Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Alexander R. Galloway on Heidegger versus Sontag on interpretation.
Such is the great divide straddled by Martin Heidegger and the special kind of phenomenology espoused by him. From one perspective Heidegger is devoted to the cult of Hermes. Truth is an ambling Weg that must be followed. Nothing is immediate about being; it appears only in a relationship to those who seek it. Yet from another perspective Heidegger is devoted to the cult of Iris, for his version of phenomenology does not entirely accept the perpetual deferral of exchange and circulation associated with Hermes. Being is mysterious in Heidegger. But it is also illuminated. It is far away, like Hermes, but it is also clear, transparent, and immediate like Iris. “Being is farther than all beings and is yet nearer to man than every being, be it a rock, a beast, a work of art, a machine, be it an angel or God. Being is the nearest. Yet the near remains farthest from man.”
ose lines were wri en by Heidegger shortly a er World War II. Several years later, in 1964, a young Susan Sontag penned one of the great indictments levied against Hermes and his style of mediation. “Transparence is the highest, most liberating value in art—and in criticism—today,” she wrote. “Transparence means experiencing the luminousness of the thing in itself, of things being what they are.” “Against Interpretation” was the title of her manifesto, but the identical titles “Against Hermes” or “Against Hermeneutics” would have served just as well.
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