Monday, April 23, 2012
David Nowell-Smith on gathering language.
[T]he Swabian archaism Be-wëgung, the movement that sets language “on its way.” “The Way to Language” is organized around the “guideword”: “to bring language to language as language.” At first, Heidegger presents this as a challenge for thinking: how can we say something about language when our means to do so are themselves linguistic? And how can we speak about language in its “linguistic essence” – bringing language to language as language – rather than as a human activity (be it expression, representation, or communication), despite the fact that talking and thinking are themselves human activities? Heidegger wishes to ask what a non-human linguistic essence might be, and to this end he sketches the relation between an originary “Saying” [Sagan], which functions as a pre-verbal opening of intelligibility, and human verbal comportment [Sprechen]. If this would appear to mimic the structure of “ontological di&erence,” we should note that Heidegger’s interest is in the “unifying element” through which these two apparently opposed poles are bound together into one; instead of “saying” being the substrate of “speech,” they are two moments within language, which meet when, as his famous guideword has it, “language speaks.” This endows the phrase “to bring language to language as language” with a deeper significance: the “bringing” by which “saying” enters “speech” might o&er the key to what “language” itself is. But this requires that there be a “unifying element” that joins together the originary articulation of “saying” with human speech. This will join together speech with both the possibilities that belong to speech, and the unspoken that bounds it. In his first attempt to grasp this unifying element, he sketches “the adjoinment [Gefüge] of a showing in which are joined [verfugt] the speakers and their speaking, the spoken and its unspoken out of the to-be-spoken.” As with ecstatic temporality, Heidegger conceives of this unspoken as a double absence. This adjoinment will characterize what he subsequently names Sage: that element which unifies both the originary saying and human speech as features of language. But the “adjoinment” also pre-figures his final claim about how language is set on its way. Sage can only unify “saying” and “speech” if these two are appropriate for, and appropriable by, one another. He thus concludes: “Ereignis gathers together the design of saying [Sage] and unfolds it into the structure [Gefüge] of a manifold showing.” Ereignis, as a way-making movement, gathers language into a unified whole [Sage], so that it might gather beings into presence. Whence final revision of the guideword: “The way-making movement [Be-wëgung] brings language (linguistic essence) as language (Sage) into language (the sounding word).” The way-making movement is not simply kinetic, but, as Thomas Sheehan has observed, dynamic.
From The Art of Fugue: Heidegger on Rhythm.
Thanks for this. It gets right to the question I asked a couple days ago about Fysk. I look forward to reading the whole piece.
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