Posted by: Rajesh Shukla | April 30, 2010

It was not light, but was sent to bear witness to the light

Herbinek ( 3 years old child who could not utter anything except mass-klo or matisklo can not bear witness says Agamben. His name was given by Levi. Child who survived Auschwitz was released by Red army with remaining survivors. He was the first who came out from the camp…) yet he bears witness with those words “matisklo “. One important thing was this that majority of survivors had forgot language proper ..their speech became almost mute !

Auschwitz was a ‘gray zone’ in which long chain of conjunction between executioner and victim comes loose, where oppressed becomes oppressor and executioner in turn appears as victim. A gray incident alchemy in which good and evil, along with them all the metals of traditional ethics reach their point of fusion.

Testimony is the disjunction between two impossibilities of bearing witness; it means that language must give way to non-language, in order to bear witness, must give way to non-language in order to show the impossibility of bearing witness. Language of testimony is a language that no longer signifies, and that, in not… signifying it advances what is without language to the point of taking on a different insignificance–that of complete witness.

To bear witness, it is therefore not enough to bring language to its own non-sense, to the pure undecidability ( m-a-s-k-l-o, m-a-t-i-s-k-l-o), it is necessary that this senseless sound, in turn the voice of something or someone that, for entirely other reasons,can not bear witness., the “lacuna” that constitute the human language, collapses, giving way to a different impossibility of bearing witness–that which does not have language. Trace of that to which no no one born witness, which language believes itself to transcribe, is not the speech of language. The speech of language is born where language is no longer in the beginning, where language fall away from it simply to bear witness ” it was not light, but was sent to bear witness to the light”

–Agamben on Auschwitz


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