Saturday, May 31, 2008
The Heidegger-at-Heidelberg mistake is spreading through Spanish literature. Argentine author José Pablo Feinmann's
latest novel, La sombra de Heidegger (“Heidegger’s Shadow”) is the concluding volume in a trilogy which also includes the novels La astucia de la razón (“The Cunning of Reason”) and La crítica de las armas (“The Critique of Weapons”). The focus of La sombra de Heidegger is the character Dieter Müller, a German professor and a pupil of Heidegger who had always recognised his master’s intellectual superiority. But unlike Heidegger – who was appointed Director of Heidelberg University in 1933 with the support of the Nazi party – he went into exile in Argentina after the war.
Here's the first page (minus some poetry) from the Albert Hofstadter essay "Enownment" referred to last Sunday.

Martin Heidegger's life work as a thinker has been a struggle to attain a single thought.

By this thought he has worked to take the measure of man's Being. By it he has sought to illuminate man's nature and world, his personal and social existence, his art and poetry, his language, hi past and present and future.

This thought becomes more and more articulate in the sequence of the writings. It is most stringently spoken of in the lecture On Time and Being. That is fitting, since the second part of Being and Time was supposed to be a reversal, a Kehre, although perhaps the turn itself took a surprising turn. While there are only hints of possibility of the thought's turn. While there are only hints of the possibility of the thought's later form in that early book, it is brought out as clearly as its nature permits only in the later writings -- like Identity and Difference, On Time and Being, and the essays in Poetry, Language, Thought.

P. 17
Friday, May 30, 2008
On boredom, from McKenzie Wark's GAM3R 7H30RY.
[T]ake that Heidegger book that you bought on your travels out of your backpack. Idly flipping though its pages, you find that Heidegger’s boredom, strangely enough, has levels. Thinking through from one level to the next presents, as he will say again and again, tasks, tasks, still more tasks. These tasks are organized as a maze of paths and still more paths. It’s all tasks and paths, tasks and paths. To the gimlet eye of the gamer, this theory starts to look just like another game. Level one: Newbie Boredom. Level two: More Boredom. Level three: Profound Boredom. Bonus levels: World, Finitude, Solitude. His book is a strategy guide for theory as a game of being. A game which, like any other, posits leveling up as a goal in itself, approaching the ever-receding big bad boss of time itself.
Ranking profundity in San Antonio.
Avenue Q — the witty updating of Sesame Street for the 20-something set — contends that, dammit, puppets are people, too. Thus, it boldly goes where PBS fears to tread, including gay puppets, fetishistic puppets, slutty puppets, and racist puppets, all set to a bouncy, infectious score. One of the show’s catchiest numbers — “The Internet is for Porn” — boasts a truism as profound as anything in Heidegger.

another heidegger blog, a cool new blog, has news of this summer's Dreyfus course on the Later Heidegger.
* May 31 What is Metaphysics? and On the Essence of Truth
* June 7 The Origin of the Work of Art
* June 14 Letter on Humanism
* June 21 Basic Questions of Philosophy
* June 28 The Age of the World Picture
* July 5 The Way Back into the Ground of Metaphysics
* July 12 The Question Concerning Technology
* July 19 The Thing
* July 26 Building Dwelling Thinking and What Calls for Thinking
* August 2 Language and The Way to Language
* August 9 Contributions to Philosophy
* August 16 The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking
Interesting selection. The Beitrage covered in a single class. What, no Identity and Difference, nor Time and Being? Also surprised to find Existence and Being as class text.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
The problem of presentation.
The question of presentation is not only a philosophical theme among possible philosophical themes, but rather it exposes thinking to what Heidegger once called "the other beginning" of philosophy. In this sense, presentation is not just a problem for philosophy but also the problem of philosophy. It is a reconsideration of die Sache des Denkens, what thinking thinks from and towards.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Following along with Kenneth Maly on translating Ereignis.
Certain English words intimate something of this: belonging, fitting and be-fitting, and the very fresh word 'enowning.' Historically we have seen the German Ereignis come into English as 'appropriation. Responding to what enowns me in Heidegger's thinking, I respectfully stay away from the word appropriation. And this for two reasons: (i) As many words that derive from Latin tend to do, the word carries a certain abstraction with it, thus cancelling out or hiding the dynamic engagement aspect of what Heidegger is saying with the word. (ii) If the English word appropriation works in some sense (the OED says that 'to appropriate' means, among other things, 'to make something over to someone as his own') -- because Ereignis is then a granting of the own -- it still carries connotations of ownership/possession and of something passing from subject to object, or vice versa.

Then there is the usage of the English word event -- sometimes capitalized: Event. If Ereignis gets its bearing from eigen and äugen, then what it says is not 'event,' which has nothing to do with eigen or äugen. Whereas this is the English word that translates the German word in common usage, it is altogether clear that this is not the word that Heidegger is saying with 'Ereignis.' Unfortunately the word event names a static idea, a one-time singularity, and even a kind of (metaphysical) presence. This is clearly not on Heidegger's docket.

As I see it, the word en-owning takes care of the deficiencies in these other options. It is probably true to say that Heidegger's own use of the word Ereignis requires a new, fresh way of saying this dynamic in English. It is certainly true that, in many situations but especially in this one, we cannot expect of a single English word the whole of the necessary work of philosophical thinking/saying, as if once translated, the word leaves behind its original saying.

Pp. 173-174
A song on Islands's new album Arm's Way was oddly inspired.
The album covers an astounding array of subjects, including a song ‘In The Rushes’ inspired by the notion of ‘Augdenblict’, which translated means (roughly) ‘Sudden Inflashing’, an idea made famous by Martin Heidegger.
Augenblick is more commonly translated as "blink of the eye". Other philosophers--e.g., Hegel--have used it, but I guess only one made it famous. Earlier we excerpted Hans Ruin's discussion of Augenblick, when "being flashes forth".

Neologism warning! I searched the net for "sudden inflashing" and got several dozen variations of the album's press release. And some century old texts referring to Paul's "sudden inflashing of light by which he knew his Lord to the direct agency of God".
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
More on translating Ereignis in Kenneth Maly's Heidegger's Possibility: Language, Emergence - Saying Be-ing.
Ereignis: A most difficult word to deal with in translation. This is the case primarily because the word, as thought by Heidegger, takes thinking more deeply into the ongoing question of Heidegger's thinking -- being, be-ing, ἀλήθεια, λόγος, anwesendes Anwesen, emergent emerging, emergence -- such that the German word unfolds more deeply than and beyond anything that it 'usually' means in German. Thus the translator has first to think all the way into what the German word is saying -- only to be faced with the question, What does it 'mean' in English?

Ereignis is the joining together of humans and being in a belonging-together that befits humans and being for each other in their deep sway of being, in what is own to each and own to the befitting. Ereignis is the region, self-oscillating, through which humans and be-ing attain to each other in each one's 'own' owning dynamic, as well as in the 'enowning' of their countering sway. Ereignis is the withdrawing-preserving region that grants being. Ereignis is both the impetus for being to emerge and the withdrawal that keeps hidden. Ereignis, finally, is the deep sway of unfold-ing that is be-ing as emergence.

The word emergence, held within the dynamic of Ereignis while somehow also belonging to the 'translation' of the word -- if not literally, then in terms of what is being said in the language of the original -- reveals the manner of Ereignis by which its dynamic is partly that of happening, originary gathering, belonging, manifesting/revealing (the 'coming to sight' of eräugen), and owning-to owning-over coming into one's/its own: enowning. Asked in a very light-hearted way. What about translating the word Ereignis as 'owning emergence, emergence of the own, enowning of emergence, the gathering of emergence'?

Pp. 172-173
Monday, May 26, 2008
Unappreciated at home.
The country which produced such giants of western philosophy as Immanuel Kant or G W F Hegel has largely turned its back on philosophy, as if grand ideas were to blame for two world wars.

"Yet German-language philosophy is so important in the rest of the world that you find a lot of Italians specially learning German just so that they can read works by Martin Heidegger in the original," observes Nida-Ruemeli, who teaches in Munich.

"We neglect this vast intellectual heritage."
Language in the cross-hairs.
There is a vital link between language evacuated of memory and history engineered, managed and reconfigured for the sake of compatibility with certain economic doctrines and regimes. Indeed, right under this link lurks the principal target of symbolic violence. If language is the house of Being, as Heidegger said, you can reasonably hope to bomb that house out of existence when you take aim and push the button right on target.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Continuing the discussion of the word Ereignis in Kenneth Maly's Heidegger's Possibility.
Already in 1976, Heidegger scholar and translator Albert Hofstadter suggested saying Ereignis as enownment*. He grounded this decision in the knowledge that Heidegger wanted ereignen to say its connection to eigen: own -- to make one's own, to be own to, the owning work as such. Hofstadter quotes Heidegger saying how we must simply experience this ereignen, to experience how humans and being are 'en-owned' (ge-eignet) to each other. Hofstadter says das Ereignis is the letting-belong-together, the one befitting the other, of being and time, humans and being, the four-fold. To explain this, he states, 'At the center of das Ereignis is own,' and 'the most literal possible translation of das Ereignis...en-, -own, and -ment: enownment...the letting-be-own-to-one-another...the letting be married of any two or more...Enownment is not their belonging, but what lets their belonging be.'

This 'own' has nothing to do with 'selfish' possession but everything to do with the work or dynamic 'by which the different members of the world are brought into belonging to and with one another and are helped to realize themselves and each other in realizing this belonging.'*

We could perhaps say what is happening in Ereignis as the 'dynamic of owning.' Whether we could translate the German word in that manner -- that is another question!

Pp. 171-172
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Appendix 2 of Kenneth Maly's new book is a response to various criticisms of his co-translation of the Beitrage. The translations of some words is discussed in detail, including our favorite.
The Word Ereignis

It should be noted here -- and applied as well to some of the other controversial words-in-translation that I discuss here -- that many scholars and thinkers are generally and genuinely happy with the translation of Ereignis as 'enowning' and can use it in their own work. (For many people our translation of Beiträge provides a solid basis for doing their philosophical work and thinking.) Some readers take the word, translate it, and run with it -- take it over and make it work for them; others avoid any translation of the word like the plague.

It has been suggested that this word Ereignis should remain untranslated -- left in German. I assume that this would apply to all translations into all languages. Thus, for this to happen, would there need to be global agreement?

In a number of places, various texts indicate the impossibility of not translating Ereignis. One is in 'Brief über den Humanismus,' where Heidegger writes that this single thought has not yet been experienced in thinking: das Wesen des Menschen [als] die eigentliche Würde des Menschen. I translate this phrase as follows: 'What is own to humans [as] the ownmost [genuine] dignity of humans.'

What is telling here is Heidegger's marginal note to the word eigentlich, added some years later: Die ihm eigene, d.h., zu-geeignette, er-eignete Würde Eignung und Ereignis. If we leave the word Ereignis in German, untranslated, then what sense can be made of such a sentence? Awkward as it may sound to our unaccustomed ears, the word calls for translation: 'The dignity own to him [human being], i.e., owned-over to him and enowned: owning and enowning.'

Pp. 170-171
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
The Question Concerning Technology, 2.0.
Jean-Luc Nancy and ontological priorities, from a review of his reading of Claire Denis’s Beau travail.
In The Inoperative Community, Nancy argues that the problem of being has been thought predominantly in isolation from the question of community. For Nancy, the demand of community is the blindspot of Western metaphysics. Nancy criticises Heidegger’s Being and Time for positing Dasein before Mitsein, as it appears to assert atomised existence before the ‘with’ of community. Contra Heidegger, Nancy argues that being cannot pre-exist in itself: the Mit- does not come to qualify the sein, rather the Mit- or ‘with’ of being is that which constitutes being itself. For Nancy, being must be thought first and foremost in terms of what he calls ‘being-with’ (‘l’être-avec’) or ‘being-incommon’ (‘l’être-en-commun’). Nancy thus reverses the order of the Heideggerian existential structure, proposing the originary ‘with’ of community as the background against which being demands to be thought, the ‘with’ continually interrupting any ontological claim to self-presence or atomised identity.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Bert Olivier on art and more.
Art may and sometimes does carry with it great economic value — while Van Gogh was penniless during his short life, his paintings (paradigms of art that transcended the shortsightedness of his time) are today repositories of “safe” investment amounting to millions. Their value as art remains untouched by this, however — whether one owns a Van Gogh (or a Monet, thinking of the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair), or whether one contemplates it in an art museum, its value remains the same as art.
Thus, the art value of a pile of bricks is the same at a building site as in an art gallery. And the art value of a can of soup remains the same on the supermarket shelf, absent Warhol's signature.
The paradox of art is that, in Heidegger’s idiom, it “preserves” its dislocating, defamiliarising capacity even when it is not being apprehended by viewers, a capacity activated as soon as viewers enter into a sensory and cognitive relationship with it.
Is placing some word in quotes required when referring to Heidegger? It seems to be a trend. Does Heidegger actually say that art is permanent, independent of its observer? The Greek temple preserves something for observers over the ages, but art is not immune to thanatos, as this review notes:
Heidegger says art died (and turned into aesthetics and business) because it was unable to preserve its “world-soliciting force”. This means the work NOT as a re-presentation of the world but as the revelation, the disclosure, of that world in the first place.
Monday, May 19, 2008
On propagandizing the next dear leader.
[I]n his 1990 manifesto, Fairey wrote that "the Giant sticker campaign can be explained as an experiment in Phenomenology. Heidegger describes Phenomenology as 'the process of letting things manifest themselves.' Phenomenology attempts to enable people to see clearly something that is right before their eyes but obscured; things that are so taken for granted that they become muted by abstract observation."

We're talking German philosopher and author of "Being and Time" Martin Heidegger? The very same. "The sticker has no meaning but exists only to cause people to react, to contemplate and search for meaning in the sticker," wrote Fairey.
Regarding the poster itself, this design detail, on what was obscured and what not, stood out.
Fairey employs a red, white and blue patriotic palette, but plays with the colors, using beige for white, a pastel blue, lots of red.

Red? "People are freaked by red," Fairey says. Perhaps flashing on socialist constructivist propaganda? "But I say don't let the Soviets steal our red. Red is a good primary color," he says.
A Bandiera Rossa was also what the Third Reich's flag was built on. Without it, national socialist "party comrades lacked any outward sign of their common bond".

More on flags, propaganda, and the campaign.
Saturday, May 17, 2008

Metablog on the recursions in the event.
First, as the structure of reality and of our thought, it is simply recursive; that is, it has a recursive pattern of down and up loops in which each iteration down to the basis is a more simple version of the previous one and each iteration up from the basis is more complicated than the previous one.

Second, as the structure of entities and their environment, Ereignis is mutually recursive. As mutually recursive, this structure describes or determines the interrelatedness of entities with each other and with their environment. This mutual recursion works like two functions which use as input the output of the other. For example: f (x) = y and g (y) = x. When pointing out such a situation Heidegger often uses the terms "equiprimordial," "mutual conditioning," "interpenetrating," and soon.
Psychology Today explains that authentic attitude.
For Heidegger and confreres, authenticity was an attitude: the project of embracing life, constructing meaning, and building character without fooling yourself that your so-called essence matters in any absolute, a priori sense.

"The philosophical question is, do we invent this authentic self?" says Portmann. "Or do we discover it?" Socrates believed we discover it; the existentialists say we invent it.

Mark Vernon reviews Raymond Tallis's new book The Kingdom of Infinite Space: A Fantastical Journey Around Your Head.
Another joy of Tallis' book is that the mystery deepens as our knowledge deepens, the two go hand in hand. And the resulting awe mounts up again when he reflects on how we do not have objective knowledge of the world, a view from nowhere, but subjective knowledge of the world, a viewpoint.

That is far more baffling and alarming, since 'aware of being located in a boundless world, we are not sure of our place in that world.' It is what Heidegger called 'de-experiencing': we see as subjects confronted by objects. This means, for example, that 'one can terrify with one's eyes not with one's ear or nose', as Wittgenstein noticed. Sight is always a two-way process: we can peep, point, press with our eyes and that can have a devastating effect on others.
I hadn't come across 'de-experiencing' before, but I can immediately use it: Wittgenstein was de-experienced in the Edgar Allan Poe department.
Friday, May 16, 2008
What's the focal point of that body in the kaleidoscope?
Sometimes there is just a limb or two evident, a thigh or an arm. One of the most poignant shots is of what appears to be a spinning human ball, formed by a section of a person’s arm, thigh and lower back. This and all of the kaleidoscope visions reveal a multitude of new perspectives and variations on our own hermetically sealed worlds.

This cycle was also inspired by a quote by Heidegger, which could well be [Gábina] Fárová’s motto in general: “What is incalculably far from us in point of distance can be near to us. Short distance is not in itself nearness. Nor is great distance remoteness.” The kaleidoscope images bring or merge bodies together, yet the prisms also distance or separate them.
Thursday, May 15, 2008

Movement of Existence on revolutions in science.
Heidegger, in contrast, says that the space between paradigms is when Being is most openly examined. Kuhn and Feyerabend (although Feyerabend more explicitly) depend on a mechanized conception of rationality, but an appeal to a more robust version of rationality could resolve this. Mechanized rationality tends to depend on some sort of foundational epistemology (empirical or rational) in which first principles are known first (think Descartes). A contrasting viewpoint tells us that first principles are not known first, but last.
HT: Mormon Metaphysics.

The Clearing Room asks:
What does it mean to let something be?
What must I do to let something be?
What may I hope if I let something be?
—What is Gelassenheit?
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Jonathan Barnes on the ignorance of the analytical philosopher.
[W]hat distinguishes the continental tradition is that all its members are pretty hopeless at philosophy. Myself, I've read scarcely a hundred continental pages. I can't see how any rational being could bear to read more; and the only question which the continental tradition raises is sociological or psychological: How are so many apparently intelligent young people charmed into taking the twaddle seriously?

When Richard Robinson expressed a desire to become a philosopher, Ross – his boss – sent him off to Germany to study under Heidegger. When he retired, he gave me his copy of Sein und Zeit; it was underscored and annotated, and I asked him what he had learnt from Heidegger. He replied: "He taught me how to ski".
Monday, May 12, 2008
The New Humanist has a portrait of Levinas.
For Heidegger, the metaphysical quest for absolute knowledge of what lies beyond perceived surfaces reached its culmination with Hegel (1770-1831), and its “last gasp” with Nietzsche (1844-1900). Plato, and the entire philosophical tradition descending from him, had “sent Being away”, positing it as always existing elsewhere – for example, in the unknowable realm of the Forms, or in the Kantian “noumenal world”. In doing so, philosophy had neglected the “primordial” kind of Being, that largely concealed essence of our consciousness that is further revealed to us through thought, art, poetry and communion with nature. Heidegger offers us an example of how this “authentic” Being can occur to us in Being and Time: a workman is making a barrel, hammering away unthinkingly in his day-to-day “context of significance”. The hammer is initially no more than what the worker hammers with; however, the hammer suddenly breaks in his hand, and looking at the broken pieces, the barrel-maker is brought sharply out of his “everydayness”; what Heidegger calls its “intentional” quality is suddenly contrasted with the broken pieces. Just so, when you snap a plastic fork while eating, something strange happens – its previous “forkness” is thrown into relief, bringing to consciousness the odd fact that you were using it at all, and illuminating the “ontological difference” between beings and Being – between mere things and the uncanny fact that they are. The effect on Levinas’s thought was dramatic; everything would now have to be considered in the ontological light cast by Being and Time.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Wozu Dichter?

Mike Barrett's Needles and Throne: A Hay Digger's Song
(to the tune of Frere Jacques)
augenblich & mister dicht
augenblich & mister dicht
dang zeit dong
dang zeit dong
From: Din & Sit: Cuts of Phi on Sein und Zeit.
In praise of idle talk, from the Washington Post.
Gossip has been around forever, and, for almost as long, it has been labeled a vice. Moses descended Mount Sinai with a sub-commandment forbidding the bearing of tales. German philosopher Martin Heidegger dismissed gossip as a waste of energy. Only in very recent history have researchers and journalists started writing pieces with heretofore provocative titles.

"Gossip May Be Virtuous."
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Kenneth Maly explains.
one way to say what happens in Heidegger's work of thinking (and in his opus) is that his thinking continually, with undivided attention, passionately circles around the domain (called the 'question of being') that

  • does not reside in human beings, even as humans participate in its make-up;

  • is not conceived, created, or controlled by human reason;

  • is not a thing, an entity, or a being -- is rather nothing, no-thing;

  • cannot be gotten at within or via analytic thought or the language of definition, literalness, or denotation;

  • is other than the being of metaphysics.

Named unconcealment, the temporality of being, ἀλήθεια, λόγος, enowning, time-space, regioning of the region, fourfold, emergence -- in all these names Heidegger's thinking stays with this one matter: how to think/say what sustains things/beings without itself being a being, how to think/say the dynamic of emergence, ongoing unfolding, unconcealment itself, as what sustains thinking/saying, and thus sustains being-human.

Fore-word 3
Friday, May 09, 2008
Wozu Dichter?

The Envelope by Maxine Kumin.
It is true, Martin Heidegger, as you have written,
I fear to cease, even knowing that at the hour
of my death my daughters will absorb me, even
knowing they will carry me about forever
inside them, an arrested fetus, even as I carry
the ghost of my mother under my navel, a nervy
little androgynous person, a miracle
folded in lotus position.

Like those old pear-shaped Russian dolls that open
at the middle to reveal another and another, down
to the pea-sized, irreducible minim,
may we carry our mothers forth in our bellies.
May we, borne onward by our daughters, ride
in the Envelope of Almost-Infinity,
that chain letter good for the next twenty-five
thousand days of their lives.
Withness and I, and Obi Wan Kenobi too.
There, it seems to me, lies the importance and the power of the roots that I am referring to: they are not roots that keep you grounded, they are roots that stay with you as you move. They are of the same order as the "with" we offer someone when we wish them: "May God" or "May the Force be with you". It is a Heideggerian withness that gives strength to our being.
Thursday, May 08, 2008

Jeff Rubard on the event; with clever title.
Well, what the hell is Ereignis? Understanding the concept requires situating it within Heidegger’s later conception of the “history of being”; I’ve talked smack about that view of the history of philosophy before, but for the moment we’ll give him his due. For later Heidegger, “being” is not a brute fact or timeless dimension of human experience but something that irrupted into human consciousness with the Greeks and can undergo decisive changes (such as he hoped the Nazi-Zeit would bring). Ereignis is a word for that irruptive dimension, the historical point at which thought can latch onto Being: it is equally implicated in thought, being, and history.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Metablog happens to get into a tizzy about the event.
Being and Time (51-52) speaks of death as an event. What could it possibly mean to call death an appropriation?

And Heidegger certainly does not mean that death is "emergence into intelligibility." On the contrary. Also, Being and Time outlines a philosophy of history in which Heidegger often refers to past events. It is ironic that Sheehan, who is so concerned with dating texts, should not realize that the early Heidegger understands Ereignis literally.
Well, of course, when Heidegger needs to use the word "event", he uses it. But a more complete trawl through the works would have unearthed Heidegger already using Ereignis with his own special sense in his KNS course in 1919. He just kept that special sense in his pocket until the mid-30s, when he started using it again, in his private manuscripts, and then after the war in a few of the works he published.

And note that this bit:
To indiscriminately substitute "appropriation" wherever Heidegger utters Ereignis, as Sheehan seems to propose...
is missing any citation of Tom Sheehan proposing such a course.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Dinesh D’Souza gets ready to argue.
Today, my interests are as much theological as they are political. I’m reading a philosopher, Charles Taylor, and would recommend in particular his book Sources of the Self. I’m also reading the Great Atheists—I see the New Atheists, people like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris as Lilliputian front men for the Great Atheists of a hundred years ago—I’m thinking of figures such as Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sigmund Freud, to some degree Marx, Bertrand Russell, and even Jean-Paul Sartre. Ultimately, I think as Christians there’s a need to confront those atheists and the arguments that they make.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Mark Kingwell explains what art shouldn't be.
[A]rt’s power to excite wonder is, and should be, qualitatively different from philosophy’s. They may often be related, as when a powerful work calls forth a train of thought impossible otherwise or situates one suddenly in a world of meaning, “lifting a corner of the veil,” as Einstein said of numbers. Wonder has many sources and occasions, including natural ones. But the special status enjoyed by art, much disputed though it is, rests finally on its artificial and sensuous arousal of “rapt attention,” to use Heidegger’s phrase. It opens a clearing of thought and feeling. The mistake at the heart of too much conceptual art is its lack of openness, the implicit project of intellectual control, as if ideas could always be prethought and precaptured. The work is not allowed to be simply the work, and the result is not an act of philosophical aggression against art but an act of aesthetic aggression against us—not playfulness but its simulacrum, not possibility but manipulation.
I'm not familiar with that phrase of Heidegger's. Perhaps I haven't been paying attention.
"The Thing", updated.
The word ‘thing’ originally means collection or gathering. Things unite us and give us an identity. The example Heidegger himself provides is a jug of wine that collects people round a table. But it can just as well be a mirror with some lanes of amphetamine or cocaine. The mirror with drugs has a unifying effect on those gathered round it, and makes them a community.
Jorge Volpi, in Em busca de Klingsor (translated as In Search of Klingsor), tells a story about physicists and mathematicians in the mid-XXth century and the search for Hitler's science adivisor, known only by his code name Klingsor (ob. cit. Parsifal). The story weaves fictional characters with the lives of Heisenberg, Gödel, Bohr, and more. It should appeal to folks that enjoyed Cryptonomicon and other novels with hard science.

That said, I found this error.
Los estudios de Heinrich no podian ir mejor--por momentos llegaba a envidiarlo--y parecia seguro que, después de terminar sus estudios en Berlín, sería aceptado en el programa de doctorado en Heidelberg, presidido por Martin Heidegger.

[Enowning translation: Heinrich's studies could not go better--at times I envied him--and it seemed sure that, after finishing his studies in Berlin, he would be accepted in the doctoral program at Heidelberg, presided by Martin Heidegger]

P. 169
Heidegger, of course, never taught at Heidelberg. That mistake has been around for a over a decade now, mainly repeated in right wing diatribes against Heidegger. I suspect it originated from a report on a speech Heidegger gave at that university in 1933, from which someone assumed that he taught there, and which has been repeated ever since by authors whose knowledge of Heidegger is limited to that incorrect tidbit. This leaves me in doubt about other accounts related in the book, like that of Kronecker's feud with Cantor. Another thread in the book is about authors, narratives, and can they be trusted?
Friday, May 02, 2008
Scientist underwhelmed by reductionism.
Because of this ceaseless creativity, we typically do not and cannot know what will happen. We live our lives forward, as Kierkegaard said. We live as if we knew, as Nietzsche said. We live our lives forward into mystery, and do so with faith and courage, for that is the mandate of life itself. But the fact that we must live our lives forward into a ceaseless creativity that we cannot fully understand means that reason alone is an insufficient guide to living our lives. Reason, the center of the Enlightenment, is but one of the evolved, fully human means we use to live our lives. Reason itself has finally led us to see the inadequacy of reason. We must therefore reunite our full humanity. We must see ourselves whole, living in a creative world we can never fully know.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Wozu Dichter?

A. R. Ammons on a place to live.
MR: I'm think of the passage in Sphere beginning, "there is a faculty or knack . . ."

A: Isn't that a nice passage. I like that.

MR: It's lovely, it's one of my favorites.

A: Me, too. I'm glad you said that.

MR: Especially the line, "a brook in the mind that will eventually glitter away the seas . . ."

A: Isn't that something, I like that. That's what it's all about, it seems to me, to keep trying till you get to some place like that. And then, in a Heideggerian sense, it's a place you can live. You can live in that little passage.
For when Ereignis is not sufficient.

Appropriation appropriates! Send your appropriations to enowning at gmail.com.

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