Sunday, October 07, 2012
[Start][Previously on]

The Shadow of Heidegger

Do you know what Sartre claims? Do you know where to find the humanism of the colonized? “To shoot down a European”, he says, “is to kill two birds with one stone, to destroy an oppressor and the man he oppresses at the same time: there remain a dead man, and a free man”. What a deadly impulse in so few words. Is it like that? So powerful, so invincible is that wish, the death wish. What can Eros do confronted by it? You know what I’m talking of. You have read Freud.

I don’t have more to tell you. I feel without strength. Now Marcuse has already written you an irrefutable letter that you, incorrectly, thought you’d refuted. Now Paul Celan visited your hut. This one, we are in now. In which you had the courtesy of receiving me. Professor Heidegger, could you have done something more before Paul Celan? He was a great poet, a victim of Auschwitz, an exquisite mind. Why did you not embrace him? You could have said to him, let’s see, something so simple. You could have said: “Dear Celan, I don’t know what they did to you in Auschwitz, whatever it was, it must have been horrible, and for that, for that what they did to you I ask your forgiveness”. Oh, I feel like an idiot telling you this! You must laugh at me. Only the nearness of the Luger keeps you from launching the chuckle struggling to get out. In the end, Master: so many want you; those that ask you nothing! Your disciple, and occasional great love, Hannah Arendt, philosopher, Jew, genius, did she darken your days with reproaches and insidious questions? No, she guarded her assets. She keep you from selling the original manuscript to Being and Time at a certain time, short of course, of stretched resources. She has always visited you. All her theories are based on yours. She’s an intrepid anti-Marxist. She has even invented that theory of the two totalitarianisms: Hitler’s Reich and Stalin’s Soviet Union. She criticizes the war in Vietnam; how not to? But that diabolical dualism that darkened the 20th century (that of the totalitarian states) is precisely what North American businessmen need to win the cold war. And they’re almost there.

Besides, all of France comes to your succor, Master! Perhaps you’ll need me to explain some of this to you. You live here, in the Black Forest, somewhat at a remove. Listen, Professor Heidegger: you glory is being reborn and will perdure. They have forgiven your Nazism. Your disciple, Jean Beaufret (after all: you dedicated the Letter on Humanism to him!) has made sublime the art of evading proofs. If you were a Nazi, it is hard to prove it. You had some uncomfortable moments. That issue of Les Temps Modernes, Marcuse’s letters, that text by Habermas on the new edition of your Introduction to Metaphysics, in 1953, where he reproaches you for not having suppressed the passage where you speak of the greatness and truth of National Socialism. You, Heidegger, suppress something by Heidegger. There’s the text, gentlemen, just as I said it in 1935. Or do you think I am a coward who erases today what he said yesterday? I am with you. I congratulate you. Why would a man strike something in which he still believes? For that reason, I don’t ask you for words. Or I won’t ask you for them at the definitive moment.

No one, in 1968, remembers your Nazism. Even Sartre, in the Critique, says: “The Heidegger question is too complex for me to address here”, and no more. It’s over. You ascend to the stars, Stronger than in the forties and fifties. They don’t consider you, today, a philosopher of existence. Marxism is falling, Master. And it is necessary to kill or, to put it more tersely, replace Marx. Who if not Heidegger? Who if not Heidegger and Nietzsche? Here is a new figure in the history of the Spirit. French intellectuals will make you into the solid foundation of a non-Marxist left. The times are benevolent for you. Once again France, as always, is at Germany’s feet, and now, more than ever, at Heidegger’s feet. I’ll name names: Althusser, Foucault, Barthes, Deleuze, Lacan, Derrida. I stop here. With three or four of your texts I could explain the assumptions of all of them. I’ll start with Being and Time, of course. Then on to What is Metaphysics? Then with your enormous and brilliant book on Nietzsche. Then the Letter on Humanism, and I’ll end with Identity and Difference. There’s also that difficult work on the event. The one you worked on towards the end of the thirties. Deleuze burns his eyes deciphering it, and from there to Nietzsche and from there to Spinoza. Two things are common to all: they forgot history, the class struggle, humanism, and the subject. They spat a thousand times on Sartre; whom they barely name. And they spit, whenever they have the chance, on Marx. They have sheltered – as you taught them – in the domicile of Being, language. And from there I don’t expect them to leave for a long while. In the meantime, the Soviet Union falls and North American universities receive them like heroes. One of them, brilliant, took the concept of Destruktion from Being and Time and transformed it into deconstruction. He’s called Derrida and his first texts are a triumph, Professor. Above all, allow me to insist, it is in the North American cloisters where this triumph occurs. What is happening, Master? One of the pincers falls. And the other, through your French commentators (all, of course, very creative and talented) receives you with outstretched arms. Very simple: they replaced Marx with Heidegger. You become, in this manner in the most important philosopher of the 20th century. You are transformed, Master Heidegger, into one of the hieroglyphics, one of the labyrinths, to use this, I would say, Borgean word, most fascinating and terrifying in this century, bloodiest, with the most cadavers produced, on a mass scale, through technology, in the history of humanity. Might one reason for this be (and I know I say an uncomfortable phrase that I should perhaps silence) that the most important of its thinkers was a brilliant and active philosophical-political nexus for National Socialism. Quite something that 20th century, wasn’t it? You know what he said about it, the thin bard, with the huge nose and wretched mortality that I got excited about comparing with you. With you master, nothing less! Picture it, the little lean Discépolo said that the 20th century . . . Let me think. So much philosophy makes me forget a tango that is a treatise on existential metaphysics! Yes! It said: “That man was and will be filth I already know, in 510 and in 2000 too, but in the 20th century it’s such a downpour of insolent evil that no one can deny it”. Insolent evil Professor Heidegger! What a poet, what a concept! What if we talked, to finish this, of Evil, and what if we talked, even worse, of insolent evil. Are you bothered starting from Discépolo? Not I. I told you: I’m Argentinian.


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