In LARB, Martin Woessner reviews
Santiago Zabala’s “Why Only Art Can Save Us”.
Asked if there was any way philosophy — or ordinary people, for that matter — might get us out of this world-historical mess, Heidegger gave an infamous reply: “Only a god can save us.”
This cryptic phrase has kept the commentators busy for the last 40 years, but Zabala is not necessarily interested in joining the fray. Too many thinkers have taken Heidegger’s invocation of divinity “too literally,” he says, on the very first page of his book, and quickly moves on. As if to reinforce the idea, his book’s dust jacket reproduces an image of Cattelan’s controversial sculpture The Ninth Hour (1999), which depicts Pope John Paul II struck down by a meteorite. There’s no dithering over the divine here. Zabala wants to answer in the affirmative the question that Heidegger evaded with talk of an absent god: Surely there is something we can do.