A Weak Messianic Power: Figures of a Time to Come in by Michael G. Levine

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By Michael G. Levine

In his well-known theses at the philosophy of background, Benjamin writes: "We were endowed with a vulnerable messianic energy to which the prior has a claim." This declare addresses us not only from the prior yet from what's going to have belonged to it in simple terms as a neglected danger and unrealized strength. For Benajmin, as for Celan and Derrida, what hasn't ever been actualized continues to be with us, no longer as a lingering echo yet as a secretly insistent attraction. simply because such appeals don't go through general channels of communique, they require a unique attunement, maybe even a style of subconscious receptivity. Levine examines the ways that this attunement is cultivated in Benjamin's philosophical, autobiographical, and photohistorical writings; Celan's poetry and poetological addresses; and Derrida's writings on Celan.

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JU 41). This “interval” between a future and a past opens, in other words, as the gaping absence of a present, suggesting that this wound in time, this missing present, is also a gap in consciousness, an “unforgettable” moment. Yet, it is “unforgettable” not in any normal sense but rather in the way that memory fragments are, according to Freud, “most enduring when the incident that left them behind never entered consciousness” ( JU 190, fn. 70). As was suggested in Chapter 1, the interval opened in Benjamin’s text between a future—“you will find us”—and a past—“were dead”—gives us to understand the future perfect tense in a new way—namely, as the time frame of a relationship between past and future that is not mediated by the present.

The event cannot be laid to rest. ( JU 44) Here as elsewhere in Felman’s writings, the symbolically open grave stands as the figure of an unmournable loss, as the sign of the survivor’s ongoing identification with the deceased, of an identification, one should note, that will be uncannily repeated in Benjamin’s own improper burial. ”33 In 1992, a monument was built. indb 30 7/30/13 11:20:09 AM The Day the Sun Stood Still 31 the two in turn also stand in their very lack of properness for those killed in the two World Wars, for those buried in anonymous mass graves, for those mass murders of the Holocaust and its airborne, unburied dead.

Mr. Dinoor, please, please listen to Mr. Hausner and to me,” says the presiding judge ( JU 149). It is at this moment that K-Zetnik faints, a collapse Felman interprets as follows: K-Zetnik faints because he cannot be interpellated at this moment by his legal name, Dinoor: the dead still claim him as their witness, as K-Zetnik who belongs to them and is still one of them. The court reclaims him as its witness, as Dinoor. He cannot bridge the gap between the two names and the two claims. He plunges into the abyss between the different planets.

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