microliths 240-241|246 by Paul Celan

Excerpts from microliths by Paul Celan

translated by Pierre Joris


[These are Celan’s first notes toward the conference project 
“On the Darkness of Poetry”  which remained unfinished.] 



         ||  Mysticism as wordlessness
	     Poetry as form

241.2 The poem is inscribed as the figure of the whole language, 
but language remains  invisible; what is actualizing itself — 
language — steps, as soon as it has happened, back into the realm of 
the possible.“Le poème,” writes Valéry, “est du langage à l’état
naissant;” /“Poetry,” writes Valéry, “is language in the state 
of being born;”/ Language in statu nascendi, thus, language freeing 


241.1	Yesyes, not only the Geiger-, the “syllable-counters ” too, 
though despised by a literature that calls itself engaged, 
register something.


     →  241.2  

aesthesis is not enough; the …	;noesis is not enough; 	         …		  
               ;  what’s needed is personal presence, 
what’s needed is conversation; 
conversation and entertainment are different things; conversations 
are demanding,  straining.

241.3 ——–——–
Idea of the bracket			(voicedness)	 
			also the this vibrato of the words has se-
			mantic relevance

241.4 ______

The poet: always in partibus infidelium

241.5 ______

          Das      Kampaner Tal, p. 51, footnote:
||... “as on the Jews’ houses (in memory of ruined Jerusalem), 
something  always 		  has to be left unfinished.” 

	   to     remember in the poem — remembrance as absence — 

241.6				Language planes

                   Nationallibr.: Bühler —



No syllogistic enriched with this or that theory of association, no 
logistic will ever be able to do justice to the fact of “poem” — the 
alleged thought- or language-scheme of the poem is never “finished.” 



syntactic (and other!) bracketings 









139. Psalm:         nox illuminatio mea 

	      ... darkness is like the light 


246.1			 an uneasiness similar to that in
“Lyrik-Dichtung)			relation to the word
				→  “Schrifttum / literature”

 The uneasiness	    Lyrik		(which Heine
 the progress therein		     uses…)

Tension between Lyrik = Dichtung

Questions	Lyric Poetry
“Problems of Poetry”

246.2	We live in a brightly lit time, a time that illustrates 
everything; lyric poetry has a cosmopolitan trait: “Felice notte!” 
our so beneficially contradictory god poetizes. Benn…

246.3	_______

The secret marriage the word contracts in the poem with the real and 
the true is called “wild” mainly by those who do not want to forgo 
their lushly comfortable, well-guarded culture-harem and — especially
 — the eunuchal services that come with it. 
(Poetry certainly does not threaten this seraglio with any kind of 

246.3  The — oh so wordily lamented — loss of tradition: the 
legitimism of those who “legitimize” themselves everywhere, 
so as not to have to justify themselves to themselves.


Excerpts from Paul Celan’s microliths (I)

162.1 ­

It is part of poetry’s essential features that it releases the poet, its crown witness and confidant, from their shared knowledge once it has taken on form. (If it were different, there would barely be a poet who could take on the responsibility of having written more than one poem.)


—Poetry as event
Event = truth (“unhiddenness,” worked, fought for unhiddeness)
Poetry as risk
Creation = /power­activity /Gewalt­tätigkeit (Heidegger)
Truth ≠ accuracy (­i­: consistency)

§ Read at Excerpts from Paul Celan’s microliths

Further excerpts from Paul Celan’s microliths (II)

22                                                                                                                                          Hermeticism—

Certain “citizens” and the poem: They buy the surprise bag; one knows vaguely what’s in it, it won’t be much, but then it doesn’t cost much either, and if one happens to visit the fair and one has enjoyed the lady without lower- but with upper body, one’s amusement also demands this. And when what’s in it turns out — but here too the buyer’s superior humor can prove itself — to be even cheaper than cheap, there still remains the fun that all of that was “too.

§ Read at Further excerpts from Paul Celan’s  microliths

§ Excerpts from Paul Celan, Microliths. These translations are © Pierre Joris


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