Abstract

abstract:

How is it that things come to sound in language? What demands does the sound of language make on the disposition of thinking? This article motivates and addresses these questions by turning to two thinkers who insist upon the sonorous character of language: a philosopher, Martin Heidegger, and a poet, Wallace Stevens. Rather than subordinate poet to philosopher or philosopher to poet, I attempt to read the two together in tension. Heidegger’s resistance to anthropocentric conceptions of language reveal in Stevens the otherwise understated importance of attunement and disposition. Similarly, Stevens’s insistence upon the sound of words reveals a significant and neglected aspect of Heidegger’s famous etymological analyses. Together, these two authors draw poetry and philosophy closer together by revealing that thought, as language, always involves a poetic, sonorous element and that the poetic sound of language is already an incipient thinking. On the basis of a careful reading of Heidegger’s “Language” lecture and Stevens’s poem, “Of Mere Being,” I argue that words can be fruitfully understood as the “acoustic gestures” of things and that philosophy, at its best, is able to cultivate a disposition attentive to these gestures.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9383
Print ISSN
0891-625X
Pages
pp. 553-570
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-20
Open Access
No
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