By Michael G. Levine
In his recognized theses at the philosophy of background, Benjamin writes: "We were endowed with a vulnerable messianic strength to which the previous has a claim." This declare addresses us not only from the prior yet from what is going to have belonged to it purely as a neglected hazard and unrealized capability. For Benajmin, as for Celan and Derrida, what hasn't ever been actualized continues to be with us, now not as a lingering echo yet as a secretly insistent charm. simply because such appeals don't go through basic channels of communique, they require a different attunement, even perhaps a style of subconscious receptivity. Levine examines the ways that this attunement is cultivated in Benjamin's philosophical, autobiographical, and photohistorical writings; Celan's poetry and poetological addresses; and Derrida's writings on Celan.
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Extra info for A Weak Messianic Power: Figures of a Time to Come in Benjamin, Derrida, and Celan
IN EINS Dreizehnter Feber. Im Herzmund Erwachtes Schibboleth. Mit dir, Peuple de Paris. No pasarán. indb 17 7/30/13 11:20:09 AM 18 The Day the Sun Stood Still Schäfchen zur Linken: er, Abadias, der Greis aus Huesca, kam mit den Hunden über das Feld, im Exil stand weiss eine Wolke menschlichen Adels, er sprach uns das Wort in die Hand, das wir brauchten, es war Hirten-Spanisch, darin, im Eislicht des Kreuzers “Aurora”: die Bruderhand, winkend mit der von den wortgrossen Augen genommenen Binde—Petropolis, der Unvergessenen Wanderstadt lag auch dir toskanisch zu Herzen.
Who would believe it! 2: 702) As Benjamin notes, the insight of this eyewitness, his “divination” of the deeper signiﬁcance of this strange coincidence, may be indebted to a poetic exigency, to a certain reason of rhyme. Coupling jour and tour, the poet links an utterly unforeseeable, truly historical event, the simultaneous and spontaneous ﬁring upon different clock towers around Paris, to another moment in which time is said to have been brought violently to a halt, the moment recounted in Joshua 10:13 in which the sun is said to have kept its place in the middle of the heavens and, waiting, did not go down for the space of a day.
One begins to get a sense here of how problematic that “human presence” of which Celan speaks may be, that Gegenwart des Menschlichen to which the majesty of the absurd is said to bear witness. Indeed, as we have already begun to suspect, what may perhaps come to deﬁne the human in both Büchner and Celan is precisely its lack of self-presence, its constitutive openness to the other, its way of coming upon another in the very place of a sovereign self, upon the uncanny otherness of this self. Telling in this regard is the way the moment of the meridian in Büchner stands not merely as a sovereign gathering point, but also, at the same time, as an open wound, a gash in the heavens, out of which a terrible voice begins to speak.
A Weak Messianic Power: Figures of a Time to Come in Benjamin, Derrida, and Celan by Michael G. Levine