Elden, Foucault on Writing

Elden links to this quote by Foucault on writing:

Does there exist a pleasure in writing? I don’t know. One thing is certain, that there is, I think, a very strong obligation to write. I don’t really know where this obligation to write comes from… You are made aware of it in a number of different ways. For example, by the fact that you feel extremely anxious and tense when you haven’t done your daily page of writing. In writing this page you give yourself and your existence a kind of absolution. This absolution is indispensable for the happiness of the day… How is it that that this gesture which is so vain, so fictitious, so narcissistic, so turned in on itself and which consists of sitting down every morning at one’s desk and scrawling over a certain number of blank pages can have this effect of benediction on the rest of the day?

You write so that the life you have around you, and outside, far from the sheet of paper, this life which is not much fun, but annoying and full of worries, exposed to others, can melt into the little rectangle before you and of which you are the master. But this absorption of swarming life into the immobile swarming of letters never happens.

Elden then discusses his own method (write everyday!). I’m not about to say more–with the move, an illness that took months to recover, etc., I’m just starting to get back into the swing of things, so no advice from me, though I do notice that if I don’t wish to write, I do my editorial projects. And if I’m really stuck, I pretend a paper is an editorial project that I’m reviewing–I tend to write more if I take the pressure off that it’s my work, and instead is just a note to others about some article and what it means.

As for Foucault: not enough is said about what a logical writer he was in an era in which the French tended to write more like improvisational musicians. Even his asides seem perfectly outlined. More daunting, though, are his write-ups for lectures, which don’t too often double with published materials, and in fact, augment his published work in impressive ways.