Ḥayim and Rivca Gordon on the open in Οἰδίπους Τύραννος
Additional understanding of the open, as Heidegger presents it, can be attained by looking again at the myth of Oedipus in Sophocles’ poetic drama. King Oedipi&1 We have mentioned Heidegger’s staunch belief that great poetry resides in the neighborhood of thinking. In previous chapters, we have shown some elements of the wisdom that is found in Sophocles’ beautiful poetry. Giving a full account of titis wisdom would require writing a different book. Hence, we discussed only a few elements of this wisdom. Here we also look only at the personal development of Oedipus throughout the play.
One major point that Sophocles’ King Oedipus portrays is Oedipus’ stubborn unwillingness to face the terrible truth of his own past, a truth that is central to the myth. Throughout most of the drama. Oedipus refuses to acknowledge the horrible possibility that he may have murdered his father and married his mother. Despite his atempts to block the unconcealment of this abdominal truth, it slowly becomes unconcealed as the drama unfolds.
We have already reminded the reader that, when Oedipus finally sees clearly that he murdered his father and married his mother, it arouses such horror of himseLf in him, that he blinds himself. Here we add a Heideggerian point. By such an appalling punishing of himself, Oedipus also leaped "into the groundless from the habitual ground.". . . It is not difficult to perceive that the myth of Oedipus and the drama, King Oedipus, open a realm in which poignant truths concerning human existence become unconcealed. . . . Works of great literature and our own experiences have taught us that, like King Oedipus, persons often will do their utmost to evade facing painful truths. Furthermore, the drama, King Oedipus shows that Oedipus, and even the chorus, have great difficulties perceiving and relating to some of the truths that emerge, at times forcefully, from concealment. Frequently. they seek ways to evade facing these painful truths.
Persistent attempts to evade seeing the truth are not confined to King Oedipus, as he was portrayed by Sophocles. Nor are purposeful evasions of truth confined to the people whom Ibsen’s heroes, Nora and Dr. Stockmann, confront. A glance at human history reveals countless examples of people who devised both clever and inane ways of life that allowed them to evade seeing truths that may bring pain.
I watched Fassbinder's Nora Helmer
(AKA A Doll's House
) a few months ago. Recommended, unless you've already decided you can't stand Fassbinder's mirror play.