ZIWZahntechniker-Innung Württemberg (German dental technician guild)
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(11) Segun Felstiner, Celan toma la palabra "Ziw" de la lectura de un libro de G.
The frame story is jettisoned in the last line of the poem: there a Hebrew word is explained by a German phrase: "Ziw, jenes Licht." The word Ziw means "glow" or "luster"; jenes Licht means simply "that light." I believe that Celan signaled in this extremely compressed line his position vis-a-vis two cultures, which is to say vis-a-vis Gershom Scholem and Martin Heidegger.
Felstiner's interpretation and translation of "Nah" followed the messianic and collective hope--"carried across" by the Yiddish aribetrogen and the German herfibertragen--to the redemptive use of "Ziw" at the end of the poem.
(21) When one thinks of the poem as a bridge between Scholem's and Heidegger's philosophies of language, between Ziw and "that light," Eckhart follows naturally, since both men saw the medieval theologian's text as a source for modern German.
(23) In Von der mystischen Gestalt der Gottheit, a copy of which he presented to Celan in April 1967, Scholem described the concept of Ziw. Scholem translated the word as "Lichtglanz" on the following page to where Celan left his comment (Scholem, Von der mystischen Gestalt 143).
If any Heideggerian reading would place the emphasis on the sudden appearance of Ziw, a foreign word popping, exploding, at the near-end of the poem, a poetic reading does not stop there: it extends the effort and asks the reader to reconfigure the implication of another, one last explicatory attempt that binds the two sides of the sentence together, shortly before sending the reader back to the point of beginning, for a second reading.
Celan stands in-between, between the Ziw and jenes Licht, in the comma, the place where one takes a breath and opens an unknown door, returning to the "near and unlost" word that accompanies some hope: "Hoffnung, heute, / auf eines Denkenden / kommendes / Wort / im Herzen (GW 2: 255).
But his emphasis on the "glistening of spilled blood" turns, a decade later, in "Nah," to the Ziw, or "that light," both the signifier of the divine and the moment of death, human finality, and the miracle in the symbol, in memory, in language that lives and reticently expresses its own in-betweenness, at the edge of nothingness, both German and Jewish (174).
Standing closer to "that light" would mean here the inherently contradictory notion of "nearness," which brings us closer to the word Ziw and farther into its shaded collective history and lonesome individual recurrence.