Body Language: Corporeality, Subjectivity, and Language in by Julia Goesser Assaiante

By Julia Goesser Assaiante

Body Language: Corporeality, Subjectivity, and Language in Johann Georg Hamann addresses the centrality of sensual conception to the structure of subjectivity and the ensuing dating among subjectivity and language within the paintings of Johann Georg Hamann. In positing the physique because the entity that stipulations a subject’s come upon with the area, Hamann, it really is argued, prefigures a thought of finite subjectivity that not just runs counter to the Enlightenment culture but in addition reemerges in 19th- (Kierkegaard and Nietzsche) and twentieth-century (Benjamin) discourses at the rigidity among subjectivity and the abstraction of language. the ambiguity on the middle of this research is Hamann’s radical circumscription of cause as expressed via language, which however makes an attempt to recover the idea that of common which means via religion. Language is wrested clear of abstraction and, accordingly, any universality, and turns into the expression of the finite, corporeal subjectivity, a country of problem that's straight away granted and resolved by means of a divine writer.

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Extra resources for Body Language: Corporeality, Subjectivity, and Language in Johann Georg Hamann

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62 The starting point of Hamann’s intervention can be summarized as follows: how is it possible to approach and delineate the realm of nonlanguage given that human subjectivity can only do so through language? The realm of non-language is primarily understood as a lack of language, thereby presupposing a concept of language logically prior to any understanding of non-language. That this ultimately leads to a contamination of these two realms is addressed by Klaus Heinrich’s psychological meditation, Versuch über die Schwierigkeit nein zu sagen: Sprechend übersetze ich in einem fort, von einer Sprache in die andere, aber immer: von Sprache in Sprache.

A key move by Hamann here is to reveal concepts themselves to be individual and contextually determined, destabilizing precisely that entity assumed to carry knowledge. Moreover, returning to the metaphor of refracting light, an utterance reflects not only a subjective response to the world, but also the way in which the world contextualizes that subjectivity. The realm of the particular exists both on the level of content, reflecting subjective experience and its contextualization vis-à-vis the world, and on the level of style, reflecting the subject’s radically individual mode of perceiving experience.

In addressing us directly, the letter “h” is asserting itself as autonomous from human creation or volition. The suddenly speaking “h” upends the notions that individual letters only attain value in concert with their brethren, and that these building blocks of language serve solely at the beck and call of man. 105). However, if the letter “h” can only speak in a human voice, with human language, then the language it uses (and remains part of) is not autonomous from, but rather determined by, the human.

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