with Christopher Fynsk on the appropriation of the human.
I speak of a “double” movement but must also insist again that the relation of Ereignis and humankind occurs in and through language. The latter phrase is meant to reflect the fact that Ereignis cannot be thought outside its relation to language—the relation (in its doubleness) being nothing other than das Eigentümliche der Sprache (“its peculiar property”). The saying of language “rests” upon Ereignis, Heidegger says, but he also asserts that saying is “the most proper way of Ereignis”. “Das Ereignis ist sagend,” he writes. Ereignis appropriates the showing of saying as owning (das Zeigen ais das Eignen ereignend) — sets into motion das Wesende der Sprache by opening its way (be-wëgt). Thus Ereignis is what properly gives the way to language and determines it in its saying (Der Weg zur Sprache gehört zu der aus dent Ereignis bestimmien Sage). As this er-eignend-brauchende Bewëgung, it is the essence of the way. But this giving occurs with language, and thus Heidegger will come to write near the conclusion of his essay, “The saying that shows makes the way for language to reach human speaking” (Die zeigende Sage be-wëgt die Sprache zum Sprechen des Menschen)—a phrase that points again to the monological character of language and would almost seem to efface the movement of Bewëgung in which the Sprachwesen rests and to which Heidegger referred just two paragraphs earlier: “Through the experience of the essence of language as the saying, whose showing rests in Ereignis, the Eigentümliche comes into the proximity [gelangt in die Nähe—the relation, as always, is to be thought as the opening of a nearnessi of das Eignen and das Ereignen. The Eigentümliche receives from there its authentic determination [seine urkundliche Besrimmung—a determination that is a writ if we stress the Urkunde], something we cannot pursue here”. 0f course, Heidegger is attempting to think precisely this determination by focusing on the usage of humankind that sets language under way and contracts the relation between Ereignis and language and by attempting to think it, as we will see, in its historicity. But what is not thought is the possibility of this very determination, which lies, as Heidegger says in Time and Being, in the Ent-eignis of Ereignis. It is worth underscoring that Heidegger thinks this most originary event as a kind of writing.Continued
The apparent precariousness or even vacillation of Heidegger’s formulations stems from nothing other than the unsituatable character of this Eigentümliche that must be thought “in the proximity” of Ereignis and thus out of the relation of language and Ereignis. The Eigentürnliche is language’s “most peculiar property,” but it is something like the limit of the essence of language — that is, language’s relation to an alterity (though this last term is probably not appropriate for Ereignis, for we are trying to think the origin of difference in its finitude), or to put this even more precisely, the alterity “proper” to it.
Once again, in thinking the way that constitutes das Eigentümlicbe of language’s essence, the er-eignend-brauchende Be-wëgung, we are at the limit of language, thinking what determines it in its saying. And thus, to turn things about once more, it may not be quite adequate to say, as I did above, that the relation of Ereignis and humankind (which opens the way and is the way language comes to speech) occurs in and through language. For we must also say that language occurs—comes to itself—in and by this relation. The appropriation of humankind to its essence is not properly prior to language (in the sense of a condition), because all appropriation, including that of humankind, occurs in a showing that belongs to the essence of language. Moreover, the appropriation of humankind is to be thought as nothing other than an assigning of humankind to language: the appropriating of humankind to what is said in the saying and as capable of answering to language in a countering saying. But if the appropriation of humankind is not prior to language, it must nevertheless be understood as in some sense co-originary with it, as Heidegger indicates by isolating the relation between Ereignis and humankind, naming it the brauchende Vereignung, or simply der Brauch. “Ereignis,” Heidegger says, “appropriates man in usage for itself” (my emphasis). By thus isolating the relation between Ereignis and humankind, Heidegger breaks the apparently closed circulation of language’s monologue, by which it appears to grant its way to itself, and inscribes it in (or inscribes in it) the (non)economy of Ereignis’s usage of humankind.