Martin Jay on interrupting the Fahrt
The role of Ereignis (normally translated as “event,” but closer to “appropriation” in Heidegger’s usage, and sometimes translated by the neologism “en-owning”) gained in importance in his later work, but even in his earlier work Heidegger had imbued it with the passive implication of experience, the waiting expectantly for something to happen rather than deliberately making it happen. As he put it in his later essay “On the Way to Language,”
To undergo an experience with something, be it a thing, a person, or a god, means that this something befalls us, strikes us, comes over us, overwhelms us, and transforms us. When we talk of “undergoing” an experience we mean specifically that the experience is not of our making. To undergo here means that we endure it, suffer it, receive it as it strikes us, and submit to it.Heidegger also contrasted Ereignisse with experiences of objects that are set apart from a subject, the subject–object dualism he was so much at pains to overcome:
Experience doesn’t pass before me as thing that I set there as an object; rather I myself appropriate it (er-eignes es) to me, and it properly happens or “properizes” (es er-eignet) according to its essence.An Ereignis might well be a threatening one – expressing the link in German between Erfahrung and Gefahr (danger) – as in the case of modern technology, but it also might be an opportunity for the revelation of a deeper truth. The belonging that is suggested by the eigen in Ereignis (thus the plausibility of the neologism “en-owning”) is not that of an object by a subject, but rather of Dasein by Sein. Because it is not the same as a natural process (Vorgang), an Ereignis can take the form of a radical rupture in the course of things, a sudden appearance of Being in the midst of quotidian existence.
Thus, the journey of experience – the Fahrt in Erfahrung – does not lead back to the point of departure, even at a higher level, as in the case of Hegelian dialectics, but is rather an interruption in the narrative flow.