Friday, November 23, 2007
Outsideleft: Death Fugues, The Black Forest, and the Wellspring of Suffering: Dan Kaufman and Paul Celan
It is really impossible for me to imagine the collective tragedy of the post-war eastern European psyche. Grand cities bombed to rubble, people herded into train cars for the unlikely goal of cleansing the gene pool, death everywhere, on every corner, in ever word and breath. How do you ever recover from something like that? Paul Celan was a Romanian poet who endured the camps and wrote about them with tremendous, powerful sadness in his key poem Todesfuge (“death fugue”) where he expressed his guilt of survival and, according to many scholars, took aim at the philosopher Martin Heidegger, who as rector of the University of Freiburg under Hitler in 1933 and Nazi party member until after the war, lent considerable intellectual credulity to the worst of mankind. It has been said that Heidegger greatly informed Celan’s work, which is understandable, considering Heidegger has arguably informed everything, but the sting of having one’s inspiration being part of the machine which sought to destroy him only increased his guilt. Later in life, Celan accepted an invitation to the great man’s famed hut in Todtnauberg at the rim of the Black Forest, where the dasein of us all was meted out, and that meeting resulted in a poem bearing the village’s name. Read More...
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