Parole, and Paul Ennis on Heidegger and the Word

I wrote The Word in 2006, and then it took two years and a Dublin Heidegger student to write a review of it. Paul Ennis is writing a Ph.D. thesis on Heidegger, “mostly on topological concerns, but also trying to work out authenticity“. As I admitted in the comment to his post, I am not as good a student of this philosopher as Paul evidently is. In fact – and it even surprised me to an extent – I recently found some Heidegger-esque thoughts about language and its expressive potential in one of my paper notebooks that date back to 2004, whereas I first read Wozu dichter? in 2006. I suppose this means why I was so taken by this essay in the first place, even though it seems that by 2006 I’d forgotten about those jotted thoughts of mine.

I should be quick to say that I read several of his works, but invariably, the reason why I’m also so interested is because since 2003 my modus vivendi has been bilingual and multicultural in the widest sense of the word. I have also been taking considerable interest in Translation Theory, and Heidegger’s conclusions intrigue me because I am immediately aware that, when I read his works in Russian or English, I read the interpreted Heidegger. And while I don’t doubt the skill of his translators, I nevertheless understand that there are stylistical and interpretative differences between the German and English languages. The matter is all the trickier because Heidegger in those essays is concerned about poetry, and we all know how difficult it is to translate a poem.

Paul’s enthusiastic response to The Word enthused me, too, and I left a rather long comment on the post in his blog. Being a Sagittarius, hence ruled by Jupiter, I do have this strong inclination to Philosophy, on the one hand, and abundance, on the other, and in that comment the two happily came together. I think this frightens people off sometimes, but thankfully, Paul is now intrepidly answering the comments to that post. I am really grateful to him for this, especially because I have been following his blog, too. Another Heidegger Blog is tightly focused on Heidegger, the various themes in his work, and the response to Heidegger’s work both by his and our contemporaries. The only real problem methinks with Arts and Humanities blogs is that their authors often tend to do something else in life (like earning money to support the body, writing dissertations, and such like), whereas the thought requires time and – contrary to whatever we may think – some physical effort, especially when writing is concerned.

Discussion about Heidegger and The Word

I contemplated recently the use of language once again, which resulted in the poem that I titled in Italian, after Mina’s song. Both poem and its translation were impromtu, but when I read the text over I realised there was yet another link to Heidegger’s text. In Wozu dichter? again he speaks about the man being a “merchant” (apologies, I’m relying on the Russian text) who constantly measures things without ever knowing their true value. While the English translation is very faithful to the original, I substituted the Russian for “words” (слова) with the French “paroles”. The reason is simple: the Russian poem is titled after Mina’s song in Italian which was famously covered in French by Dalida. It made sense to highlight this in the translation, which can also elucidate the interpretative facility of language.

Paroles, paroles

Paroles, paroles… Is there a price to words,
Or their value is indeed invented,
When scales are used to measure their worth
To give to someone as a gift or credit,
To which the weights are always other words?

Paroles, paroles… From underneath their face
A subject lurks, occasional and silent,
Escaping to the infinitive’s maze,
Abandoning the predicate’s confinement,
Confusing all superlatives in haste.

Paroles, paroles… I also live the words
But now, taking off my famous smile,
I think: do you have really any worth,
So usual, wise, eternal, versatile,
Or are you always words, but mere words?

English translation © Julia Shuvalova 2008.


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