A Music of Translation
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A Music of Translation*

In his article "The Caesura of the Speculative," Lacoue-Labarthe proposes that it might be the neglect of Hölderlin's dramaturgical work, in other words, the exclusive consideration of his work as poetry, which has helped to circumvent a double-folded question: how is it that Hölderlin's writing works both to elaborate and dismantle speculative thought, or, what Lacoue-Labarthe calls "the speculative-tragic matrix"; and how is it that "nothing, finally, could offer him the resources of an 'other' thought, or give him the possibility of instituting any difference in relation to it."1 In what follows, I propose a reading of Hölderlin's "Anmerkungen zum Ödipus," the notes meant to accompany his translation of Sophocles' tragedy.2 Even before a response to the question raised by Lacoue-Labarthe, the following text is intended to show how this question might be approached. The mechanism of a double suspension works in-and un-works-my writing. It follows what Hölderlin himself in his "Notes" calls a "double infidelity." Suspending at once, art and thought, (the) work and (the) subject, it is destined to open an "other" space of response, since the "other" is perhaps precisely other than thought-or, at least, that thought which has defined itself in terms of the concept: thought as a place of gathering, thinking as concentration.

My reading of Hölderlin owes a considerable debt to and is to some extent a reading of Lacoue-Labarthe's "The Caesura of the Speculative." Yet, what I propose here tends to diverge from Lacoue-Labarthe's [End Page 1052] interpretation as regards, I would say, its destination, and a sense of space or closure that comes as an effect of "destiny" (destination as diverted by desire). Where he states that Hölderlin "was not able to give rise to any logic that might have been properly his own and that could have brought about a scission,"3 there I do not quite agree, or, only to the point that this must inescapably be the conclusion, if the question's origin and destination is philosophical, and even, philosophy itself. It is not, that such a work as "The Caesura of the Speculative" does not also exceed the strictly philosophical at times-quite the opposite, this excess is precisely its challenge and its immense interest for works of a non-philosophical direction-yet, it returns to itself, it never forgets its destination, which is, without doubt, philosophical. This "return to itself" is, what since Aristotle has been called entelechia, a textual as well as a properly philosophical device of a return, an identification of destination and origin. It is precisely the return to the same and the self which Hölderlin severely unsettles in and with his "Anmerkungen." He lets "himself" be challenged, puts his writing, his text, and not only that, at risk. For the challenge of following the other turn, that is to say, the turn of the tragic, he abandons, or rather, he will have deserted at some point, the traditional, that is, the philosophical sublimation of the contradiction which comes with suffering-and the sublimation of another contradiction, which, perhaps not altogether different, comes with art.4 In my reading, I tend to accentuate the scission that is indeed working in Hölderlin's writing, that is productive, even if it did not (not yet) produce another thought, another philosophy, not even, another literature. I pursue this reading of an accentuation of a certain dissolution-and I will continue to insist on the productive force of this paradox-along the lines of scission drawn by a question of form. The diversion of Hölderlin's work from the philosophical, or certainly, from philosophy, begins to become severe, that is to say, cutting, with the consideration of "(re)cognition" (and, perhaps, with what exceeds it).5 The "question of form" is, for Hölderlin, not simply a question, neither does it succumb to "formalism." It is a matter of elaboration, operation, organisation, realisation-in Blanchot's words, work and unworking; it is experimentation and experience. And thus, "(re)cognition" becomes here less a matter of...