Friday, 7 December 2007

Five quotes on language

“We live in our language like blind men walking on the edge of an abyss.” —Gershom Scholem to Franz Rosenzweig, 26 December 1926.

“Language is the language of Being as clouds are the clouds of the sky. In what it says, thought leaves inconspicuous furrows in language. They are even more inconspicuous than the furrows that the farmer, slow of step, draws through the field.” —Martin Heidegger, “Letter on Humanism,” in Pathmarks (Cambridge: CUP, 1998), p. 276.

“The origin lies at a place of inevitable loss, the point where the truth of things corresponded to a truthful discourse, the site of a fleeting articulation that discourse has obscured and finally lost.” —Michel Foucault, “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History,” in Language, Counter-Memory, Practice (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), p. 143.

“The Wittgensteinian definition of the mystic as the appearing of what cannot be said is literally a definition of the gag. And every great philosophical text is the gag exhibiting language itself, being-in-language itself as a gigantic loss of memory, as an incurable speech defect.” —Giorgio Agamben, Means without End: Notes on Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 2000), p. 60.

“In the beginning was the Speech.” —John 1:1.

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