14 Chapters
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Eight: Poets as Prophets and as Painters: Heidegger’s Turn to Language and the Hölderlinian Turn in Context

Edited by Jeffrey Powell Indiana University Press ePub

EIGHT

Poets as Prophets and as Painters: Heidegger’s Turn to Language and the Hölderlinian Turn in Context

Robert Bernasconi

Heidegger’s approach to language from the 1930s onward was dominated by his relation to poetry, and his relation to poetry was dominated by one poet, Friedrich Hölderlin. Indeed, the model for the much vaunted dialogue between thinkers and poets was his reading of Hölderlin, and it was in the course of this reading that his own thinking took the decisive turn that is marked by the difference between Being and Time and, for example, On the Way to Language, a difference that divides the early Heidegger, who has now been admitted into the mainstream of philosophy, from the Heidegger of the 1950s, who has not. In this essay I will focus on his reading of Hölderlin’s poem “Andenken” in an effort to show that what was at stake for Heidegger in this path to language through Hölderlin had already been indicated by him at the end of “The Origin of the Work of Art” when he described Hölderlin as “the poet whose work still stands before the Germans as a test.”1 Hölderlin was for Heidegger the poet who, if the Germans decided in his favor by listening to the language of his poetry, could lead them to another place, a place where Western metaphysics no longer held sway. This is why Hölderlin was for Heidegger not one poet among others but a destiny for philosophy.2

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Nine: Truth Be Told: Homer, Plato, and Heidegger

Edited by Jeffrey Powell Indiana University Press ePub

NINE

Truth Be Told: Homer, Plato, and Heidegger

Dennis J. Schmidt

The question that I want to ask concerns what Aristotle called the the basic movement of life. More precisely, I want to ask how we might speak of this movement without losing its elemental unity and its dynamic character. An assumption that I will make, but not defend, is that the language of philosophy—that is, the language of the concept—is poor at following this movement since such language aims at capturing and grasping this movement. But I want to suggest that one finds an interesting answer to this question of the proper way of speaking of this movement of life when one turns to Heidegger’s reading of Homer, since in Homer’s language Heidegger finds a way of following this movement, this movement of all appearance, that is closed to the less agile, conceptual language of philosophy. What Homer offers that is foreclosed to our philosophical habits—habits that are amplified by the habits of understanding characterizing modernity—is a way of speaking of the real struggle defining this movement of life; namely, that life both shows and hides itself in its movement.

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Ten: The Way to Heidegger’s “Way to Language”

Edited by Jeffrey Powell Indiana University Press ePub

TEN

The Way to Heidegger’s “Way to Language”

Jeffrey L. Powell

The final installment to Heidegger’s long encounter with the thinking of language is illuminating, influential, and an experiment with another kind of thinking. The shock that precedes this experiment is prepared for by what is called the turning, a turning that results in the attempt to speak from out of beyng. This attempt at such a speaking is thus also an experiment with language, and for Heidegger an experiment that requires undergoing an experience with language. However, the shock that preceded the experiment was not entirely unprecedented, and Heidegger provides us with slightly more than a hint as to where to look for such a precedent. Perhaps we would have been better prepared for the hint had we first read Novalis, had we first read Novalis in the absence of Heidegger. Had we done so, we would have at least been prepared for a bit of the uncustomary and unfamiliar, or at least a different version of it. Heidegger’s concern for the experiment as it relates to the question of language culminates in his final essay concerning language, “The Way to Language.” While Heidegger’s concern throughout “The Way to Language” is to enter into the ways of language, an entrance that is prepared through an appeal to Novalis, my concern here will be to trace Heidegger’s way to “The Way to Language” beginning with Being and Time and passing through the writings of the late 1930s.

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Eleven: Is There a Heidegger—or, for That Matter, a Lacan—Beyond All Gathering?

Edited by Jeffrey Powell Indiana University Press ePub

ELEVEN

Is There a Heidegger—or, for That Matter, a Lacan—Beyond All Gathering?

διαφερóμενον in Heidegger’s “Logos: Heraclitus B 50” as a Possible Response to Derrida’s Disquiet

David Farrell Krell

Is there a Heidegger beyond the seemingly omnipresent gesture of gathering? Is there a Heidegger who resists the unifying force of the One, τò, and who acknowledges the disseminating force of the many, A number of Heidegger’s translators have suggested that there is indeed such a Heidegger. Yet let it be said at the outset: translators of Heidegger, and especially of Heidegger’s “Logos” article, are a mad bunch at best, and are certainly not to be trusted. I am thinking of course of Jacques Lacan, who translated the “Logos” article of Heidegger into French decades ago.1

One wonders what could have drawn Lacan to such a text. Perhaps he was attracted to Heidegger’s “Logos” by its early remarks on reason and unreason, the rational and irrational, both of which our tradition, according to Heidegger, equally neglects in their essential provenance: irraison and déraison would be, as it were, Lacan’s home territory in the Heideggerian landscape; the relation of these words to raison could constitute the very ethics, or at least the ethos, of psychoanalysis, which takes the book of reason so seriously that it attempts to swallow it whole.2 Or could Lacan have been excited by the notion of an irresistible gathering that occurs in and through language, a Versammlung in and through a unique unifying One—the of Heraclitus’s fragment B 50, as read by Heidegger? Or, quite to the contrary, could he have espied in Heidegger’s reading, in spite of the unique-unifying-One, a force of resistance or interruption that disrupts all gathering of the In any case, must not Jacques Derrida have been troubled by Lacan’s attraction to this essay, inasmuch as almost everything in Lacan and a great deal of what is in Heidegger—above all, the insistence on gathering, versammeln—disquieted him? Perhaps Derrida felt that Lacan’s translation of Heidegger’s “Logos” was just another case of the psychoanalytic postman gathering up the truth of desire and conducting it to its final destination, delivering the logos to the door of the École Freudienne? For even if, in Lacan’s view, the truth of desire is unconscious, is not the unconscious structured as a language? Everyone, it seems, except for Derrida, knows what language is.

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Six: Giving Its Word: Event (as) Language

Edited by Jeffrey Powell Indiana University Press ePub

SIX

Giving Its Word: Event (as) Language

Krzysztof Ziarek

“What is the word? The soundless voice/tune of beyng. What is called voice here? Not ‘sound’ but the tuning, that is, letting ex-perience.” Das Ereignis, 283

Language is not simply one of the topics or issues in Heidegger’s vast work. Rather it is the issue of Heidegger’s work in the literal sense: Heidegger’s thinking issues from language, from the way-making of language and its signature trait of having always already arrived into signs, into speech and writing, into poetry (Dichten) and thinking (Denken), as though there has only been nothing before words. Language sets the tone (Stimmung) for Heidegger’s work, lets its experience unfold, lending it its idiomatic non-metaphysical voice (Stimme), at once challenging and annoying to our metaphysically well-trained ears. What English translation of these terms cannot capture is precisely the way in which the tonality of Heidegger’s thought—its idiomatic rendering of being and its event question-worthy (Fragwürdig)—in short, its Stimmung, issues into the specific “voice” associated with his texts, especially those after the “turn,” from Contributions to Philosophy onward. As Heidegger himself repeatedly underscores, it is only from the tonality of thinking that what is at issue in it can be determined (bestimmt). Understanding in the sense of conceptual grasp, the determination of the matter at hand and reflection upon it, takes place well only when it happens in tune with the tonality of thinking: Bestimmung needs to be in tune with the Stimmung. Only then can one say that the text’s voice (Stimme) is own, proper (eigen) to the thinking.

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