To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Paul Celan: from Microliths, translated by Pierre Joris

[The following selection (theoretical & critical fragments from between 1967 & 1969) is taken from Paul Celan, Mikrolithen sinds, Steinchen, the collected posthumous prose as edited by Barbara Wiedemann and Bertrand Badiou & published by Suhrkamp Verlag in 2005. In that edition the roughly 200 pages of Celan’s writings (divided into sections of aphorisms, narrative fragments, dialogues, notes, theoretical-critical fragments, unsent letters & texts concerning the Goll affair) are followed by a 700-page apparatus of bio-bibliographic commentaries. My complete English translation of the texts with a reduced commentary section, from which the present excerpts are taken, will be published sometime in 2019.  (P.J.)]

214. No poem after Auschwitz (Adorno):
What concept of the “poem” is being presented here? The arrogance of the one who dares hypothetically-speculatively to contemplate or poetically describe Auschwitz from the nightingale- or lark-perspective.

215. I don’t, in fact, write for the dead, but for the living — though of course for those who know that the dead too exist

Dichotomy of outside and inside world

Speechlessness and horror are contained in it — in the existence — though they don’t constitute it

No artist
the word Breathturn — in the Meridian — of a speech against artistry and for the human

these verses in no way stop before the splitting of reality into an outer and an inner

writes itself here-ward from its existential mother-ground

1.          The Jewish heritage    Bialik,
2.     Khurben in my poems

3.    The state of Israel in my work

4. 2 poems
the one who learns how to respect the other in his alterity, without giving in to easy equations and identifications
            פאול צלנ

217      Tinkering with Mandelstam, again

218      touch and cut across each other in the poetry

219      E. Fried: and planted the yellow star that others had worn for him — not every Jew is King of Denmark or even just a Danish prince —, now of all times, and FAZt* about the lost German East.
            * [writes-in-the-Frankfurter-Allgemeine-Zeitung]

220     Aragon yesterday to the students: “Je suis un homme qui n’a pas plié / I am a man who didn’t fold.”
D’autres ont plié, ployé…/Others have folded, bent/

221      I am looking at Rembrandt’s self-portrait (the Cologne one), his gaze and his mouth distended by the contingencies, his head and a part of his coat gilded by contingencies, gnawed at by them, thought up by them, his staff splattered by two drops, three drops of that same substance.
45 rue d’Ulm
Paris, 10 May 1968

222     -i- “Threadsuns,” that is where the self-alienation of humans ends… and the self-alienating talk about exactly that self-alienation

223.1   To P.H. Neumann
The casualness with which you break through the — porous! — walls of a given poem, makes me sad.

223.2  -i-
The poem as lived language

223.3  The betrayed truth of my poems

223.4  -i- The fleetingness of what is said in the poem as what constitutes /Konstituens/ its — limiting and unlimiting — meaning.

223.5  -i- sweet empirics (teach)

223.6  -i- The poem — the other, regained, first voice of mankind

223.7  -i- P.H. Neumann’s book:
All in all clean, a few counted uncleanlinesses, the Jost Nolte-quote, for ex. In principle it does not depend on the “core-words,” not on their number, but on the context in which they appear in the single poem, in the single cycle, in the single volume, on the How and What of what is said around them and with them.
Not how often a word appears, but in whose company or, as the case may be, without whose company it arrives

223.8  -i- The gathered strangenesses stand against the daily, useful serviceable rhyme

223.9  Re the Russ. anthology:
For having rendered my poems unrecognizable, I thank you very much

223.10 I do not think that I have betrayed any one of my poems

223.11                                                 1.22.69
On Lyons’ comparatist (Buber a. Celan):  you underestimate the creative and its paths

223.12 Ungaretti -i-
            clogged with the Today
            smudged with the Today

223.13 -i- the stripped poetry, that now stretches out to the corners

223.14 -i- still in contact with what sings

223.15 -i-
To orient myself between my few words

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