Saturday, May 05, 2012
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Frédéric de Towarnicki's Visite à Martin Heidegger

The phenomenological description of an encounter with a tree in bloom and its “entrance into presence” was a tale of initiation, whose landscape seemed inaccessible to philosophy’s traditional mode perception:
...we stand before a tree in bloom, for example and the tree stands before us. The tree faces us. The tree and we meet one another, as the tree stands there and we stand face to face with it. As we are in this relation of one to the other and before the other, the tree and we are. This face-to-face meeting is not then, one of these "ideas" buzzing about in our heads.
...Which one is meeting here? The tree, or we? Or both? Or neither? We come and stand just as we are, and not merely with our head or our consciousness facing the tree in bloom, and the tree faces, meets us as the tree it is. Or did the tree anticipate us and come before us? Did the tree come first to stand and face us, so that we might come forward face-to-face with it?*

…When ideas are formed in this way, a variety of things happen presumably also in what is described as the sphere of consciousness and regarded as pertaining to the soul. But does the tree stand "in our consciousness," or does it stand on the meadow? Does the meadow lie in the soul, as experience, or is it spread out there on earth? Is the earth in our head? Or do we stand on the earth?...When we think through what this is, that a tree in bloom presents itself to us so that we can come and stand face-to-face with it, the thing that matters first and foremost, and finally, is not to drop the tree in bloom, but for once let it stand where it stands. Why do we say "finally"? Because to this day, thought has never let the tree stand where it stands.
The example of the tree in bloom allowed students to distinguish being itself from a being, a glimpse of their difference. “The tree that stands where it is.” What is this is saying which goes unnoticed and shimmers in the middle of the sentence? It was a reading of Aristotle that had led the young student Heidegger, in 1909, to trace the erasure of the question of Being. What was concealed in that veiled dimension from which the Greeks had fallen off and the presence of which was the prelude of Western thought? About this enigma of the difference between the being and a being itself, Heidegger asked his whole life. Seen from a being - an assembly, for example, a forest, a table - being itself is nothing of a being. It is not about something supernatural. Being evades, goes behind. In essence, being, omnipresent, eludes any explanation, any approach that attempts to conceive about the mode of a being. As it preserves itself, the dimension of being is beyond what is determinable and demonstrable. A being however needs being, just like being depends on a being. Heidegger's phrase: "Being withdraws as it discloses a being” echoes the equally enigmatic words of Heraclitus: “As it reveals itself in beings, Being withdraws.” [EGT, p. 26] Learning the phenomenological gaze - the look in that which is - should awaken in students a sense of the question of being, to a sense of a hidden coupling of things.

This language, so natural in Greek or German, in French becomes opaque and unusual.
Pp. 18-21


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