Volume 15, Issue 1, 2016
Scattering the Articles of Textual Law
An interrogation of the poethical turn in the later work of Levinas
This article interrogates the poethical turn in the work of the later Levinas. In the first instance, this reading brings to the fore the extent to which Levinas’ early ethical position paradoxically repeats formerly denigrated aspects of Heidegger’s philosophy. Secondly, through the aperture of Celan’s poetry, Levinas’ later ethical reformulation is examined. This article demonstrates that it is through a heightened attention to language that Levinas attempts to counter the tacit duplication of Heideggerian ideals. Crucially, this article seeks to establish that it is only when Levinas fully embraces the ‘poetry of language’ that the residual Heideggerian re-inscription is finally redressed; this process of redress being mediated via what Celan refers to as ‘the not-to-be-deciphered’ free-floating poetic word.