Groves J, 2011, "‘The stone in the air’: Paul Celan’s other terrain" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 29(3) 469 – 484
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‘The stone in the air’: Paul Celan’s other terrain
Received 4 August 2009; in revised form 23 September 2010
Abstract. Literary writing has operated as a space of inquiry unsettling the literal and figurative ground on which thinking takes place. From Hölderlin’s invocations to the ether, to Walter Benjamin’s characterization of Baudelaire’s poetry as unfathomable, a certain tradition of writing, particularly in German letters, takes shape around a critique of gravity. Against the background of a geopoetics, I propose to turn to the question of an inconstant and inconsistent ground in Paul Celan’s ‘geological lyric’ by explicating the relationship in his writing between the earth and its unthought other: air. This reading has as its object of inquiry what I am calling Celan’s aerography, which is doubly articulated in the turn to aerial space in his poetry and in his articulation of the work of air in those terrestrial landscapes formed and deformed by aeolian processes. I argue that the radically dissipative geographies evoked in his poems could extend critical geographic inquiry into a multiple and turbulent materiality; however, the sheer spectrality of the material world in Celan’s poetry seems to require an (a)material criticism, that is, a materiality without matter.
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