“Desperate Conversation”—Poetic Finitude in Paul Celan and After
This epilogue examines Paul Celan's speech Der Meridian (The Meridian) to show how his poetry addressed the problems of finite subjectivity. The Meridian is a complex interweaving of references and citations, most prominently to and of Georg Büchner, the German dramatist and pamphleteer. It particularly focuses on the conflict between “mutism's saying nothing” and “the saying too much of grandiloquence.” It describes both the uncanniness of art that seeks to transcend or overcome finitude, as well as the finitude itself that yearns for that impossible transcendence. In addition, it spoke of the dangers of the desire to overcome finitude: the absolutism and totalization that can follow from the search for what reaches beyond itself, and the endless self-perpetuation of the poetic techniques and traditions.
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