ann maurice

[…] for literature’s space shelters nothing within it: it is also called le vide, “the void.” Sometimes it is associated with the anonymity of big cities, sometimes with the gap left by the absence of the gods, but sometimes, too, with what Rilke calls “the Open,” or the “world’s inner space,” the intimacy of an expansive welcome, the inward yes which death can say in the song of one who consents to fall silent and disappear. Or it is connected with the interval, which for Hölderlin is the sacred, between gods that abandon the world and men who, likewise, turn away from God – the sheer void in between, which the poet must keep pure. Almost always, it is the origin which is anterior to any beginning, the image or echo of beginning – that immense fund of impotence, the infinitely futile wherewithal to start over and over again. Literature’s space, in other words – void which literature introduces in place of the place it takes – is analogous to the “other time” in  the time measured by achievements: sterile, inert time, “the time of distress […].  

With considerable regularity, literature’s “space” is described as exile or banishment, and the writer as one wandering in the desert, like Kafka far from Canaan, too weak to collaborate in the  active concerns of competent men; but then, too, the desert is a privileged zone of freedom and  solitude, and if literature is exiled from the world of valuable achievements, it is also exempted from the world’s demands. It has to bear no responsibility for anything; it is kept safe to itself: the desert is its refuge. Or it would be, if to be so gratuitous were not a grave danger for literature, and also if the desert were a here one could actually reach.
—  Anne Smock from the preface to Blanchot’s The Space of Literature