The Unifying Aspects of Cultures


On the Topography of the Color Blue in Modern Poetry

Chair of the section/Suggestions, Abstracts, Contributions to:
Email: Hartmut Cellbrot (Herford)

ABSTRACT: The history of the special symbolism of the color blue extends back to late antiquity, where it is particularly to be found in a religious context. The career of the color blue in more recent German-language literature begins around 1800, when it was primarily connected with the name Novalis. In the 20th century the use of the word in lyric poetry has gained its own function in constructing the dynamic, whereby it - after the "death of God" - becomes a multiple sign as well as signal of pure border phenomena. Blue does not get this function, however, by a semantic value attached to it - rather it figures as a semantic category, in which it becomes something questionable -, but primarily on the basis of the usage in the poetic field. This leads to the concept of topography, which is to mean here, that everything that exists is not to be separated from its given state and manner of accessibility, that is to say, its locality. Thus, the question of the topography of the color blue in the modern poem asks for the specific way the word is positioned in the context of the work. Connected to the particular topographical usage is in turn the realization of the context of the arrangement as well as going beyond it. In this way the color blue takes on the function of a threshold, border or passageway. Seen thus, it would be necessary to direct one's attention to the extent that different uses of the color blue have been able to transform into poetry at all such culturally important phenomena as the relationship of nature and culture, of the sensory and the non-sensory, of the native and the foreign, of arrangements and going beyond them. In this section we will investigate how in - also non German-language - modern poetry such a border crossing, set in motion by the color blue, can shape the transition in individual instances and in this case which contextual arrangements are each time subject to question. In this way the beginnings of a culturally overlapping topography of the color blue are to be explored..