Sunday, April 23, 2017
The Event of Language - translated from Giorgio Agamben's "What is Philosophy?"
Everything that the philosopher writes – everything that I have written – is nothing but a preface to an unwritten work or – which is, in the end, the same – a postlude in which the ludus is absent. Philosophical writing cannot but have a prefatory or epilogical nature. This means, perhaps, that this has not to do with that which can be said through language, but with λόγος (logos) itself, with the pure givenness of language as such. The event, which is in question in language, can be only announced or dismissed, never said (not that it is unsayable – unsayable means only un-predictable; this coincides rather with the givenness of discourses, with the fact that men do not cease to speak to one another). That which language succeeds in saying is only preface or footnote, and philosophers, who distinguish themselves by whether they prefer the first or the second, adhere to the poetic moment of thought (poetry is always announcement) or to the gesture by which, in the end, they play the lyre and contemplate. In any case, that which is contemplated is the unsaid; the dismissal of the word coincides with its announcement.
–Giorgio Agamben, “On Writing Prefaces,” p. 131 (my translation)
In: Giorgio Agamben, Che cos’é la filosofia? [What is Philosophy]. Macerata: Quodlibet, 2016, pp. 123-131.