By Michael G. Levine
In his well-known theses at the philosophy of background, Benjamin writes: "We were endowed with a vulnerable messianic strength to which the previous has a claim." This declare addresses us not only from the previous yet from what is going to have belonged to it merely as a overlooked hazard and unrealized capability. For Benajmin, as for Celan and Derrida, what hasn't ever been actualized is still with us, now not as a lingering echo yet as a secretly insistent charm. simply because such appeals don't go through general channels of conversation, they require a distinct attunement, maybe even a method of subconscious receptivity. Levine examines the ways that this attunement is cultivated in Benjamin's philosophical, autobiographical, and photohistorical writings; Celan's poetry and poetological addresses; and Derrida's writings on Celan.
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Extra info for A Weak Messianic Power: Figures of a Time to Come in Benjamin, Derrida, and Celan
While that someone may well have been Heidegger, to whom Celan would later address the poem “Todtnauberg” after a 1967 visit to the thinker’s cottage, because the poem was published in 1963, in the collection Die Niemandsrose (The No-one’s-Rose), the target remains uncertain. ). This strategically interrupted quotation not only leaves the poem on the brink of a yet-to-be-declared war but is also itself a slightly altered citation of the French revolutionary motto “Guerre aux châteaux, paix aux chaumières” coined by Chamfort.
IN ONE Thirteenth of February. In the heartmouth an awakened Shibboleth. With you, Peuple de Paris. No pasarán. Little sheep to the left: he, Abadias, the old man from Huesca, came with his dogs over the ﬁeld, in exile white hung a cloud of human nobility, he spoke into our hands the word that we needed, it was shepherd-Spanish, in it, in icelight of the cruiser “Aurora”: the brotherly hand, waving with the blindfold removed from his word-wide eyes—Petropolis, the roving city of those unforgotten, lay Tuscanly close to your heart too.
To elaborate on these two dimensions of the Benjaminian Konstellation, it is necessary to turn brieﬂy from his theses to Derrida’s “Shibboleth: For Paul Celan” and in particular his reading of the Celan poem “IN EINS” (“IN ONE”). ”11 Here then is Celan’s poem “IN ONE,” quoted ﬁrst in German and then in John Felstiner’s English translation. IN EINS Dreizehnter Feber. Im Herzmund Erwachtes Schibboleth. Mit dir, Peuple de Paris. No pasarán. indb 17 7/30/13 11:20:09 AM 18 The Day the Sun Stood Still Schäfchen zur Linken: er, Abadias, der Greis aus Huesca, kam mit den Hunden über das Feld, im Exil stand weiss eine Wolke menschlichen Adels, er sprach uns das Wort in die Hand, das wir brauchten, es war Hirten-Spanisch, darin, im Eislicht des Kreuzers “Aurora”: die Bruderhand, winkend mit der von den wortgrossen Augen genommenen Binde—Petropolis, der Unvergessenen Wanderstadt lag auch dir toskanisch zu Herzen.