Tag Archives: Jean Cocteau

Orpheus hands mirror

The Orpheus Myth: Life and Death in Media

Writing – black traces on white paper, with symbols peculiarly, arbitrarily fashioned –  and film – the captured moving image – are means of capture, storage and absorption.  What is contained in a written trace?  And what is contained in thought?  And why is one compelled to contain thought in a trace?  How are thought and perception captured by film?  A contemplation of the nature of media traces inevitably leads one to consider questions of aliveness.  The static materiality of the written trace exists in a complex relationship with the airy, lively presence of thought, suggesting a duality analogous to that of life and death.  In considering the nature of writing, Derrida writes “…access to the written sign assures the sacred power of keeping existence operative within the trace and of knowing the general structure of the universe…”[1]  Unfolding the word “existence” reveals the questions at the heart of this seeming duality in the nature of the trace.  Lurking barely under the surface of the word is the unsolvable puzzle at the heart of existential philosophy: What are the edges of existence?  Is there a divine presence in this world?  What happens when we die?  Is there another realm of existence?   And, for our purposes, what is the relationship of art to life and death, or to another realm?  About this last question, Theodor Adorno, in his essay “The Form of the Phonograph Record,” writes:

‘There is no doubt that, as music is removed by the phonograph record from the realm of live production and from the imperative of artistic activity and becomes petrified, it absorbs into itself, in this process of petrification, the very life that would otherwise vanish.  The dead art rescues the ephemeral and perishing art as the only one alive.’[2]

Adorno is suggesting that the dead art of the phonograph record absorbs life, extending the existence of life “that would otherwise vanish.” The compelling nature of the existential questions posed above lead naturally to questions of life and death in the world of art and media, where it is possible to observe the extension of existence in the storage containers created for art’s keeping beyond the seeming death of individual consciousnesses – ink, paper, stage, record, canvas.

The myth of Orpheus has been absorbed into so many tablets, papers, songs, films, stage plays, poems, paintings and sculptures since its origin in ancient Greece that its continuing existence feels safely immortal from our current perspective in history.  Jean Cocteau and Rainer Maria Rilke both opened the storage jars containing the myth of Orpheus, and, using the threads and colours they found there, created something new out of its essence, in particular exploring the myth’s themes of liminality and the nature of the creative source.  This essay will explore how Rilke and Cocteau have imagined the edges of existence and how their art enacts the subtle and complex relationships along the border between life and death, and consciousness and unconsciousness.  Their Orpheic works explore the boundary between life and death as a seemingly solid line, which as one approaches it becomes dissolved, merging both sides into an in-between place, with properties all its own.  In Cocteau’s 1949 film Orpheus this place is called “the Zone”, which he described as:  “…the fringe of life itself, a no-man’s land between life and death.  There, one is neither completely dead nor completely alive.”[3]   Rilke created a space like this in his poems and placed the poetic gaze within it, contemplating outward into both imagined realms of life and death.  Rilke’s main poetic works dealing with Orpheus are his 1922 Sonnets to Orpheus, a cycle of 55 complete sonnets, but Orpheic themes appear in much of his work, including his master work, the Duino Elegies, also completed in 1922.  In “The Eighth Elegy” from Duino Elegies, Rilke calls the space in-between life and death  “Nowhere without the no,” a paradoxical phrase that cryptically suggests a “where” which is not “Nowhere”, but which is also not “somewhere”.  I will suggest that the written trace of poetry and the recorded material of film represent a similarly seeming solid line that in its tracery of meaning transforms meaning and is transformed by meaning, that meaning and tracery dissolve into one another, creating something altogether new.  The trace is like the Zone – a space where meaning touches and mingles with delineation and both are transformed into something new by the encounter.  In particular, I will explore this idea through the lens of poetry’s relationship to the idea of the natural and instinctive world, as well as through depictions of the compelling and sensuous intimacy of the poet’s encounter with death.  Adorno’s quote suggests a paradigm of storage where a “dead” article of media borrows the ephemeral spark of life from a live art, extending its life, but my paradigm suggests that, especially in the case of poetry, the trace mingles with the ephemeral spark and creates something altogether new,[4]  which in itself is a reflection of the artistic process, whereby the subjective gaze of the person viewing/hearing/feeling art mingles with the piece, and as a result experiences a transformation in consciousness.

The story of Orpheus is about the journey of the poet into the realm of death and back again: Orpheus is a mortal poet and musician, who with his lyre has the power to charm gods, people, animals and even the stones of the earth.  His wife, Eurydice, is bitten by a viper and killed.  Orpheus, in his grief, sings laments that sadden the gods, who are moved by his power to suggest that he go to the Underworld to find Eurydice and bring her back.  His music enchants the god and goddess of the Underworld, Hades and Persephone, who agree to let Eurydice go back to the upper world, on the condition that Orpheus does not look at Eurydice until they are both back in the upper world.  At the last moment, Orpheus is too quick to look at her, and she vanishes forever into the world of death.

Cocteau’s character Orpheus enacts the compulsive fascination of the poet to reach into the realm of the “unsayable”[5] – a realm where sparks of creation exist in mysterious and perpetually elusive clouds of ambiguity –to create a trace that captures and carries sparks from this realm back into the referential world.  Cocteau’s poet and Rilke are both fascinated in different ways with this other realm.  Rilke’s fascination for it is often expressed through contemplation of the natural world: earth, water, sky, wind, animal, star, or tree; and he expresses in his poetry the inability of words ever to capture nature.  Cocteau’s Orpheus is fascinated by the nearly impenetrable ambiguity of the supernatural messages coming unbidden through the radio of a car belonging to the realm of the dead: “Silence goes more quickly backwards than forwards,” “Jupiter gives wisdom to those whom he wishes to lose” and “The night sky is a hedgerow in May.”[6]

One of the significant aspects of the myth that is explored by both Rilke and Cocteau is Orpheus’ ability to create art, and, correspondingly, the question of art’s source and power, and its relationship to the natural world.  In his notes to the published transcript of Orpheus, Cocteau writes that the theme of the film is

‘…inspiration: one should say expiration rather than inspiration.  That which we call inspiration comes from within us, from the darkness of our own night, not from outside, from a different so-called divine night.  Everything starts to go wrong when Orpheus ignores his own messages and agrees to accept messages coming from outside.’[7]

What is suggested here is that the creative impulse rising from a mysterious source within the poet (“the darkness of our own night”) is itself an element of the natural world to be channelled through the consciousness and industry of the poet, and that seeking another source for art – from outside – is a departure from the natural and leads to disaster, or “expiration”.   One interesting thread of the original Greek Orpheus myth that exists in Cocteau’s film is Orpheus’ power to sing songs in the language of nature.  He can sing in the language of divinity, animal and stone, as well as in the language of the human.  His singing is a primal movement of art that transcends the limits of different categories of being, suggesting that his art is in the language of pure being.  The story of his movement between different planes of existence is another statement of the theme of crossing thresholds normally perceived as absolute, and is a suggestion that those thresholds are permeable – for the artist.

The question of the relative states of purity of a creative source, and whether this source can be located within the human consciousness at all is a thought that Rilke explored in his essay “Primal Sound” (1919).  In the essay, Rilke remembers the moment from childhood when a science teacher instructed his young pupils to reproduce the technology of the phonograph by constructing one from whatever materials were available, which is when he first saw and heard the traced grooves of waves of sound.  This memory combines with another, of his time studying anatomy at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts when he became fascinated with the “coronal suture” of a skull one evening by candlelight: “I knew at once what it reminded me of: one of the those unforgotten grooves, which had been scratched in a little wax cylinder by the point of a bristle!”[8]  Synthesizing the two ideas and coming up with something groundbreaking, Rilke suggested that the needle of a phonograph might be “directed…along a tracing which was not derived from the graphic translation of sound but existed of itself naturally…along the coronal suture, for example… A sound would necessarily result, a series of sounds, music…”  He goes on to write, “Feelings – which?  Incredulity, timidity, fear, awe – which of all feelings here possible prevents me from suggesting a name for the primal sound which would then make its appearance in the world? …”[9]  Rilke’s deep feelings in this moment emanate from his belief that the true aim of the poet is to capture the purest existence of nature, and this “authorless”[10] sound is that purity, as it is the author who corrupts and distorts purity with human desires and longing.  Robert Hass, in his introduction to Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Rilke, writes: “The key to this is the idea of mirroring.  He imagines the artist as a polished surface, disinterested…which mirrors the world back to itself and, by wanting nothing of it, makes it real.”[11]  Kittler calls Rilke’s primal sound “an absolute transfer, that is, a metaphor” and goes on to say, “A writer thus celebrates the very opposite of his own medium – the white noise no writing can store.”[12]  In Cocteau’s Orpheus, when asked what a poet is, Orpheus answers, “One who writes without being a writer.”[13]

Rilke addresses this longing for the purity of nature to be “poured” into him, and for this purity to become “true singing”, another way of expressing “primal sound”, in the third sonnet from Sonnets to Orpheus:

‘…Song, as you have taught it, is not desire,

not wooing any grace that can be achieved;

song is reality.  Simple, for a god.

But when can we be real?  When does he pour

the earth, the stars, into us?  Young man,

it is not your loving, even if your mouth

was forced wide open by your own voice – learn

to forget that passionate music.  It will end.

True singing is a different breath, about

nothing.  A gust inside the god.  A wind.’[14]

This poem depicts Rilke’s envisioning of the creative source.  He imagines “true singing” to be composed of the elements of nature, and poured into the poet by a divine hand.  The sentence asking, “But when can we be real?” expresses his deep longing to experience this purity, and for his art to express this.  His admonition to the young man to “learn to forget” the “passionate music” sung by his “own voice” is Rilke imagining the dissolving of the self, the author, the subjective consciousness into some other kind of existence represented by nature, where true singing is “a gust inside the god.  A wind.”  This expresses Rilke’s sense of a force compelling purity in artistic expression – for life or nature to be channelled somehow through the poet as purely as possible, with the most extreme and ideal purity achieved through the vanishing of the author.   However, it is significant that Rilke is also compelled by circumstances – by the need to contain “the gust inside the god” in a medium that can be shared, which would require the particular language, choice of materials, and channels of individual consciousness of the artist, in order to continue the natural process of transformation of consciousness by these messages.  The relationship of this yearning for the purity of nature with the necessity of choosing a containment medium suggests a paradox at the heart of this artistic compulsion.  This poem expresses Rilke’s wish to dissolve his poetic voice entirely into the realm of the natural, in a kind of journey into the realm beyond human existence.  But the act of his poetry, which is where his trace joins together with the realm of artistic creation, is the place in-between the two worlds.

When Rilke writes, “…learn / to forget that passionate music.  It will end.”, it is the trace of the edge of death in this poem.  The words “passionate music” enact how the trace mingles with meaning: in English translation from the original German, the meaning of the words “passionate music” is fluid and ambiguous, as culture and individual perception swirl and eddy around words, changing what they signify.  The associations and connotations of these words are uncontrollable, alive, ambiguous energies that hover in the air above the scratches on paper.  The act of translation is the choosing of the prevailing energy or connotation of word from a different system of signification, the one closest to the perceived essence of the original, which is itself fluid.  The “passionate music” could refer to the young man’s poetic voice, or the orchestrations of his consciousness, or his life – his existence.  “Music” implies energies working in concert with each other – co-operative tensions that produce a harmony from their proximity: perhaps his soul will evaporate into diffuse atoms upon death, separating from each other, no longer making music from proximity?  The point is that Rilke’s choice, and English translator Stephen Mitchell’s choice, consciously contains ambiguity, and delights in this ambiguity.  The ambiguity is what holds the poem closer to the primal sound, the author-less trace that is the subject of the poem.  But the trace – the delineation, the choice and presence of the author – creates something new that didn’t exist before in nature – a new sequence of words, of particular ambiguous energies joined together, in a new “song” or “music.”  In the Greek myth, Orpheus is a mortal, but his mortality seems mingled with the divine, the sublime, in the creation of his music.  This thread of the myth is perhaps representing the strange and numinous power in the act of creation, which is what, perhaps, compels artists to contemplate the line at the edge of perceivable existence.

And what is on the other side of the edge of perceivable existence?  In Cocteau’s Orpheus, the character called The Princess is a chic, beautiful, dark-haired Parisian woman in an elegant couture dress.  She passes through mirrors from the human world into The Zone and the world of the dead and back again.  She is Orpheus’ death.  The plot of the film revolves around the love affair between the Princess and Orpheus.  In his notes to the published screenplay, Cocteau writes:

‘The Princess’ and Orpheus’ love for each other illustrates the deep attraction that poets feel for all that exists beyond the world they inhabit.  It also represents their determination to overcome the infirmity that cuts us off from a host of instincts.  We are haunted by these instincts, yet we are unable to define or enact them.’[15]

Orpheus and The Princess participate in a sensuous intimacy that is another representation of the mingling of different worlds at the border – of trace and meaning, of consciousness and unconsciousness, of life and death.  The parallel characteristic between death and the unconscious is that we can’t see into them; they are by their nature and orientation to human consciousness, the realm of the unknown.  Yet we can sense forces emanating from both of them, like the messages Orpheus hears in the Princess’ car, or instincts that bubble up to consciousness from some mysterious place.  Cocteau’s comment emphasises the role of instinct in the creation of art, and the depiction of death as linked to the natural, instinctual world.  Kittler, in a discussion of storage media and the realms of the unknown, recalls (quoting Nietzsche) “When the Stoic philosopher Zeno asked the oracle at Delphi how he should best lead his life, he was given the answer, ‘that he should mate with the dead.  He understood this to mean that he should read the ancients.’”[16]  In Cocteau’s Orpheus the Princess is beautiful and alluring, and almost cleansed by Cocteau of her symbolic baggage: terror, darkness, decay; at the moment when the character of Cegestius, a newly dead young poet, realises what she is, she says,

‘Well now, Cegestius.  What are you making such a face for?  Did you expect me to work with a shroud and a scythe?  My dear boy, if I appeared to the living as they imagine me to be, they would recognize me and it wouldn’t make our task any easier.’[17]

Cocteau, with this elegant depiction of death, makes the idea of drawing closer to death, in an intimacy so close that breath mingles, easy to imagine.  But this is an unusual depiction of death in our culture, one that distances terror, darkness, decay and grief.  The oracle’s instruction carries more of the raw shock inherent in the idea of “mating” with the dead, using the shockingly intimate metaphor of sexual union to emphasises the juxtaposition of life and death on the material plane of existence: living bodies house consciousness and the busy energy of cellular division, and dead bodies are devoid of consciousness and in a process of rotting.  The shock has the energetic effect of producing a clap of thunder, calling the attention of the consciousness to this idea.  But also, the idea of sexual union with death implies procreation and generative power and processes of transfiguration through the merging of different elements of existence.  The Jungian psychologist Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, who deciphers archetypes in ancient stories, mining them for messages that can be used for  balancing the psyche, discusses an archetype she calls “Skeleton Woman”, whom she describes as a representation of the “Life/Death/Life nature”:

‘Much of our knowledge of the Life/Death/Life nature is contaminated by our fear of death.  Therefore our ability to move with the cycles of the Life/Death/Life nature is quite frail.  These forces do not “do something” to us.  They are not thieves who rob us of the things we cherish.  This nature is not a hit-and-run driver who smashes what we value.  No, no, the Life/Death/Life forces are part of our own nature, an inner authority that knows the steps, knows the dance of Life and Death.  It is composed of the parts of ourselves who know when something can, should and must be born and when it must die.’[18]

Pinkola-Estes is speaking here of the instincts that govern the creation of our lives from moment to moment, and the creative choices we make about what should live and what should die in the shaping of our days and decades.  In the poet’s act of creation, these unconscious instincts merge with the craft of the consciousness.  The intimate union of Orpheus and his Death represents the merging of his consciousness, in clear-seeing daylight, with the dark, shadowy world of the instinct, and his willingness to dance to its strange and powerful tune.  In equating death to instinct, Cocteau equates death with the natural, and in Pinkola-Estes’ formulation, death is always followed by new life, in an unceasing cycle of nature.

There is another moment in Cocteau’s notes to the screenplay where he aligns death with the natural:

‘The Princess does not symbolize death because this film has no symbols.  She no more stands for  death than an air hostess represents an angel.  She is the Death of Orpheus, just as she decides to be the Death of Cegestius and of Eurydice.  We each possess our own death, who watches over us from the day we are born.’[19]

Cocteau is writing here as an artist working in the age of Modernism, which was in the process of throwing off the heaviness of the just-past Romantic symbolism of the late 19th century, where in the opinion of Modernism, the thick flocks of connotations in art had begun to obscure art.  Cocteau’s statement is an emphatic departure from that tradition, and it has the effect of stripping bare the Princess, to be simply what she is within the frame of this one piece of art, and not shrouded by several centuries’ worth of sticky association and allusion. This point illustrates the fluidly shifting currents circulating around the fixed elements of art.  It is possible to tussle with Cocteau, and say that she does symbolize death, and that Cocteau’s statement saying otherwise has no power over the interpretation of her trace.  This is one of the shifting ambiguities of art, which has to do with its alchemic interaction with the consciousness of the watcher, something newly made in each artistic engagement.  It is significant that Cocteau’s statement claims for the Princess an essence, an existence, and a reality implying she is governed by a certain sense of freedom.  Notice that Cocteau writes, “she decides”, leaving the question suspended of whether he, as her creator, decides, or she, having been brought into existence, decides.  This simplicity, of her new existence simply being, echoes the simplicity of nature in its being.

A final theme in this exploration of the mingling territory along the edges of life and death is transformation.   Robert Hass writes about the moment in 1922 when Rilke poured out his two greatest works in a great creative exhalation lasting only a couple of months, after ten years of struggling to produce much of anything:

‘…the experience of hearing the music rise in himself to greet Vera Knoop’s death and all his own unassuageable grief, I think…finally jarred Rilke loose.  He felt the energy of life starting up out of death in this most profound and ordinary way.  That is why Orpheus represents more than poetry.  He stands where human beings stand, in the middle of life and death, coming and going.’[20]

This passage encapsulates the messages from Cocteau and Pinkola-Estes about the instinctual perception of the Life/Death/Life nature and its oscillating cycles, in which one thing is transformed into the other, and carries the power over from its previous state, and the power from the struggle through the transition, in an act of transmutation.  This paradigm of life’s relationship to death, which always has life following death in an even balance, negates our present Western culture’s unbalanced and overwrought terror of death.  Hass suggests, “Rilke’s project was the transformation of human longing into something else.  Eurydice is that something else.”  Perhaps Eurydice represents the spark of life imbued with purity and love that the artist attempts to bring from the realm of the numinous back into the human world.  Her purity and sweetness, in the Orpheus myth, exist on the other side of death, tempering the dark terror with the thought, “If beauty and love goes into the realm of death, then beauty and love must exist in that place.”  Rilke, in the poem “Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes” from his New Poems describes the fulfilment of Eurydice’s essence in death and the transformation of her existence into something else:

‘Deep within herself.  Being dead

Filled her beyond fulfilment.  Like a fruit

suffused with its own mystery and sweetness,

she was filled with her vast death…’[21]

“The Ninth Elegy” from Duino Elegies expresses many of the themes we have explored up to this point, but in particular it traces the transformation Rilke perceives happening through death, which is finally envisaged as a joyous moment.  Rilke opens the poem with wondering

‘Why, if this interval of being can be spent serenely

in the form of a laurel, slightly darker than all

other green, with tiny waves on the edges

of every leaf (like the smile of a breeze) – : why then

have to be human – and, escaping from fate,

keep longing for fate? . . .’ [22]

He begins by transplanting his human consciousness into a laurel, “with tiny waves on the edges / of every leaf” – a beginning turn of the cycle he is describing the arc of, from the human world into the world beyond, through the lens of the natural world.  He de-scribes the edge of each leaf using a metaphor in miniature of “waves” (in the original German, “Wellen” which literally translates to “waves”), which themselves depict the movement of oscillation between two states, tracing minutely the overarching theme of the poem.  The poetic instinct, or choice, to invoke this metaphor enacts the creative music happening at the border between the act of tracery and meaning.  “Waves” is the vessel chosen to contain the edges of Rilke’s as-yet unformed, ambiguous thought about the nature, the beingness, of trees.  In this moment of tracing thought, the shape of the trace, which is the word chosen from amongst a host of possibilities hovering above the poet’s head, is chosen particularly for the set of meanings and associations which in concert form its essence.  This act of delineation joins the choice of the shape of the trace (“waves”) with the meaning arching over the stanza and poem (the oscillation between two states of being).  In this sense, the vessel has a life of its own – its own ambiguous energies – and a prevailing shape formed by the cultural consensus of language, which when joined to the ephemerality of thought, creates something wholly new, which is bursting with elements sparking and combusting with other elements.

Next, he addresses “the unsayable” nature of the realm beyond human existence, or consciousness:

‘…when the traveller returns from the mountain-slopes into the valley,

he brings, not a handful of earth, unsayable to others, but instead

some word he has gained, some pure word, the yellow and blue

gentian.  Perhaps we are here in order to say: house,

bridge, fountain, gate, pitcher, fruit-tree, window –

at most: column, tower. . . . But to say them, you must understand,

oh to say them more intensely than the Things themselves

ever dreamed of existing.  Isn’t the secret intent

of this taciturn earth, when it forces lovers together,

that inside their boundless emotion all things may shudder with joy?’

Here Rilke wonders if the point of human existence is the saying, the tracing of nature – if the act of tracing with its sparking of new intensities, if join the fullness of human emotion and consciousness to what is numinous, is the point of life on earth. The poem ends in a jubilant one-sided dialogue with the “taciturn earth”, personified, in which the oscillation of the poet’s gaze at the two worlds of life and death finally resolves into the merging of both and the transformation of the poet:

‘Earth, isn’t this what you want: to arise within us,

invisible? Isn’t it your dream

to be wholly invisible someday? – O Earth: invisible!

What, if not transformation, is your urgent command?

Earth, my dearest, I will.  Oh believe me, you no longer

need your springtimes to win me over – one of them,

ah, even one, is already too much for my blood.

Unspeakably I have belonged to you, from the first.

You were always right, and your holiest inspiration

is our intimate companion, Death. 

Look, I am living.  On what?  Neither childhood nor future

grows any smaller . . . . . Superabundant being

wells up in my heart.’

 This conversation has the full tenderness of a conversation between lovers, although, in contrast to the relationship between Orpheus and the Princess, there is no subtext of sensuality here, so perhaps it is more appropriate to say that it has the tenderness of a conversation between loved ones.  The poetic device of personification of the earth is a another enactment of the theme of humanity dissolving into nature, this time with nature taking on the characteristics of humanity as a listener and silent participant in the dialogue.  The airy lightness of the “earth” “arising” “invisible” “within” us is a significant contradiction to the usual associations with earthiness: dark, rich, dense, fertile, soil; and this suggests that Rilke imagines a spiritual element existing in duality with the materiality of nature. The relationship described in these last two stanzas of the poem is between the poet and his own death and transformation.  The merging of the natural world and the poet is depicted with a tender plural possessive: “our intimate companion, Death”.  The poet has passed into a place where time ceases to exist, where “childhood” and “future” exist stripped of size, measurement or relativity.  In this place, in communion with Nature, the poet experiences a “welling up in his heart” of “Superabundant being.”  The word “Superabundant” is the spark of a superlative element mingled with an element already multiplying itself in limitless expansion, enacting the movement of “welling up”, a gathering together and rising of alive forces, and suggesting from its pinnacle in the overarching theme of the poem, the apotheosis of the poet into the realm of pure being.

Poetry is different to logic, and Rilke’s poetic imagination is imbued with a light, vivid and unbounded gaze that searches for poetic formulations to contain his perceptions of metaphysical reality.  Ultimately, the point about the realm of the unknown, which is the subject of furious industry on the part of both poets and philosophers, is that it is unknown.  So, Rilke’s poetic gaze towards the edge of existence remains simply a view from a single human perspective from the land of the living.  However, it is interesting to wonder.






Works Cited

Adorno, Theodor W.   “The Form of the Phonograph Record” (1934).  Essays on Music.  Ed.        Richard Leppert.  Trans. Thomas Y. Levin.  London: University of California Press, 2002.


Cocteau, Jean.  Three Screenplays: L’Eternal Retour, Orphee, La Belle et la Bete.   Trans. Carol      Martin-Sperry.  London: Lorrimer Publishing Ltd, 1972.


Derrida, Jacques.  Of Grammatology  (1976).   Trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.  Corrected Ed.            Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.


Kittler, Friedrich A.  Gramophone, Film, Typewriter (1986).   Trans. and Intro. Geoffrey Winthrop-          Young and Michael Wutz.   Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1999.

Mitchell, Stephen (Ed. and Trans.).   The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke.  Intro. Robert      Hass.  London: Picador, 1987.


Pinkola-Estes, Clarissa.  Women Who Run with the Wolves (1992).   London: Rider, 1996.


[1]    Derrida, p 92

[2]    Adorno, p 279

[3]    Cocteau, p 191

[4]    Adorno, however, was writing in 1934, before djs…

[5]    Rilke, trans. Mitchell, “The Ninth Elegy”, p 199

[6]    Cocteau, p 146

[7]    Cocteau, p 188

[8]    Rilke, “Primal Sound”, reproduced in Kittler, p. 40

[9]    Ibid, p 40

[10]  Kittler, p 44

[11]  Hass’s introduction to Mitchell’s translation of Rilke, p xxix

[12]  Kittler, p 45

[13]  Cocteau, p 159

[14]  Rilke, trans Mitchell, p 231

[15]  Cocteau, p 191

[16]  Kittler, p 8, referencing Nietzsche, “Geschichte der griechischen Literatur” (1874), in idem 1922 – 29, 5, 213.

[17]  Cocteau, p 143

[18]  Pinkola-Estes, p 136

[19]  Cocteau, p 190

[20]  Hass’s introduction to Mitchell’s translation of Rilke, p. xxxix

[21]  Rilke, trans. Mitchell, p 51

[22]  Rilke, trans. Mitchell, p 199