Utopic Expressivity

On Laruelle’s Oraxiomatic Method and Paul Celan’s Vision of Poetry

  • Timothy Lavenz Independent Researcher
Keywords: active imagination, poetry, oraxiom, idiom, testimony, messianity, imaginal world, utopia, eschatology, vision, visionary, symbolic alteration of subjectivity, Corbin, Celan, Laruelle


A radical vision of the end times requires an equally radical mode of expression to transmit it, one that tears language from convention and renders it capable of visionary communication. This effort is palpable in non-philosophy’s oraxiomatic method as well as in Paul Celan’s poetic works. What use of language can induce an “eschatological comportment”? How does one voice a subjectivity “of-the-last-instance”? In this paper, I advance the idea that eschatological imagination and utopic expressivity are two sides of the same messianic activity of vision-creation. My principal goal is to explain and explore this thesis and these concepts through an encounter between Laruelle and Celan. To set the ground for this, I begin with Henry Corbin’s theory that the active imagination produces imaginal worlds (mundus imaginalis) which are invisible to mundane perception because they exist “nowhere.” Such worlds are accessed by creative acts that leap outside the world and open a space for the unlocalizable, or u-topia. My proposition is to treat Laruelle’s philo-fictions and Celan’s poetry as imaginal worlds and to collide them to produce a new understanding of messianic vision-creation. To achieve this, I first examine Vision-in-One and the oraxiom as a discursive method, as well as the rationale behind non-philosophy’s claim to produce a final ultimatum. I then challenge Laruelle’s claim that only this method is suited for the purpose. After reconstructing Celan’s vision of poetry from his 1960 Meridian speech and drawing inspiration from his poems, I contrast and synthesize these two radical modes of expression. Poetry is idiomatic and testamentary, not oraxiomatic and generic. Nonetheless, the two modes share many features, including: a critique of “sufficient” interpretations; a move beyond metaphor and meaning; a “use-of-silence” aware of how silence impacts speech; an orientation of the written work as “last-thingly” [letztdinglich]; and regarding the messianic dimension, a desire for person and language to form an indissoluble unity which is forever loyal to the human quest for utopia. I also argue that the oraxiom addresses a “You-of-the-last-instance” which Celan makes explicit; his work thus helps us understand non-philosophy’s own operations and, more importantly, the relational dynamic at play in all messianic and visionary works. By weaving together these manifestations of utopic expressivity and exploring their divergences and parallels, I offer a unique vision of how language can foster an end-times subjectivity and produce works that catalyze the eschaton.

Author Biography

Timothy Lavenz, Independent Researcher

Timothy Lavenz is an independent writer, translator, and researcher with a B.A. in creative writing and philosophy from the University of Iowa and an M.A. from the European Graduate School on the concept of messianity in the work of Laruelle, Derrida, Agamben and others. His philosophical essays have appeared in Kunst und Kirche and Epoché; his poems in The Susquehanna Review and Sequestrum (forthcoming). Other writings can be found at fragilekeys.com. Current projects include translating Pascal Quignard and Hans Blumenberg, and developing poems and stories. His passion is to innerve the ghosts of words and set the ear of language aflame.

How to Cite
Lavenz, T. (2020). Utopic Expressivity. Oraxiom: A Journal of Non-Philosophy, 1(1), 137-153. Retrieved from http://oraxiom.org/index.php/OJNP/article/view/30