intends through intimation that it IS in Bartleby's possession and hence, by extension, that this is "a detail which serves to underline Melville's misgivings about Bartleby's conduct throughout the story" {MP, p. 91). In this manner, which shall be objected to as an imposition of highly suspect, insubstantial innuendo, Marx betrays his most criminal affinities with the alleged narrator of this account who proceeds, against his initial admission in certain critical endeavors, from an unexamined "doctnne of assumptions" {BS, p. 494). That is, the attomey's humanistic assumptions concerning existence, like Leo Marx's parableptic assumptions concerning Melville qua artist, are correspondingly undermined by the "intolerable incubus" they both must see as recalcitrant, subversive


and legally dead. For "It was hardly possible that Bartieby could withstand such an application of the doctrine of assumptions" {BS, p 495). The attorney's doctrine of assumptions is grounded in a vanity for which it IS imperative to verify his "masterly management" of the affair of Bartieby {BS, p 495). Through this autarchic vanity the attorney attempts to assure his vision of himself as a dispassionate master and thinker in the case of the uncanny and "unaccountable eccentric," as he refrains from ranting and raving in the passive "wonderful mildness" of Bartleby's "dead-wall reveries" {BS, p. 492). The attorney assumes that the "incurabiy forlorn" understands he must depart the premises for violating the ethical proprieties of enterprising everydayness This supposition vainiy assumes that Bartieby shares the attomey's assumptions (his premises) conceming human existence and the nature of reality in general, and specifically, the professional assumptions sustaining the attomey's "snug retreat" on Wail Street As the account of the unaccountabie scrivener proceeds, it becomes apparent that the attorney's doctrine of assumptions is grounded in the Christian concept of chanty However, "charity," in this context, is interpreted in such a shrewd manner that its exercise makes it a prudent adjudication of seifaffirmation. He narrates: . . . He is useful to me I can get along with him. If I tum him away the chances are he will fail in with some less indulgent employer, and then he will be rudeiy treated, and perhaps driven forth miserably to starve Yes. Here I can cheapiy purchase a deiicious selfapproval. To befriend Bartieby; to humour him in this strange willfulness, will cost me little or nothing, while I lay up In my soul what wilt eventually prove a sweet morsel for my conscience... {BS, p. 485) It IS, then, a perversely seif-serving and self-indulgent interpretation of chanty which seemingiy allows the elderly man to construe Bartleby's conduct benevolently, to sententiously repress the "old Adam of resentment," who would maliciously harm and even murder this engimatic "victim of innate and incurable disorder" {BS, p. 490) The unaccountable scrivener becomes useful by way of this presumptive exegesis of the concept of charity. Since Bartieby "means no mischief" or "intends nc insolence," he allows a stratagem for the lawman to "cheaply purchase a delicious self-approval, .. .to lay up in his soul what wiil eventually prove a sweet morsel for his conscience." If he can prudently avoid murdering Bartieby, his predestined "millstone," (according to the attorney's misreadings of the "saiutary" writings of Jonathan Edwards and Joseph Pnestley), or if he can prudently prevent the persecution of this "sole spectator of a solitude," the attorney assumes he philanthropically maintains the "predestined purpose of his life" {BS, P - 497) That is, he surmises that his predestined purpose, attained by a profitable exegesis of the Christian concept of charity, is to shelter and tolerate the "forlornest of mankind." This aspiration, iet us defer


naming it noble, is simple the paradoxical result of the attorney's begrudging recognition that his assumptions are not shared by Bartleby. The beauty of my procedure seemed to consist in its perfect quietness . . Without loudly bidding Bartleby departas an inferior genius might have doneI assumed the ground that depart he must, and upon that assumption built all I had to say. The more I thought over my procedure, the more I was charmed with it . . I t was truly a beautiful thought to have assumed Bartieby's departure; but, after all, that assumption was simply my own, and none of Bartieby's. The great point was, not whether I had assumed that he would quit me, but whether he would prefer to do so He was more a man of preferences than assumptions (BS, p 494) According to the attorney's theory, if Bartleby acknowledged his essentially humanitarian assumptions, specifically those that ground the notions of property, propriety, and equity, then the unaccountable scnvener would be ethically compelled to abandon the attorney's office, freeing him not only from a contrived and resented tolerance, but also from this "terrible account" he must now lawfully narrate {BS, p. 500). Hence, It appears that deliverance from revenge is central to the attorney's doctrine of self-affirming, "charitable" altruism. But the less secular concept of charity, of course, precludes Utopian or utilitarian benefit to the self-affirming benefactor. Therefore, the charity legislated by the attorney's perverse usury of Christian ideology may be read as a clear form of ressentiment that reifies modern self-affinming humanism and its Utopian as well as utilitarian ends. As Nietzsche has indicated in relation to those afflicted with ressentiment,'' rather than striving authentically for release from the spirit of revenge occasioned by time's passing and its pageantry of becoming difference, a definite motivation of the attorney's resentful altruism, one strives for release from time, from fmitude. More specifically, the attorney strives for release from the time of Bartleby and his "eccentncities," which disclose to his astonishment the liberal hatred and disguised setf-animosity of the attorney's ressentiment morality. For the eccentricities of Bartleby may be the impetus disclosing the groundlessness of the atorney's ontic priority which he attributes to self-affirmation for profit. That is, the attorney's doctrine of assumptions, based on the snug, provident and complacent sagaciousness of Wall Street society, appear undermined by the inscrutable scrivener's "cadaverously gentlemanly nonchalance" (BS, p 488). We are asserting that Bartieby's eccentricities may be the impetus for the attorney's scrutiny of his own nomothetic "premises" as well as his terrible account of this inscrutable, unaccountable scrivener. To suggest this is the case unequivocally would be to attempt to center the very decentering, unnamabie deviance which calls forth this recit, and simply to supplement it. Leo Marx attempts to center and hence


delimit Bartleby's eccentricity by claiming an objective causal referent explains its most erratic peculiarities' "only the nature of the wall with which the enigmatic Bartleby is confronted can account for his strange behavior later" {MP, p. 89). Therefore, we suggest that Marx's account of the enigmatic Bartleby, that "aberration" about whom the so-called narrator could ascertain nothing, centered on certain structuralist and parabolist assumptions concerning "dead-wall reveries" and the contention that "for long periods he would stand looking out, at his pale window behind the screen, upon the dead brick wail," is radically suspect. As such, it is open to a certain "lawful" interrogation since our alleged narrator's account of the unaccountable scrivener seems a distinctly inscrutable writing on the wall For It appears Bartleby is unconcerned with or cares not for the attomey's resentful altruism, based on an idly propositional understanding of the meaning of existence and the facticity of death it is clear he prefers not to exist as a slave to humanistic assumptions which conceal his finitude, that dissemble the temporality of his existence Bartleby tacitly yet quite indifferently cross-examines the attorney's predestined premises, which ground his faith inagiven meaning of existence and human nature. The "great point" of Bartleby's predilection for preference is articulated by the attorney even as he remains covertly convinced in the strength of his assumptions to imminently overcome Bartleby's "cadaverous tnumph" {BS, p. 495) But Bartleby's choice to dwell with relative preference rather than universal assumptions allows him a practical advantage and "ascendency," which eventually even disrupts the attorney's sense of justice, logic and reason, causing him "to stagger in his own plainest faith" {BS, p. 484) Yet he desperately recuperates this faith in canonically solidified, economically strategic "premises" m order to avoid an "unheard of perplexity" What was to be done'' or, if nothing could be done, was there anything further that I could assume in the matter? Yes, as before I had prospectively assumed that Bartleby would depart, so I might retrospectively assume that departed he was. In the legitimate carrying out of this assumption, I might enter my office in a great hurry, and pretending not to see Bartleby at all, walk straight against him as if he were air Such a proceeding would m a singular degree have the appearance of a home-thrust {BS, p. 495) A significant possibility to be stressed here is that this speculation by the attorney, generated by an inexplicable melancholy allegedly grounded in a "sincerest pity" for the unaccountable scrivener, is indicative of a reientiess commitment to preserve his prescriptive premises, verdicts and judgments concerning human existence and nature at all costs. And this includes the alternative of an expensive violence, in the value system of one who assumes (shall we say prefers?) not to be an "unmanned" master. For, in the Hegelian dialectical


framework, Bartieby threatens to unman his master first by declining to do certain writerly work, i.e., "proofread," and by eventually refusing to recognize the master as such. However, according to Hegel, the master is not fundamentally interested in slavish recognition, but rather only in confirmation by his assumed peers of his masterly management One assumes this approval has, to some degree, been bestowed on the attomey in the past, given his "pleasantlyremunerative"appointment as "Master in Chancery" a few years prior to the "violent" abrogation of that position {BS, p. 476). The termination of this lucrative office IS, in Hegelian temns, symbolic of an essential contradiction in the master/slave dialectic. According to Hegel, although a master's ultimate aspiration is another master's recognition, this is theoretically impossible since It necessitates one master's slavish acknowledgment of another's superiority:" And this is precisely the second sense in which the "aberration" named Bartieby unmans his master, the attorney. For regardless of the "wise and biessed frame of mind" that the attomey procures from theologicai theorizing to dispose him toward tolerating Bartleby's difference, it is the "unsolicited and uncharitable remarks" emphatically manifested by his "professional friends" which finally calls his mastery of this uncanny situation into public question. It is the idle talk of his circle of "professional acquaintances" that exposes the attorney to his actual faiiure to realize the end of unequivocai mastery, for which in Hegelian rhetoric he risked his life on a fauity assumption. Given the attomey's professed sympathy for a kind of spiritual selfaffirmation, mastership, then, is a metaphysical impossibility because of the assumed absolute Master beyond. This is what renders mastership ultimately relative and contingent, inducing it to identify itself with necessity in the sense of an inescapable causal determination, i.e., "fate." Yet, as Hegel's dialectic implies, this identification with Christian ideology is the slavish desire for life at any price, subiimated in the desire for an etemal life. Hence, the quest for mastership is grounded in a fatefuily hypothetical assumption, what Martin Heidegger has designated as the privileged idea of "presence." The attorney, hence, becomes virtually enslaved by Bartleby's preference(s): This worried me very much. And as the idea came upon me of his possibly turning out a long-lived man, and keeping occupying my chambers, and denying my authority; and perpiexing my visitors; and scandalizing my professional reputation; and casting a general gloom over the premises... and in the end perhaps outlive me and claim possession of my office by right of his perpetuai occupancy; as aii these dark anticipations crowded upon me more and more, and my friends continually intruded their relentless remarks upon the apparition in my room, a great change was wrought in me. I resolved to gather all my faculties together, and forever rid me of this intoierabie incubus (BS, p 498).


Bartleby unaccountably casts a "general gloom over the premises" the attorney testifies in his terrible account This passage may indeed be interpreted as Bartleby's arrival and subsequent behavior at this Wall Street office, these premises, pervades the place vi/ith a pale melancholy. Or, Bartleby's existence, grounded in preferential difference, engenders a "morbid moodmess" that overshadows the attorney's premises, his doctrine of assumptions As readers of this accountless account we must be vigilant concerning the somewhat conspicuous fact that It IS the "law," under the auspices of humanism, that equates the inscrutable scrivener's moodmess orforlorness with morbidity. Shall we say it is a representative of the legal "premises" and/or assumptions of Wall Street's world, or supplementarily, a representative of traditional narrative "permission and prohibition"" who gives this terrible account? We must return to this question which, unenslaved, remains between the lines all along the preceding, underwriting it and thereby disfiguring it as well. The accountlessness of this account, grounded not only in the attorney's incapacity to inform the reader concerning Bartleby, but further, in the attorney's inauthenticity with regard to his well-policed conscience, is what discloses the narrative of this recital as centrally problematic Presently, however, our masterful attorney stands unmanned by a melancholy erroneously attributed to a ghostly "strange creature," but contrarily conferred by the existential impasse inherent in the elusive quest for mastery The beginning of the end of the attorney's delusive mastership IS the sudden closure of the pleasureable and profitable duties of a Master in Chancery. One prefers, rather than assumes, that the enjoyment of this "not very arduous" office is related to the enhancement of the attorney's prudently lawless doctrine of self-affirmation Little wonder, then, when his "life-lease of profits" is withdrawn, it seems to him a "premature act," since he assumes he is not yet dead and, further, since he assumes the more affluent a master he becomes the less the enslaving aspect of enjoyment, or in Hegelian terms, "satisfaction," can oppress him. But the destruction of this degree of chance mastery is the attorney's death sentence. For it decrees the arbitrary arrival of an adversary who brings to trial the attorney's life-lease on certain premises, or the ineffable slave who proofreads the master's doctrine of assumptions to disclose that it culminates cyclically and viciously m its own absolutist self-affirmation Hence, it is the attorney who first refuses to read the proofs of his own death sentence m the demise and displacement of his assumed masterful, but actually perilous, self-affirmation. He is fated, given his "charitable" premises, or his spiritually faulty assumptions, to employ a slave who, like the others, toils for fear of death and to a certain degree fetishizes the master; but a slave who, ultimately unlike the others, rebels and "overcomes" the master by overcoming his own enslavement to the fear of death. It is, according to Hegel, the fear of death that necessitates one's slave status in the management of the master. Our necessarily attenuated discussion of the Hegelian dialectic radically oversimplifies the existential struggle between the attorney


and Bartleby. Analogously, the essentialist, humanistic modes of grounding Bartleby's figurative passage by the attorney, motivated by Christian ideology, reads a finite struggle as if it were eternal, negating Its temporal dimension. To put it another way, the attorney judiciously reads what Paul Tillich calls the "anxiety of fate" as the etemal horizon within which the "anxiety of death" is at work:^ The attorney does this because he desires to believe that fate, tike fear, in terms of causal necessity, presents a definite object to a definite perceiver. He does this because he censorially desires to transform his anxiety, or melancholy, into fear. For fear, as Heidegger has elaborated, finds itself possessed by an object in the presence of which one recognizes oneself as fearful. Anxiety, however, is defined by Heidegger as the absence of any given object" Anxiety, if not willfully transformed into fear, presents to the attomey the possibility of his own-most permanent nonbeing. Yet, the unaccountable scrivener, as a fateful object "predestinated from etemity," is rendered strangely accountable by the attorney; or, the inscrutable eccentric, as a fateful stratagem "for some mysterious purpose of an all-wise Providence," the attomey renders strangely readable However, Bartleby, as one "of whom nothing is ascertainable," offers instead the radical contingency of fate and its inescapable anxiety, given its actual ground in the absolute horizon of death. Bartleby presents the lawman, it may be suggested in Tillich's terms, "the lack of ultimate necessity, the irrationality, the impenetrable darkness of fate." It seems apparent, then, that the attorney attempts to substitute a relatively prudent, exegetic anxiety and threat of fate for the radical indeterminacy of the meaning of his fate and the absolute anxiety and threat of death. We have arrived at the recognition that it is by way of the narrating consciousness of this account that the drama of Dasein is revealed. However, it does not seem so simple a task to discern the "center" or the narratonal "consciousness" of this narrative. Indeed, the narrative consciousness of this uncanny account is definitely decentered and repeatedly displaced. We witness the attorney interpret his encounter with the inscrutable from a vacillating point of view, but basically from the perspective of an economically strategic, privileged philosophy of presence which is continuously disrupted. At the same time, we witness the attorney judging his experience of the inscrutable while assailed by the inescapable mood of anxiety, which cognitively and constitutively subverts knowledge about being in the world. Finally, we witness the attorney perspicaciously elude the potential realization of the nothingness of his own finitude, as he imagines melancholy merges into fear. Let us recall that, according to Heidegger, inauthentic Dasein tries to flee from the feeling of not "being at home" in the world, or attempts to elude the anxious occupancy of its premises disclosed by the most important possibility of Dasein as project, as "projective" being, ije., the possibility of death. Melancholy, anxiety and dread are all of death, since Dasein's "projective" being, and oppositional unity of facticity and possibiiity, is the permanent potentiality of nonbeing. The attorney narrates:


Revolving all these things, and coupling them with the recently discovered fact that he made my office his constant abiding place and home, and not forgetful of his morbid moodmess; revolving all these things, a prudential feeling began to steal over me My first emotions had been those of pure melancholy and sincerest pity; but just in proportion as the forlomess of Bartieby grew and grew to my imagination, did that same meiancholy merge into fear, that pity into repulsion To a sensitive being, pity is not seldom pain. And when at last It is perceived that such pity cannot lead to effectual succour, common sense bids the soul to be rid of it. What I saw that morning persuaded me that the scrivener was the victim of innate and incurable disorder. I might give alms to his body; but his body did not pain him; it was his soul that suffered, and his soul I could not reach {BS, p 490) Bartieby as the victim of innate and incurable disorder is the attorney's summary judgment in this macabre case. As noted, a few of the perplexing and insubstantial supplements for this summary judgment include: "a demented man;" "the unaccountable;" "aberration;" "the inscrutable scrivener;" "this intolerable incubus," "a millstone," "this unaccountable scrivener;" "unaccountable eccentric," and "sole spectator of a solitude." Yet the attorney pleads "m vain i persisted Bartieby was nothing to me. and they held me to the terrible account." The attorney conjures (if "we" are holding him accountable) the sole spectator of a solitude from a desperately restless curiosity, from an inspection of his premises during Bartleby's absence on a certain Sunday. Yet who is the surveillant, and who is performing the surveillance? He narrates: "and here Bartieby makes his home sole spectator of a solitude which he has seen all populousa sort of innocent and transformed Marius brooding among the ruins of Carthage" {BS, p. 489). Who IS the he of these premises, of this ambiguous metaphor? Are we merely to assume, to infer, the attorney as an "implied author" " unequivocaiiy makes and masters this metaphor, a metaphor so indiscriminately prophetic of his own melancholic consulate, so prescriptive of his own fateful future'' After all, Bartieby, who "was always there," is absent, but the possibility of anxiety is present The attorney testifies: "For the first time in my life a feeling of overpowering melancholy seized me Before, I had never experienced aught but a not-unpleasmg sadness. The bond of a common humanity drew me irresistibiy to gloom. A fratemal melancholy" {BS, p 489) Hence, we are asked to witness a sort of innocent Marius transform anxiety and fearfully brood among the ruins of a public fortress, a fortress prudentially jurisprudent as a snug defense from the facticity of death, a fortress of apparently unassaultable premises The absence of Bartieby opens the possibiiity for the attorney of atwo-foid recognition: (1) the meaning of death as his own; and (2) an understand-


ing of that nothingness, visible to him in his anxiety of melancholy, which simultaneously discloses to Dasein his own radical finitude and the dreadful discovery that the meaning of existence is not a given, a premise The attorney, however, prefers to assume an exegesis of this experience that conceals the constitutive structure of his own temporality, a "structure" which defies ateleotheologic finalism, sustituting ambiguity for resoluteness, by proclaiming his death-defying allegiance to the fraternity of all humanity, i.e., "das Man." He seems to assume his own rum, as prefigured in the undecidabilty of the above metaphor, and ultimately his own death, his own nothingness, are not at issue He fancies instead. "The scrivener's pale form appeared to me laid out, among uncaring strangers, in its shivering winding sheet" {BS, p 489) The attorney fancies Bartleby as deceased and hence gains "an experience of death" vicariously by imagining the idea of death In this manner, the attorney fantasizes his escape from Bartieby as his objectified fate as well as refuses the recognition of the possibility of his own annihilation. Further, he resolutely avoids assuming his own "thrown" being. However, escape from this primordial "state of mind" or that which Heidegger names Befindlichkeit is not possible: . Not gone! I murmured at last. But again obeying that wondrous ascendency which the inscrutable scrivener had over meand from which ascendency, for all my chafing, I could not completely escapeI slowly went down stairs and out into the street, and while walking round the block, considered what I should next do in this unheard of perplexity {BS, p. 495) In Being and Time, Martin Heidegger asserts that "thrownness" belongs to Dasem's state of being. Or, more specifically, he contends that "thrownness is constitutive for Dasein's disclosedness (67; p. 231). Disclosedness, in this context, is contrasted to the derivative character of the traditional, or "ontotheological" conception of truth. This concept of truth in the beginning of Being and Time was revealed by Heidegger to be considered by "das Man" as a doctrine of assumptions having significance prior to and independent of any Dasein's existence or perception. However, in Heidegger's view, Dasein stands primordially alternating in the possibilities of truth and untruth, "disclosure" and "concealment." Earlier in Being and Time, Heidegger details specifically how thrownness is disclosive (67; pp. 219-24). Prior to this point, it had been demonstrated how Dasein does not exist isolated, solipsistically distanced from its world. Dasein exists, even as an unaccountable eccentric or scrivener, "in-the-worid," among other beings. Heidegger details how "bemg-in" is to be understood, and is understood, existentialiy. And this understanding, which makes it possible for Dasein to encounter others and "equipment" (things) at all, consists of a certain "attunement." For as Dasein recognizes itself on the ontic level as always "having moods," so its ontological self-understanding is grounded in a kind of precognitive temper or disposition. This continual being-


in-a-mood on the ontic level is grounded m the ontological structure which Heidegger calls the "ontological disposition," or the discovery of oneself as "always already" m the world, befindlichi<eit {BT, pp 134-7) Constant being-in-a-mood brings Dasein back to itself, making it aware of Itself as "being-already-there." In this way, the ontological disposition reveals the primordial fact that Dasem "is," the pure facticity of existence Heidegger calls this basic "facticity," this forgetting of the existential a priori, "thrownness" Just as Desem's ontological understanding reveals bemg-in-the-world as a capacity to be, or as "Being-ahead-of-itself" (projective being), so the ontological disposition of Dasein manifests bemg-m-the-world as thrownness or facticity, as always already bemg-m-the-world. Also, in this section, Heidegger describes the movement of falling by elaborating its essential elements as "temptation," "tranquillizing," "alienation," and "entanglement" The movement of falling is further characterized by "turbuience" (perplexity) which obstructs Dasem's understanding from the projection of authentic possibilities, including "anticipatory resoiuteness" towards one's death This is the case since falling is, in varying degrees of intensity, inauthenticity (87; p 386). Hence, falling is a mode of bemgwith-others, as "fallenness" is Dasein among tjeings. Heidegger writes. "Dasein prepares itself a constant temptation towards falling. Bemgm-the-world IS in Itself tempting" {BT, p 221). This suggests that Dasein, by virtue of its bemg-with-others, inherits a persuasive tendency to understand itself not through its own distinctive mode of being, i.e, its own ontological disposition or attunement, but from the uncritical acceptance of interpretations of the world created by tradition, "public opinion," or, more formally, "das Man." Tranquillity, alienation, and entanglement all necessarily follow as Dasein becomes anonymous and regards his own being, mauthentically, as an observer m a scheme of things "present-to-hand" and ordered by a totality of "fateful" formulated forces. In "das Man," Dasem's activity and the urgency of his personal existence is dulied, obscured and diverted, or as importantly, misunderstood and misinterpreted In Heidegger's view, the metaphysical doctrine of assumptions sustained by "das Man" is ontotheological since it assumes existence is justified only because it IS grounded in a transcendent, but nevertheless "present" being and meaning. Our necessarily attenuated discussion of Heidegger's analysis of Dasein suggests a number of unavoidabie implications which may by no means be exhaustively articulated here with regard to this reading of Melville's text. What seems clear is that the attorney and aiieged narrator of this "account" discloses the law, limits and sovereignty of "das Man," the mauthentic they-self who, as Heidegger remarks, "does not allow us the courage for anxiety in the face of death" {BT, p. 266). Since this attomey has forfeited himself to the world of "das Man," he understands himself according to a vision of his reputation, which he ceaseiessly entertains as his inimitable self However, the attorney's mauthentic understanding of this (they) seif, grounded in the given doctnne of assumptions he is inscribed by and promotes, is a conscious


attempt to delimit the openness of an understanding grounded in possibility, or as Heidegger writes, "the understanding (that) has in itself the existential structure which we call 'projection' " (87; pp. 219-25). And understanding, as outlined above, is equiprimordial with disposition, since being-attuned always already is revelatory or disctosive Hence, the attorney's intentionally abbreviated understanding of his "self" negates access to certain moods (anxiety/melancholy/forlomness) that allow Dasein particular glimpses of its thrownness. Or, as Heidegger remarks: "Dasein's openness to the world is constituted existentiaily by the attunement of a state-of-mind" (87; p. 277). The attorney's inauthentic understanding of his "self," then, necessitates he imagine the forlomness of Bartleby and fancy a kind of solicitude ("jumping-in") which, Heidegger suggests, attempts to disburden anottier Dasein, but actually enslaves (87; p. 308). A kind of solicitude, as we have seen, that is excessively resentful and may not be successfully maintained by the attorney. The projected possibility of this spurious solicitude is doomed by its affiliation with the attorney's solipsistic spiritualism. It is, therefore, an inauthentic "projection" grounded in an ambiguous understanding of the meaning (\s, "the 'upon-which' of a projection m terms of which something becomes intelligible as something; it gets its structure from a forehaving, a foresight, and a fore-conception") of conscience (87; 151-3). The projective anticipation of the attorney's fore-structured solicitude is intended to strategically preserve a privileged and methodically prudent interpretation of the Christian concept of chanty. It is grounded in a misreading of existence, attained by the abbreviation of the attorney's own ontological disposition, of the "resoluteness" required by Dasein for an authentic call of its conscience. The attorney details the selfinterested nature of his solicitude: Aside from higher consideration, charity often operates as a vastly wise and prudent principlea great safeguard to its possessor. Men have committed murder for jealousy's sake, and anger's sake, and hatred's sake, and selfishness' sake, and spiritual pride's sake; but no man that ever I heard of, ever committed a diabolical murder for sweet charity's sake Mere self-interest, then, if no better motive can be enlisted, should, especially with high-tempered men, prompt all beings to charity and philanthropy. At any rate, upon the occasion in question, I strove to drown my exasperated feelings toward the scrivener by benevolently construing his conduct (BS, p 497). At this point in his terrible account, the attorney's defensive selfdeception is exceedingly ludicrous. Murder is, for at least the third explicit occasion in the narrative, mentioned and hastily expunged. The exemplary Christian the attorney attempts to portray hirnself to be allows him the preference not to proofread innumerable, histoncal


accounts in Western archives of "diabolical murder for sweet charity's sai<e." Or, as Nietzsche has noted, repressed ressentiment masquerades as innocuous benevolence. And the desperate, solipsistic humanist the attorney inadvertently portrays himself to be seemingly allows htm to assume that the "sweet charity" he promulgates needs no proofreading. The attorney struggles to repress, "to drown (his) exasperated feeling," those recalcitrant, irritating intimations of his own mortality, which he recurrently assumes are generated by the eccentric behaviour of the fateful Bartleby. However, this desire to neutralize the forlornness he feels, to transform his despair or angst into fear by providentially and obsessively objectifying the nearness of that nothingness he willfully names and inattentively unnames Bartleby, is indicative of his fallen temptation to insulate and tranquilize his "self" from a fundamental source of freedom. That is, befindllchkeit, of previously charactenzed as indicative of facticity, the thrownness of Dasein's situation and the state of mood in which Dasein finds himself, translates m "das Man" as the tranquility of tranquilization, i.e., the forgetfulness of where Dasein finds himself and the negation of disposition through absorption in "das Man." But undermining this tranquility, angst reveals to Dasein in Heidegger's words, the possibility of fulfilling itself "in an impassioned FREEDOM TOWARD DEATHa freedom which has been released from the illusions of the 'they,' and which is factual, certain of Itself, and anxious" (67; p. 266). As noted, to accede to the fallen temptation of inauthenticity, signified most succinctly by the attempt to avoid angst, is existentially determinative of "das Man." The attomey's "failenness" and "theyness" are inevitable; yet, these determinations are not, potentially, the final fate of Dasein-in-the-world. For the ground of "das Man" and his ineluctable inauthenticity is the condition of possibility for the very authenticity of Dasein. After the attorney's premises are abandoned and Bartleby displaced and decreased as well, the lawman laments: There would seem little need for proceeding further in this history. Imagination wiil readily supply the meagre recital of poor Bartleby's interment. But ere parting with the reader, let me say, that if this little narrative has sufficiently interested him, to awaken curiosity as to who Bartleby was, and what manner of life he led prior to the present narrator's making his acqumtance, I can only reply, that in such curiosity I fully share but am wholly unable to gratify it {BS, p 502). The attomey has lettered in the ledger of the law an account he assumes theologically Justifies, authorizes and iimits equivocation. A recital? "I narrated all I knew, and closed by suggesting the idea of letting {Bartleby) remain in as indulgent confinement as possible" {BS, p. 502) Once again we witness the idle talk of the restlessly curious attomey who, after submitting an imaginatively fanciful recital, an abridged


edition of "poor Bartleby's interment," a recital he assumes "awakens curiosity" in his reader for the unaccountable, entices his readers to continue the recit by way of their own imagination However, for certain readers of this text the alleged "narrator's" scrutable enticement has no effect. For a catachrestic or unenviable understanding of Bartleby's diiemna, a term which, as noted, resonates in a profoundly ambiguous manner in the hands of Leo Marx, requires a reader who accepts a narratorial mediation that generates an aesthetic structure dependent on the teleotheological notion of a single transcendent deity, i.e., a "transcendental signified," as well as certain supposedly absolute values and assumptions The attorney as "center of consciousness" IS Leo Marx's attempt to legislate the presence of a "transcendental signified" and to delegate parabolic meaning by privileging the dramatized discourse of this lawful character rather than that of his eccentric, "demented" and more or less undramatized counterpart However, as we noted m a related chapter on Wayne Booth, the privileged critical dichotomy, dramatized/undramatized narration, is a distinction without a difference within the condition of possibiiity which discovers disguised narration as primordial to its alleged demarcations. Hence, the privileging of particular narratives, by both Booth and Marx, that may be relied on as more dependable achievements in terms of honesty, accuracy or authenticity, is premised on a panoptic "perspective" that assumes a permanency to a worid of values which is independent of peculiar preferential and temporal circumstances. The attorney's account, based on a bizarre and chimerical possibility for authentic Dasein, i.e., the avoidance of one's own "uncanniness. primordial thrown being-m-the-world as the not-at-home," IS nihilistic. It represents a certain forgetting of being in the failure to make the fundamental distinction between being and things, and in interesting Itself in things rather than in being The attorney's recital discloses his relationship to himself as fraudulent, beguiling and hypocritical. His story, "this history," reveals precisely nothing of Bartleby, but an immense amount of the attorney's indiscreet and fretful cultivation of a methodically politic distance of exteriority from his own existence. His commentary, reflections and moralizing intrusions legislate a narrative recital based on compound interests, yet is predominately a self-advertising and self-interested account. The charitable "conscience" the attorney's recital is officially to illustrate is displaced and deprivileged in proximity with the "willingness-to-havea-conscience," which includes the experience of one's nullity in anxiety, the understanding of projecting oneseif on one's ownmost possibiiity and the silent discourse of Bartleby the scnvener As remarked, the pnnciple of identity, which the attorney assumes relates this "character" with those supplements cited and recited during our own summary judgment, has an absoluteiy heterogeneous function. As this is the case our concluding remarks, as the preceding, concerning the "inscrutable scrivemer," is., Dasein in an open relational context, are tenuous as well Yet the recognition and demonstration that all relations articulated by the alleged narrator are extremely problematic ultimately renders


suspect Leo Marx's reading and catagorization of this tale as "parable" More significantly perhaps, it renders suspect as well the prevalent "law" of literary criticism grounded m the quest for mastery over the assumed representation of a canonized and centralized structure called consciousness, which demands readings which measure high on the hypothetical scale determined by a logic of mastered and intended reliability. Bartieby's "I have given up copying" suggests a summons from lawful pursuits and everyday projects of Wall Street to a rare, deviant and guilt laden possibility for an uncanny "potentiality for being." The errant inscrutable seems to read the imperative of a "resoluteness" toward death, through which his own temporality is disclosed, as the source and non-teleological structure of facticity, understanding and discourse By way of Bartleby and his apparent recognition of the future as he listens to the silent appeal of his conscience calling him to experience nullity in anxiety and forlornness, the attorney's distaste for resoluteness, his misreading of "projection" as one's ownmost possibility and his unwillingness actually to have a "conscience," are all disclosed in his sustained flight from that which he names the INSCRUTABLE The pivotal tenn for much of this misreading has t>een, of course, conscience, the possibility of an inward discourse not simply reflective of received assumptions and especially the assumption that the "self" who appeals to the they-self is someone who always already exists in any way. According to Heidegger, the silent call of conscience ("Conscience discourses solely and constantly in the mode of keeping silent") is the occasion for an understanding by Dasein of being as penmeated by the negative, by nothingness and an affirmation of this situation (87; 318-20). This Is so since that on which Dasein seeks to ground the self is "not yet," a self Dasein seeks to bring into being. The attorney's unexammed notion of conscience and concomitantly the "self," presupposes a kind of solidified autonomy or distanced "present-at-handness" for both which conflicts, as noted, with the possibility of Dasein's nothingness. Hence, Heidegger's notion of conscience does not appear to claim for itself the authority that the attorney's, or "das Man's," inscribed conception demands. As a reader, one becomes another spectator of a solitude, initially a spectator of the attorney's solipsistic solitude and then, by virtue of what we wish to call, following Maurice Blanchot, Bartieby's "neutered" narrative, a potential participant in one's ownmost project of solitude. That is, the eventful fragmentation and eventual disintegration to a mere "rurnor" of the attorney's narratonal authonty foregrounds Bartieby's experience as a discursive belng-toward-death. And, as Banchot contends, the narrative voice as neuter says nothing and speaks from a piaceless place, presenting "an absence which is neither accepted nor rejected."" It is a form of discourse wherein one no longer objectively recites experience, but is rather that unlighted limit which is involved in one's recital "of that primal oblivion which precedes memory." It is suggested, then, that Bartieby's meditation on the


fascinating, paralyzing, dreadful and affirmative nothingness of being, as neutered narration, is potentially the authentic speech of resolute Dasein, which "gets shared, and so does the understanding of beingwith" (Mitsein) (BT, p 263). Jacques Derrida offers an account of how the neuter narrative voice, a voiceless voice "in^educibly alien" mobilizes the reader/critic and renders him or her nomadic in relation to the received "law" and the distanced "contemplative irresponsibility" of structuralist/expressionist literary criticism: This voicelessness distinguishes it from the "narratorial voice," the voice that literary criticism or poetics or narratology strives to locate in the system of the narrative, of the novel, or of narration. The narratorial voice is the voice of a subject recounting something, remembering an event or a historical sequence, knowing who he is, where he is, and what he IS talking about. It responds to some 'police,' a force of order or law .. In this sense, all organized narration is 'a matter for the police,' even before its genre . has been determined. The narrative voice, on the other hand, would surpass police investigation.'" Surpass police investigation? Surpass the law? Surpass the confinement or interment by traditional narrative technique and its assumed meta-metaphorics? As the neutered narrative "voice" m "Bartleby the Scrivener" resists all authoritative pressure to become a scrutable, accountable, identifiable character, similarly the text challenges a conventional critical translation or decipherment as a structured, expressionistic parable, or as another example of identification between author and fictional character, since the author, as the characters, are radically suspect, or as Derrida suggests, creations of a critic's "force of desire" (WD, p. 279). Neutered narrative affirms the language of the fragment, an aphonic and nomadic language, ununifiable and nontotalizing, wherein the privileged " I , " the narrator as dramatized visionary unity becomes the fascinated and disappearing "he." Fascination or wonder, in Heideggerian terms, is primordially related to the scene of the neutral, to the narrative neuter, for Blanchot. It is, like being-toward-death, an optimum instance of the negative or of nothingness, since "he" who is fascinated IS no longer "in charge" of his attention; it, rather, rules him (GO, p 142) The attomey's distanced ga2e finds its law impersonalized in the "realm of fascination" by Bartleby's "vision that is longer the possibility of seeing" Illuminated by a "light that is also the abyss" (GO, p. 76). Bartleby's moment of vision, in Heidegger's sense, no longer countenances a distanced unity as "he" figures his own fragmentation, his ownmost disappearance. In the words of Blanchot, "the writer himself agrees to do away with himself," remarking the figuration of his own finitude in a dead gaze (60, p 69). It is this illicit "dead gaze" of fascination or wonder, from which distance, particularly the cultivated gaze of distance.


IS not excluded and which ultimately discloses an "infinite dispersal" that potentially arrests all understanding, that of attorney's at law, notat-home scriveners as well as literary critics devoted to a religion of literature as structured parable. SUNY-Binghamton NOTES
1 Jacques Derrida, "Force and Signification," In Writing and Difference, trans by Alan Bass (Chicago Univ of Chicago Press, 1978) Eugenio Donato, "Structuralism The Aftermath"{Substance Fall 1973, No 7), pp 9-25 John Drury, The Parables in the Gospels, History and Allegory {Great Britan Cambridge Univ Press, 1985) A T Cadoux, quoted from Parables of Kierkegaard, eti with an introduction by Thomas C Oden, (Princeton Princeton Univ Press, 1978), p xi Soren Kierkegaard, Soren Kierkegaard's Journals and Papers, ed and trans by Howard V Hong and Edna H Hong, (Bloomington Indiana Univ Press, 1967) Paul de Man, "The Rhetoric of Temporality," In Blindness and Insight, Second Revised Edition (Minneapolis Univ of Minnesota Press, 1983), p 189 Leo Marx, Bartleby The Inscrutable, A Collection of Commentary on Herman Melville's Tale "Bartleby the Scrivener," "Melviiie's Parabie of the Walls" (Connecticut Archon Books, 1979), pp 84-107, hereafter cited m the text as MP Ali quotations from Herman Meiviiie, "Bartieby the Scrivener," The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, (New York W W Norton and Company, 1978), pp 475-505, hereafter cited in the text as BS Fnedrich Nietzsche, On the Geneology of Morals, trans by Walter Kaufmann and R J Hoilingdaie (New York Vintage Books, 1969), pp 13-198 Both On the Geneology of Morals and Thus Spoke Zarathustra suggests that ressentiment, as a reactive attempt to negate or controi the temporai nature of existence, is an impediment to authentic self-t>ecoming or self-overcoming Bartieby, we are asserting, as a "conscientious" being-toward-death in the Heideggehan sense, is fundamentaiiy attuned to Nietzsche's notion of the "innocence of becoming" For Nietzsche, it appears that affirmation of the dynamism of change as a process of self-overcoming transforms a nihilistic reaction to and rejection of temporaiity into a possibiiity for an authentic self-development Self-overcoming, in Nietzsche as weil as in Heidegger, must be read as a metaphor that assents to the destructive aspects of its own creation(s) as weil as the creative moments in its own destruction(s) The discussion of ressentiment In Nietzsche and Philosophy, by Giiles Deleuze (New York Coiumbia Univ Press, 1983), is predicated on an "active" and "reactive" opposition, which misreads Nietzsche's reinscription of binary power struggies between specific forces and recuperates a dualistic, teieotheoiogicai good and evii struggie and ideology Ressentiment, as we have argued, is resentment in reiation to time, or the temporai in Heideggerian terms, and the desire for "presence" in the fomi of metaphysics and being emanates from the poweriessness of the attorney to controi his "own" or Bartieby's temporality Q W F Hegei, The Phenomenology of Mind, "independence and Dependence

2 3

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of Self-Consciousness Lordship and Bondage" (New York Harper Colophon Books, 1967), pp 228-240 11 Tzvetan Todorov, "Reflections on Literature in Contemporary France" {New Literary History Univ of Virginia, 1979) Paul Tiliich, The Courage to Be, "The Anxiety of Fate and Death," (New Haven Yale Univ Press, 1952), pp 42-46 Martin Heidegger, Being and Time (New York Harper and Roe, 1962), p 231, hereafter cited in the text as BT Wayne Booth, Ttie Rtietonc of Fictton (Chicago Univ of Chicago Press, 1961) Maurice Blanchot, The Gaze of Orptieus and Other Literary Essays, 'The Absence of the Book,"(United States Station Hili Press, 1981), pp 145-160, hereafter cited in the text as GO Jacques Oerrida, "Living On Border Lines," in Deconstructive Criticism, ed by Haroid Bioom, et al (New York Seabury Press, 1979)

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