Thursday, November 11, 2010

Aimless Reading: The L's, Part 2 (Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe)

Lacoue-Labarthe, Philippe
Poetry as Experience

Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books.

I remember buying this book because I liked the title. I knew nothing of Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe or his work, and I knew next to nothing about the subject of the book, Paul Celan. I have a vague recollection of seeing Ben Friedlander at the book store when I bought the book and of showing it to him.

Or it might have been at some later point, in conversation perhaps, that I mentioned it to him and discovered he had some opinion abou the author and also about the book's treatment of Celan. I don't recall what his opinion was. Only that it existed and that it made an impression on me, as Ben's opinions often did (and do).

(If he's reading today, he can feel free to leave a comment on the blog regarding what he might have said about Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe in 1997.)

Anyhow, this book led me to purchase Pierre Joris' translation of Celan's Breathturn, which at the time was the only volume of his Celan translations available. I remember asking Pierre when he visited Buffalo that winter when the other volumes were due to come out.

In the spring, he said.

I think it was at least two, if not three more years, before they finally started appearing.

Well worth the wait, though.

from Poetry as Experience

For everyone who is, as we say, "concerned about out times " and "mindful of history" (European history), the two names, Hölderlin and Heidegger, are now indissolubly linked. They give voice to what is at stake in our era (dieser zeit). A world age--perhaps the world's old age--is approaching its end, for we are reaching a completion, closing the circle of what the philosophical west has called, since Grecian times and in multiple ways, "knowledge." That is, technè. What has not been deployed, what has been forgotten or rejected in the midst of this completion--and no doubt from the very beginning--must now clear itself a path to a possible future. Let us agree to say that this pertains, as Heidegger says himself, to the "task of thought." Such thought must re-inaugurate history, re-open the possibility of a world, and pave the way for the improbable, unforeseeable advent of a god. Only this might "save" us. For this task, art (again, technè), and in art, poetry, are perhaps able to provide some signs. At least, that is the hope, fragile, tenuous, and meager that it is.

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