Workshop NYU Drucken

Speculative Worlds

11:00-16:00New York University, Great Room19 University Place10003 New York City

Abstract I


Paul North (Yale)

|What Thinking Feels Like|

One plausible origin for a speculative poetics is Hölderlin's almost inscrutable treatise in "poetic prose" on the experience of the poetic process, usually called by its first line, Wenn der Dichter einmal des Geistes mächtig ist... ("When the poet is finally in charge of his mind..."). The treatise, written in 1800 at the threshold of the new century, performs a poetic speculation on the possible relationship between poetry and speculation. These acts, it seems, can only be experienced in a third mode, which combines the effect of poetry and the sign of real thinking. Yet the third is not, like these two, an act. A poet is "in charge" of her mind when thinking becomes "feelable" in a poem; poetry and thinking are thus grounded in the possibilities that this minimum of affection provides. We know that feeling is a fundamental capacity and trope in Kant's critical philosophy and in the nascent Idealism of Fichte and others, Schiller included, that Hölderlin absorbed in the 1790s and soon criticized. Feelability and becoming feelable, however, are another thing entirely. Hölderin does not thematize fühlbarkeit outright in the treatise; rather it is an operative concept, partly hidden in the workings of his argument. This presentation chases down the words fühlen, fühlbar, and their shills and doubles, as they come and go in the text, in order to say why, for Hölderlin, one is only thinking when one is poetizing.