I don’t want to tire you. I don’t want to overwhelm you. And, I promise you, I will avoid all judgment. I did not come to put you in a philosophical Nuremburg. My journey towards you is a journey towards my father. It is him I want to know. He left me a chaotic, overwhelming letter. I had to gather too many papers fallen in his study. I had to order that chaos. I think he wrote and threw on the floor each page, which he would never see again. It took me weeks to order that text. I have been reading it for years.[Next]
I rewrote entire paragraphs. I corrected sloppiness. I tried to make him transparent, but with great care. I never proposed to improve him. The truth that beat in the letter was his, it belonged to him. When I say that I tried to intensify the transparency of the text, I did it for myself, to understand him better, to learn from him.
Believe me; I didn’t come here to disrespect you nor to cloud this beautiful morning with a theme that, I know, has darkened your life, in spite of your pride, in spite of your stubbornness, or perhaps because of them. I’ve forgotten some of my ironies. They express the Argentinian I’ve decided to be. Why? For the smells. For the city. Because I’ve never got lost in it, nor could I. It’s mine, it’s a part of me, I am part of it. I know, by only looking at the sky or the clouds in the morning, or the stars and moon at night, if it will rain or not the next day. I have friends. I have students. I have, above all, two young disciples that devour philosophy books, even the hardest, with a worthy passion. Worthy of what, Master? Let’s use a colon and state it: worthy of Germans. There is, in them, much German. One is named Pablo Epstein, the other Hugo Hernández. Above all they read Hegel and Marx. A Sartre, I believe, they already read in maternity ward. Now they’re on the French. Always the French, Master. With Althusser. With Foucault. They say they are not interested in reading you. I tell them they’ve never stopped reading you; that they read you from their first Sartre. And they read you in the structuralists that flower in these times. I have given them classes on a long, at times dry and difficult book: the Critique of Dialectical Reason, by the French hack, as my father called him. You will never read that book. Really, already all the new French geniuses have stopped reading it, or they’ve ignored it, or they intend to destroying it. Sartre, in 1961, wrote his Letter on Humanism. He wrote it in someone else’s book. He wrote it as a prologue for the book by a young Algerian, a Negro from the colonies who studied at the Sorbonne and wrote his violent book in the language of the colonizer. Have you heard of Franz Fanon? Have you heard of the prologue Sartre wrote for him? It’s a master work. Brief, brutal, brilliant. That genial writer (you know it: Nausea is the height of philosophical literature) no longer speaks from Europe. He speaks, now, to Europeans. “We were the subject of history, now we are its object”. What a violent change in point of view, isn’t it, Master? Listen. And, above all, don’t be amazed by my memory. How not to know all and every one of the words from a text one has read hundreds of times? The Master Sartre continues to say so to Europeans: “You know well enough that we are exploiters. You know too that we have laid hands on first the gold and metals, then the petroleum of the ‘new continents’, and that we have brought them back to the old countries. This was not without excellent results, as witness our palaces, our cathedrals and our great industrial cities; and then when there was the threat of a slump, the colonial markets were there to soften the blow or to divert it. Crammed with riches, Europe accorded the human status de jure to its inhabitants. With us, to be a man is to be an accomplice of colonialism, since all of us without exception have profited by colonial exploitation.” Did you know this text, Master, maybe? Maybe, I also annoy you. But listen to this sentence. Look at me, please. Look at me and listen: “The European has only been able to become a man through creating slaves and monsters”. Hear me, by God! What I tell you now comes from me. Dieter Müller said it too. Let’s look at the question. Or not, not “the question”; these aren’t questions. Let’s look at the horror, the totality of the horror, not through our eyes, but through the eyes of the victims. That’s the point of view, Master. There ethics acquires its substance. Our victims know us through their wounds and their chains: that makes their testimony irrefutable. They only have to show us what we have done to them to recognize what we have done to ourselves. So that we know, now, at the end of the journey, what we really are. Being has unveiled itself, Professor. That is what Being has done with us. This is what we have done with Being. We haven’t forgotten Being. Neither has Being withdrawn nor does it have where to dwell, for its own protection. We are, always, the “there” of being. But it is our victims that look at us. And Being, from that unique point of view, is guilty. We are, Being and us that incarnated it, killers.
Labels: The Shadow of Heidegger