Begegnungen mit Masse in Canettis zweitem Band Die Fackel im Ohr (German Edition)


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Hall, , — Magris also expresses some of the same ideas in an interview with Antonio Gnoli of La Repubblica, August 19, , 26; this interview appears in English in Salmagundi. August 19, , 1. August 26, Corriere della sera, August 19, , Dismissing all analytical approaches to the process of remembering — especially the psychoanalytic version — as some kind of unnecessary surgical operation, the narrator makes the case for the integrity of all memories.

The site of this battle between mother and son is the German language that — as we will see — is in quite a literal sense his mother tongue. Canetti dramatizes this battle in his three-part autobiography, which consists of Die gerettete Zunge , Die Fackel im Ohr , and Das Augenspiel In this process the German language is turned from a site of love into the site of a contest that concerns the boundaries between the self and the other, the mother.

The son must free himself from the mother to develop a proper sense of self.

Much more than documents.

Language, particularly the German language, becomes the battleground in this painful struggle for selfhood. Focusing on shifting images of orality and reading in Die gerettete Zunge, the essay explores first the eroticization of the German language. Language as a veritable battlefield where self and other thrash it out enmeshes not only mother and son but all representatives of divergent social forces. We will see how Das Augenspiel portrays a compromise between maternal demands on the one hand and the need for independence on the other.

Sonne can transcend social and linguistic antagonisms. Against the backdrop of the social satire of Karl Kraus, which is a central theme in Die Fackel im Ohr, the narrator now conceives the voice of the other as the domain of alterity and reciprocity. In contrast to the Canetti of Die Blendung and the early plays who uses the human voice for satirical purposes, the Canetti of the autobiography celebrates the elusive quality of the pure voice as a way of transcending battles for power, success, and knowledge.

Toward the end of the trilogy he envisages a utopian kind of orality that is devoid of all desire, in other words a new language that transcends the deadly battle between mother and son. What amounts to a split between Stimme and Schrift allows the son to continue to serve his mother and, at the same time, create a space that is other than mother.

The fact that this is at best a precarious compromise that is divorced from concrete reality makes Canetti a complex modern writer whose works display the very cracks and fissures that they attempt to cover up.

That the tongue is a dominant leitmotif in Die gerettete Zunge is so selfevident that many critics have stopped short of a more detailed analysis of its symbolism. The opening scene, which, with its powerful iconography, reenacts the existential threat of castration, a threat that is even more powerful by virtue of its deferral, is the first in a series of childhood memories that deal with sexual aggression and the fear of being devoured.

ES REICHT ! Beinahe hätte ich Selbstjustiz begangen ! Was ist los in diesem Land ?

The narrator tells us that the red tongues of the wolves come so close to her that the mother is haunted by this memory for years 6 GZ, And so is the son who, only a little later, is terrified when a wolf appears at his bedside with his red tongue hanging dangerously out of his mouth. For weeks, we are told, the wolf returns in his sleep. In all three episodes the red tongue is clearly associated with a male threat that is deferred from the boy to the mother and then back to the boy. The scenario is, however, further complicated by virtue of the complex cross-stitching of opposing functions of the tongue: although in the first episode the tongue is the direct target of a phallic threat, in the ensuing wolf episodes it is its very agent.

As both target and agent of the threat, the tongue is a highly libidinized object, a site of desire that, however, paralyzes its speech function: we learn at the end of the first chapter that the child could not talk about this original threat for ten years — his tongue was effectively cut off from the function of speech GZ, In clear contrast to the aggressively sexualized images of the early passages, the narrator depicts the relationship between husband and wife as a magical discourse that is only temporarily interrupted by the demands of the mundane world.

We are told that when the father came home from work, he would instantly speak to his wife in German. These talks revolve around their happy school days, the world of the Vienna Burgtheater, and their unfulfilled passion for acting GZ, Feeding their secret love at first through endless conversations in German, their marriage eventually legitimizes this continuous role-play. The narrator even implies that their marriage was an act of compensation for their missed careers on stage.

About this book

Be that as it may, Canetti felt lost in a spiritual desert created by himself, even though he had destroyed only a fictional library. Platz: Julian Einsiedler 6a 2. Singleton, Frank. Moeller , Robert G. Warum sind nur die eigenen Pupse lustig? Here, Elias attended elementary school, and his mother made plans to enroll him in a college preparatory school. Erhard Staufer SDB: staufer donbosco.

Wenn ich lange vergeblich gebettelt hatte, lief ich zornig davon [. The result of this transference of love to language is the libidinization of the German language, or to be more precise, the libidinization of the non-semantic quality of spoken German.

As pure sound without meaning, the language acquires an erotic quality that the boy registers as magic. Insofar as the entire episode revolves around the transference of desire onto language, it highlights that within the parental relationship desire is, to a large extent, desire for the libidinized word.

Her brutal teaching method with its emphasis on the spoken word and a reign of terror that involves the verbal degradation of her son whenever he makes a mistake has been commented on by generations of readers. In dieser Sprache hatte sich ihre eigentliche Ehe abgespielt. Here, however the mother induces a second language by forcing the son to swallow her tongue.

Remember that in the previous episode the son perceived the parental love talk as some magical babble that derived its desirability from the purity of the sound pattern. Forcing these sounds down his throat, the mother commits a brutal act that violates the boundaries between self and mother to such an extent that it is doubtful that the violated boy can ever occupy a space of his own. From now on mother and son are not only inextricably linked, but the mother will, as a kind of ventriloquist, speak through her son.

Furthermore, the brutal implantation of what is literally a mother tongue results in a symbolic matrix that both desymbolizes language and fictionalizes desire. To explore this further, it may be useful to remember the significance of accession to the symbolic order. Before we are speaking subjects in a world of coherent objects, we all inhabit a space without proper boundaries and borders. The implication here is that the symbolic order as the domain of language, reason, positions, rules, and so forth functions only because of the repression of the maternal.

Instead of freeing the child from the devouring mother, the German language locks him even further into a narcissistic dependence that will eventually result in a battle for life and death. One might argue, however, that the actual resolution of the teaching episode runs somewhat counter to my interpretation: we are told that this period of suffering ends through the cunning intervention of the nanny. When Miss Bray notices that the son lives in a constant state of terror, she plots to save the boy from a crazy teaching method that relies exclusively on an aural technique.

It is hardly surprising that, after some initial success, the son cannot remember all the sentences the mother has taught him.

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Whenever he makes a mistake, she spits verbal abuse on him, calling him an idiot. Eventually, Miss Bray ends his suffering by suggesting to the mother that he would like to learn Gothic script GZ, The argument that he will need to both speak German and write Gothic script when he enters school in Vienna persuades the mother to give him at last the much coveted grammar book. The resolution of the teaching episode suggests that the world of books can provide a safe haven from the violence of the maternal grip.

Reading would thus reinstate the symbolic order and achieve the eventual repression of the maternal. However, since the world of literature has already been associated with the eroticized love babble of the parents, this solution is doomed to failure. Instead of opening up a space for the third other, reading reinforces the maternal hold. From the safe distance of old age Canetti comments on the maternalization of German as follows: Immerhin, in Lausanne [.

Watching how the mother and Dozent take tea on the balcony of their apartment, he fantasizes that the balcony collapses and buries the rival. What has rarely been commented on is that this literal definition of the mother tongue cuts language effectively off from the symbolic order that allows the individual to negotiate a compromise between the excessive demands of the self and those of the other.

From now on mother and son indulge in a series of powerful narcissistic projections that are channeled through literature. Instead of introducing the space for the third other, literature is unwittingly turned into a narcissistic fetish that feeds into projections of grandeur and the eroticization of language. The price for this undisturbed unity between mother and son is the derealization, or vice versa, the fictionalization of sexual desire.

As a result of this configuration, literature becomes the only permitted locus of desire. Although the title Die gerettete Zunge points the reader to the iconography of the opening scene, the ensuing chain of images runs counter to its powerful symbolism: ironically, the myth of an original phallic threat turns out to be a screen memory that barely disguises a far more deadly battle between mother and son that fully erupts in Die Fackel im Ohr. Die gerettete Zunge ends with the image of the expulsion from paradise.

The blowup referred to in the chapter title is caused when his mother refuses to allow Canetti to go on a long-planned hiking tour in the Karwendel Mountains. The son, however, understands very well that the mother uses an artificially induced economic pressure as a pretext to maintain a firm hold over his life. This frantic activity is only interrupted when the family doctor appears and prescribes the desired walking trip as an appropriate cure. What is striking about this episode is not so much the vehemence of his counter-attack but the medium through which it is carried out.

enter By choosing the written word and thus evoking the world of writing that was at the heart of the symbiotic relationship between mother and son, he repudiates the notion that his mother and his language are one and the same. In her view, figures such as Karl Kraus and later Veza simply replace the maternal figure 13 with Veza providing new grand visions of Canetti the writer.

The third part of the autobiography indicates the possibility of such a space by prioritizing the voice over all writing. This is most evident in his relationship with Veza and, in Das Augenspiel, his conversations with Dr.

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Let me first turn to Veza: many readers of Canetti have noticed that the portrait of his wife-to-be remains strangely abstract and ephemeral. Comparing her twice to a Persian miniature FO, 72, , the narrator introduces her as a precious and exotic figure that has hardly a bodily existence. The demarcation of a space of her own demonstrates that Veza, unlike Canetti, has succeeded in mapping the boundaries that are necessary for the constitution of the self and the other.

Through Veza he discovers that real dialogue is based on the recognition of the difference between self and other. GZ, 77 The curious formulation that the book and not the son is flesh of her flesh reveals her claim that she has actually authored both the son and his writing. It is relevant to note here that the son uses the subjunctive when relaying what amounts to a classic projection that she would have liked to write exactly like that.

She is clearly unable to accept any kind of symbolic agency and the notion of representation. In Das Augenspiel the narrator explains that this led to regular confrontations which both of them loved as a token of 16 their mutual truthfulness and integrity A, 14— When in the above-mentioned chapter the narrator describes Kraus as a satirist whose mastery consisted in accusing people with their very own words, he introduces the notion of the acoustic mask FO, The characters of Die Blendung are a good example of this in that they expose themselves and their social origins through the way in which they speak.

But satire presupposes a superior moral point of view and, by implication, a hierarchical relationship between self and other.

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In order to address this question, I would like to analyze the figure of Dr. Sonne in Das Augenspiel. Through Veza, Canetti already experienced dialogue as a mode of communication that is passionate but free from dominance.