Poetics of History: Rousseau and the Theater of Originary Mimesis

Poetics of History: Rousseau and the Theater of Originary Mimesis

Poetics of History: Rousseau and the Theater of Originary Mimesis

Poetics of History: Rousseau and the Theater of Originary Mimesis

Synopsis

Rousseau’s opposition to the theater is well known: But is it possible that Rousseau’s texts reveal a different conception of theatrical imitation? This short but potent text from a powerful European thinker places Rousseau at the origin of modern speculative philosophy by showing that his thinking on the theater articulates a radical thinking of originary mimesis that was to inflect the future of philosophy.

Excerpt

During the winter semester of 1934–1935, in circumstances of which we are well aware, Heidegger for the first time included Hölderlin in his teaching program. For his commentary he chose—very deliberately, one imagines—two of the great completed hymns: Germania and The Rhine. Bound up in the anxious archipolitical question, “Who are we?” (implicitly: we Germans), the message of this course was unequivocal: Hölderlin alone holds the secret of Germanness or of the Germanic (to translate das Deutsche); only by listening to his Poem would it be possible to rectify the National Socialist deviation and to found in truth the Revolution that is in the process of being aborted. For this revolution is based on a philosophical proposition that is equally clear, through which, with respect to History, the properly transcendental status of Poetry (Dichtung) is established: Poetry, that is, art in its essence, inextricably composed . . .

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