In LARB's Philosophical Salon, Jeff Love and Michael Meng on your ownmost
We are left to face the harsh reality encapsulated in Martin Heidegger’s extravagant phrase: “Death is Dasein’s ownmost possibility.” “Ownmost” is a curious translation of the German “eigenste,” an adjective whose root “eigen” denotes ownership, thus suggesting that what we own most (another impossible phrase) is the possibility to die. To put this slightly differently, what we most truly own is death. Of course, this phrase must seem darkly ironic, and it is. For what sort of ownership can this be but ownership that obliterates the inveterate trace of hope secreted away in the notion of ownership itself? A trace intimating that I may be freed of death, that I may own “in perpetuity” that, in other words, I do not have to face the humiliation of death, all my property, my house, my stocks, my cars, proving to be nothing more than an elaborate network of fences that protect me from a ghastly reality, which, having once emerged, will never let me go.