Phenomenology Online

A Resource for Phenomenological Inquiry

Traversing: To write is to traverse the writerly space of the text.


The phenomenologist-as-writer tries to bring things into presence through artistic evocation. But to see the being of things directly would require that one moves into that space where the invisibility of the real has not yet compromised itself into visible form. It is here, in traversing this realm of wild being that things exist and may be encountered before they have gotten names attached to them, before they can hide themselves behind words. It happens that in this wondering gaze one may suddenly “recognize” the fragility of human understanding, to see existence in its naked appearance, to peer past the veneer of human constructs. How is this possible? The writer may find the answer to this question in the experience of writing itself, in the virtuality of the text where one may run up against the limit of language or where one may be permitted a momentary gaze through its crevices. It is in traversing this writerly space where there reigns the ultimate incomprehensibility of things, that we may sense the unfathomable infiniteness of their being, that we may hear the uncanny rumble of existence itself.


In the moment of writing I am here by myself at this writing desk and in this writing space. Many authors have commented on the intensely solitary dimension of writing. Perhaps that is also the reason that this solitudinous sphere can bring one face to face with fundamental questions. But the self is affected in an even more profound way in writing. A peculiar change takes place in the person who starts to write: the self retreats or steps back as it were, without completely stepping out of his or her social, historical, biographic being. This is similar to what happens when we read a novel. One traverses a world that is not one+s own. Here everything is undetermined. Everything is possible. Just as one is no longer oneself when one loses oneself in a novel, so the writer who writes is no longer this or that personal self. In a certain sense, the writer becomes depersonalized, an “it” or neutral self-a self who produces scripture.