For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

The Inoperative Community

by Nancy, Jean-Luc (1991)


Key Passage

This is why community cannot arise from the domain of work. One does not produce it, one experiences or one is constituted by it - the experience of finitude. Community understood as a work or through its works would presuppose that the common being, as such be objectifiable and producible (in sites, persons, buildings, discourses, institutions, symbols, subjects). Products derived from operations of this kind, however grandiose they might seek to be and sometimes manage to be, have no more communitarian existence than the plaster busts of Marianne. Community necessarily takes place in what Blanchot has called " unworking," referring to that which, before or beyond the work, withdraws from the work, and which no longer having to do either with production or with completion, encounters interruption, fragmentation, suspension. Community is made of the interruption of singularities, or of the suspension that singular beings are. Community is not the work of singular beings, nor can it claim them as its works, just as communication is not a work. Or being an operation of singular beings for community is simply their being-their being suspended upon its limit. Communication is the unworking of work that is social, economic, technical, and institutional. (p.31)


Philosophy, Community, Mythology, Communism, Literature, Love, Divinity, Individuality, Communication


The Inoperative Community, Nancy Citations

Links to Reference


Connor, P.; Garbus, L.; Holland, M.; Sawhney, S.



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