Sven Sellmer (Poznan): Creation and Damnation: Two Aspects of Sanskrit Abysses
Urmas Nõmmik (Tartu): Hebrew, Aramaic
In the Christian tradition the Biblical abyssos combines the origin of all things (Genesis 1,2) and the bottomless, the unfathomable, the dark sphere of the Apocalypse. The notion comprises both the abyss of God and the abyss of hell. This twofold dimension is particularly evident in the German word Abgrund, containing ‘the original reason’ and ‘an absence of ground’ at the same time. Even though the word Abgrund is currently often used, it mostly appears simply in the sense of a gulf or a catastrophe, quite commonly so in economic and political contexts.
Other languages use different concepts, some also have several words covering different aspects, as in French for instance with l’abysse, l’abime and le gouffre.
In European modernity, the abyss became an essential feature, embraced in its twofold character of engulfing pit and creative chaos, shifting the transcendent dimension from the divine towards the human, making it an immanent transcendence. It thus became a key dimension of humanity’s vision of itself. Humans have developed various strategies to deal with it, such as religion, arts and psychology.
By looking at the various concepts and their use in various cultures, particularly also non-European, this workshop intends to establish a better understanding of this complex notion and thus, of modernity and our present times.
Contributions are expected to look into the concepts of the abyss and their lexification, as well as into the abyss in language and culture practice, such as in proverbs and phraseology, taboos and protective measure, or reflections on the abyss in cultural history. The conference language is English but the interest of the event consists in better understanding how different cultures conceive of the abyss in their language.
A subsequent publication in the form of a special issue is planned.
Prof Dr Marko Pajevićmarko.pajevic [ät] ut.ee