Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Many Have No Speech

Ernst Meister: "Viele..." (from Sage vom Ganzen den Satz, 1972)

haben keine
Wär ich nicht selbst
satt von Elend,
ich bewegte
die Zunge nicht.
Translated by Tatjana M. Warren with Robert L. Crosson:
have no
Had I not
my fill of misery,
I would not
move my tongue.*

Good verse is sometimes good because it provokes certain questions that are almost objections. An unquenchable thirst for the words of a silent partner.

One's "fill of misery" – would it not rather render utterly speechless? Or is the "fill" a saturation of such a sort that it comes after all the miseries, a deluge of misery that leaves nothing but the speech – words totally transformed in their function and depth – or depthlessness?


How to speak for the sake of the other who has no speech, without pretending to speak for the other (or: in place of the other – you cannot – even if you cannot avoid it, either)? A question – perhaps without an answer – that remains crucial for democracy.


* Quoted from Michael Mantler's website: