"I ought to say," explained Pooh as they walked down to the shore of the island, "that it isn't just an ordinary sort of boat. Sometimes it's a Boat, and sometimes it's more of an Accident. It all depends."
Pooh’s perspective is similar to the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who argues that we don’t perceive objects as isolated facts but through the context of our interaction with the world. So a pen is understood in relation to the paper it writes on or the writers’ intention to craft a poem. And Pooh’s boat can rightfully be understood as “more of an Accident”.
Marburg, winter semester, 1925/26, unveiling the deer.
Before going on with our discussion, let’s take some examples of
deception and the covering-over of beings. Say I am walking in a dark
woods and see something coming toward me through the fir trees.
“It’s a deer,” I say. The statement need not be explicit. As I get nearer
to it, I see it’s just a bush that I’m approaching. In understanding, addressing,
and being concerned with this thing, I have acted as one
who covers-over: the unexpressed statement shows the being as something
other than it is.
We can point out how the three conditions are present in this
1. It is necessary that beforehand I already have something given
to me, something coming toward me. If something did not already
encounter me from the outset, there would be no occasion
to regard it as . . . Always already there is a priori disclosure
2. It is also necessary that, as I approach the thing, I take it as something.
In other words, in the field of everyday experience, I don’t
just stand there, as it were, in the woods and have something
simply and immediately in front of me. A situation like that is
pure fiction. Rather, in an unexpressed way, I encounter something
that I already understand, something that is already articulated
as something and, as such, is expected and accepted in my
way of dealing with the world. Only because I let whatever
encounters me encounter me on the basis of the act of envisioning
something (say, a deer), can that thing appear as a deer.
3. And the encountering-being can show itself to my act of envisioning
“as this thing” and “in this way” only because, along
with the encountering-being and the other things present in
this world (particularly in the lived world of “forest”), something
like “a deer” can indeed be present among the trees. This
is so insofar as the encountering-being entails the general possibility
of synthesis, a possibility which, with regard to concrete
deception, is always oriented objectively, i.e., includes within itself
a range of indications. To take the above example, I would
not, in fact, think that what was approaching me was the Shah
of Iran, even though something like that is intrinsically possible.
The Shah is a being that could appear among the trees in a
German forest at night, whereas there is not a chance that I
would see anything like the cubed root of sixty-nine coming
These three conditions of the possibility of falsehood are obviously
interconnected. The decisive question is: How?
Lesley Chamberlain continues with van Gogh's Boots.
For Heidegger in The Origin of the Work of Art the work makes itself anew each time it ‘goes to work’. In fact his idea meant he could perfectly well accommodate van Gogh’s Shoes.
Heidegger believed the role of the artist was to place the work in an effective context so that it could spring alive. By spring alive, or, as he said, create a clearing for being, he meant I think present us with an intense and sublime sense of the materiality of our existence, skin against rain, leaf against stone. Closely related to the philosophical vision of Being and Time (1927) his art thoughts pre-war were ontological, about the work of art’s co-being with our own, and they still toyed with the idea of true or authentic experience. Anticipating developments much later in the century, and mostly in a leftwing political camp, Heidegger declined an interest in the artist’s personality and his formal practice and favoured the experience of the common man of a certain reality.
The problem I see with this is that, in OWA, the Boots don't fully "go to work" as a work of art, because they're hanging in a gallery. The paradigm example of a work of art in OWA is the Greek temple at Paestum; what is called "public art" further down the post.
¶ 1:44 PM2 comments
What I’m concerned with here is a passage which reveals Heidegger’s own understanding of his place in the history of philosophy and the place of philosophy within history in general. Reflecting on the events of 1933 and responding to a quote from Carl Schmitt, Heidegger says the following in the Hegel seminar:
On 30.1.33 ‘Hegel died’ – no! he had not yet ‘lived’ – there he has first come alive – just as even history comes alive, i.e. dies.
January 30, 1933 is of course when Hitler came to power. Heidegger is challenging the idea that Hegel could become irrelevant for the current historical situation, that philosophy is the type of thing that dies, and he is certainly trying to give philosophical weight to the political event. We also see hints here of another theme: the reinterpretation of death as constitutive of being. A fascinating comment by itself, but it becomes even more striking when read in conjunction with the following passage from the end of the first volume (1938) of the recently published Notebooks, in which dates again take the stage:
End of Dec. 1888: Nietzsche’s ‘euphoria’ before the breakdown and–(09/26/1889).
Here Heidegger refers to Nietzsche’s mental collapse after a particularly optimistic and literarily productive year in 1888–followed by Heidegger’s own birth. I see two complimentary interpretations of this passage.
Go read the whole thing.
So many philosophers are convinced that their language, or volk, or time, are privileged in some way, that it can't be coincidence. There's something about the personalities involved. But that's psychoanalysis not ontology.
In the early thirties Heidegger was convinced that Hegel's spirit looked backwards at history and marked the culmination of humanist metaphysics (before he settled on Nietzsche as the last metaphysician) and that Hölderlin heralded a new beginning, that he, Heidegger, was inaugurating. By 1935, a little humbler, his engagement with Hegel was over, and it appears to have been a dead end.
¶ 4:07 PM0 comments
Peter Trawny on the limits of Hegel.
But if we suggest that Hegel‘s career was a model for Heidegger,
we have to admit that Heidegger refused to go to Berlin
and Munich in 1930 and 1933. Of course, he would have found
there better opportunities to win political influence. Obviously,
he balanced the situation quite intensely. With respect to Munich,
he speculates in a letter to Elisabeth Blochmann from
autumn 1933 about the possibility “of approaching Hitler and
so on” – typically misinterpreting his standing. Different from
Hegel, Heidegger was never the philosopher of a “capital.” But
all this happened before he gave up his position as rector of the
university in Freiburg. In winter 1934/35, the semester of the
Hegel-seminar, Heidegger did not have any means to obtain
political influence. The fictional identification of Heidegger
with Hegel insinuated by Faye might be an error.
Tom McCarthy on the re-release of the Gravity's Rainbow audio book.
“Gravity’s Rainbow,” Thomas Pynchon’s gargantuan parable of rocketry, sex and a whole bunch of other stuff, turned 41 this year — six years older than its author when it was first published. What happens when a novel whose scenes of coprophagia and pedophilia moved Pulitzer trustees to cancel the prize in 1974 (when Pynchon seemed poised to win) eases into middle-aged, canonical respectability? Well, for one thing, it gets an audiobook release. Since the mid-1980s, a George Guidall recording has been floating around, like some mythical lost rocket part — no one had heard it, but all Pynchon fans knew someone who knew someone who had — but in October a new version, authorized and rerecorded and burned onto 30 compact discs — hit the stands.
It'll be nice to have a digital remastering, sans the intrusions of ripped-from-K7 aggravations. Unlike the comforts of vinyl crackle -- nostalgie du analogue -- tape hiss is just annoying. But good as it is, I think the Against the Day audio book is even better.
I kept thinking, as I listened to Guidall, of a line in Heidegger’s “Building, Dwelling, Thinking” where he describes homelessness as the “summons that calls mortals into their dwelling.” Virtually every one of Pynchon’s characters is homeless or displaced, wandering the earth’s great bombed-out Zone in search of some abode: a homeland, house or simply bed to spend the night in (if you like, a coefficient).
German philosopher Heidegger says, “There is no time without man,” [P. 16] while others say there is time beyond measurement—the absolute time.
There is also no light without man, just photon particles flying about.
¶ 1:17 PM0 comments
Stephen Mulhall on the authenticity of replicants.
Deckard’s response to death is inauthentic because it transforms
his own death from an (omnipresent) possibility into an actuality:
it extinguishes his humanity. So Roy teaches him the difference
between possibility and actuality; he allows Deckard (and
us) to spend long minutes on the edge of his existence, pushes
him to the edge of a real abyss, making death seem unavoidable –
and then he rescues him. And he underlines the point of that
lesson by making manifest, at the moment of his own death, that
he has revelled in his time:
I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe: attack-ships
on fire off the shoulder of Orion; I watched c-beams glitter
in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments
will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
He has lived each moment of his life to the full without denying
its transitory place in the ineluctable stream of time; and any such
denial would amount to denying the essential structure of human
experience as such. It would, moreover, count as a further and
more profound failure of acknowledgement to wish to bequeath
one’s experiences and memories to others – as if one could outlive
oneself, as if one’s moments of consciousness were alienable,
as if one’s mortality could be sloughed off. Heidegger understands
our relation to our own death as the clearest expression of
this truth. He describes it as our ownmost, nonrelational possibility:
no one can die another’s death for him, just as no one can
die our death for us, and that is precisely what makes our death,
when it comes, our ownmost possibility. Roy’s calm and moving
last words manifest just this authentic understanding, and they
cry out for acknowledgement as such.