The Glasgow Review of Books on
Charles Bambach's Thinking the Poetic Measure of Justice
Bambach claims that Heidegger’s reading of Hölderlin serves to obscure this fundamental aspect of exchange with the other by emphasising what he calls “the narrow myth of autochthony”, and later describes as “the myth of a pure Greek arche untouched by foreign influence.” The becoming of a people, for Hölderlin, is a reciprocal process demanding mutual exchange between native and foreign, and his account of the becoming of Ancient Greece, in Bambach’s reading, is no different. Far from being a pure arche then, Greece, for Hölderlin, depended on a “positive appropriation of the foreign”. Hölderlin, in his rejection of the hegemony of self-appropriation, holds much in common with what Bambach calls “the Jewish critique of ontology”, evinced by the likes Rosenweig, Lévinas, Derrida, and, crucially, Celan. For these thinkers, the mutual exchange between self and other at the heart of ancient Greece allows the “metaphysics of totality-identity that dominates the work of Western philosophy”, or the privileging of identity over difference, to be critiqued, as a way of overcoming the politicised motifs of authenticity and identity at work in Heidegger’s absolutization of the poem.