[b]Summary of Nick Land | Fanged Noumena | Heidegger’s 1953 Trakl Interpretation | Narcissism and Dispersion[/b]

Georg Trakl was an Austrian poet who I have come to begin to summarise as a ‘silent poet of images’. This might well place him in affinity with the Imagist movement, referred to as the first organised poetry movement of Modernism, not based on a doctrine, but on certain principles. Georg Trakl however, evolves his poetry and poems in a way which dissolves these criterion, removing the principles that are required for evaluation in normative, Genus Humili (General Style of poetry and analysis of poetry) ways.

Silence is not to say, looking for that which goes unsaid and can speak to us in a way which does not necessarily require a speaking subject. We are instead thinking of tracks being made by that which goes without saying, which is only available by not speaking and reducing poetry and indeed the ‘subject matter’ of its objects to the remnants of the onto- theological tradition, especially when we will encounter terms such as ‘spirit’, soul’ etc. Trakl lets flowers, maple leaves and rivers have their own voice. Language is something which can refer to and speak for, itself. It can, like a wave, move yet remain in place and this phenomena can be experienced exegetically by the reader of poetry. Poetic language is sublime – it is grand, transformative and elevating. Rhetorical devices are intensified but do not operate in isolation from the general understanding of language as something which is spoken, rather than also as something which we listen to in the case of ‘tip of the tongue phenomena’, or as someone new to a foreign language and as a child first coming to grips with the use of language, is experienced in poetic language and can transform and elevate descriptive, expressive, prescriptive language too.

This is to say that language has a lot in common with nature and culture – or our ‘double speaking’ experience as ‘subjects’, or more precisely, as ‘tracks’ cut out of the fabric of language of which formless words ‘take the places’ upon the fabric. Reading poetry can bring about an emphatic experience of transformation and escalation. As the atomistic subject is but a remnant of substance metaphysics which have conflated the thought with language but failed to account for the unsaid, the non-conceptual, dissolves into tracks and traces, we can see ‘natures’ which are first and second being a performative function – a speech act of illocutionary force and perlocutionary force (the listened to) which derives from the very structure of language as such.

This radical reader – the speaking subject which is the production of language itself, that each expression is an escalation and inscription of a drive to amplify, run away with itself and disperse itself not in a dichotomous metaphysical sense, in terms of transcendental philosophy where the pure, ‘interior’ is but dead heart wood which can never be touched, only presupposed from a centrifugal movement, multiplication and material production of itself for the sake of production – each movement which remains in place is novel. The ‘second’ or ‘non-primary’ nature is shaped and reshaped by the experience of language itself, of a certain, special attention.

There are causal implications, occupying such differential relational spaces which signify without termination are now of a stratophysical kind – we are no longer to think of being as the effect of some Big Bang, but rather as a constraining of it, a reflexive response, not merely an illumination based on the gathering of ideas which give us a total, pure, soteriological end, but instead an irritation, being is out-breaking, like a disease, not fitting to any discernible law.

Trakl tells of a wildness which defines the margin between human and animal, the wildness is the animality of the rationality which has been repressed by the Platonic-Christian dualities which he always seeks to destruct and then open the wandering, ‘spiritual twilight’, the purple sky and blue mirrors, scattered stars and signs which then dislocate and displace general language with sublimated fury, contaminating it from within itself. The spiritual twilight denotes this ‘in-between’ world which Trakl is suffering and aware of its horrific beauty – purple can be either dawn or dusk, the end or beginning where sunlight has been constricted by the fast movement of the Moon, Nietzsche once wrote, ‘So long as you still see the stars as something "above you" you still lack the eye of the man of knowledge.’, aside from problematising interiority, exteriority, above and below, it does give us some of the sublimating fury required to gather in Trakl’s forest what he wants to not say in order for it to be heard using its own voice in a perlocutionary act from language, or as Trakl sees the stars in the same ‘dimming-light’, as scattered signs which are not obeying any discernible law as to where they appear, but which have for all of humanity’s animalistic repression, being the focus of wonderment and for salvation.

Heidegger thinks of all poets, as being sublimated by the ‘poets poem’ or to put it another way, each poet only truly writes one poem which he then elevates, transforms and attempts to merge with its mode of ‘stratafication’, not towards the stars, but down to the soil, in the Traklean lake in the moonlight which appears blue in its blackness – but Trakl’s ‘poets poem’ is the notion of separateness or apartness – the spirit is apartness and by dissolving back into the primary process of the novel and transformative process of poetic language, we are able to listen to a space where separateness as the spiritual force which drives the soul, brings us to terms with ourselves when we resonate with poetic language, even for small instants, can be incredibly revolutionary when we are cut into the tracks or Traklean apartness.

Heidegger sees a ‘gentle destructiveness’ which stratafies novel creativity towards what Hannah Arendt commented and defended Heideggers’ 1953 Trakl interpretation as a ‘vitalism’ and not as an act of violence upon the text, but instead Heidegger ensures that he is central to the text as a reader, animated by speech and promising maybe, a ‘second chance in life’. Progress to Heidegger has always been destruction and to Trakl, more than anyone, was affected by the horrors of the Battle of Groodek of which he was working as a military pharmacist in 1914, having at once announced a revival of romantic themes in modern poetry he also announces the encroachment, enclosure and contamination of industrial warfare, which would set the scene of the 20th century - Trakl even rejected the strata, or principle criteria for success in society by taking an overdose of cocaine sufficient enough to kill him.

From this jagged path, rather than a wave-like wandering journey across the ‘spiriting night’, we can see how seductive metaphysical inquiry can be, how from the self-referring perlocutionary structure of language, we can intensify ourselves, turn ourselves ‘inside’ out by not just thinking of language as something which has to be spoken, but which comes from silent gestures and attention, or care-for-the-self (Sorge). However, this vital production which has no principle basis can over extend itself, narcissism has the drive to spread itself far and wide and we can go out with a bang, or as the next essay in Land’s text is entitled - we can be ‘Delighted to Death’, indicting the embodied drives of our secondary nature are towards death, not power.

Useful links:

Heidegger’s essay ‘Language’ is in this text:


Useful text for the understanding of language as something we listen to:


Trakl’s poems with an introduction


On Heidegger and Trakl, the use of colour and thinking of animality


Basic seminar notes on Heidegger’s text