with Christopher Fynsk on the appropriation of the human.
Heidegger indicates the paradoxical site of this relationality (what he calls [die] Ortschaft des Zu-cinander-Gehörens von Brauch und Ereignis, “the locality of the belonging to one another of Brauch and Ereignis”) in two statements that would appear to bridge the opening or break we have glimpsed by suggesting, as I noted above, that the Ereignung of the human essence occurs through the Eignen that occurs in showing (which belongs, of course, to the essence of language). But Heidegger’s phrasing is elliptical and could almost be said to open as much as it closes, even as it appears to assert a kind of common determining limit for the respective essences of humankind and language. The first statement reads as follows: Weil das Zeigen der Sage das Eignen ist, berubt auch das Hörenkönnen auf die Sage, das Gehören zu ihr, im Ereignis (“Because the showing of saying is appropriation, the capacity to listen to saying, belonging to it, also rests in Ereignis”. The relation between humankind and language, Heidegger suggests, passes by way of appropriation. We belong to saying because showing is an appropriating. But what is the status of this “because”? Is Heidegger saying that human belonging is enabled by the fact that this showing of saying is an owning, that humankind itself owes its belonging to the showing of saying and owns by this movement of language? Or is it rather that because showing has its source in Ereignis, a bond is possible, because the human essence is “also” brought into its own (what is fitting, sein Gehöriges) by this gentle law? The former reading finds a kind of support in the normal manner of reading the statement’s syntax, but its articulation is in fact paratactical and is marked, in its strangeness, by the gap at which I have been working. This gap would be too slight to emphasize, however, were it not for the fact that a similar “parataxis” appears in a second statement on the following page. Like the first, it appears to assert an articulation (via an Also), but in fact it merely aligns the terms of the relation asserted: Das Ereignis ereignet den Menschen in den Brauch für es seibsi. Also das Zeigen ais das Eignen ereignend, ist das Ereignis die Bewëgung der Sage zur Sprache (“Ereignis appropriates humankind in usage for itself. Thus appropriating showing as owning, Ereignis is the setting under way of saying to language”). What is the relation between these two sentences? Is the movement described in the first sentence included, in some sense, in that described in the second? (Is the relation of Ereignis and Brauch part of the appropriation of showing as owning?) Is this one movement of appropriation? But we would still need to account for the “for itself,” which picks up the developments in the preceding paragraphs about the way humankind is appropriated to language by Ereignis in Brauch. Why is this distinction accorded to humankind? Could it be rather that the movement described in the first sentence is something like the condition (though the word is awkward here) of the second? Heidegger would then be suggesting that it is by way of the appropriation of the human that showing is appropriated as owning (i.e., Ereignis appropriates humankind in Brauch and thus appropriates showing as owning, setting language under way). This would be a stronger statement than any in this text concerning the human role in the essencing of language: it would make the appropriation of the human essence a condition of language’s very occurrence as a saying in which issues the Geheiss of Ereignis. Yet it would seem that Heidegger is asserting nothing else when he states that language needs and uses human speaking (braucht das menschlichen Sprechen) and describes this Brauchen near the end of his essay as resting upon a “failing” or lack in language (Fehl), for he then inscribes language in a relation (a relation marked by its very solitude — language speaks alone, he says) that must be thought as determining for it. The need and use of the human Verlauten, in other words, is not merely an exteriorization of a (silent) sounding that might occur independently of it. Without the appropriation of humankind to language which directs language to speech, saying as showing would not be set under way at all. Language needs and uses humankind because humankind is needed and used by Ereignis in such a way that language is first set under way toward human speaking. There is no “essence” of language without the appropriation of the essence of humankind that is in some sense “other” than it.