Thursday, July 31, 2014
More from the TLS review of the Schwarze Hefte.
To an extent not seen elsewhere in his monographs essays, treatises, lectures and seminar notes, Heidegger emerges in these Notebooks as a literary stylist: towards the end of the fourth, he writes: "to one who knows there remains the mature silence of the mountain, the collected glow of the alpine meadows, the silent flight of the falcon, the light cloud in the huge sky — that sky, in which the great silence of the furthest proximity of Being has already announced itself'. On other occasions, despite Heidegger's protests to the contrary, the entries read like aphorisms: "To learn great pleasure from little things — is its own art in the of be-ing".
In short, in these Notebooks one sees a 1930s and early 40s in Germany through the eyes of a German philosophy professor; and anything that is not German, or philosophical, or professorial, seemingly accounts for little, or even nothing. Could it be here, just as much as in any anti-Semitic inflection, that the real ethical deficit of Heidegger' s thought resides? At the same time, in these pages the reader can witness Heidegger struggling to understand the interface between philosophy and the lived, historical context. Do these pages show us what it is like to "think Being"? Or do they illustrate precisely the dangers of approaching history through ontology?
If there is much in these pages that is fascinating, there is just as much that is unsettling, too. A strong contender for one of the most alarming passages must surely be when Heidegger writes that the "last act" of technology will be that "the earth blows itself up" and "today's humankind vanishes"; this would be "no misfortune", he adds, but rather "the first purification of Being from its deepest disfiguration through the dominance of beings". Among the most perplexing entries are those where Heidegger detects coincidences in patterns of dates, or inveighs against art historians. It becomes clear that the Americans — and particularly the English — meet with Heidegger's strong disapproval. And he has harsh words for the Catholic Church, too.
Despite their self-evident problems, these Notebooks could potentially introduce new readers to Heidegger's thought; and perhaps it is this prospect that is so unsettling to both Heidegger's enemies (for whom he is pure poison) and his friends (a kind of insider club). At any rate, it would be incorrect to think that, with these Notebooks, one has the "real" or the "true" Heidegger. Etymologically, the word Überlegung means "over-layer", and these Notebooks fulfil the ambition stated in 1936: to -remain inscrutable; the mask". Nor are they in any sense the final word: the publication of further notebooks is planned, although unfortunately one notebook — covering the years 1942 to 1945, no less — is apparently in private ownership and not available. In the meantime, how we choose to respond to the recent publication of the early Notebooks could substantiate — or challenge — the truth of Heidegger's from 1941: "everyone interprets; no one thinks".
Finally a more comprehensive review, and it's unavailable to me (i live in a small town that doesn't have a newstand or bookstore), so thanks for excerpt. The Notebooks do sound well worth a read. I wonder who they will get the task of translating them? Though it will undoubtedly be years before a translation will see the light of day, then we'll have to go through all the usual row again.
I expect most publishers will reuse the Farias/Faye marketing plan. The eternal recurrence of the shock, and all that.
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