Richard Polt on understanding the withdrawal of being.
A mother is sewing a simple dress for her daughter. The estranged father, meanwhile, has spent all he has on a beautiful store-bought dress. But he eventually decides not to give the dress to his daughter, but to tell her that he cannot give her anything. By withholding the dress, he gives a greater gift to both the mother and the daughter—not a material present, but the opportunity for the daughter to appreciate the mother’s act of giving. Similarly, by withholding itself from us, be-ing allows us to extend beyond that which is given—given entities and even the given sense of their being—and attend to the event of giving. The thankfulness of thinking—to borrow a theme that emerges shortly after the Contributions—is grateful not for the gift, but for the giving, which gives itself in its self-concealment.Continued
The proper response to this withholding-as-giving is not to try to possess it or make it present. We can establish the right relation to be-ing-— and step into being-there—only if we learn to renounce the desire for presence. This renunciation permits an annunciation of the “refusal” (Verweigerung). The “knowledge of refusal” is not a getting or having, but allows the self-concealing to come forth as such. This is the “resonance of be-ing as refusal in being’s abandonment of beings”. A resonance is the manifestation of an absence, a giving of withdrawal. To learn to hear the resonance is to step into telling silence.
But what justifies us in looking for a “giving” at all? Why not remain content with what is given? Here our ultimate “justification” is not a rational one, but an experience of emergency. We experience a crisis—or some of us do—when we recognize that our sense of the being of beings is limited and contingent. We ask how it comes to pass that this sense of being, and not some other, has been granted to us. This question leads us to search for an event of giving, an event that cannot itself be given.