Central and East European
Society for Phenomenology

Conference | Paper

“Mitsammen.” Paul Celan's Poetry in the “In-Between” of (Cultural) World(s)

Andrej Božič

Thursday 2 December 2021

16:20 - 17:00

Zoom 1-2

The enigmatic poetic work of Paul Celan (1920–1970), which attracted—and continues to attract—(also) the attention of numerous philosophers—it has, for instance, provoked responses from such diverse, even divergent thinkers as Hans-Georg Gadamer and Jacques Derrida—, is fundamentally denoted by dialogicality: whilst the (German) language—without erasing borders and boundaries—“incorporates” in(to) Celan’s “own” poems words, phrases, or idioms from different—oftentimes completely “foreign” and utterly “estranged”—cultural realms, dis-owning thus poetry for the acceptance of the other, the alien, it nonetheless opens (up) the “in-between” of mutual understanding and cohabitation. The inter-weaving of (cultural) world(s) in the language(s) of Celan’s creativity, wherein the experience of existential uprootal—the heritage of fateful cataclysmic conflicts of the 20th century—gives rise to the dis-heartened search for sense in the embodied permeation of the fragments of (Eastern-, Central-, and Western-)European (German, Jewish, French, Russian, etc.) cultural—not only linguistic and literary, but also historical as well as political and social—dimensions. The confounding complexity of Celan’s lyric oeuvre—the intricate texture of original, originary creation as well as of in-direct quotations, allusions to various traditions—, therefore, re-presents a specific, unique hermeneutic challenge: a challenging of hermeneutics—of its very im-possibility—as such in the encounter with the alterity of poetry. The intended paper wishes to address certain questions related with the notion of inter-culturality, which—as (also) the writings of Bernhard Waldenfels dedicated to responsive phenomenology strive to demonstrate—necessarily exhorts to a re-defining of hermeneutic endeavors in the confrontation with radical, irreducible forms of alienness, through the attempt at an interpretation of Celan’s poem “Anabasis” from the collection Die Niemandsrose (1963).