Kitsch Kaleidoscopes




(A Germain Nouveau)

Dans une rue, au coeur d'une ville de rêve
Ce sera comme quand on a déjà vécu :
Un instant à la fois très vague et très aigu...
Ô ce soleil parmi la brume qui se lève !

Ô ce cri sur la mer, cette voix dans les bois !

Ce sera comme quand on ignore des causes ;

Un lent réveil après bien des métempsycoses :

Les choses seront plus les mêmes qu'autrefois

Dans cette rue, au coeur de la ville magique
Où des orgues moudront des gigues dans les soirs,
Où les cafés auront des chats sur les dressoirs

Et que traverseront des bandes de musique.



Ce sera si fatal qu'on en croira mourir :
Des larmes ruisselant douces le long des joues,
Des rires sanglotés dans le fracas des roues,

Des invocations à la mort de venir,

Des mots anciens comme un bouquet de fleurs fanées !
Les bruits aigres des bals publics arriveront,
Et des veuves avec du cuivre après leur front,
Paysannes, fendront la foule des traînées

Qui flânent là, causant avec d'affreux moutards
Et des vieux sans sourcils que la dartre enfarine,
Cependant qu'à deux pas, dans des senteurs d'urine,
Quelque fête publique enverra des pétards.




Ce sera comme quand on rêve et qu'on s'éveille,
Et que l'on se rendort et que l'on rêve encor
De la même féerie et du même décor,
L'été, dans l'herbe, au bruit moiré d'un vol d'abeille.

Paul Verlaine, Jadis et naguère


A piece of cake ...

"Her picture's in the papers now, And life's a piece of cake." Ogden Nash, The Primrose Path, (John Lane The Bodley Head, London, 1936)


Tübingen, Janner (3) _ "Pallaksch, Pallaksch”_ 3 Perspectives

In his book Désaccordée comme par de la neige. (et) Tübingen, le 22 mai 1986,André Du Bouchet quotes repeatedly the word "Pallaksch," and emphasize its strangeness.

"Pallaksch, Pallaksch!”: le mot de la langue que l'on ignore". According to Du Bouchet the expression "Pallaksch, Pallaksch” is outside of any tongue at first glance recognizable.

At first reading “Pallaksch, Pallaksch” are neither comprehensible nor in comprehensible. They are inhuman words, words that touch something other than language, that say simultaneously yes and no, that I am and I’m not.

André Du Bouchet,Désaccordée comme par de la neige. (et) Tübingen, le 22 mai 1986, (Le Mercure de France, 1989), pp. 68-69.

On the same suject Frédéric Marteau argues in the second part of his doctoral dissertation:

From Tübingen, Jänner to Huedibluh, Celan poems often emphasized the babbling as poetic practice. In Schneepart, it gives a poem this eloquent title: "The world to babble": Die nachzustotternde Welt . Because this endpoint indicates ruin and is simultaneously the possibility of a reversal. Words fall on page, syntax is broken, and disaggregation seems unending - only, the poem is there, it stands and repeatedly reborn from its ashes - it stands still.

As reported by F.Marteau, Celan always insisted on the necessity of stuttering language, it will be a question of making language to babble . The only possible event, the event of the poem may be in effect only a babbling, as in the poem on Hölderlin.

The word "pallaksch" seems to mean the indeterminacy of the Yes and No; Hölderlin would have used it to say either Yes or No, depending of the context. Underlying Glossolalia (*) therefore maintains this dialectic hesitation which suspends the discourse on its affirmation-negation, where No is not separated from the Yes and where speech may at any time be reversing into its opposite. To babble, is to construct a movement of repetition distorting a word so that it may express otherwise, beyond the evidences of its communication. A word dug grooves which are therefore Cree page for another reading, understanding each other, but in a strangeness maintained such and without insurance. Nothing provides to the babbler the advent of his word. What twists the words followed when it seems to happen to us? Stuttering is not the affirmation of a necessary step to accomplished poetic “non-language”. The poem stutters as seeks a different path. Seeks to say otherwise, strangely. It reverses, himself. The poem fled by edges, limitations and gaps in its material, its silence or its non-language. Splinters, beats: something just working language, something beyond grammar, and which makes flee and shows its limits.

F., Marteau, Le Dess(e)in de l’écriture, une poétique de la lecture Paul Celan et Charles Racine, Paris, Décembre,2006), pp. 339,395-396

(*) Glossolalia is fabricated, meaningless speech.
According to Dr. William T. Samarin, professor of anthropology and linguistics at the University of Toronto, glossolalia consists of strings of meaningless syllables made up of sounds taken from those familiar to the speaker and put together more or less haphazardly .... Glossolalia is language-like because the speaker unconsciously wants it to be language-like. Yet in spite of superficial similarities, glossolalia fundamentally is not language (Nickell, 108).When spoken by schizophrenics, glossolalia are recognized as gibberish.

According to Anne Carson the poet's ability to praise, at all cost, saves us, enlarges us, and teaches us to see beyond to a freedom of Being which is easily lost in the material world.
Her study of poetic and aesthetic thinking with all its fascinating and challenging twists and turns of phrase, its awkward glances at the human, serves a larger purpose—acts, itself, as a metaphor for self-knowledge. As Simonides and Celan respond to the world's absences and losses, Carson interrogates their work and defines the forms, of emptiness, in which they lived and wrote. Fascinated by the "bottomless places for reading" she finds in the literature of negation, excision, emptiness, and denial, "economy" becomes in her hands a multi-layered term which tells us not only about the exchange of money for art; but also suffering for wisdom; and emptiness and negation for assertion and fullness. For her Simonides and Celan "make use of the void in order to think the full."
She wrote about Tübingen, Jänner:

The poem is a praise of Hölderlin’s . It begins with his “riddle” and ends with his Pallaksch. Both for quotations are taken from the world of words that held good for him. “A riddle is the purely originated” com from his Rhine Hymn and Pallaksch Pallaksch is a term he liked to utter in his late years to mean “sometimes yes sometimes no.” He was mad in his later years. You can call Pallaksch nonsense. Yet a few pages ago we read and made sense of Celan’s admonition. “Keep yes and no unsplit.” A word for “Yes and No” out of the collocation of visible and invisibles, out of the absent presence of gods in human rooms, out of alchemy out of memory , out of the rules for the elegiac meter and the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, out of strangeness, hospitality, sleep, prayer and commodity exchange. But to be useful, poetic invention has to measure itself against the words that are given and possible, has to tease itself out of the unknown trough a language mesh where everything ugly, blameworthy, incommensurable or made is filtered out remarkable how Celan brings Hölderlin trough the riddle and all language mesh, “A riddle is the purely originated.” In its context, this sentence begins the fourth strophe of Hölderlin’s Der Rheine and can be ad backward of forward. Origin as riddle. Riddle as origin, like p. 132 the source of the Rhine, pure origine is hard to specify. “Even poetry can scarcely unveil it,” says the poet. I suspect Celan likes the pun that informs Hölderlin’s riddle. His line breaks and word division emphasize the parts of Hölderlin’s German word Reinprungenes, which means “purely originated” but also sounds like “Rhine-originated” and perhaps even suggests “Der Rhein-originated.” Pure source, the river Rhine and the poem “Rhine” come together on a point from which rich sense flows. If language were a commerce, punning. Would be its usury. Aristotle tells us that usury is the most unnatural sort of weath-getting because it allows money to breed money out of itself instead of being spent as it was intend. (Note 16: Politics 1258b) Analogously, punning generates an unnatural supplement of significance from a sound that properly expends itself is one meaning alone.
If meaning were expenditure, this riddle would not be cheap. Many a poet or patriarch has paid with his eyes for the privilege of wasting words. Celan implies Hölderlin’s place in the tradition with a long repetitive conditional sentence (käme… zuzu) that ends in a burst of Hölderlin’s private language. Now a private language is a kind of riddle. It raises the same problem of pure origin: you cannot get behind the back of it. Pallaksch Pallaksch is the own clue. On the other hand, from Hölderlin’s point of view, Pallaksch, Pallaksch may be an utterance that captures the whole of the truth purely originated. Celan allows for this possibility when he cites the phrase in brackets ─ that silent veil he likes to throw around his own riddles.

Anne Carson, Economy of the Unlost: Simonides of Keo with Paul Celan, (Martin Classical Letters, New York, Princeton University Press, 1999), pp.131-132.


A Labyrinth _ Celan's poem: Tübingen, Jänner (2 ) _ Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe Analysis

I must remark ... that my posts are only a few quotes and modest notes, for my own pleasure, about the themes I'm fond ...

In his book Poetry as Experience, on "Part I -Two Poems by Paul Celan"(1) - a dense yet incisive text - Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe deals with the status of poetry and the question of Celan's poetry translation. His approach is an attempt to overcome this and to ask: What is going on in methods, what is occurring during the commentary/translation/research process? Two key aspects of Lacoue-Labarthe’s thinking are that translators shall respect the specificity, the very essence of Celan's language and that his language is irrevocably invulnerable to translation/interpretation, because the crucial question of Celan´s poetry is the possibility/impossibility of meaning. Language no longer controls anything, but rather memorializes the nullyfing of concepts and the disruption of the suject.

We can say that each translation almost produces a new poem ...

In this context he presents the translations bellow [...]"only so we can see where we stand." But, he thinks it necessary to remark that the mallarmean style of André du Bouchet's translations does not do justice to the the lapidary hardness, the abruptness of language as handled by Celan. Or rather, the language that held him, ran through him. Especially in his late work, prosody and sintax do violence to language: they chop, dislocate, truncate or cut it. Something in this certainly bears comparison to what occurs in Hölderlin’s last, “paratactic” efforts as Adorno calls them: condensation and juxtaposition, a strangling of language. But no lexical “refinement”, or very little, even when he opts for a sort of “surreal” handling of metaphor or “image”, he does not depart from essentially simple, naked language. For example, the “such” (telle) used twice as a demonstrative in the “mallarmean” translation of “Tübingen Janvier” is a turn of phrase totally foreign to Celan’ style. Even more so the “A cecité même/mues, pupilles”. (To blindness itself/moved pupils). That begins the same poem in what is indeed the most obscure way possible.

Philippe Lacove-Labarthe believes that the poem "Tübingen, Jänner": [...]to be untranslatable, including within their own language, and indeed, for this reason, invulnerable to commentary. They necessarily escape interpretation; they forbid it. One could even say they are written to forbid it. This why the sole question carrying them, as it carried all Celan´s poetry, is that of meaning, the possibility of meaning.
Philippe Lacove-Labarthe, Poetry as Experience, (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1990), pp.12-13.

(1) "Tübingen, Jänner" and "Todtnauberg."

Tübingen, Janvier

A cecité même
mues, pupilles.
Leur – “énigme cela,
qui est pur
jaillissement” ─, leur
mémoire de
tours Hölderlin nageant, d’un battement de mouettes

Visite de menuisiers engloutis par
paroles plongeant.

S’il venait,
venait un home,
un home venait au monde aujourd’hui avec
claret et barbe des
patriaches: il lui faudrait,
dû-il parler de telle
époque, il lui faudrait
babiller uniquement babiller
toujours et toujours ba
biller iller


Traduction André du Bouchet in Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, op.cit., p. 9

Tübingen, Janvier

Des yeux sous les paroles
Leur ─ “énigme
ce qui naît
de source pur”─, leur
souvenir de
tours Hölderlin nageant, tournoyées
de mouettes.

Visite de menuisiers engloutis par
paroles plongeant:

S’il venait,
venait un homme,
venait un homme au monde aujourd’hui, avec
la barbe de claret
des patriarches: il devrait,
s’il parlait de ce
temps, il
bágayer seulement bégayer


Traduction Martine Broda, in Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, op. cit., p.10

Tübingen, Janvier

Sous un flot d’éloquence
aveuglés , les yeux.
Leurs ─ “une énigme est le
pur jailli” ─ leur
mémoire de
tours Hölderlin nageant, tour ─
noyées de mouettes.

Visite de meunuisiers submergés sous
paroles plongeant.

viendrait un homme
viendrait un home au monde, aujourd’hui, avec
la barbe de lumière des Patriarches: il n’aurait,
parlerait-il de ce
temps, il
qu’à bégayer, bégayer
sans sans
sans cesse.
(“Pallaksch. Pallaksch.”)

Philippe Lacoue-Labarthen in Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, op. cit., p.16

Tübingen, January

Beneath a flow of eloquence
blinded, the eyes.
Their – “an
enigma is the
pure sprung forth” -, their
memory of
Hölderlin towers swimming,
wheeled with gulls.

Joiner’s visits submerged beneath
diving words:

If there came
if there came a man
if there came a man into the world today, with
the beard of light of the
Patriarchs: he would need only,
if he spoke of this
time, he would need only,
to stutter, stutter
without, without
without cease.

(Pallaksch. Pallaksch.)

Philippe Lacove-Labarthe, Poetry as Experience, (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1990), pp.16-17.

I consider this analysis deeply insightfull:

What these few, barely phrases say, in their extenuated discourse, stuttering on the edge of silence or the incomprehensible (gibberish, idiomatic language “Pallaksh”), is not a “story”, they do not recount anything, and most certainly not a visit to the Hölderlinturm in Tübingen. They undoubtedly mean something; a “message”, as it were, is delivered. They present, in any case, an intelligible utterance: if a man, a Jewish man ─ a Sage, a Prophet, or one of the Righteous, “with/the beard of light of/the Patriarchs”, ─ wanted today to speak forth about the age as Hölderlin did in his time, he would be condemned to stammer in the manner, let us say, of Beckett’s “metaphysical tramps”. He would sink into aphasia (or “pure idiome”), as we are told Höderlin did. In any case, Hölderlin’s “madness”, came to define the aphasic myth:


A sign we are, meaningless
Painless we are and have nearly
Lost our language in foreign places



Philippe Lacove-Labarthe, Poetry as Experience, (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1990), p.17.

In the article "Catastrophe" Philippe Lacove-Labarthe argues that "Tübbingen, Jänner literally shatters an image (the reflection)", "Patriarch's beard of light, the stammering" "they may indeed secretly have only one object: the interdiction against representation" [...]

Philippe Lacove-Labarthe, "Catastrophe" in Aris Fioretos, Word Traces: Readings of Paul Celan, (The John Hopkins University Press, 1994, PP.130-158.