Sounding/Silence: Martin Heidegger at the Limits of Poetics

Sounding/Silence: Martin Heidegger at the Limits of Poetics

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Sounding/Silence: Martin Heidegger at the Limits of Poetics
    Book Description:

    Sounding/Silence charts Heidegger's deep engagement with poetry, situating it within the internal dynamics of his thought and within the domains of poetics and literary criticism. Heidegger viewed poetics and literary criticism with notorious disdain: he claimed that his Erlauterungen ("soundings") of Holderlin's poetry were not "contributions to aesthetics and literary history" but rather stemmed "from a necessity for thought." And yet, the questions he poses--the value of significance of prosody and trope, the concept of "poetic language", the relation between language and body, the "truth" of poetry--reach to the very heart of poetics as a discipline, and indeed situate Heidegger within a wider history of thinking on poetry and poetics. opening up points of contact between Heidegger's discussions of poetry and technical and critical analyses of these poems, Nowell Smith addresses a lacuna within Heidegger scholarship and sets off from Heidegger's thought to sketch a philosophical "poetics of limit".

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-5154-4
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Note on the text
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Introduction: The Limits of Poetics
    (pp. 1-18)

    To set up a limit is a dual gesture, at once instituting difference and indicating a point of contact. Martin Heidegger’s critique of the discipline of poetics, a recurrent feature throughout his long engagement with poetry, is just such a gesture. On the one hand, he claims that his own readings of poems orErläuterungen(“soundings-out”) can articulate aspects of these poems to which poetics itself is blind. It thus stands beyond the limits of poetics—limits, that is, not simply born of bad critical practices, but which belong to the very “essence” of poetics as a mode of questioning....

  7. 1 For the First Time
    (pp. 19-60)

    In the introductory remarks to his lecture series on Friedrich Hölderlin’s late hymns “Germanien” and “Der Rhein,” the first he gave on Hölderlin’s poetry, Heidegger discusses the opening lines of “Germanien” and their form: “The form of the poem provides no particular difficulties. The meter does not follow the model of any conventional genre. A poem without meter and rhyme is nevertheless not really a poem at all, not poetry, prose rather…. [A]nd yet, [a] common, precise, prosaic ‘For’ [Denn], sounds, as though spoken for the first time, and this apparent prose of the whole poem is more poetic than...

  8. 2 The Naming Power of the Word
    (pp. 61-100)

    In “The Origin of the Work of Art,” Heidegger situates the earth in the “work-material” of the artwork: “the massiveness and heaviness of the stone, … the firmness and flexibility of the wood, … the lightening and darkening of color … the ringing of sound, and the naming power of the word” (OBT 24/35). That Heidegger should place “the word” last is a rhetorical gesture toward poetry’s status in the pantheon of the arts. It is both that art form to which “architecture, the visual arts, and music must all be referred back” (OBT 45/60), and also, by virtue of...

  9. 3 Heidegger’s Figures
    (pp. 101-136)

    Given the prominence Heidegger accords to poetry throughout aGesamtausgabethat now extends to 102 volumes, his discussions of figurative language are, at first glance, most conspicuous for their scarcity. Metaphor in particular is dismissed over four lapidary and categorical pronouncements. If this might be taken to demonstrate that Heidegger was simply uninterested in questions of metaphor, and of figurative language more generally,¹ one should nevertheless note that these pronouncements lie at the crux of his attempts both to think thealetheiccapacity of artworks, and to “undergo an experience with language” (OL 57/159). It is in this respect unsurprising...

  10. 4 Reading Heidegger Reading
    (pp. 137-180)

    Ever since Max Kommerell described an essay of Heidegger’s on Hölderlin’s “Andenken” as “a productive train-wreck” (ein productives Eisenbahn-Unglück),¹ Heidegger’s readings of poetry have been subject to a critical skepticism bordering at times on outrage. To an extent this is unsurprising and even, one feels—in the light of his contempt for “the history of literature and aesthetics” (EHP 21/7)—solicited. Yet the surfeit of commentary on Heidegger as a “train-wreck” exegete risks occluding the other term in Kommerell’s oxymoron, or the possibility that the two are interlinked: that as the reading is, as it were, derailed, it opens on...

  11. Conclusion: A Poetics of Limit?
    (pp. 181-196)

    At the end of the last chapter I observed that Heidegger’s readings of poetry are not exegeses but preservations, and moreover, that these preservations become genuine encounters with the poems they read only when they are themselves unable to gauge the shape of this encounter. This led to a paradoxical situation in which Heidegger’s readings are most compelling when they undermine his own portrayal of them. The first of these observations impacts on how we read Heidegger: if we take Heidegger’s refusal of exegesis seriously, we cannot perform an exegesis of Heidegger’s readings, but rather the preservation of a preservation....

  12. Notes
    (pp. 197-222)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 223-232)
  14. Index
    (pp. 233-238)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 239-242)