Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Wounded Root

Both Edmond Jabès’s The Book of Questions and Jacques Derrida’s “Edmond Jabès and the Question of the Book” convoke with “imaginary rabbis”[1] in a lexical Ouroboros: the disembodied voices spread like the “certain ivy” Derrida describes in the beginning of his essay as capable of turning “its meaning in on itself.”[2] The register Derrida employs here speaks to the joy of the text, the joy of the corpus, of the poetic body: “Humor and games, laughter and dances, songs, circled graciously around a discourse which, as it did not yet love its true root, bent a bit in the wind.”[3] Derrida’s poetic register speaks to the poetry of Jabès’s The Book of Questions, questioning the hauntological exigencies of the text that turn the root back upon itself. Jabès’s questionable book becomes for Derrida the site where “a powerful and ancient root is exhumed, and on it is laid bare an ageless wound (for what Jabès teaches us is that roots speak, that words want to grow, and that poetic discourse takes root in a wound: in question is a certain Judaism as the birth and passion of writing.”[4] Let us take this root of poetic discourse that takes root in a wound and unwind the ivy whose meaning turns back upon itself.

[1] Edmond Jabès, The Book of Questions, trans. Rosmarie Waldrop (Middletown CT: Wesleyan UP, 1976), 26.
[2] Jacques Derrida, “Edmond Jabès and the Question of the Book,” Writing and Difference, trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1978), 64.
[3] Derrida 64.
[4] Derrida 64.

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