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Close mobile search navigation Stiner navigation. Bruno Bettelheim’s study of autistic children in The Empty Fortress Such information was close-guarded, parsimoniously dispensed, often nearly impossible to come by, as were Borges’ poems, stories, essays themselves, scattered, out of print, pseudonymous. Logorrhea is the very condition of Celine’s achievement and limitation his head injury may be pertinent.

A Deft Jumble of Cultural Correlatives

Man’s passage from a natural to a cultural state— the single major act in his history— is at every point interwoven with his speech faculties. Each quick-change brings with it its own persuasive aura, yet all are Borges. If the concepts of “man” and of “language” are interdependent for their existence, “pre-language man” is a meaningless chimera. The taunts of my death, the horses, the horse- men, the horses’ manes, tighten the ring around me.

But the chessmen were pitiless, they held and absorbed him. Symbolic counters are arranged in significant rows. It embraces all books, not only those that have al- ready been written, but every page of every tome that will be written in the future and, which matters more, that could conceivably be written.

Like Borges— whom he cheaply and self-betrayingly mocks in Ada — Nabokov is a writer who works very near the intricate threshold of syntax; he experiences linguistic forms in a state of manifold potentiality and, moving across ver- naculars, is able to keep words and phrases in a charged, unstable mode of vitality.

An organism failing to do so, either because its receptors are blunted or because it “mis- reads,” will perish. Its aesthetics, its par- ticular rhetoric, the ideals of exact profusion and ironic pedantry it aims at, can be placed. What is one to make of her notation that Bagatelles pour un Massacre “brought on accusations of anti-semitism, pro- Nazi sentiment, and even collaboration”?

The precise authority and range of pertinence which linguistics has for the poet, the student of letters, and the common reader remain arguable, and rightly so. The true perplexities of the case are skimped, and in the crucial matter of Celine’s racism and its murderous impli- cations Dr. The Jewish woman who is called “Mutter” therefore becomes not only comic but strange.


Black won on that March afternoon. Slight if only because Beckett allows a number of influences or foreign bodies to obtrude. What I have called elsewhere “the retreat from the word” and the failure of humane literacy in the face of barbarism directly counterpoints the new linguistics, the new attempts — philosophical, psychological, poetic— to establish a seman- tic center.

The spirit shuffles like a ragpicker in quest of words that have not been chewed to the marrow, that have kept something of their secret life despite the mendacity of the age. But the question should be seen for what it is: Dolphins pipe signals of warning or summons.

It comes through penetratingly even in the more didactic, explicitly technical of Nabokov’s pronouncements. The writer is a special master of the language.

Follow the Author

Man be- comes man as he enters on a linguistic stage. The fact that these texts have not been translated into English and that it is nearly impossible to quote from them without physical revulsion makes it necessary to underline their character.

They most probably evolve with and through it. He knows the order, the appropriate dimension, of the sum or geometric figure be- fore he has performed the intervening steps. Account Options Sign in. Signals of elemen- tal individuation: This collection of three short fables and thirteen mono- logues is a cat’s-cradle.

Arrested at the time of the Liberation, he was sentenced to death. In a sense that cuts much deeper than semantics, our identity is a first-person pronoun.

He announces mate in six because the victorious end position, the maxi- mally efficient configuration of his pieces on the board, lies somehow “out there,” in graphic, inexplicably clear sight of his mind. In Textes pour Rienwe learn that we simply cannot go on speaking of souls and bodies, of births, lives, and deaths; we must carry on with- out any of that as best we can.

In actual play, the hand poised on the other side of the board is in some measure his own. Allegoric associations of death with chess are perennial: If recent structural anthropology is right and its hy- potheses in fact elaborate the suppositions of Leibniz and Herderthose kinship models, those conventions of mu- 3 This notion of the philosophically “scandalous” nature of the future tense is explored by Ernst Bloch in Das Prinzip Hoffnungand his Tiibingener Einleitung in die Philosophic The style that made Journey to the End of Night an event in the history of modern prose is a deafen- ing, nerve-rending barrage, a breathless accumulation of invective, scabrous direct address, slang, and colloquial idiom tied together— or, rather, put into a loud, fiercely evocative Morse code— by Celine’s famous use of dots and dashes instead of regular punctuation.

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For the writer to become bi- or multi-lingual in the modern way, genuine shifts of sensibility and personal status had to occur. Rossini’s Six Sonatas for Two Violins, Cello, and Double Bass, composed by the boy during the summer ofare patently influenced by Haydn and Vivaldi, but the main melodic lines are Ros- sini’s, and beautifully inventive.

The peremptory naYvetes of a good deal of transformational generative work make impossible any real access to language when it is in a condition of maximal concentration, when, as Heidegger X FOREWORD says, language is total being, i.

Until very re- cently, a writer has been, almost by definition, a being rooted in his native idiom, a sensibility housed more closely, more inevitably, than ordinary men and women in the shell of one language. The scandal, the paradox of all-important triviality must be made psychologically credible.

It is conceivable that Celine, especially after the partial loss of creative confi- dence that seems to have followed on his return from the Soviet Union inbegan taking words for reality, that he no longer related the turbulent geyser of language in- side him to any substantive realization.

There is such a case.

One looks for some genuine re- lationship between the three activities; in what way do mu- sic, mathematics, and chess resemble one another? Sign in to use this feature.


The death of Voltaire becomes, appropri- ately, yet with a distinct shift of stress, that of Dr. They make a noise steoner feathers. My differences with Chomskian linguistics— differ- ences argued throughout this book— are of a more funda- mental kind.

Cut off from these philosophic traditions, contemptuous of the uncertainties and transcen- dental intimations which they enact, the new linguistics, with its declared meta-mathematical ideals, runs the risk of a powerful triviality.

The artist and the writer are incessant tourists window-shopping over the entire compass of available forms.

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