Utopia of Understanding: Between Babel and Auschwitz
Speaking and understanding can both be thought of as forms of translation, and in this way every speaker is an exile in language—even in one’s mother tongue. Drawing from the philosophical hermeneutics of Martin Heidegger and Hans-Georg Gadamer, the testimonies of the German Jews and their relation with the German language, Jacques Derrida’s confrontation with Hannah Arendt, and the poetry of Paul Celan, Donatella Ester Di Cesare proclaims Auschwitz the Babel of the twentieth century. She argues that the globalized world is one in which there no longer remains any intimate place or stable dwelling. Understanding becomes a kind of shibboleth that grounds nothing, but opens messianically to a utopia yet to come.
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already apophantic articulated assertion Auschwitz Babel becomes breath Cambridge Celan New York Chapter concept deconstruction destined dialogue diversity Dutoit and Outi dwelling encounter Essays exile finitude Fordham University Fordham University Press Franz Rosenzweig Friedrich Schleiermacher Gadamer’s German language Gianni Vattimo Hans-Georg Gadamer Hegel Heidegger’s Hence homeland human Humboldt Ibid individual infinite insofar interpretation interruption Jacques Derrida Jewish limit situation linguistic lógos Martin Heidegger means Meridian messianic metaphor metaphysics Monolingualism mother tongue movement Nietzsche not-understanding one’s own language oneself original originary Outi Pasanen Pasanen New York passage Paul Celan philosophical hermeneutics Poems and Prose poet poetic word Poetics of Paul poetry possible Prose of Paul remains Schibboleth Schleiermacher Selected Poems semantic sense Shekhinah Sovereignties in Question strange Tent Thomas Dutoit trace trans Translation modified Truth and Method turn understood unsaid utopia voice W.W. Norton Walter Benjamin wanting to say Wilhelm von Humboldt writes Yehuda Halevy