Wednesday, February 18, 2015
In the LARB, Michael Inwood on the wandering Unmensch.
An even more interesting example of the same phenomenon is Heidegger’s frequent references to “rootlessness,” which is occasionally, though not in his published works, ascribed to Jews in particular and connected with their leading role in technology. German Jews were generally well integrated into German society and not especially rootless. But rootlessness is a characteristic of Heidegger himself. He was born into a conservative Catholic community with deep roots in the soil of the Black Forest and the Catholic Church undertook his education. He became a Jesuit novice, but was allegedly rejected, owing to the same heart defect that exempted him from the battlefield. From then on, he began to pull up his roots. He abandoned the study of theology in favor of philosophy. He married a Protestant, first in a Catholic ceremony, then in a Protestant one. His marriage was an open one and he had many affairs, especially with Arendt and Blochmann. After the birth of his first son he announced his break with “the system of Catholicism.” He worked intensively on the writings of Martin Luther and in effect became a Lutheran.
To compensate for these sharp breaks, he clung obsessively to his roots in the Black Forest. He often wore Bavarian peasant clothes and affected peasant manners. He did much of his writing in his hut at Todtnauberg on the edge of the Black Forest, which he insisted was especially favorable to philosophical thought. He rejected more than one offer of nomination to a chair in Berlin. (Another motive of this may have been his desire to differentiate himself from a previous occupant of the Berlin chair — Hegel.) Spiritually, however, Heidegger wandered as far as the legendary eternal Jew.
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