chapter  6
24 Pages

On the line: Martin Heidegger and Paul Celan

This chapter does not attempt to offer a comprehensive reading of either Martin Heidegger or Paul Celan. What will be offered is a short analysis of Heidegger’s philosophy and a slight and tangential comparison between Heidegger and Celan. My reading of Heidegger will argue that the logic of nihilism, at least as it has been defined here, is fundamental to his philosophy. The purpose of the comparison between Celan and Heidegger is to draw out the precise nihilistic nature of Heidegger’s work.2 Most commentators of Paul Celan suggest a strong link between Heidegger and Celan (for example, Baer, Felstiner, Gadamer, and Lacoue-Labarthe).3 The interpretation offered here considers Heidegger and Celan as each being a pole through which the circular line passes on its way to the meridian. Celan and Heidegger are no doubt poles apart: one was a Jew, and a survivor of German atrocity, while the other was an erstwhile member of the Nazi party. How could these two conspire to similarity? The work of Heidegger will be examined before concentrating on his use of Angelus Silesius’ flower which blooms without reason, arguing that a similar theme is deployed by Celan.4 The first two sections of this chapter offer a brief reading of Heidegger’s text Being and Time. Expressions used and terminology employed will generally be Heidegger’s.