Ingeborg Bachmanns Schrift – Auf der Suche nach Wahrheit, Wissen und Begehren

  • Eva Laquièze-Waniek Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt


Bachmann’s claims “We have to find true sentences” or “The truth is reasonable for man” demonstrate her interest in the question of a true access to the real by language and writing, which I discuss here. I firstly turn to her doctoral thesis (1949): There Bachmann used Carnap’s logical empirical method of verification to criticise Heidegger's existential philosophy as metaphysical and senseless, referring to Wittgenstein's Tractatus: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent” as an interdiction to express existential feelings in language. But in the end Bachmann thwarted this restriction with Baudelaire’s poem The Abyss (1862), which expressed Pascal´s experience of fear and being split, leading to the insight that there is no full knowledge: our access to the world remains partial and strange.

This may have impacted Bachmann’s further writing, for she then tackled the topic of truth in a literary way like in her novels A Wildermuth and Undine Goes/Leaves. This leads me to the further question if poetry and art have their own claim to truth. With Austin, Jakobson, Peirce, and the later Wittgenstein – who offer different understandings of telling the truth and a performative and plurifunctional usage of language –, I then show that Bachmann’s notion of poetry aims at breaking silence and pushing back darkness, which connects it finally to the Lacanian and Freudian concept of desire as the subject’s own and unconscious truth that can become conscious through free association in speech.

Philosophie und schöne Kunst: Vorklärungen in Bachmanns Dissertation