re-location in liminal space

Usually I almost avoid to refer to texts, journals, magazines, etc .. which are not publicly available on the net, as for myself I experience it always as frustrating not to be able to retrace the named sources. In this case I want to make an exeption as the text I will refer to provides a nice compilation of insights and also connects well to theme, idea of thought processing and even the former post …. Equally there is a lot of material online which might help as a source to get a general idea about the analyzed book ‘Lost in translation: A Life in a New Language‘ of Eva Hoffman.

Nevertheless what makes me link to the recently published paper of Susan Fanetti is that I think it adds a further dimension by not only tracing the literary struggle for development of a contextualisation of the author but by carefully analysing or better to be expressed as excavating and translating the described process of re-locating a self into the ‘seemingly impossible’ space of the inbetween. An other aspect she adds is the analysis of a fixed ‘old-european’ identity changing into the flux of a postmodern processual identification. Despite citing Derrida’s quote that ‘an identity is never given, received, or attained; only the interminable and indefinitely phantasmatic process of identification endures’ Fanetti concludes:

Hoffman, though, embraces the process of identification as a context in which she can dwell with both autonomy and community. “Human beings don’t only search for meanings, they are themselves units of meaning, but we can mean something only within the fabric of larger significations” (Hoffman 279). Here Hoffman successfully finds an essence in essencelessness, negating the absolutism of Derrida’s “never.” Identification, signification, can be an identity if the signifier so desires and the context allows.

Where once she wanted a language that said/[held] “the whole world at once,” she comes to want “a language that will express what the face knows, a calm and simple language [. . .] a language old enough to plow under the superficial differences between signs, to the deeper strata of signification” (212).

Her family’s translocation to the other side of the world dislodges her from that essential knowableness and, without a context, Eva, no longer who she was, can say nothing. The magnetic draw of language holds her, though, and through it she ultimately learns to appreciate words not for their essence but for their essencelessness—their ability to reflect any context at any time. No longer trying to fit herself into a culture, she embraces her liminality—familiar with many cultures but of none, Hoffman realizes that, existing in the space between rigid constructions of culture and identity, she is free to be anything, anywhere, at any time—she is not bonded to her signifier(s), and language regains its vibrancy.
(link to the paper)

E. Hoffman in Guardian profile
in conversation with H.Kreisler and an interview by R.Birnbaum
short excerpt from the book
.. and lots more via any search machine

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