Celan on Mandelstam

Two full days spent working on the long-overdue variorum edition of Paul Celan’s Meridian speech, thus no time or energy left to blog or do much of anything else except collapse in front of a Mets game for a couple innings. So here are a few paragraphs of today’s work — simplified in terms of the hyper-complex layout of the book (that includes all inserts, strike outs, etc.) as the blog doesn’t permit any such fancy layout. The numbers refer back to specific sentences in the final version of The Meridian essay; many of the repetitions were strike-outs, unhappily this is unconveyable. This specific page of notes, fragments, reformulations, sketches for sentences, Celan took when preparing a radio-essay on Osip Mandelstam, though some of the thinking reappears, transformed, in the Meridian.

The twenty poems from the volume “The Stone” appear strange.
They are not “word-music,” not “mood poetry,”
33a-c The poem here is the poem of the one who knows that he is speaking under the clinamen of his existence, that the language of his poem is neither “analogy” nor “a more originary” language or even just plain language, but actualized language, voiceful and voiceless at the same time, set free under the sign of an indeed radical individuation remaining mindful of its limits, but . At the same time remaining mindful of the limits imposed on it by language and the possibilities language has opened up for this individuation-. (50c) The place of the poem remains a human place, “a place in the cosmos,” certainly, but here, down here, in time; the poem, with all its horizons, remains a sublunar, a terrestial, a creaturely phenomenon.
33d It is one person’s language become form, it has objectivity \Gegenständlichkeit\, oppositeness \Gegenständigkeit\, substance \Gegenwärtigkeit\, and presence. It stands into time.

(32) the fall \Gefälle\ of language -language-fall- becomes faster, the figure is the hyperbole -the tone abrupt- the declarative sentences line up-

~ language is -at least in its intention- no longer word-music, 33a-c the poem is the poem of the one who knows that he speaks under the clinamen of his existence, that the language of his poem is not plain language, but language that is .set {setting itself} free and is- language actualizing itself, .Voicefull
36a-b The poems of Osip Mandelstam are the poems of someone who perceives- of someone .attentively- turned toward what appears, .of someone- questioning and addressing what appears; they are conversation. In this conversation this what is addressed constitutes itself, gathers itself around the addressing I,
takes on form by gathering around the addressing I. Gathers around the speaking addressing I and thus naming I. But into this present, (the present of the poem !, the named brings into this Here and Now of the poem what has been addressed and by naming become a You == brings its other its most own its other and strangeness along; yet- in the immediacy and nearness of the poem it lets its distance have its say too. It guards what is it most own: its time.
~ It is this tension between the times, one’s own and the foreign, which lends that pained-mute vibrato to the Mandelstam poem by which we recognize it. ×/ (This vibrato is everywhere: in the .intervals between the — between- – words just as, betw and the stanzas, in the “courtyards,” where the rhymes .and assonances- stand, in the punctuation. All this has semantic relevance.) 36c Things come together, yet they remain incommensurate yet even in this togetherness resounds the question of their Wherefrom and Whereto ! a “yet to be decided”question,
~ This question is not only made good in the “thematics” of the poem; it also takes shape ! and that’s exactly why it becomes a “theme” ! in the language of the poems. The word .! the name !- shows a tendency to the noun-form, the adjective in the domain the „infinitive forms”, the nominal forms of the verb dominate: Time joins in, Time participates. The poem remains open to time, time can join in, time participates.

(36a-b) Here the poem is the place where what is looked at and perceived through language ! the named ! enters in terms of its time into a relationship of tension with the one who looks and speaks. ~ The strange remains strange, it does not “correspond” .and respond- completely, it retains its opacity .which lends it relief and appearance (phenomenality)-

36b ! to let the incommensurable of the other have its say:
the time that is the other’s own, ~ the space that is his own, the nearness and distance in time and space, the unknown, from which {he} it comes toward you ! like you toward him this other. !

Ts. (Ms.), pag. -3- ÜR 6.12,9 [excerpt] 59

are S (36a) perceptions in language, conversation with the one standing opposite, standing in opposition, conversation with the other and the strange, conversation with humans and with things, conversation with what appears, at times also conversation = questioning conversation = with oneself ! in the midst of exactly that which appears to him.
2. Speaker: (36b) This appearing has, like the one who perceives it with his language, its time, own time. In the poem these ! different ! times clamp together It has both, nearness and distance, it comes toward one Thus it comes toward one: even in its nearness its distance has its say, its own time has its say; ~ in the poem these ! different ! times clamp together, the hour and the aeon speak, the heartbeat and the world clock.
1. Speaker: ~ They speak together, come together ! they remain incommensurable. Because of this there comes to be in the poem that turbulence and tension by which we recognize: still always time joins in, participates..In such a-
2. Speaker: In such a time-yard \Zeit h o f\ stand the poems of Osip Mandelstam. Thus his ! for which the critics -later- accused him of being “enimical to progress”!

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  1. May 20, 2009

    […] and earlier still some the notes Celan wrote when composing the radio-essay — which you can read here. Both come from the German variorum edition of Der Meridian, the translation of which I am finally […]

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