Christopher Fynsk on the appropriation of the human.
Heidegger thus returns to das Zeigen [the indication], which seems to mark the limit of what we can “hear” in language and thus to offer a glimpse into what moves language itself. He recalls here the basic traits of saying as showing, describing saying as the “joining gathering of all appearing brought about in the in itself manifold showing which everywhere lets all that is shown abide within itself”. And indeed, in this “self-abiding” we glimpse something of the Eignen of Ereignis, which “brings [erbringt] everything present or absent into its own, out of which it indicates itself [sich an ihm selbst zeigt] and abides in its fashion”. But to catch sight of what thus “moves” or “stirs” in showing (to ask what showing “rests upon” would be to ask too much as yet, Heidegger remarks, but he is clearly continuing his step back to what is “closest” in language), we need a distinctive “look”—Blick—into something that is familiar to us but that we never seek to know. No wearisome research, merely (merely! — Hölderlin had to stay out all night for this and finally saw too much) a “sudden, unforgettable and hence always new look” intoContinued
what sets into movement in showing (stirs, arouses, gives rise, excites — das Er-regende), that “first break of dawn, which first gives rise to the possible exchange of day and night, at once the earliest and most ancient”. “But now day breaks!” Hölderlin writes in “As on a Holiday”; “I waited and saw it come/And what I saw, the holy be my word.” May this be called, Heidegger says now, das Ereignen, marking with the prefix er- the impetus of the quickening in appropriation (das Eignen). Ereignis is the name for what sets into the movement of appropriation accomplished by saying as showing. It is not a ground or cause, Heidegger insists, countering the impression created by the constantly regressing movement of his meditation. It does not effect or make, rather it er-bringt (which without the hyphen suggests offering evidence, and with it suggests a carrying forward or into) and er-gibt (yields). It cannot be represented as an event or occurrence (though the er- brings forth strongly an eventful character), but is to be thought rather as a granting (gewähren). As such, it is the Er-gebnis: not a result — Ergebnis — but the initiatory granting that cannot be derived from anything else and first grants (gewährt) something like an Es gibt. It is Ereignis that grants the Es gibt that occurs in and with the saying of language—the Es gibt, as Heidegger remarks, that Being itself needs in order to come about as presence.
I will try to develop the meaning of this phrase shortly, hut we can see already that language’s grant of a hearing and a capacity for speaking (its Gelangenlassen) rests upon the prior grant of Ereignis, which grants to mortals, Heidegger says, their “stay” (their sojourn: Aufenthalt) within their essence, bringing mortals into their own as those who properly be long. As such, Heidegger says, it is the gentlest law (Gesetz—I will return to the “gentle”) insofar as “law” is to be understood as “the gathering of that which lets everything come into presence in its own, and that lets belong in what is fitting [in sein Gehöriges gehören lässt.]” It is the law, in other words, that speaks in the Geheiss of the Geläut der Stile (the law of the law, we might say), the Ge- in each case speaking to the gathering that works not by a positing or placing (setzen in the modern interpretation of “thesis”) but by an assembling hold.
The way to language must now be thought in terms of the way Ereignis contracts with humankind, in and through language, but in such a way that language can first come to language. The way to language is both the way of humankind as it is appropriated to language (Heidegger uses the verb vereignen here) and the way that lies in language itself. The latter, as we have seen, lies in the Gelangenlassen by which language gives a hearing to mortals and allows them to bring language to speech. But the Gelangenlassen is to be thought in its turn out of the grant by which humankind is given to belong to language. The way to language thus names a double movement: the movement of language as it is brought to speech and the engagement of humankind with language that sets the former into motion and gives it its way. Any meditation that truly follows language in thought must proceed from this double movement.