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A Weak Messianic PowerFigures of a Time to Come in Benjamin, Derrida, and Celan$
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Michael G. Levine

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823255108

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823255108.001.0001

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Pendant

Pendant

Celan, Büchner, and the Terrible Voice of the Meridian

Chapter:
(p.37) Three Pendant
Source:
A Weak Messianic Power
Author(s):

Michael G. Levine

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823255108.003.0003

The chapter focuses on the title Celan gave to his 1960 speech delivered on the occasion of his reception of the Büchner Prize for Literature. While critics tend to understand the title word “meridian” exclusively in spatial terms, the chapter argues that it should be understood temporally as the moment when the sun stands directly overhead at noon, dividing the day into a.m. and p.m. This moment recurs at critical points in Büchner’s plays and prose works and it is Celan’s achievement to have recognized its pivotal— and highly contradictory— significance. What is gathered together at this privileged point in time are three competing ways of viewing the meridian: as a moment of absolute sovereignty, as a point of stasis and traumatic fixation, and as the site of a possible opening toward what is yet to come. It is through his encounter with this critical moment in Büchner that Celan articulates his own poetic practice, his way not just of incorporating readings of other writers into his own work but of leaving his poems open in their turn to the solicitations of others. His notion of poetry as “desperate conversation” should thus be understood in terms of this intertextual relationship.

Keywords:   Meridian, Citability, Repetition Compulsion, Boredom, Doppelgänger, Revolution, Art vs. Poetry, Majesty of the Absurd, Büchner, Celan

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