Andrew Benjamin_on Benjamin

Andrew Benjamin_on - TRANSLATION AND THE NATURE OF PHILOSOPHY A new theov of words AN DREW ENJAMIN R ROUTLEDGE London and New York 7 87 Chapter

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Unformatted text preview: TRANSLATION AND THE NATURE OF PHILOSOPHY A new theov of words AN DREW ENJAMIN R ROUTLEDGE London and New York / 7 87 Chapter Four WALTER BENJAMIN AND THE TRANSLATOR’S TASK One of the most significant conclusions to emerge from the preceding evaluation of Davidson’s conception of translation was the impossibility of any attempt to gnderstand translation in terms of rational recovery. It also casts doubt on the viability of trying to incorporate concepts of fidelity into discussions of translation, if fidelity is understood in terms of the re-expression of the original’s content. The move away from a conception of translation articulated in terms of the opposition between the inside and the outside must therefore, as a consequence, focus on the translatability of any text. If it is no longer possible to provide the conditions of existence for the possibility of translation in terms stemming from rational recovery -— where what is recovered and re-expressed is the original content of the original text -— then the emphasis must shift to the text itself and hence to a concern with language. It is precisely this move that is made by Walter Benjamin. While there are a number of points that must be clarified, in particular what is meant by the terms ‘text’ and ‘language’, this can only be done after having looked at his work on translation. Benjamin’s text will allow for the possibility of developing a conception of translation that neither succumbs nor subscribes to the problems and difficulties that have been identified in the work of Heidegger, Seneca, and Davidson. In other words what emerges from his text is a conception of translation that takes place beyond, and is to that extent therefore not advanced in terms of, the distinction between the literal and the figural. It is perhaps not surprising that there are many possible ways in — paths of approach — to Walter Benjamin’s famous paper on translation; ‘The Task of the Translator’.l This paper was written 86 WALTER BENJAMIN AND THE TRANSLATOR’S TASK in 1923 and it formed the introduction to Benjamin’s own translation of Baudelaire’s Tableaux Parisian. The volume itself caused Benjamin a great deal of emotional pain. In a letter to Scholem2 he complains that the review by Stefan Zweig in the Frankfurter Zeiturzg both failed to come to terms with Baudelaire’s poetry, and rather than ignoring the preface only ‘mentioned it in a snide remark’. Zweig remarked on its difficulty. A comment that clearly irritated Benjamin. And yet if nothing else is accurate in Zweig’s review he is certainly correct to say that the text is complex and elusive. It is of course also allusive, for resonating within it is one of Benjamin’s major areas ofinterest and influence, namely Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism. It must be added of course that the text is not reducible to the articulation of this element. Indeed it would always be possible to find other aspects that appear in his work and discuss the text in terms of them. It would for example be possible as julian Roberts3 has indicated to account for his concern with symbols in terms of the theories of Klages or to explain, in part, his theory of language in terms of a mediaeval theory of intentio, as is indicated by Peter Szondi4 in a footnote to his discussion of Benjamin’s work on translation in his paper on Celan’s translation of a Shakespearian sonnet. However, for these present concerns Kabbalah will provide an outline that will allow for that specific reading of the text sanctioning a reworking of translation. Kabbalah must emerge from within the exposition itself". It goes without saying that the concerns of this text must in the end resonate beyond this initial attempt to outline its meaning. Perhaps even resulting in a translation of translation. Benjamin’s text commences, as Paul de Manc’ amongst others has pointed out, with a refusal of the very possibility of what has come to be called Rezeptionxdst/zetik. However this refusal is not in any straightforward sense a critique. It is rather a dramatic counter that is enacted in the text’s opening lines, In the appreciation ofa work of art or an art form, consideration of the receiver never proves helpful.7 Works of art — objects of interpretation — for Benjamin, are not ‘intended’ for their recipients. ‘No poem is intended for the reader, no picture for the beholder, no symphony for the listener’. How is the distancing of reception supposed to be understood? At this 87 TRANSLATION AND THE NATURE OF PHILOSOPHY stage it is not possible to give a definite answer to this question except to say that it opens up the world of the text as the locus of investigation while at the same time closing the world in which the text is situated. Benjamin pursues his line of questioning by trying to determine for whom a translation is undertaken. Consistent with the approach mentioned above, Benjamin argues that a translation cannot exist ‘for the sake of a reader’. What is of interest here are the moves made in the argument; for within them Benjamin characterizes two inadequate conceptions or understandings of translation. The first of these is the assumption, on the part of the translator, that the literary text ‘says’ something. For Benjamin the saying of something — the telling — is the conveying of information which is dramatically opposed to the essential quality (Wesentliches) of the literary work. At play here is a theme that occurs throughout Benjamin’s writings. In both ‘The Storyteller’8 and ‘On Some Motifs in Baudelaire’ Benjamin distinguishes in a fundamental way between ‘information’ and the ‘story’. The importance of this distinction lies in the way in which Benjamin connects the life of the story as opposed to the life of information to two distinct conceptions of time. In ‘The Storyteller’ he states: The value of information does not survive the moment in which it was new. It lives only at the moment; it has to surrender to it completely and explain itself without losing any time. A story is different. It does not expend itself. It preserves its strength and is capable of releasing it even after a long time.9 As was mentioned the significance of this passage is not located in the opposition between information and story as such, but rather in their connection to time. The difficulty, in moving from one text to another, is that there is no direct analogue to the story when Benjamin is writing specifically about translation. There is however an analogue in regard to time. The temporality of the story, as opposed to the temporality of information, will emerge. as the temporality within which translation from a Benjamiman perspective must be understood. The reference to information and the possible reduction of the literary work to information is an important move not just in clarifying what is to be understood. by the literary as such but also because it implicitly introduces time into the problem of translation. 88 WALTER BENJAMIN AND THE TRANSLATOR’S TASK V Any translation that aims to convey something reduces the status of the literary work to information and in so doing transgresses its ‘essential quality’. However the essential is not an addition — a secondary effect — that would be the result of poeticizing information. (A formulation that, as has been suggested, stems from Plato.) To treat the literary work in this way would once again be to fail to understand what was at stake in translation and therefore what it was that was being translated. The important consequence of this second characterization of bad translation is found in the fact that it was articulated in terms of the distinction between the literal and the figural. Benjamin’s critical refusal of such a conception of translation becomes therefore a refusal of the predominance and centrality of this distinction within translation. It has already been noted that the semantic economy that this distinction puts in play governs both Plato’s understanding of poetry and Heidegger’s conception of translation. Part of the force of Benjamin’s text is that it begins with a refusal of this distinction. Having cleared some of the way Benjamin can now begin with a positive description of translation: Translation is a model (Ubersetzung ist eine Form). To comprehend it as a model one must go back to the original, for that contains the law governing the translation; its translatability.lo The most important way of understanding the question of translation is therefore, following Benjamin, to ask whether the ‘essence’ (Warm) of the work can be translated. Benjamin is using the interplay of Warm and Warmtlic/m to repose delicately the problem of translation. In the opening pages the Werentlic/m (essential quality) of the work is said not to be equatable with information. He then asks does the Wesen of the literary work ‘lend itself to translation’? He concludes by saying that ‘if translation is a model, translatability must be an essential feature of certain works’ (Wenn chrutzung cine Form ist, so my} Uberselzbarkeit gewissen War/cm wemztlich rain). The essential has shifted therefore from being an unnamed entity to now being implicitly equated with translatability. This thereby enacts a shift from a concern simply with the meaning of words to language. Translation pertains not to meaning but to language itself. Once again this must be understood as an implicit critique of the distinction between form and content; a distinction that is itself a restatement of the earlier and perhaps enduring 89 TRANSLATION AND THE NATURE OF PHILOSOPHY distinction between the literal and the figural. Benjamin uses the idea of translatability to reformulate the relationship between the original and the translation. by virtue of its translatability the original is closely connected with the translation. . . .We may call this connection a natural one, or, more specifically a vital one.Just as the manifestations of life are intimately connected with the phenomenon of life without being of importance to it, a translation issues from the original -— not so much from its life as from its after-life.” The translation issues not from the life of the text but from its after-life. Here is found the fundamental distinction between leben and fortleben that dominates Benjamin’s work on translation and which is later taken over and adapted by Derrida.12 In fact in Benjamin’s discussion of the relationship between history and life, in which the ‘range of life’ is described as ‘determined by history’, he suggests that the history of works of art reveals their potentially ‘eternal afterlife’. The importance of this is that it introduces an explicit temporal dimension into the concern with translation. The direct result is that it underlines the importance of the recognition that translation is itself articulated within a specific temporal schema. It also works to redefine the essential nature of the object of interpretation (what is often loosely called the work of art). This conception of temporality is the one alluded to in the distinction between the story and information. The essential is re—expressed in terms of translatability and now translatability has itself been re- expressed in terms of fartleben; i.e. in terms of after-life/survival; the capacity of the work to live on. It is at this stage that Benjamin’s text takes a difficult turn and yet it is one that is sanctioned by the approach that has already been observed. Rather than restricting manifestations of life to an end which is life, their end becomes ‘the expression of its essence, in the representation of its significance’ (dcr Ausdruck seine: Wesens, fiir die Darstcllung seiner Bedeulung). The consequence of this for translation is that the intention of translation becomes the expres- sion of ‘the central reciprocal relationship between languages’. However, this sounds, as Benjamin himself admits, like a return to traditional conceptions of translation because it could be seen as depending upon a posited similarity between languages. Benjamin distances himself from the project of linguistic similarity with the 90 WALTER BENJAMIN AND THE TRANSLATOR’S TASK following important expression of how he understands the relationship between the original and the translation. To grasp it he argues, requires an investigation analogous to the argumentation by which a critique of cognition (die Erkenntniskritik) would have to prove the impossibility of an image theory (einer Abbila'tht’orie).13 Clearly what Benjamin has in mind here is a particular Kantian argument concerning the nature of images. While Benjamin does not mention it by name an instance of Kant’s position can be found in the argument —- located in ‘The Schematism of the Pure Concepts of the Understanding’, in The Critique of Pure Reason —— which advances the’position that it is ‘schemata, not images of objects, which underlie our pure sensible concepts’. For Kant, the image is a product of the empirical faculty of reproductive imagination; the schema of sensible concepts, such as of figures in space, is a product and as it were, a monogram, of pure a priori imagination, through which, and in accordance with which, images themselves first became possible. B181/Al42” The condition of possibility for the existence of images is not a world of objects but a ‘pure a priori imagination’. The image therefore neither seeks nor is it to be understood in terms of an object — an original — of which it is an image. Concepts, and hence the work of the a priori imagination are the condition of possibility for objects which then come to be reproduced. The analogy with translation is that any real understanding of the nature of translation would be impossible ifit were thought to consist of (and hence be understood just in terms of) its likeness to an original. In just the same way as the condition of possibility for the production of images lies in the reproductive imagination not in the ‘object’, translation is only possible if it is linked to the linguistic reality of the original. The connection between original and translation does not lie therefore in a domain dominated by mimesis but rather one orchestrated by what Benjamin describes as the ‘kinship’ of languages. ‘Kinship’ involves the essence of language not a mimetic relation made possible by the commonality of language. A point that is reinforced by Benjamin’s argument that in the survival of the literary work the original itself undergoes a change. In order to be consistent with the consequences of the implicit 91 swam”... - wowwmmwm.“m mwwwanWW“W'wx~w ~V’vmmwav « N». w»!v~n«1m;- . TRANSLATION AND THE NATURE OF PHILOSOPHY critique of Rezeptiormislhetilc that opened the text this change can only be explained by reference to the essential nature of the literary work itself. Clearly one of the major elements at play here and which emerges both from Benjamin’s recourse to Kant as well as his introduction of the idea of ‘kinship’ is an attempt to move translation (and by extension language) away from any under- standing of them that is situated within the domain of mimesis.‘5 For Kant the image does not have a mimetic relationship with the original. Consequently it cannot be either discussed or understood in terms of its simply reproducing something. Arguing this would involve ignoring the role Kant assigns to the a priori imagination and would thereby reduce the work of the imagination to no more than the reproduction of images. This will also be the case with translation. While it may seem, on the surface at least, to be a straightforward move, inherent within it is a radical break not simply with a Platonic conception of art and hence the history of mimesis but, and perhaps more radically also with the conventional philosophical and literary categories within which language and translation are conventionally understood. Fundamental to mimesis is the distinction between the inside and the outside and, as has already been noted,“’ it is this distinction which features within the preceding discussions of translation. The philosophical consequences of the removal of mimesis as the ground of translation will be dealt with in the final chapter. The task now is to make sense of the idea of ‘kinship’ given that it does not refer to the commonality, be it philological or historical, of languages. In order to achieve this end Benjamin draws a distinction between what Zohn in his translation of the text calls ‘the intended object’ and ‘the mode of intention’ (der Intention yam Gemez'nten, and die Art ales Meineus). The force of this distinction lies initially in its providing a way of understanding the relationship between languages and hence the possibility of developing a conception of translation that does not depend upon mimesis. Benjamin prefaces his drawing of the distinction with the following important claim concerning ‘kinship’ among languages: all suprahistorical kinship of languages rests in the intention underlying each language as a whole — an intention however which is realised only by the totality of their intentions supplementing each other: pure language (di: reins Spraclz:).‘7 92 WALTER BENJAMIN AND THE TRANSLATOR’S TASK The first thing to note is Benjamin’s use of the term ‘suprahistorical’. In using it he is not simply putting historical connections between languages to one side, more importantly he is positing a fundamental relationship between languages in general rather than simply between two specific natural languages. It is in relation to these considerations that Benjamin draws the distinction between ‘the intended object’ and the ‘mode ofintention’. The example that he uses concerns the words Brat and pain. He says of them that they: Both intend the same object but their modes ofintention are not the same."3 What Benjamin means by this is that while on one level the ‘same’ object may be involved the word Brat has different connotations, or to be more exact it occupies a different place in a signifying chain than is the case of the word pain in French. They have therefore different meanings. The modes of intention cannot be reduced to each other, even though their intended objects are, on one level at least, identical. Modes of intention mark the relationship between languages. But it is a non-reductive relationship that points to a resolution or coming together. To use Benjamin’s term, it is a relationship that can be ‘harmonised’ because of the ‘kinship’ between languages: a ‘kinship’ pointing to ‘a pure language’ (rein: Sprac/w). Benjamin also makes use of the expression ‘pure language’ in his 1916 paper, ‘On Language as such and on the Languages of Man’.‘9 It would be fruitful to pursue some of the topics discussed by Benjamin in that paper; first because he deals in an important way with the question of translation and second it will prepare the way for an eventual coming to terms with the still unresolved problem of the relationship between ‘pure language’ and the multiplicity of natural languages. It will be of value therefore to compare the resolution offered in this earlier treatment to the one that occurs in the later study of the translator’s task. The 1916 paper on language is notoriously difficult and as a consequence, rather than attempt to sum it up, I want to focus on the problem of translation. However, even this attempt to delimit the task still necessitates some preliminary explication. It should also be noted that despite this paper containing not just a number of theological motifs but a commentary on the first two books of Genesis, 93 .~....mn TRANSLATION AND THE NATURE OF PHILOSOPHY Benjamin is at great pains to point out that his ostensible concern is not theological as such, rather it is one starting from a consideration of what can be learnt from a consideration of theological themes about the nature of language. The extent to which this is a successful strategy cannot be considered immediately. Benjamin begins his paper with the claim that everything has a language. Things, for example, communicate themselves in their own proper language. The importance of this. move for our concerns is that it allows Benjamin to distinguish between, to use his own example, a ‘lamp’ as an empirical entity and what he refers to as its ‘linguistic being’. Benjamin makes this point in the following way: The language of this lamp, for example, does not communicate the lamp (for the mental being of the lamp, insofar as it is ‘ communicable, is by no means the lamp itself), but: the language-lamp (die Spark—Lamps), the lamp in communication, the lamp in expression. For in language the situation is this: the linguistic being of all things is their language?O The consequence of this distinction is that it locates language or rather human language outside of a direct relation to reference. It also marks the early presence within his work of Kant’s argument concerning the nature of images. It thereby indicates the extent to which throughout Benjamin’s writings the specificity of the presence of mimesis, often thought to be a dominant motif, is at the very least problematic. If all things have their own language, then what is it that is discreet or unique to human language? Benjamin’s immediate answer to this question is that man names: ‘Man is the namer, by this we recognise that through him pure language speaks’. In order to develop this point Benjamin embarks upon a brief discussion of the the first two books of Genesis. Here he argues that it is important to distinguish God’s creative word from Man’s capacity to name. When God said during the Creation, ‘Let there be . . .’ he created, but the word, the word in which creation took place, gave existence but that which existed was without a name. God said ‘Let there be. . .’ and Man responded by saying ‘There is . . .’; the result being that Man named and hence knew what had been created by God’s word. It is precisely in relation to the activity of naming that Benjamin employs the word ‘translation’. Naming is a type of translation. 94 WALTER BENJAMIN AND THE TRANSLATOR’S TASK The translation of the language of things into that of man is not only a translation of the mute into the sonic; it is also the translation of the nameless into name. It is therefore the translation of an imperfect language into a more perfect one and cannot but add something to it, namely knowledge.” The movement from the language of things to the ‘language of knowledge’ takes place via translation — or rather as a translation — and there will be, as Benjamin indicates, as many translations as there are languages. It is at this point that he provides the reason for this plurality. For Benjamin it is the inevitable consequence, ‘once man has fallen from theparadisiac state that knew only one language’. Now while the plurality of languages means that each language can be understood as a translation of the other because of the nature of the relationship between the language of things and human language(s), this plurality, even ifit is not to be understood in theological terms, must none the less be seen as involving a postulated original language that communicated nothing other than the linguistic being of that which was in question. This purity of communication is broken with the Fall and that is why Benjamin goes on to claim that: The word must communicate something (other than itself). That is really the Fall oflanguage-mind.22 After the Fall the language of name gives way to the language of knowledge, a language which must involve that which had no need to exist in Paradise, namely judgement. The rest of Benjamin’s paper involves an important discussion of the relationship between judgement amd melancholia. However what must be pursued here is what is at play in Benjamin’s claim that the word ‘communicates something (other than itself)’. In other words what is the ‘something’, ‘other than itself’ (aujier sic}: selbst)? It is quite clear on the one hand that the additional element —— the something else besides — is a consequence of the impossibility of communication as the pure giveness or expression of naming. It is on the other hand less clear what a positive description of this additional element would be. In a sense there cannot be a full description because the additional element is the mediation that is a consequence of the breakdown of immediacy. The immediacy or pure giveness is the paradisiac language. The Fall results in the mediation of language such that it is, for example, both 95 l l t i .2 2 g s A a. .A,.,.. w A. TRANSLATION AND THE NATURE OF PHILOSOPHY instrumental and a sign while at the same time it is human language that communicates the linguistic being of things. Another way of putting this would be to argue that even though the naming relation is no longer pure, language still names. It is the nature of the naming relation, which while mediated after the Fall, none the less provides the possibility of translation as well as accounting for the fact that any one language is inherently already a translation of all other languages. The privileging of unity over difference that takes place in this early consideration of langauge and translation must be noted. Here difference is a secondary effect. There are two aspects of this early paper that are of importance. The first is obviously the conception of translation. The second, and clearly this will affect any claims made about the first, is the extent to which the conception of translation is dependent upon the idea of an original paradisiac language. In sum translation is used in two senses. The first describes the move from the language of things to the language of man and the second concerns the relationship between languages. The second is one that inherently involves translation. Indeed it is possible to go further and argue that it is a relationship that should be understood in terms of translation. The ‘kinship of languages’ therefore would in this instance be based on the non-arbitrary nature of naming which in turn would give rise to the position in which a language is already a translation of all others. In this early discussion of language both the theory of naming and that of translation, while not theological, at least not in any straightforward way, depends upon there having been an original language. This claim may seem at odds with the general interpretation of Benjamin which identifies centrality of mimesis within his work. In his 1933 paper ‘On the Mimetic Faculty’ Benjamin argues that ‘language may be seen as the highest level of mimetic behaviour’. In this particular work mimesis refers to what he calls the ‘non-sensuous similarity’ between language and what is signified.23 It is not however the case that the relationship posited between language and the signified is the same as the relationship between the translation and the original. The difference between the ‘mode of intention’ and the ‘intended object’ can be understood in mimetic terms because of the nature of the connection. The relationship between translation and original cannot because it is a relationship within language. This can be seen in the fact that within the terms of 96 WALTER BENJAMIN AND THE TRANSLATOR’S TASK Benjamin’s argument all other languages are to be understood as a departure from, or at the very least explained in terms of a deviation or reworking of the original. The reason for its not being theological in any obvious sense, is that the linguistics involved — that conception of actual language, as for example was seen at work in the brief discussion of the distinction between the lamp as empirical entity and the ‘language-lamp’, does not stem auto- matically from an overtly theological position. What is of interest here is that even in this early paper translation has something to do with the nature of language itself. Having taken this detour, one which as shall be seen was essential for any later discussion of Benjamin’s conception of translation, it is now possible to see first in what way Benjamin’s treatment of the ‘kinship of languages’ differs in the later text, and second whether language and translation in that text are to be understood in terms of the Fall and therefore in terms of an original, paradisiac language. Within the plurality of natural languages meanings are in a state of flux. None the less this is a state that can be overcome in, to quote Benjamin’s translation paper, ‘the harmony of all the modes of intention’. He goes on: Until then, it remains hidden in the languages. If, however, these languages continue to grow in this manner until the Messianic end of their history, it is translation that catches fire on the eternal life (ewigen Fartleben) of the works and the perpetual renewal (unendliclzm Auflzbm) of language.24 Benjamin’s use of the word Messianic in this passage plus his use of ‘harmony’ — a word that will be used a number of times until the end of the text, taken together with his suggestion that the fulfilment of languages is a possibility sanctioned by the kinship of languages positing a pure language, all repeat some of the important motifs of Kabbalah. It is not surprising that during the period in which he wrote this text Benjamin was in frequent contact with Scholem. What is surprising however is that Benjamin’s terminology and structure of argument are reiterated by Scholem in his discussion of the kabbalistic doctrine of tilt/tun, which he undertakes in one of his most famous papers, ‘Toward an Understanding of the Messianic Idea in judaism’.25 The entire topic is repeated and developed in the collection of his writings on Kabbalah and jewish mysticism published in his l954 book Kabbala/z.26 97 TRANSLATION AND THE NATURE OF PHILOSOPHY The world of tikkun, the roestablishment of the harmonious condition of the world, which in the Lurianic Kabbalah is the Messianic world, still contains a strictly utopian impulse. That harmony which it reconstitutes does not correspond at all to any condition of things that have ever existed even in Paradise, but is at most a plan contained in the divine idea of creation. This plan however, even with the first stages of its realisation, came up against the disturbance and hinderance of the cosmic process known as the breaking of the vessels, which initiates the Lurianic myth},7 The interesting aspect of the Lurianic myth is that it does not posit a Babelian view of an initial language. ‘Reconstitution’ is therefore an initial constitution. The envisaged harmony does not involve the retrieval of the past, but rather a futural projection; ‘The utopian impulse’. Harmonization is a utopian possibility. It does not refer to an initial act of linguistic grace in which a unified language was the language of Man before the Fall. The consequence being that in Kabbalah the multiplicity of languages is not the result of sin. It could be argued therefore that the possibility of a pure language is not to be understood as that which is either gestured at, or which ensues from salvation or redemption. It must be remembered that both of these terms (salvation and redemption) are to be understood as involving, and of necessity involving, an overcoming of the world of sin; a world in which the necessary precondition of plurality is sin. There are a number of important consequences that can be drawn from these considera- tions. However prior to undertaking this task I want to discuss, albeit briefly, elements of Augustine’s treatment of language as it is presented in the Confessions. While it may seem odd to connect Augustine and Benjamin, they are in fact both concerned with the plurality of natural languages; though in Augustine’s case it must be added that he is more concerned with the problems posed by the distinction between the language of God and the languages of Man. It goes without saying that Augustine bases the plurality, the languages of Man, on the Fall. Part of the problem that Augustine attempts to overcome is that if the languages of Man have been separated from the language of God; how is it possible to express the truth in language? Augustine’s resolution to this problem necessitates a distinction 98 ~e.W.—.m~wmm« .W- -WM. ... WALTER BENJAMIN AND THE TRANSLATOR'S TASK between a linguistic realm and a non-linguistic realm in which truths, in their being non—discursive (i.e. their existence is non- discursive) can come to be said in language. One consequence of this is that language becomes the empty bearer of its content; a content which is in essence non-linguistic. Within Christianity, or perhaps to be less bold, for Augustine, there is a complex web involving languages, sin, and time in which all these elements are interarticulated. One propping and supporting the other. It is perhaps not surprising that for Benjamin the language of truth is the ‘pure language’. The harmony that is pointed at in the relationship between the original and the translation. Furthermore for Augustine the Fall resulted not just in a proliferation of languages — the separation of the language of God and human languages — it also gave rise to a twofold temporal division between the etemality of God, and hence the timelessness of God’s word, and the actual time of human existence. Augustine makes this point with dramatic urgency in an introductory move to his general discussion of time and memory in Book 11 of 771: Confissions. Indeed the investigation of both time and memory are undertaken in part to resolve the difficulties outlined in the following: For your word is not speech in which each part comes to an end when it has been spoken, giving place to the next so that finally the whole may be uttered. In your word all is uttered at one and the same time, yet eternally. If it were not so, your word would be subject to time and change, and therefore will be neither truly eternal or truly immortal.28 The temporal problems raised by the division of languages and hence the interarticulation of time and language that characterizes both Augustine’s presentation of the problems as well as their resolution, is absent from the distinction drawn by Benjamin between the pure language and specific modes of intention. The twofold tempOral division between the eternal and the actual and hence the ontological division between singular Being and plural beings that marks the Christian-theological residues within philo- sophy do not provide the ontologico—temporal structure of Benjamin’s presentation of language. There is more at stake here than just the simple divide between Christianity and judaism. There is rather a more fundamental distinction between a particular ontologico-temporal structure (the 99 «4.274%. .; "“F‘TTJ‘ZFI’Lng «even «,4 . v A. as’Qmmewwanwwu‘deWV' 11‘: one proper to r'latomsm and hence the one in terms 01 which Augustine’s discussion of time and language is both situated and articulated) and a different and incommensurable structure gestured at in Benjamin’s term ‘afterlife’. Reference has already been made to the question of time. Translation, as has been argued, is linked to the ‘afterlife’ of the text. Furthermore the distinction between information and the story, gives rise, when generalized, to a temporal distinction between the instant (the temporality of coming-to-be and passing away) and a concept of temporality which while not that of the instant is also not transcendental. It is the temporality of inhering: primordial time.” It will be in terms of these latter two distinctions that the ontologicatemporal structure at play in Benjamin’s treatment of translation will be described. After tracing the way in which Benjamin links what Scholem calls ‘the world of tikkun’ to deliberations on translation it will then be possible to return to the question of time. The link is established by Benjamin in the following way: Fragments ofa vessel which in order to be articulated together must follow one another in the smallest details, although they need not be like one another. In the same way a translation, instead of making itself similar to the meaning of the original, it must lovingly and in detail, in its own language, form itself according to the manner of meaning of the original, to make both recognisable as the broken parts of the greater language, just as fragments are the broken parts of a vessel.30 In his fascinating discussion of this passage Paul de Mang’ makes the important point that at no time is Benjamin suggesting that the fragments either of a vase or of language reform into a totality. This takes up the point mentioned above, namely that absent from tilt/tun, and moreover especially from Benjamin’s use of it in this passage, is the Babel myth of there having been an original and unified language. The consequence of this, as de Man has also argued, is that the original language is already - always already -— a displaced language. It is not displaced from a home it once occupied but more significantly its mode of being is displacement. There is no origin of language because there is no original language. Language itself is not original. It originates from no place. De Man is right to suggest that the separate existence of a 100 ,, , ‘4‘". mg pure language 15 lmpUSSImC. nuwevcr, tut: accuracy 01 ms tuiuict argument that the pure language ‘exists as a permanent disjunction which inhabits all language as such’ is far from clear. In order to pursue this point I want to look at a passage where Benjamin joins his description of the translator’s task to a reference to the possibility of ‘pure language’. It is the task of the translator to release in his own language that pure language which is under the spell of another, to liberate the language imprisoned in a work in his re-creation of that work.” What is it that is released? Is it simply a ‘permanent disjunction’? At an earlier stage Benjamin indicated what perhaps could be described as an explanation of pure language. He stated that the ‘suprahistorical kinship of languages’ resides in the intention in each language as a whole and then went on to add that it is an intention, ‘which is realised only by the totality of their intentions supplementing each other; pure language’.33 From this it can be concluded that ‘pure language’ is the state of affairs in which the totality of modes of intention refer to and sustain each other. That much is obvious. The problem emerges because the totality is not a unity. It is not a language on its own. ‘Pure language’ has no grammar. The posited reality does not refer back to an archaic reality. This is, in part, the point of the analogy with fragments of a vessel. After stating that translation must make both the original and itself recognizable as ‘broken parts of the same language’, Benjamin then constructs the analogy, ‘just as fragments are the broken parts of a vessel’. However, ‘the broken parts of the vessel’ do not, if the logic and temporality of tilt/tun are followed correctly, presuppose an initial vessel. The absence of an initial vessel gives rise to two important questions. The first is how to understand the postulated and hence futural vessel and second what is the nature of the totality that is the belonging together of the fragments or the belonging together of languages (of the translation and the original). It is only after answering these questions that it will be possible to return to the initial question —— what is it that is released? — if only to ask what in the question is being asked. Within ‘the world of tikkun’ the futural vessel posits the possibility of unity and totality in which the parts of the vessel remain as parts but within a generalized belonging together. Fundamental to such a totality is the presence of difference. In 101 TRANSLATION AND THE NATURE OF PHILOSOPHY other words instead of redemption demanding or giving rise to a similitude — a thematized or synthesized sameness — it involves a harmony which is the belonging together of differences. Difference endures. Salvation does not involve a transgression of what has been called the anoriginal; i.e. the anoriginal presence of original difference; of original conflict; of differential plurality. Concepts which while they have been interpolated into his text, their possibility, and therefore perhaps their presence, are signalled when he states that the fragments ‘need not be like one another’. Their difference is not effaced in the totality. And yet the fragments are recognizable as part of a larger or greater vessel. Does this mean that this recognition is premised upon the presence in each of the part of an element of the essential nature of the vessel or of language? If the translation must, for Benjamin, make both itself and the original ‘recognizable as the broken parts of the greater language’, then even this formulation seems to suggest that language does have an essential quality of which the translator makes use and on which the translation depends. Once again the formulation needs to be questioned for what must be determined is what is meant by the ‘essential’. Without detailing the many ways in which the term ‘essence’ has been understood throughout the history of philosophy it is none the less clear that what is at stake here is the question of whether or not the identity of the translation and the original (identity qua language) is dependent upon the function of the essential. The answer to this question must be no. Benjamin’s formulation is that they be ‘recognizable’ (erkcrmbar) as part of the ‘greater language’ not that their recognition as such is dependent upon their being part of the ‘greater language’. The intricacy of this distinction is perhaps best captured if the problem of naming the essential is addressed. It is already clear that even assuming that the term ‘essence’ is appropriate in this instance, it is not an essence that gives or maintains the identity of particulars. Furthermore, if it can be argued that within Platonism any question concerning the identity of what is named in a particular term (as for example is found in questions of the type ‘what is knowledge?’) can only be answered by providing the essential being (the essence or 0130(0) of the term, then, what is at stake here is the possibility of answering the question, ‘what is the pure language?” (or ‘what is the greater 102 a,“ finaauwwwmw WALTER BENJAMIN AND THE TRANSLATOR’S TASK language?’) where any answer has to be located beyond the parameters established by the Platonic theory of naming. In other words because the linguistic identity of the original, and the translation, does not depend upon the presence of the essential but rather the essential is shown in the activity of translation (assuming once again that the term ‘essential’ can be used to cover both the pure language and the greater language) then the essential is not articulated within Platonism and hence cannot be discussed in terms of a Platonic theory of naming. The essential has no essence that can be named. The state of affairs to which this gives rise is the following: there can be a series of fragments (parts of a greater language) which are recognizable as such but which do not demand the existence of a nameable, identifiable, and hence unified essence of language. The task of the translator is therefore to rewrite the passage that has already been cited, to ‘release’ by translating that which is essential to language — to all languages - namely the unnameable essence of language which is the precondition for the possibility of translation. A few pages before the occurrence of the passage detailing the translator’s tasks, Benjamin quotes with approval, while also noting its absolute centrality to translation, the opening words of the Fourth Gospel ‘Izen arc/1e an o logos’. ‘In the beginning was the word’. While it is obvious it is none the less always worth reiterating that the continuous tense functions to indicate that there has never been a pre-discursive time-.3“ Ironically this can also be taken to mean that the separation of the language of God and the languages of man that so perplexed Augustine is called into question by the assertion of the always already linguistic. The ‘pure language’ then is not a language. It is language. It marks the sameness of languages while allowing for their differences. What comes to be released by the translator is the language inhering in a language. However, it is a language that itself cannot be translated, that cannot be put into words. It is ‘the expressionless and creative Word’; that was in the beginning. Time emerges therefore as central to any understanding of translation. Indeed what must be pursued is the temporality of inhering. A task that can be best undertaken by commencing with the question that is still to be answered; namely what type of totality or unity is the vessel or greater language? The point of approaching time via this question is that in 103 men‘me ‘N‘nwvaumi NW ,. Waugh, “6/ TRANSLATION AND THE NATURE OF PHILOSOPHY addressing the question of the mode of being proper to ‘pure language’ and the totality of languages, it does in fact bring to the fore the problem of the ontology of language. However as it is a working premise (already outlined in the introduction) that time and existence are not simply connected but rather interarticulated — and hence it is always really a question of times and existences — then what’in fact must be established is the ontologico-temporal structure proper to ‘pure language’ and to the totality of languages. This is a task however which can only be undertaken here by beginning with a description of the ontological preconditions for the existence of both the ‘pure languages’ and the totality of languages. Preconditions in this instance amount to the ontological conditio sine qua non for what there is. Here ‘what there is’ is a specific totality. The answer to any question concerning what there is, especially if it is the fundamental question of why there is what there is (or even Heidegger’s question of why there is something rather than nothing)?’5 can, from the point of view being argued for here, only ever admit of specific answers. There is no question of being just questions concerning beings. Existence (being) is no more than the belonging together of that which exists (beings). This point must be borne in mind in any attempt to think a totality that does not involve essentialism. And that remains the case no matter how many times the essential is reworked. The word used to describe the totality is harmony (die Harmonie). It is also the word used by Scholem to describe the reconstitution; a reconstitution which is of course an initial constitution. It is perhaps not surprising that in the presentation of a philosophical enterprise which involves, to use Nietzsche’s term, an ‘overcoming of Platonism’,3" recourse can be made to the Heraclitean fragments.37 There are a number of fragments that use the term harmonia. The most important for these present concerns is fragment LXXVIII38 (read however in conjunction with fragment LXXXV). It should be pointed out of course that there is no intention on my part to suggest that Benjamin made explicit use of or indeed was actually familiar with Heraclitus. It is simply that the Heraclitean conception of harmonia will allow for an under- standing of a totality where the totality is not inscribed within an essentialist philosophy. The fragment states: 104 ,, . .M...,_....__~—-—-————————__.—__________’_, ‘ chm»: WAVWI‘” We... WALTER BENJAMIN AND THE TRANSLATOR’S TASK They do not comprehend how a thing agrees (ouohoyéa) at variance with itself; it is an attunement (épuovtn) turning back on itself, like that of the bow and the lyre.39 The relationship between what will be called ‘agreement and variance’ is described as harmony, and furthermore, using the formulation of fragment LXXXV, the name of this relationship is ‘conflict’ (en's). If harmony is an accord — an attunement -— it presupposes an initial conflict; i.e. the relationship signalled by ‘agreement and variance’. What emerges therefore is a conception of harmony as that which names the belonging together of ‘agreement and variance’. In other words the belonging together of differences. What is named cannot, at least in any Platonic sense, have an essence. The naming of conflict -— an act - which involves naming a totality that is itself marked by a reconciliation to irreconcilability is to privilege becoming over being. Once this point is conceded it automatically implies the inapplicability of the Platonic theory of naming. Indeed Plato’s own arguments which try either to privilege being over becoming or make becoming an element of being (as takes place, for example, in the Theaetetu: and the Cratylus) only attest to the force of this inapplicability. In sum therefore harmony names the belonging together of differences; where naming — the act — enacts and is hence made possible by a concept of agreement and variance that takes place beyond essentialism and therefore which involves an ontology not of stasis but of becoming. It is within these terms, as has already been in part indicated, that the belonging together of the fragments of language can be understood. Benjamin’s two specific discussions of translation differ in that the first involves not just a conception of an initial paradisiac language but also a linguistic essentialism. The second however situates itself beyond any obvious preoccupation with the essential. It is precisely this point which can be seen in the fact that the ‘pure language’ cannot be named; where of course naming is understood in a Platonic sense."0 It is therefore advisable to pursue the question of time in the latter teXt. There are a number of important references to time in the translation paper. The first of these is found in the claim made early in the paper that ‘a translation issues from the original — not 105 TRANSLATION AND THE NATURE OF PHILOSOPHY so much from its life as from its afterlife’ (Uberleben)“; an expression that a few lines later is reformulated in terms of a distinction between ‘life and afterlife’ (‘Leben una’ Fortlebm’)."2 The two other important references to time are both found in the sentence, already cited, that ‘it is translation that catches fire on the eternal life (cwigen Fortleben) of the works and the perpetual renewal (unendlz'che Aufleben) of language’."‘3 Both of these references concern time as well as the relationship between languages. The fundamental distinction that can be extracted is between ‘life’ on the one side and ‘ afterlife’, ‘eternal afterlife’, and ‘perpetual renewal’ on the other. The question is how are the suffixes to ‘lqben’, and the qualifying terms ‘eternal’ (‘ewigen’) and ‘perpetual’ (‘unendlichc’) to be understood? This question can best be answered in terms of the two different temporal schemes that emerged from a rereading of the distinction drawn by Benjamin in ‘The Storyteller’ between ‘information’ and the ‘story’. The first is the temporality of the instant. Information, Benjamin states, ‘lives only at the moment’. Information comes into being and passes away. It does not survive. It has no after-life. The story however is not closed. It has an after-life because there is never a final and fixed interpretation (note Benjamin’s fascinating discussion of Herodotus’ story concerning the Egyptian king Psammentius)."" It survives. Benjamin expresses this by saying that the story ‘does not expend itself. It preserves and concentrates its strength and is capable of releasing it even after a long time’.” There are important aspects of the distinction between story and information that Benjamin does not pursue. It should not be forgotten, for example, that there is, none the less, an actual story. There is any interpretation the actuality of the event and hence the finitude of interpretation. However, inhering in any interpretation — in any release of strength — is the capacity to survive. The reality of the story — the actuality of its interpretation — does not call into question let alone militate against the possibility of the text having an after—life. At play here is the relationship between the temporality of the instant and the temporality proper to after-life (which has already been called primordial time). The distinction between ‘life’ and ‘afterlife’ is not an either/or even though they involve two radically distinct conceptions of time (and therefore of existence). The primordial inheres in the instant but the primordial is never reducible to the instant. The primordial inhering in the 106 at am >v—A‘wr—VAMMWW WALTER BENJAMIN AND THE TRANSLATOR’S TASK instant is actual presence and therefore is articulated in terms of the temporality of the actual. This gives rise to three different conceptions of presence and hence three different modes of being. First there is that which exists within the temporality of the instant (or is assumed to exist as such). Second there is that which is present but whose presence is not reducible to simple presence. This is a form of presence which is neither transcendental nor that of the instant. It is the presence that inheres. It is the primordially present. And finally there is actual presence. Actuality is the presence of the primordial. It is at hand but not present. Actualized as the instant. (A fuller discussion of the relationship between these forms of time and existence will occupy the majority of the last chapter.) The ‘pure language’ inheres and is therefore primordially present in all natural languages. The ‘expressionless and creative word’ cannot be named but nor is it reducible to the pragmatic practice of language. The ‘word’ is not of the instant. In a different though related way the belonging together of languages, the fragments of the vessel, posit that which makes them recognizable as ‘broken parts of the same language’. A recognition which itself depends upon the impossibility of reducing, either temporally or ontologically, the primordial to the simple instant. In other words it depends upon maintaining the distinction between the pragmatic use of language —— language instantiated —— and the ‘greater language’. It is possible to conclude therefore with the more general observation that it is Benjamin’s work which opens up the possibility of thinking philosophy and translation — because translation and hence philosophy — in terms, on the one hand of the overcoming of Platonism and on the other within the wake of the critique of the Enlightenment project. The first element of this overcoming is the least problematic. It is, as has been mentioned, the description that Nietzsche gave to his own philosophical enterprise. The second is more difficult. There are at the very least two philosophical moves which, it can be argued, typify Enlightenment philosophy. The first is the one exemplified in the brief discussion of Kant’s Idea for a Universal Hirtmy for a Cosmopolitan Purpose. It is the grounding of difference in either unity or identity. The grounding may be ontological or simply descriptive. The other is found in the Hegelian conception of philosophy; i.e. the philosophy of the Absolute. The possibility of 107 TRANSLATION AND THE NATURE OF PHILOSOPHY the Absolute is inscribed in the development of history. History becomes therefore the history of the Absolute. The end of history is the actualization of the Absolute. The end is absolute self-identity. Excluded from philosophical projects engendered by these two different conceptions of totality is the possibility that difference may be original and in the end can never be synthesized. In other words they exclude the anoriginal. Furthermore both demand either a ground or an end that denies the possibility of differential plurality in so far as the role played by difference or disaccord within them is as that which points to their progressive or regressive exclusion. Benjamin’s distinction between ‘life’ and ‘after-life’ can be read as resisting the enactment of these two different forms of exclusion by locating the potential for after-life within the life of the text itself.’ Here it is essential to take up the possibility that not only does the claim ‘In the beginning was the word’ allow for the interpretation that in the beginning was the site of conflict (the word as the site of differential plurality) but incorporating Benjamin’s distinction allows for the further dimension that the primordial presence of an unending after-life defers the end and hence the actuality of absolute self-identity such that it writes out a philosophy of the absolute. While recognizing that this may be to interpret Benjamin against the grain such a reading redeems him for a philosophical future; one rooted in a reinterpretation of the present; where the present is the site of that reinterpretation. Benjamin’s work does therefore take translation and philosophy beyond the aporias that have already been identified in the work of Plato, Heidegger, Seneca, and Davidson. The possibility of a different understanding of translation and philosophy is beginning to take place. As has been seen allowing to take place has necessitated the adoption of that specific vocabulary within which it can be allowed to take place. It is not that Benjamin’s implicit or explicit conception of text is necessarily compatible with a view of the text that takes it as the site of differential plurality; indeed that will only fully emerge from the discussion of psychoanalysis to come. What is clear at this stage at least is that Benjamin’s text has allowed for that particular interpretation which has generated the preconditions for an understanding of the ontologico-temporal structure within which such a conception of texts is articulated and hence the one within which it can be thought. 108 TRANSLATION AND THE NATURE OF PHILOSOPHY 28 M. Heidegger, ‘On the Essence of Truth’, op. cit., p. 139. 29 N1, p. 149. 30 In what must surely be one of the must judicious and philosophically informed discussions of Heidegger’s view of language, admittedly from a Heideggerian perspective,John Sallis identifies that conception of language that is located beyond indexicality and correspondence: Heidegger wants to posit beneath it a more primordial dimension where language is, first of all, a lighteningmp which lets the world, the total meaning context, announce itself. (In ‘Language and Reversal’, in C. E. Scott and E. G. Ballard (eds) Martin Heidegger in Europe and America, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoif, p. 133.) The question is how is the ‘total meaning context’ to be understood? Is it a context which while not univocal still cannot be thought in terms of its being potentially or actually conflictual? The position argued for in this chapter is that Heidegger must exclude the possibility that this ‘meaning context’ may be the site of an original disaccord or divergence. The ‘total meaning context’ must be the domain of the same under the reign of the same. In other words it must of necessity exclude what has been called semantic differential plurality. 2 SENECA AND THE TRANSLATION OF BEING 1 For a detailed discussion of Cicero and other discussion of translation within Latin texts see K. Hoskin, ‘Verbum de Verbo: The Perennial Changing Paradox of Translation’, in Second Hand; papers on the Theog and Historical Study of LiteraU Translation, edited by T. Hermas, ALW- Cahier nr. 3, 1985. 2 Seneca, Epistulae Morales I, Boo/cs I-LX V edited with an English translation by R. M. Gummere, London, Loeb Classical Library, 1974 (Hereafter as SM). The references refer to the page numbers of this ' edition. 3 SM, p. 141. 4 SM, p. 403. 5 SM, p. 403. 6 I have tried to analyse the way Platonism is taken up and repeated by Augustine and Descartes in ‘Wisdom and Science in Augustine and Descartes’, in Idea and Production, No. 2, 1984. 7 SM, p. 407. 8 SM, p. 409. 9 SM, p. 409. The translator of the Loeb text also alludes in a footnote to this aspect of vote. 10 J. Derrida, ‘Signature, Event, Contexte’, in Marges de la philosophie, Paris, Editions de minuit, 1972, p. 369. 11 1M, p. 13. 184 NOTES 12 M. Heidegger, Nietzsche Volume 4, translated by F. A. Capuzzi, San Fransisco, Harper 81 Row, 1982, p. 249. 3 THE MEDIATED TOUCH: DAVIDSON AND TRANSLATION 1 All references to texts by Davidson are to his Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation, Oxford, 1984 (Hereafter cited ITI plus p. number). 2 ITI, p. 197. 3 ITI, p. 137. 4 ITI, p. 184. 5 1T1, p. 186. 6 ITI, p. 191. 7 ITI, p. 189. 8 ITI, p. 184. 9 ITI, p. 192. 10 ITI, p. 194. 11 ITI, p. 194. 12 ITI, p. 195. I3 ITI, p. 43. 14 ITI, p. 192. 15 ITI, p. 195. 16 ITI, p. 194. 17 ITI, pp. 196—7. 18 ITI, p. 198. 19 In Kant’s Political Writings, edited and translated by H. Reiss, Cambridge, 1970, p. 43. 20 R. Rorty, ‘The Historiography of Philosophy: Four Genres’, in Philosophy in History, edited by R. Rorty,J. B. Schneewind, and Q. Skinner, Cambridge, 1984. 21 The connection between this conception of temporality and the question of translation will be taken up in Chapter Six. 22 These latter thoughts on translation have been influenced by some of Derrida’s recent discussions of this topic, e.g. L’Om'lle de l’autre, autobiographies, transferts, Montreal, 1984; ‘Des Tours de Babel’, in Difference in Translation, edited byJ. F. Graham, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1985. 4 WALTER BENJAMIN AND THE TRANSLATOR’S TASK l W. Benjamin, ‘The Task of the Translator’, in Illuminations, translated by H. Zohn, London, Fontana, 1982. The German text, ‘Die Aufgabe des Ubersetzers’, is in Gesammelte Schnften, Band IV.l, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1978. Future references will take the form TT and AU plus the p. numbers. Zohn’s translation has, on occasion, been slightly modified. 2 This letter is quoted in G. Scholem, Walter Benjamin; The Story ofa Irma/zip, London, 1982, p. 121. 185 TRANSLATION AND THE NATURE OF PHILOSOPHY 3 Roberts, Walter Benjamin, London, 1982, pp. 118—21. 4 P. Szondi, ‘The Poetry of Constancy: Paul Celan’s Translation of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 105’, in On Textual Understanding and Other Essays, ,ranslated by H. Mendelson, Manchester, 1986, p. 165. 5 There are more general connections between Kabbalah and literary criticism and philosophy; see, for example, H. Bloom, Kabbalah and Criticism, New York, Sea Bury Press, 1975; and S. Handleman, The Slayer: of Moses: The Emergence of the Rabbinic Interpretation in Modern Literary Theory, Albany, State University of New York Press, 1982. 6 Paul de Man, ‘ “Conclusions”: Walter Benjamin’s “The Task of the Translator” ’, in The Resistance to Theory, Manchester, 1986, p. 77. 7 TT, p. 69; AU, p. 9. 8 I have discussed the relationship between these two papers in ‘Tradition and Experience; Walter Benjamin’s “On some Motifs in Baudelaire” ’, in A. Benjamin (ed.), Problem quodemibr; Adamo and Benjamin, London, Routledge, 1988. 9 Illuminations, p. 90. 10 TT, p. 70; AU, p. 9. 11 TT, p. 71; AU, p. 10. 12 See, for example, ‘Survivre’, in Parages, Paris, Galilée, 1986. I3 TT, p. 73; AU, p. l2. l4 1. Kant, The Critique ofPure Reason, translated by N. Kemp Smith, London, 1983, p. 183. 15 I am more than aware of the initial oddity of this claim. It is often thought, and with good reason, that Benjamin is an advocate of mimesis. In his 1933 paper ‘On the Mimetic Faculty’, he argues that for reasons already advanced within the paper, ‘language may be seen as the highest level of mimetic behaviour’ (p. 33). For Benjamin mimesis refers to what he calls hon-sensuous similarity’ between language and what is signified. It is not however the case that the relationship posited between language and the signified is the same as the relationship between the translation and the original. The difference between the ‘mode of intention’ and the ‘intended object’ can be understood in mimetic terms, the relationship between the translation and the original cannot. 16 Of all the recent studies of mimesis perhaps the one that deserves the closest consideration is P. Lacoue-Labarthe’s L’imitation des modemes, Paris, Galilee, 1986. See in particular his studies of Diderot, Holderlin, and Nietzsche. l7 TT, p. 74; AU, p. 13. 18 TT, p. 74; AU, p. 14. 19 In One 1449 Street, translated by Jephcott and K. Shorter, London, Verso, 1985. The German text, ‘Uber Sprache iiberhaupt and fiber die Sprache des Menschen’, is in Gesammelte Schnflen, Band 11.1. Future references will take the form LM and SM plus p. number. 20 LM, p. 109; SM, p. 142. 21 LM, p. 117; SM, p. 151. 22 LM, p. 119; SM, p. 153. 186 NOTES 23 While this may appear to involve an overtly theological claim, an appearance reinforced by the presence of theological motifs and texts, a similar distinction, without this background can be found in Mallarmé’s ‘Crise des Vers’, in S. Mallarmé, lgitur, Divagations, Un coup de de’s, Paris, Gallimard, 1976, p. 242. Les langues imparfaites en cela que plusieurs, manque la supreme. . . As there is no reference to a theological source in Mallarmé’s text, it would therefore have to follow that any claim that there was an implicit and unstated theological dimension would need argument and hence substantiation. The same is the case with Benjamin. 24 TT, p. 74; AU, p. 14. 25 G. Scholem, The Messianic Idea in Judaism, New York, 1971. 26 G. Scholem, Kabbalah,jerusalem, 1974. 27 Scholem op. cit., p. 13. 28 Augustine, The CoIJessions, translated by W. Pine-Collin, London, 1977, p. 272. 29 These distinctions will be clarified throughout the course of this chapter. However they will receive systematic discussion in Chapter Six. 30 TT, p. 78; AU, p. 18. 31 I have, more or less, followed De Man’s retranslation of this passage. 32TT, p. 80; AU, p. 19. 33 TT, p. 74; AU, p. 13. 34 For a discussion of this point see C. K. Barrett, The Gospel according to St. John: an introduction with commentag and notes on the Greek text, London, SPCK, 1978, p. 154. While accepting his analysis for the most part I have drawn different conclusions from the use of the continuous tense. 35 Heidegger dwells on the importance of this question in An Introduction to Metaphysics. 36 It is precisely in terms of the possibility of different and incompatible responses to the reality of the possibility gestured at in this expression that provides one of the ways of differentiating between modern and post-modern philosophy. 37 I have tried to present an interpretation of Heraclitus as a philosopher of difference and hence one inherently opposed to the Platonic tradition within the history of philosophy, in ‘Time and Interpretation in Heraclitus’, in A. E. Benjamin (ed.) Post Structuralist Classics, London, Routledge, 1988. 38 I have used C. Kahn’s edition of the fragments, The Art and Thought of Heraclitus, Cambridge, 1979. 39 Kahn, op. cit., p. 65. 40 It should now be clear that there is no such thing as naming per se. All theories of naming involve specific ontological and temporal conditions. In other words naming takes place within the specificity ofa particular ontologico-temporal structure. 41 TT, p. 71; AU, p. 10. 187 TRANSLATION AND THE NATURE OF PHILOSOPHY 42 TT, p. 71; AU, p. 11. 43 TT, p. 74-; AU, p. 14. 44 Illuminations, p. 89. 45 Illuminations, p. 90. 5 PSYCHOANALYSIS AND TRANSLATION 1 This letter is reprinted in ‘Josef Breuer’s Evaluation of his Contribution to Psychoanalysis’, P. F. Granfield, International Joumal of Psychoanalysis, Vol. XXXIX, p. 320. Ibid., p. 320. All references to this text are to Volume 3, of the Freud Pelican Library, Studies 0n Hysteria, London, 1974, (hereafter cited as SH plus page number). SH, p. 53. SH, p. 55. Another way of accounting for Freud’s break with Breuer could be in terms of experience. What Freud discovers is the problematic nature of this particular type of experience. The problem that emerges here, and it is a problem the continual confrontation with which is modernity, is how to experience what cannot be experienced. The differing responses ~ to this problem mark the distinction between the modern and the post-modem. SH, p. 59. - SH, p. 61. SH, p. 69. This letter has an interesting history. It is reprinted in J. M. Masson’s The Assault on Truth, London, 1984. It is used by him as evidence for his own explanation as to why Freud abandoned the seduction theory. And yet, ironically, it is clear that Masson has failed to understand what is at stake in this issue. The letter lends itself to a more adequate reformulation of this moment in the history of psychoanalysis. The argument advanced throughout this paper stems, in part, from the writings of Laplanche and Pontalis. Their work on fantasy provides the basis of a real reassessment of the reasons why Freud abandoned the seduction theory. See Jean Laplanche and J.-B. Pontalis, Fantaan originaire, Fantasme: des Origines, Origin: dufantasme, Paris, 1985. 1 1 The Complete Letter: of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fleixs 1887—1904, edited and translated byj. M. Masson, Harvard, 1985, pp. 264—6. 12 SH, p. 57. 13 While it cannot be explored in any detail what emerge here are two different relationships between time and narrative. The narrative of inclusion and completion is articulated in terms of what can be called the temporality of the instant; i.e. a self-inscribed temporality of a . beginning and an end. This differs fundamentally from the temporality proper to a narrative of open-ended retelling. Here what is at play Is the temporality of repetition. The problem is of course speufymg WM 050-?- Otomu 188 NOTES repetition. It is possible to understand the distinction in terms of Walter Benjamin’s distinction between information and the story. I have discussed relationship between time and narrative in Benjamin’s work in ‘The Decline of Art; Benjamin’s Aura’, Oxford journal of Art, No. 24, 1986. 14 In particular chapter VI, ‘The Dream Work’. 15 ‘On the history of the Psychoanalytic Movement’ in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works (J Sigmund Freud, Vol. XIV, p. 16. (All future references to this text will take the form of SE, plus volume, plus page number.) It is worth noting that Freud discusses his relationship with Breuer in the text. It would be of interest to pursue Freud’s estimation of why he broke with Breuer. For a more conventionally historical account of their relationship, see]. N. Isbister, Freud: An Introduction to his Life and Work, Cambridge, 1985, pp. 43—57. 16 SE, XXIII, p. 435. 17 This is a conclusion that is applicable to the earlier discussion of Heidegger. It is also one that indicates some of the elements to be taken into consideration in analysing the difference between forgetting in Heidegger and Nietzsche. 18 Both of these papers appear in Volume XIV of the Standard Edition. 19 SE, XXIII, p. 281. 20 It is odd that Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen suggests that Freud’s use of the term Vorstellung is ‘unfortunate’. It would seem that it is precisely the presence of such a term that marks the radical divide between the ' Freudian and Cartesian conception of the subject. It is only in terms of the impossible representation of self to self that it becomes possible to understand, for example, that psychic life is not reducible to the life of consciousness. See his paper, ‘The Freudian Subject, From Politics to Ethics’, (translated by Richard Miller), in October, No. 39, Winter,. 1986, pp. 109-29; especially p. 113. 21 SE, XIV, p. 152. 22 SE, XIV, p. 147. 23 SE, XIV, p. 153. 24 It is exactly this point that is made by Freud in the 1925 paper ‘Negation’, SE, XI, pp. 437—8. The important point is that the repressed can never be recognized as itself by the analysand; the content of a repressed image or idea can make its way into consciousness on condition that it is negated. Negation is a way of taking cognizance of what is repressed: indeed it is already a lifting of repression, though not of course, an acceptance of what is repressed. 25 SE, XIV, p. 156. 26 SE, XIV, p. 187. 27 SE, XVIII, p. 25. 28 SE, XII, p. 108. 29 SE, XIV, p. 167. 30 Patrick Mahony has traced nearly every instance and has provided a 189 ...
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Andrew Benjamin_on - TRANSLATION AND THE NATURE OF PHILOSOPHY A new theov of words AN DREW ENJAMIN R ROUTLEDGE London and New York 7 87 Chapter

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