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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24823

Title: The Language of Real Life: Self-possession in the Poetry of Paul Celan, T. S. Eliot, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Paul Valéry
Authors: Marentette, Scott James Norman
Advisor: Chamberlin, J. Edward
Department: Comparative Literature
Keywords: poetry
Marx, Karl
Heidegger, Martin
Celan, Paul
Eliot, T. S.
Rilke, Rainer Maria
Valéry, Paul
property relations
Issue Date: 31-Aug-2010
Abstract: In his “Letter on Humanism,” Martin Heidegger conveys the importance he attributes to poetry when he states: “Language is the house of being” (“Letter” 239). In response to his early Jesuit education, he developed a secular alternative to theology with his existential phenomenology. Theology, poetry, and phenomenology share the basic concern of explaining the foundations of being. For Heidegger, ownership characterizes being in a fundamental way; in Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning), he establishes the “Ereignis” (“event of appropriation”) as the foundation of being. Ownership lies at the core of being in his thinking following Being and Time. Yet his philosophy ignores the material circumstances of ownership. By way of a materialist critique of Heidegger’s Idealist phenomenology, I expose how property-relations are encoded in the modern poetry and philosophy of dwelling with the question: who owns the house of being? The answer lies in “self-possession,” which represents historical subjectivity as the struggle for the means of production. Paul Celan, T. S. Eliot, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Paul Valéry are all poets who address the relationship between being and ownership in expressing what Marx and Engels call the “language of real life” in The German Ideology (26). In 1927, Eliot converted to Anglicanism and found solace in the realm of faith; by opting for the theology of dispossession, he surrendered his historical subjectivity. Rilke thought that he could find refuge from the marketplace in aesthetic beauty and pure philosophy but eventually disabused himself of his illusion. Similarly, Valéry sought refuge in the space of thought; basing reality in the mind, he forsook the social realm as the site of contestation for gaining ownership over being. As a poet who distinguished himself from the Idealism of his predecessors, Celan developed a structure of dialogue based upon shared exchange on common ground. A materialist approach to the poetry and philosophy of dwelling exposes property-relations as the foundation of the house of being.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24823
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Centre for Comparative Literature - Doctoral theses

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