SAYING AND NOT-SAYING IN H(tm)LDERLIN'S WORK
Man's life is thought,
And he, despite his terror, cannot cease
Ravening through century after century,
Ravening, raging, and uprooting that he may come
Into the desolation of reality.
A couple of Latin words to begin with. They are the adjective nefandus and the noun nefas. Nefandus means 'unspeakable', 'unutterable'; it can be used to describe a subject about which it is not permissible to speak. Nefas has the larger meaning of 'something unlawful, a thing it is not permissible to do'; but the two words are closely related and come from ne...fari: 'not...say'.
Hölderlin's Empedokles utters 'Unauszusprechendes',1 and in doing so commits a sin which he seeks to expiate by his suicide. It is a ' Wortschuld' which is understood as a fateful act.
King Oedipus' crimes, inexorably brought to light in Sophocles' play, are such that it feels like a sin even to utter them. They are, says the Chorus, αρρητ + ̕ άρρήτωυ -- of unspeakable things the most unspeakable'. ' Unsäglichstes' is Hölderlin translation (V, 143).
My subject is 'Saying and Not-Saying in Hölderlin's work'. The penultimate strophe of ' Germanien' will serve as a point of departure and orientation:
O trinke Morgenlüfte
Biß daß du offen bist,
Und nenne, was vor Augen dir ist,
Nicht länger darf Geheininfiß mehr