Paul Celan and the Poetics of Anxiety
Dominic o’key, School of Languages, Cultures, and Societies, University of Leeds
precarious = the poetic as the precarious
â€“â€“â€“Paul Celan, â€˜Draftsâ€™, in The Meridian
There is something inherently precarious about anxiety. When conceptualizing the dreadful affect in 1844, SÃ¸ren Kierkegaard posits that anxiety is located in â€˜the nothingâ€™, that is, in an indefinite space of thought that discloses the â€˜possibility of possibilityâ€™. Kierkegaardâ€™s short treatise, dominated by theological assertions regarding original sin, establishes an abstract framework that situates itself in the â€“ or a â€“ non-place of nothing. Rooted in the rootlessness of futurity, which the Danish philosopher repeatedly names a â€˜possibility to freedomâ€™, anxiety is imagined as a choking feeling that paradoxically looks toward the future: anxiousness is hence mobilised as a primary affective narrowness that necessarily opens itself up. I begin with Kierkegaardâ€™s work for three key reasons: first, his locating of anxiety in the/a nothing flags up an ambiguity that mirrors the affectâ€™s own inner workings â€“ anxiety is an anxious term, being as uneasy in definition as it is in praxis; secondly, the conceptâ€™s indefinite status brings nothingness and anxiety into proximity with each other; and thirdly, Kierkegaardâ€™s argument measures out a conceptual path later pursued by thinkers such as Freud, Lacan, Sartre, and, most importantly for this essay, Martin Heidegger. Listening to the resonances between Kierkegaard and Heidegger, and later Heidegger and Paul Celan, I will read anxiety as a meridian that passes through their work. I argue that anxiety is constitutive of Celanâ€™s poetics, perhaps even called for by the poet as he commences his â€˜woundedâ€™ search for reality in the wake of the Shoah.
Let us first stay with Kierkegaardâ€™s ontological enquiry. The openness of Kierkegaardâ€™s anxiety is positioned in contradistinction to the concept of fear, which in its disclosure of â€˜something definiteâ€™ is thereby â€˜altogether differentâ€™. Fear manifests itself in relation to the definite, coming into being by finding an object: that particular pain, for instance, or this particular struggle. Defined as fearâ€™s antipode, anxiety is an object-less counter-concept: if anxiety could find an object it would necessarily be â€œnothingnessâ€. As Kierkegaard asks himself: â€˜What, then, is it? Nothing.â€™ Using this â€˜Nothingâ€™ to account for the spiritual nature of humanity, and to subsequently explore the differences between original and hereditary sin, Kierkegaardâ€™s religious text proposes that anxiety â€“ while defined as negation â€“ is not necessarily negative:
When we consider the dialectical determinations of anxiety, it appears that exactly these have psychological ambiguity. Anxiety is a sympathetic antipathy and an antipathetic sympathy. [â€¦] One speaks of a pleasing anxiety, a pleasing anxiousness [BeÅ“ngstelse], and of a strange anxiety, a bashful anxiety, etc.
Figured in the antimetabole as that which is both pleasant and repulsive, Kierkegaardâ€™s anxiety emerges as a multivalent concept that forms an essential psychological dimension of the human. Although I am wary of reading Kierkegaard too earnestly, his â€˜etc.â€™ also speaks to anxietyâ€™s conceptual â€˜ambiguityâ€™, implying an indefinite catalogue of adjectives that foreground and radically transform the affect. Kierkegaardâ€™s anxiety is thus integral to the existential freedom of the human, and its heterogeneity is inherent to this formulation.
In Being and Time (1927), Heideggerâ€™s reflections on anxiety similarly find the concept in a â€˜completely indefiniteâ€™ space. Responding to and developing Kierkegaardâ€™s claims, Heideggerâ€™s anxiety becomes the â€˜fundamental existential phenomenonâ€™, providing the â€˜basis for explicitly grasping the primordial totality of being of Dasein.â€™ Discussed in Â§40, â€˜The Fundamental Attunement of Anxiety as an Eminent Disclosedness of Daseinâ€™ [Die Grundbefindlichkeit der Angst als eine ausgezeichnete Erschlossenheit des Daseins], anxiety inspires a feeling of â€˜Being-in-the-world as suchâ€™, no less because its affects reveal humanityâ€™s uncanny situation: we want to be at home in a world, yet we do not uniquely belong to one. Echoing Kierkegaardâ€™s discourse of freedom, Heideggerâ€™s anxiety similarly communicates our existential possibilities back to us, â€˜reveal[ing] in Dasein its being toward its own most potentiality of beingâ€™. As Mark Wrathall summarises, anxiety joins together â€˜our thrownness into a world, our particular way of finding ourselves in the midst of entities in the world, with our existential freedom to pursue new possibilities.â€™ What unites both Kierkegaard and Heidegger is, firstly, an attention to the â€œnothingâ€, to the anxiety-inducing abyss where the concept is spatially located, and to its object-less centre; anxiety is therefore pictured as a something that is nothing and a somewhere that is nowhere. Secondly, the philosophersâ€™ projects coincide with their particular vocabulary, drawing on the synonyms â€˜possibilityâ€™ and â€˜potentialityâ€™ to point toward how anxietyâ€™s existential grounding in Being makes it both paradoxically choking and freeing.
The complex mutual admiration between Paul Celan and Martin Heidegger has been well documented. The most recent and exhaustive work on their correspondences, written by James K. Lyon, describes Celan and Heidegger as â€˜antithetical figuresâ€™, and chooses as the title of its opening chapter an affective encapsulation: â€˜The Repulsion and Attraction of Oppositesâ€™. To momentarily return to Kierkegaard, we might even say that Celan and Heideggerâ€™s relationship is based on a feeling not too dissimilar to anxiety as such, namely, â€˜a sympathetic antipathy and an antipathetic sympathyâ€™. While I do not want to dwell on the historical details of Celan and Heideggerâ€™s relationship, I am concerned here with the poetic conversation between the thinkers. Philippe Lacoue-Labartheâ€™s Poetry as Experience (1986), for example, insists that â€˜it would be an understatement to say Celan had read Heideggerâ€™. Indeed, Lacoue-Labarthe puts it that Celanâ€™s poetry is, â€˜in its entirety, a dialogue with Heideggerâ€™s thought.â€™
If Celanâ€™s poetics is one that listens to and speaks back to Heidegger, we might readily assume that there is something of Heideggerâ€™s (and perhaps then even Kierkegaardâ€™s) writing on anxiety in Celanâ€™s work. Scholarship on Celan, though, is yet to give adequate ground to this issue. The closest the discipline comes to a discussion of anxiety is found in Eric Kligermanâ€™s Sites of the Uncanny (2007), yet this is a study concerned with a world after Celan: Kligermanâ€™s project is to read Celan with visual artists such as Alain Resnais and Anselm Kiefer, â€˜examining the reception and translation of Celanâ€™s poetry by his successorsâ€™. Interrogating artâ€™s â€˜strategies of proximity (spatial), anxiety (affect), and disrupted vision (perception)â€™, Kligerman names a â€˜poetics of anxiety in which the artistâ€™s fears of failing to represent shift to the readerâ€™s horror in her inability to read or seeâ€™. There are problems here, though: firstly, we should be suspicious of assuming that Celanâ€™s poetics intends to â€˜representâ€™, for as Lacoue-Labarthe cautions, Celanâ€™s â€˜poetic art consists of perceiving, not representing.â€™ Secondly, Kligermanâ€™s â€˜shiftâ€™ takes anxiety away from Celanâ€™s corpus, looking for how it mediates and disrupts the reader rather than the work itself. Thirdly, the intriguing term â€˜poetics of anxietyâ€™ is never returned to, a lonely coinage drifting within its own conceptual nothingness.
I want to pause over Kligermanâ€™s brief mention of a â€œpoetics of anxietyâ€. I want to articulate what its thematics might be and, through this, give anxiety back to Celan, attending to its place within Celanâ€™s work rather than outside of it. I will do so by concentrating first on Celanâ€™s autopoetological Rede, the â€˜Meridianâ€™ speech, where anxiety becomes Celanâ€™s occasion; indeed, anxiety might even be the occasion of poetry. Afterwards, I will conclude with a close reading of Celanâ€™s â€˜Speak, You Alsoâ€™, from the collection Von Schwelle zu Schwelle (1956), identifying in its conceptual proximity to â€˜The Meridianâ€™ the anxious possibility of freedom as described by Kierkegaard and Heidegger.
Delivered on the receiving of the Georg BÃ¼chner Prize for literature in 1960, â€˜The Meridianâ€™ sees Celan adumbrate the intersections of BÃ¼chner, poetics and â€˜the eternal problemâ€™ of art. â€˜The Meridianâ€™ is a formally anxious speech, replete with uneasy syntax, false starts and restless repetitions. Emmanuel Levinas describes it as an â€˜elliptical and allusive text, interrupting itself ceaselesslyâ€™. This, Levinas tells us, is a metonymic quality, for it â€˜constitutes the fabric of [Celanâ€™s] poems.â€™ The Meridian sees Celan closely read BÃ¼chnerâ€™s work, and he uses such a reading to perform what Jacques Derrida calls an â€˜ironic attackâ€™ on art. Celan defines art in relation to lifeless and uncanny automata, the â€˜childlessâ€™ and the â€˜puppet-likeâ€™; Celan searches for something that can â€˜interfereâ€™ with art and mimesis, and finds such an interference in BÃ¼chnerâ€™s play Dantonâ€™s Death (1835). Here, Celan listens to a radically political â€“ and hence not monarchical or conservative â€“ â€˜counterwordâ€™ [Gegenwort], uttered by Lucile as she shouts the suicidal dictum â€˜Long live the king!â€™ This, a â€˜pure provocationâ€™ that cuts artâ€™s puppet string, is what Celan first calls poetry: â€˜It is an act of freedom. It is a stepâ€™ (pp. 2â€“3). Inside of an uncanny art but necessarily working against it, Celanâ€™s â€˜stepâ€™ is automatically anxious. The counterword is a risk, signifying in its possibility an appropriation of magisterial language; its existential act of freedom is to confront and step across its non-place. This is why Celan lets his definition of poetry hang over an elliptical chasm: â€˜This, ladies and gentlemen, has no fixed once and for all, but I believe that this is â€¦ poetryâ€™ (p. 4).
Celan signals the counterwordâ€™s import by giving it an â€˜acute accentâ€™, and thereon moves to address another of BÃ¼chnerâ€™s texts, Lenz (1836), that performs another â€˜calling-into-questionâ€™ of art (p. 5). Celan distances himself from the representational, closing his eyes at the mention of Medusa and turning to face Lenzâ€™s meanderings through the valleys. Anxiously occupied with the â€˜I-distanceâ€™ that art creates â€“ that â€˜he who has art before his eyes and on his mind [â€¦] forgets himselfâ€™ â€“ Celan follows Lenzâ€™s route through art, step by step. Here, Celan asks whether this route will eventually lead us to â€˜the place where the strangeness was, the place where the person was able to set himself free as an â€“ estranged â€“ I? Can we find such a place, such a step?â€™ Lenzâ€™s step â€“ his act, his event, his provocation â€“ is this: â€˜â€œâ€¦ except sometimes it annoyed him that he could not walk on his head.â€ He who walks on his head, ladies and gentlemen â€“ he who walks on his head, has the sky beneath him as the abyssâ€™ (p. 7). Turning the world upside down lets Lenz encounter the dizzying sublime above, the non-place of possibility.
Yet Celan does not find a counterword here, for there are indeed no words to be found at all. Instead, Lenzâ€™s sublime recognition of the anxiety-inducing abyss goes a â€˜step further than Lucileâ€™, closing his mouth and choking his language. Pausing over Lenzâ€™s sudden aphasia, his â€˜terrifying falling silentâ€™ (p. 7), Celan names poetry the Atemwende, or breathturn; like the counterword before it, the Atemwende also â€˜defines poetryâ€™. Poetry becomes a holding of breath, a precarious coming-to-being in the space where language gives way. Its precariousness, though, is simultaneously in tune with its potential for freedom. Poetryâ€™s stepping out, then, must always be at the risk of suffocation and of losing language. Heideggerâ€™s Being and Time returns to us here: anxiety, Heidegger says, â€˜is so near that it is oppressive and takes away oneâ€™s breath â€“ and yet it is nowhere.â€™ Anxiety is again a somewhere that is nowhere, an event and occasion that presses down on the self.
As a counterword and breathturn, Celan states that poetry therefore â€˜stands fast at the edge of itselfâ€™ (p. 8). Teetering on the edge of a conceptual cliff face, poetry is created at the very turning towards that which takes the breath away. The holding and exhaling of breath, as a moment in time and confrontation with the uncanny nature of art, is even the event or occasion of poetry. It is here that anxiety makes its appearance. As Kierkegaard writes, anxiety is â€˜the pivot on which everything turnsâ€™. Poetryâ€™s creation as a breathturning is thus a necessarily anxious one, an occasion fuelled by what Heidegger calls the â€˜individualised potentiality-of-beingâ€™. Celan points to language as one such anxious freedom, for poetry is â€˜language actualised, set free under the sign of a radical individuationâ€™. Despite this, poetry still â€˜remains mindful of the border language draws and of the possibilities language opens up for itâ€™. The poet speaks â€˜under the angle of inclination of his Beingâ€™, alert to the uncanny strangeness of language in its world-forming capabilities (p. 9). Being itself is at stake in the poem, and with it its existential anxiousness as the foundation of freedom. As Celan says nearer the end of â€˜The Meridianâ€™, individual poems might be thought of as â€˜blueprints for beingâ€™ (p. 11).
If poetry is an occasion of anxiety then where is it found? Where is its groundless â€œnothingnessâ€? With a typically idiosyncratic compound at hand, Celanâ€™s â€˜Meridianâ€™ locates poetry with Toposforschung, or topos research. Celan attests that poetry is indeed within art, for it cannot exist outside of art, but poetry looks for that which is â€˜open, empty and freeâ€™. For Lacoue-Labarthe, this might be the empty non-place of anxiety: â€˜The place of poetry, the place where poetry takes place, every time, is the place without place of the intimate gaping.â€™ Celan dwells on this gaping non-place, naming it â€˜u-topiaâ€™:
Certainly! But in light of what is to be searched for: in light of u-topia.
And the human being? And the creature?
In this light.
What questions! What claims!
It is time to turn back. (p. 10)
Poetry is a condition of freedom, found â€˜in light of u-topiaâ€™ and hence in light of an immemorial abyss. Celanâ€™s hyphen marks the negation of place, making an opening that radically changes the landscape from a utopia to a â€˜u-topiaâ€™. Poetry is thus invoked as the abyss or caesura of art, its pause and its turn within the nothing.
Before Celan finds his meridian, he turns back to the question of art: â€˜go with art into your innermost narrows. And set yourself freeâ€™ (p. 11). In its juxtaposition of narrow and open/freeing spaces, Celanâ€™s sentence might at first appear paradoxical: how can narrowness lead to openness? Yet as we have read in Kierkegaard and Heidegger, it is precisely the choking narrowness of anxiety that reveals existence: its tightness is its openness. The etymology of anxiety speaks to this tightness. Deriving from the Greek á¼„Î³Ï‡Ï‰, meaning to compress or to press tight, with a particular emphasis on the throat â€“ to strangle, to throttle, to choke â€“ anxietyâ€™s affect is tied to its narrowness. With these â€˜innermost narrowsâ€™ in mind, I want to conclude by reading one of Celanâ€™s poems.
â€˜Speak, You Alsoâ€™ is perhaps the epitome of Celanâ€™s poetics of anxiety. The poem is simultaneously narrow and abyssal, even abysmal, for its allusions to a mysterious â€˜shadeâ€™ disclose a chasm of darkness. Its paratactic lines, indicative of Celanâ€™s spare poetic style, have been called a â€˜strangling of languageâ€™ by Lacoue-Labarthe. Echoing some of the charges of hermeticism levelled against Celanâ€™s poetry, Maurice Blanchot similarly calls on us to read the poem in the â€˜sealed silence that it painfully brings usâ€™. As a â€˜stranglingâ€™ and â€˜sealed silenceâ€™, we are already seeing the discourse of anxiety taking hold of the poem. It begins with a tight and monosyllabic opening stanza:
Speak, you also,
speak as the last,
have your say. (ll. 1â€“3)
Celanâ€™s dimeter draws our attention to the repeated imperatives, calling on the poemâ€™s â€˜youâ€™ to speak, and offering a privileged but confined space to speak â€˜as the lastâ€™. This embodied finality is emphasised as Celan unites the German â€˜Sprichâ€™ and â€˜Spruchâ€™ with paronomasia and half-rhyme. While Michael Hamburgerâ€™s translation chooses â€˜have your sayâ€™, the German â€˜Spruchâ€™ might be closer to â€œsayingâ€, â€œquotationâ€ or â€œverdictâ€. Celanâ€™s â€˜sag deinen Spruchâ€™ can thus be read more concretely: â€˜say your sayingâ€™, for instance, or â€˜say your pieceâ€™. The stresses, then, fall on the act of speaking: Sprich, sprich, sag, Spruch. This is why â€˜Sprichâ€™ becomes â€˜Spruchâ€™, for it maps out a way to language, and why in the poemâ€™s second stanza the â€˜Spruchâ€™ can have shade [Schatten]:
But keep yes and no unsplit.
And give your say this meaning:
give it the shade.
Give it shade enough,
give it as much
as you know has been dealt out [verteilt] between
midnight and midday and midnight. (ll. 4â€“11)
Speech produces shadows; each act of speaking is a discernible event or occasion that individuates the speaker. Speaking, then, might be said to be constitutive of Being. To speak is to acknowledge that we are bodies living under a sun, to live in and ground ourselves in a world. Celanâ€™s idiomatic cutting or â€“ to evoke Derridaâ€™s essay â€˜Shibbolethâ€™ â€“ incising of letters also lets us pause on the shadows of the poem: â€˜Mittnacht und Mittag und Mittnacht.â€™ Celan strips the -er- from Mitternacht, highlighting the proximity between the two opposing times. He asks the speaker to â€˜deal outâ€™ or â€˜distributeâ€™ [verteilt] the same amount of shade (language) as has been naturally shared by the rising and setting sun. The addresseeâ€™s identity as human is therefore intimately tied to language; poetry is an occasion of speech that creates a reality â€“ it is saying as Being. As Heidegger writes in â€˜The Way to Languageâ€™ (1959), â€˜the essence of man consists in languageâ€™ and, even more tellingly, â€˜in speech the speakers have their presencing.â€™ â€˜Speak, You Alsoâ€™ continues:
look how it all leaps alive â€“
where death is! Alive!
He speaks truly who speaks the shade. (ll. 12â€“15)
The poemâ€™s opening â€˜speakâ€™ now to turns to â€˜lookâ€™, as if language fails the addressee. Nevertheless it is this looking, the visual acknowledgement of the â€˜shadeâ€™, that allows for a poetic axiom or Spruch to end the blank quatrain: â€˜he speaks truly who speaks the shadeâ€™. Having spoken and then having fallen into silence, the speaker-turned-silent can perceive the shade of a concrete language. Echoing Celanâ€™s path from counterword to breathturn in â€˜The Meridianâ€™, this silence is poetry. Indeed, Celanâ€™s reference to â€˜where death is!â€™ reminds us of his insistence that poetry must take place within but decidedly wary of an uncanny mimetic art. Poetry and language both remain alive even within death. As Celan states in the â€˜Bremenâ€™ speech, â€˜in spite of everything, [language] remained secure against loss.â€™ Language is secure, but having spoken the shadows the speaker is now â€˜strippedâ€™ of their shade:
But now shrinks the place where you stand:
Where now, stripped by shade [SchattenentblÃ¶ÃŸter], will you go?
Upward. Grope your way up.
Thinner you grow, less knowable, finer.
Finer: a thread by which
it wants to be lowered, the star:
to float farther down, down below
where it sees itself gleam: in the swell
of wandering words. (ll. 16â€“24)
Stripped of shade, illustrated by the compound SchattenentblÃ¶ÃŸter, and standing on a shrinking place, Celan narrows the parameters of the poemâ€™s spatiality. He has, as we have already seen, taken language out of the human body, and now he reduces the ground on which we stand. What opens up in this space is anxiety, its narrowing and its freeing. Celanâ€™s leading question â€˜Where now [â€¦] will you go?â€™ points us in the direction of just one route to take â€“ â€˜upwardâ€™. In absence of language the poemâ€™s imperatives provoke action: to â€˜gropeâ€™ upward and to â€˜growâ€™ thinner. Losing ourselves in the open, we grow â€˜finerâ€™, like Lenzâ€™s breathturn as he contemplates the nothing above him. Celan takes us into the â€˜Meridianâ€™sâ€™ â€˜innermost narrowsâ€™ and sets us â€˜freeâ€™.
Yet with a single colon, a caesura that momentarily suspends the poemâ€™s movement, Celan shifts the address, turning from a â€˜youâ€™ to an â€˜itâ€™. On Celanâ€™s careful use of caesurae, Derrida writes that the caesura designates â€˜that which, in the body and in the rhythm of the poem, seems most decisive.â€™ Thus Celanâ€™s decisive turn from a â€˜youâ€™ to an â€˜itâ€™ pronounces the shifting from a human to a creature; fallen silent and stripped of shade, the human loses its Being-in-the-world. Human becomes â€˜starâ€™, lowered down from its height towards the â€˜swell of wandering wordsâ€™. The human-as-star sees its reflection, its Being, in the abyss of language beneath. To speak, then, would be to performatively conjure humanity, to make yourself human through language. This primordial step is the anxious step of existence.
For Celan, then, anxiety uncannily rests in a u-topia, a â€˜swell of wandering wordsâ€™, occupying the poetâ€™s thoughts as he looks for a place to be and to dwell. And as â€˜Speak, You Alsoâ€™ insists, the poem as Spruch is the individuating speech act of humanity; language gives the performative possibility to be. As we have read in Kierkegaard and Heidegger, anxiety might be dreadful, awful and abysmal, but it is not necessarily negative: it is dialectical. Its pressing and strangling tightness is in fact called for by Celan as that which frees the poem, or at the very least turns poetry towards the open and the sublime dizziness of potentiality. Humanity itself â€“ and the â€˜realitiesâ€™ [Wirklichkeiten] of that humanity â€“ might therefore be at stake in the poemâ€™s creation and its world-forming capabilities. Anxiety is imagined, then, as something imperative. It necessarily constitutes an embrace with the nothing, and takes on a particularly significant role within Celanâ€™s world â€“ a world decisively after the Holocaust.
Blanchot, Maurice, A Voice from Elsewhere, trans. by Charlotte Mandell (New York: SUNY Press, 2007)
Brinkema, Eugenie, The Forms of the Affects (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014), pp. 181â€“209
BÃ¼chner, Georg, Complete Plays, Lenz and Other Writings, trans. by John Reddick (London: Penguin, 1993)
Celan, Paul, Der Meridian und andere Prosa (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1988)
â€“â€“â€“â€“â€“, The Meridian: Final Version-Drafts-Materials, ed. by Bernhard BÃ¶schenstein and Heino Schmull, trans. by Pierre Jorris (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011)
â€“â€“â€“â€“â€“, Paul Celan: Collected Prose, trans. by Rosmarie Waldrop (New York: Carcanet & Sheep Meadow Press, 1986)
â€“â€“â€“â€“â€“, Poems of Paul Celan, trans. by Michael Hamburger (London: Anvil, 2007)
Derrida, Jacques, â€˜The Majesty of the Presentâ€™, trans. by Alessia Ricciardi and Christopher Yu, New German Critique, 91 (2004), 17â€“40
â€“â€“â€“â€“â€“, Sovereignties in Question: The Poetics of Paul Celan, ed. and trans. by Thomas Dutoit and Outi Pasanen (New York: Forhdam University Press, 2005)
France-Lanord, Hadrien, Paul Celan et Martin Heidegger: le sen dâ€™un dialogue (Paris: Fayard, 2004)
Freud, Sigmund, Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, trans. and ed. by James Strachey (New York: W. W. Norton, 1960)
Geuss, Raymond, Politics and the Imagination (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010)
Heidegger, Martin, Being and Time, trans. by Joan Stambaugh (New York: SUNY Press, 2010)
Heidegger, Martin, â€˜The Way to Languageâ€™, in Basic Writings, trans. by D. F. Krell (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1993), pp. 393â€“426
Kierkegaard, SÃ¸ren, The Concept of Dread, trans. by Walter Lowrie (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957)
â€“â€“â€“â€“â€“â€“, The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Orienting Deliberation on the Dogmatic Issue of Hereditary Sin, ed. and trans. by Reidar Thomte (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980)
Kligerman, Eric, Sites of the Uncanny: Paul Celan, Specularity and the Visual Arts (New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2007)
Lacan, Jacques, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book X: Anxiety, 1962â€“63, trans. by Cormac Gallagher, from unedited French manuscript. Unpublished transcript
Lacoue-Labarthe, Philippe, Poetry as Experience, trans. by Andrea Tarnowski (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999)
Levinas, Emmanuel, â€˜Being and the Other: On Paul Celanâ€™, trans. by Stephen Melville, Chicago Review, 29, 3 (1978), 16â€“22
â€“â€“â€“â€“â€“, Totality and Infinity: an Essay on Exteriority, trans. by Alphonso Lingis (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 2001)
Lyon, James K., Paul Celan and Martin Heidegger: An Unresolved Conversation, 1951â€“1970 (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 2006)
OED Online (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013) <http://www.oed.com>
Das groÃŸe Oxford WÃ¶rterbuch (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003)
Partridge, Eric, Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English (London: Routledge, 1966)
Richter, Alexandre, Patrik Alac, Bertrand Badiou, eds., Paul Celan: La bibiothÃ¨que philosophique (Paris: Editions Rue dâ€™Ulm, 2004)
Sartre, Jean-Paul, Being and Nothingness, trans. by Hazel Barnes (New York: Washington Square Press, 1956)
Wrathall, Mark A., ed., The Cambridge Companion to Heideggerâ€™s Being and Time (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013)
Ziarek, Krzyzstof, Inflected Language: Toward a Hermeneutics of Nearness: Heidegger, Levinas, Stevens, Celan (Albany: SUNY Press, 1994)
 Paul Celan, â€˜Draftsâ€™, in The Meridian: Final Version-Drafts-Materials, ed. by Bernhard BÃ¶schenstein and Heino Schmull, trans. by Pierre Joris (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011), p. 134.
 SÃ¸ren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Orienting Deliberation on the Dogmatic Issue of Hereditary Sin, ed. and trans. by Reidar Thomte (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), p. 42. Owing in part to the conceptâ€™s elusive definition, Princeton University Pressâ€™s previous edition (1957) opts for â€œdreadâ€ rather than â€œanxietyâ€.
 Ibid., p. 109.
 Cf. Freud, â€˜Lecture XXXII: Anxiety and Instinctual Lifeâ€™, in Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, trans. and ed. by James Strachey (New York: W. W. Norton, 1960), pp. 102â€“131; Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book X: Anxiety, 1962â€“63, trans. by Cormac Gallagher, from unedited and unpublished French manuscript; Sartre, Being and Nothingness, trans. by Hazel Barnes (New York: Washington Square Press, 1956).
 â€˜Wounded by reality and in search of itâ€™ [my translation; â€˜wirklichkeitswund und Wirklichkeit suchendâ€™]. Celan, â€˜Ansprache AnlÃ¤sslich der Entgegennahme des Literaturpreises der Freien Hansestadt Bremenâ€™, in Der Meridian und andere Prosa (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1988), pp. 37â€“39 (p. 39).
 Kierkegaard, p. 42.
 Ibid., p. 41.
 Kierkegaard, p. 42. Authorâ€™s emphasis.
 Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. by Joan Stambaugh (New York: SUNY Press, 2010), p. 177.
 Ibid., pp. 180, 182.
 Mark A. Wrathall and Max Murphy, â€˜An Overview of Being and Timeâ€™, in The Cambridge Companion to Heideggerâ€™s Being and Time, ed. by Mark A. Wrathall (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 1â€“53 (pp. 18â€“20).
 I am indebted to Eugenie Brinkemaâ€™s recent work on the abyssal function of anxiety in Lacan and the horror film Open Water (2003): â€˜Intermittency, Embarrassment, Dismayâ€™, in The Forms of the Affects (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014), pp. 181â€“209.
 Cf. Hadrien France-Lanord, Paul Celan et Martin Heidegger: le sen dâ€™un dialogue (Paris: Fayard, 2004).
 James K. Lyon, Paul Celan and Martin Heidegger: An Unresolved Conversation, 1951â€“1970 (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 2006), pp. 1â€“8 (p. 1).
 Kierkegaard, p. 42.
 Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Poetry as Experience, trans. by Andrea Tarnowski (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), p. 33.
 Celanâ€™s library did indeed house copies of Kierkegaardâ€™s work, as well as around 500 other philosophical texts in six different languages, cf. Alexandre Richter, Patrik Alac, Bertrand Badiou, eds., Paul Celan: La bibiothÃ¨que philosophique (Paris: Editions Rue dâ€™Ulm, 2004).
 Eric Kligerman, Sites of the Uncanny: Paul Celan, Specularity and the Visual Arts (New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2007), p. 18. My emphasis.
 Kligerman, pp. 6, 115.
 Lacoue-Labarthe, p. 67; cf. Celanâ€™s description of art â€“ and therefore mimesis â€“ as an â€˜eternal problemâ€™ in The Meridian, p. 2.
 I approach â€˜The Meridianâ€™ from the same position as Jacques Derrida, who treats the speech as a â€˜poem on poetryâ€™. Jacques Derrida, â€˜The Majesty of the Presentâ€™, trans. by Alessia Ricciardi and Christopher Yu, New German Critique, 91 (2004), 17â€“40 (p. 28).
 Celan, â€˜Final Versionâ€™ in The Meridian, p. 2. All future references will be by page-number, in parentheses, in the body of the text.
 Emmanuel Levinas, â€˜Being and the Other: On Paul Celanâ€™, trans. by Stephen Melville, Chicago Review, 29, 3 (1978), 16â€“22 (p. 18); cf. Derridaâ€™s reading of Celanâ€™s conditional â€œperhapsesâ€ in â€˜The Majesty of the Presentâ€™, p. 130.
 Derrida, â€˜Shibboleth: For Paul Celanâ€™, in Sovereignties in Question, ed. and trans. by Thomas Dutoit and Outi Pasanen (New York: Fordham University Press, 2005), pp. 1â€“64 (p. 4).
 Lacoue-Labarthe, p. 51.
 Cf. Derridaâ€™s astute close reading of Celanâ€™s counterword in â€˜The Majesty of the Presentâ€™, namely that â€˜Celanâ€™s gesture in recurring to the word majesty â€“ and here is what seems to me most important [â€¦] â€“ is a gesture that consists of placing one majesty over and above another, thus to engage in an effort trumping sovereigntyâ€™, p. 22.
 Cf. Kierkegaard, â€˜anxiety is the dizziness of freedom, which emerges when the spirit wants to posit the synthesis and freedom looks down into its own possibilityâ€™, p. 61; the OED similarly invokes a certain verticality in its definition of the sublime: â€˜high up, elevated, […] (of breath) shallow, panting, tallâ€™: â€˜Sublime, adj.â€™, in OED Online (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), <http://0-www.oed.com.wam.leeds.ac.uk/view/Entry/192766?%20rskey=u96iWB&result=1&isAdvanced=false> [Accessed: 07/01/2016].
 Raymond Geuss, â€˜Celanâ€™s Meridianâ€™, in Politics and the Imagination (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010), pp. 117â€“141 (p. 126).
 Lacoue-Labarthe, p. 49.
 Heidegger, p. 180.
 Kierkegaard, p. 43. My emphasis.
 Heidegger, p. 296.
 Lacoue-Labarthe, p. 54.
 Eric Partridge, Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English (London: Routledge, 1966), p. 98
 Celan, â€˜Speak, You Alsoâ€™, in Poems of Paul Celan, trans. by Michael Hamburger (London: Anvil, 2007), pp. 106â€“107 (p. 107). All future references will be by line-number, in parentheses, in the body of the text.
 Lacoue-Labarthe, p. 12.
 Maurice Blanchot, â€˜The Last to Speakâ€™, in A Voice from Elsewhere, trans. by Charlotte Mandell (New York: SUNY Press, 2007), pp. 54â€“93, p. 89.
 Cf. Das groÃŸe Oxford WÃ¶rterbuch (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 1225.
 Martin Heidegger, â€˜The Way to Languageâ€™, in Basic Writings, trans. by D. F. Krell (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1993), pp. 393â€“426, pp. 398, 406.
 Echoing this sequential withdrawal from language, Celan declares in another poem â€˜Do not read anymore â€“ look! | Do not look anymore â€“ go!â€™ (ll. 6â€“7): â€˜The Straiteningâ€™ (pp. 158â€“171).
 Cf. Lacoue-Labartheâ€™s â€˜Poetic art consists of perceivingâ€™ (my emphasis), p. 67.
 Celan, â€˜Speech on the Occasion of Receiving the Literature Prize of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremenâ€™, in Paul Celan: Collected Prose, trans. by Rosmarie Waldrop (New York: Carcanet & Sheep Meadow Press, 1986), 33â€“35 (p. 34).
 Celan echoes this notion in â€˜Illegibilityâ€™ (1971): â€˜you, clamped | into your deepest part, | climb out of yourself | for everâ€™ (pp. 364â€“65, ll. 6â€“9).
 Derrida, â€˜Poetics and Politics of Witnessingâ€™, in Sovereignties in Question, pp. 65â€“96 (pp. 69â€“70); Derridaâ€™s emphasis.
 Celan, â€˜Speech on the Occassion of Receiving the Literature Prize of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremenâ€™, p. 35.