In the LARB, Martin Woessner reviews Peter Trawny's Freedom to Fail: Heidegger’s Anarchy.
Once you start looking for them, Heideggerians are everywhere. But identifying what they had in common with each other wasn’t easy. It was hard to tell who even counted as a Heideggerian, anyway, especially in the United States — a nation for which Heidegger himself had little positive to say throughout his life (among other things, we had too much technology and too little history, he thought). Catholics read him, but so too did Protestants and Jews. Existentialists claimed him as one of their own, despite his protests, but deconstructionists did the same, and by then he was no longer around to protest. Pragmatists sometimes made their peace with him, and occasionally poets and novelists played around with his wordplay-filled writings. I found that those last ones generally had the most fun, partly because they didn’t take it all so terribly seriously.
In the THE, Barbara Graziosi reviews Miriam Leonard's Tragic Modernities.
Leonard discusses have a deep investment in tragedy; others, however, refer to tragedy (or drama) only in passing, as a culturally competent gesture en route to making a point about something else. Leonard scrupulously acknowledges how tangential tragedy sometimes seems: “Arendt refrains from explicitly characterizing the drama as tragedy”; “there seems to be something at least contingently ‘tragic’ about this document”; “Heidegger addressed no single work to the topic of tragedy and never formulated a theory of the tragic”.
At the same time, Leonard makes large claims about the importance of tragedy in modern intellectual history: for example, while Heidegger may never have devoted a work to tragedy, “it would not be difficult to characterize his philosophical outlook as tragic”. This raises the question of Leonard’s own aims: just as the thinkers she discusses lionise tragedy en route to their own ends, so Leonard focuses on their engagements with tragedy (such as they are), in order to make a point of her own: the political power of tragedy does not reside in its original context of performance alone, it also – and fundamentally – shapes modernity.
My esteem for Heidegger as a philosopher never included his thinking of the thirties. I have always disagreed with his conception of philosophy as a particular national historical duty of the German people, and I have always regarded his attempt to understand the takeover of the National Socialists in 1933 as a chance for a new philosophical beginning without any apologetic impulse: simply as erroneous. Following, however, Hannah Arendt’s interpretation of Heidegger’s political affair as an ‘episode’, I assumed that after resigning as Rektor of the University of Freiburg Heidegger had practiced a kind of ‘inner emigration’ – relying on Hölderlin and no longer on Hitler. The so-called ‘Black Notebooks’, however, offer another tableau. When I read them, I was especially shocked by Heidegger’s aggressive anti-Semitism, and, after the publication of his post-war notes, by his total ignorance of Germany’s responsibility and guilt. Heidegger’s anti-Semitism was the main reason for my resignation as president of the Heidegger Society. I was no longer able to represent Heidegger as a person, and I had also realized that an uncompromisingly critical discussion of Heidegger’s ideological position inside the Heidegger Society was not possible.
The key question is: was there really an objective possibility of a proper emancipatory act of drawing all politico-economic consequences from the NO of referendum? When Badiou talks about an emancipatory Event, he always emphasises that an occurrence is not an Event in itself – it only becomes one retroactively, through its consequences, through the hard and patient “work of love” of those who fight for it, who practice fidelity to it. One should thus abandon (“deconstruct”, even) the topic of the opposition between “normal” run of things and the “state of exception” characterised by the fidelity to an Event which disrupts the “normal” run of things. In a “normal” run of things life just goes on, following its inertia, we are immersed in our daily cares and rituals, and then something happens, and evental Awakening, a secular version of a miracle (social emancipatory explosion, traumatic love encounter…); if we opt for the fidelity to this event, our entire life changes, we are engaged in the “work of love” and endeavor to inscribe the Event into our reality; at some point, then, the evental sequence is exhausted and we return to the normal« flow of things… But what if the true power of an Event should be measured precisely by its disappearance, when the Event is erased in its result, in the change in “normal” life?
In the LARB, Benjamin Crockett reviews Hélène Cixous's Tomb(e).
Cixous has called dreaming taking off into a new undiscovered country. She famously spent an evening in one of these dreams with German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who wrote the celebrated phrase, "for questioning is the piety of thought." Heidegger, speaking on Friedrich Nietzsche, said, “All great thinkers think the same. Yet this ‘same’ is so essential and so rich that no single thinker exhausts it.” This could be said of Cixous and the themes in this book.