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Thursday, 17 March 2011

Adrift: Hölderlin: Zu Sokrates Zeiten / In the Days of Socrates


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A Japanese home drifts in the Pacific Ocean in this photograph taken on 13 March 2011 and released on 14 March; ships and aircraft from the U.S. Navy's Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group are searching for survivors in the coastal waters near Sendai, Japan, in the wake of 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that officials say claimed at least 10,000 lives:
photo by Reuters/U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dylan McCord




Time was God judged.


....................Kings.

............Sages.

....................who judges now?

Is the entire people
...judge? the holy congregation?
...No! O No! who judges now?
...........a race of vipers!...... false and cowardly
.....................the nobler word no longer
........On the lips
O in the name of
.............................................I call you
........Down, old daemon!

Or............ send
..A hero

Or
..Wisdom





16 March: people watch a television broadcasting Japan's Emperor Akihito's televised address to the nation at an electronics retail store in Tokyo; Japanese Emperor Akihito said on Wednesday that problems at Japan's nuclear-power reactors were unpredictable and he was "deeply worried" following an earthquake he described as "unprecedented in scale". It was an extraordinarily rare appearance by the emperor and his first public comments since last week's devastating earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands of people: photo by Issei Kato/Reuters



....Vormals richtete Gott.


...............................Könige.

........................Weise.

...........................wer richtet denn itzt?

..Richtet das einige
.....Volk?
die heilge Gemeinde?
.....Nein! No!
o nein! wer richtet denn itzt?
.................................ein Natterngeschlecht!...
feig und falsch
.........................................das edlere Wort nicht mehr

.........................Über die Lippe

O im Nahmen

...................................................................ruf ich

..........Alter Dämon!
dich herab

Oder... sende
......Einen Helden

Oder
.......die Weisheit.






16 March: medical staff use a Geiger counter to screen a woman for possible radiation exposure at a public welfare center in Hitachi City, Ibaraki Prefecture, after she was evacuated from an area within a 12.4 mile radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant: photo by Asahi Shimbun/Reuters


Seen from an HH-60G helicopter, a house drifts in the ocean east of Sendai, in this U.S. Air Force handout photo dated 14 March, 2011; the U.S. Air Force is conducting search and rescue operations over the area following Japan's magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami: photo by Reuters/US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Katrina R. Menchaca


Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1783): Zu Sokrates Zeiten / In the Days of Socrates, fragment, c. 1803-1806, in Hymns and Fragments, translated by Richard Sieburth, 1984

8 comments:

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

Yes, exactly, "who judges now?" ---


3.17

light coming into sky above black plane
of ridge, faint silver planet by branch
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

repetition, observed subject
before it was “worked”

thinking what now is, though
still, more than once

silver of sunlight reflected in channel,
grey white sky on horizon next to point

curtisroberts said...

Thank you for including the German also. This is powerful and intense. "A race of vipers" indeed. I could have told you that.

TC said...

Steve,

thinking what now is, though
still, more than once

... that could pass for one of this amazing poet's "mad" fragments. (Though of course there's nothing mad about it.)

The need of the people for a King, a Sage, an Emperor or a Judge would seem an absolutely errant impulse in a postmodern capitalist society, the instinct to grasp for such a guide a sort of phantom limb reflex, the fossilized remnant of an earlier kind of society.

The obvious helplessness and cluelessness of the Emperor, with his small round head propped atop his tiny torso almost like that of a marionette, saying his sad and hopeless lines... well, when he said praying would be the best thing, that was the one part of his little talk that did strike a chord.

Another of the Hölderlin fragments, maybe related to the one here:

Denn nirgenbd bleibt er.
Kein Zeichen.
Nicht immer

Ein Gefäß ihn zu fassen.

__

He remains nowhere.
No sign
Binds.
Rarely

A vessel to grasp him.



Curtis,

You may indeed at one time or another, in the course of your professional work, have, as you gently imply, come across one or two of those "vipers". (I think they're the ones who spent the first several days of this crisis assuring everyone that everything is/was completely under control.)

curtisroberts said...

I'm afraid that from the beginning one had the unmistakable feeling of being lied to, of being "handled", which is horrible. For what it's worth (and what a memory to summon up; it feels both petty and irrelevant), I didn't feel that way during the Three Mile Island incident, which affected us directly in the New York area. Obviously, my own fear and enervation aside, I'm saddened for the Japanese citizens (and rate-payers) sustaining injury and insult also.

abadguide said...

Tom, a slight tangent, but did you guys see this? It's a rather good graphic depiction:

http://www.japanquakemap.com/

Artur.

TC said...

Well, to quote out of context a late teacher of mine (who was attempting to steer a then infant English university through a student revolution), these are parlous times.

The radioactive plume is due to make landfall here late tomorrow, along with a whopping haymaker of a Pacific storm.

We are not very good at being Americans, nor do we have have very much knowledge of their activities, but from what we can see, it does appear that, along with the usual majority of citizens who would have a hard time telling you which continent Tokyo is located in, there is some alarm, with a wee bit of inappropriate hysteria on the side.

Of course the world can have a good laugh about radiation panic in California. And after all, that's what we're here for.

To be truthful, Artur, that extremely fascinating and very, very terrifying streaming Quake Map probably scared us as much as any of the seemingly-endless stream of nervous-making pieces of information that have made of this week a veritable festival of helpless restless agitation.

We're sitting atop an active major fault which twitches every now and then just to let us know who's really in charge.

So watching the 473 large quakes of the past seven days, and the 37 large quakes of the past 24 hours, on the edge of the Pacific plate just off the east coast of Japan, streaming past in an uninterrupted flow, in that bit of gadgetry, was... unsettling.

But merely to watch a few minutes of the video feed from the Bad Zones in Japan is to learn new meanings of vigilance.

curtisroberts said...

That Japan Quake Map is astonishing and highly disturbing. You have to admit that the Mail Online really "puts things across". Another day, another editorial/graphic opportunity.

Barry Taylor said...

I was reminded of C.K Williams's poem 'Tar' - Three Mile Island and, among other things, 'the president in his absurd protective booties':
http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15874