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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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On the Stroke of Circumcision II

On the Stroke of Circumcision II

Celan, Kafka, and the Wound in the Name

(p.80) Five On the Stroke of Circumcision II
A Weak Messianic Power

Michael G. Levine

Fordham University Press

The chapter continues the reading of Celan’s poem “TO ONE WHO STOOD BEFORE THE DOOR,” shifting the focus from the “tropic of circumcision,” as Derrida calls it, to the figure of Rabbi Löw and the mystical tradition of golemic creation, a creative practice based on a certain performance of the divine Name. Celan conjures this tradition only to alter it from within, basing his own practice no longer on the properness of an unpronounceable Name but rather on a wound that will have gathered in its place. Here again Celan is viewed as a writer who is first and foremost a reader, and what he reads in this particular poem is the gathering wound that will have opened both in the body of the name “Kafka” and in the disease-ridden larynx of the writer. Celan gathers own his poem around this throttling silence in Kafka’s throat, reminding us of the way reading and gathering come together in the German verb lesen. Drawing his poetic reading of Kafka together in this way, Celan opens his language to the untranslatable violence of an unspeakable and irrepressible pain stuck in the throat, a pain that cannot simply be silenced or voiced.

Keywords:   Golem and Rabbi Löw, Wound, Unconscious Speech, Poetry after Auschwitz, Circumcision, Tuberculosis, Jew’s Body, Gathering as reading, Jewish mysticism, Kafka

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