enowning
Sunday, April 24, 2005
 
From David Markson's novel Wittgenstein's Mistress.
    Although what this for some reason now reminds me of is that I do know one thing about Martin Heidegger after all.
    I have no idea how I know it, to tell the truth, although doubtless it is from another one of those footnotes. What I know is that Martin Heidegger once owned a pair of boots that had actually belonged to Vincent Van Gogh, and used to put them on when he went for walks in the woods.
    I have no doubt that this is a fact either, incidentally. Especially since it may have been Martin Heidegger who made the very statement I mentioned a long while ago, about anxiety being the fundamental mood of existence.
    So that what he surely would have admired about Van Gogh to begin with would have been the way Van Gogh could make even a pair of boots seem to have anxiety in them.
Unlike the claim about the foot-wear footnote, the statement about the mood anxiety is true. Anxiety reveals, if not the fundamental, at least, "a fundamental experience of the nothing":
    In anxiety, we say, “one feels uncanny.” What is “it” that makes “one” feel uncanny? We cannot say what it is before which one feels uncanny. As a whole it is so for one. All things and we ourselves sink into indifference. This, however, not in the sense of mere disappearance. Rather, in their very receding, things turn toward us. The receding of beings as a whole, closing in on us in anxiety, oppresses us. We can get no hold on things. In the slipping away of beings only this “no hold on things” comes over us and remains.
    Anxiety makes manifest the nothing.
P. 88
But Van Gogh's boots are not about nothing. Instead the boots are useful, the painting shows shoes that have been used, the equipmental being of the boots as equipment is revealed, and thus the "shoes are in truth". No anxiety there.
 
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