Getting to the Styx

"Finding one's way around" and "following one's own path does not come easily," Gadamer writes at the end of the Beginning of Philosophy. He is referring to finding one's way in the atmosphere that emerged with Heidegger, where metaphysics becomes one of the forgetfulness of being. This Being comes across in Heidegger's writings collected in Language, Poetry, and Thought as the ability to perceive higher-level metaphors, by which I mean those prompted by a feeling for mortality. He writes of the importance of such poetry to convey something other than usual, something extraordinary, alien, and that when art becomes familiar and a matter of connoisseurship, it has become business and reveals a lack of precision in the thought that meets it. When art is met by everyday language "it no longer responds to the call". Has Heidegger become familiar? At the end of Gadamer's Beginning, he concludes, "just as Plato was no Platonist, neither can Heidegger be held responsible for the Heideggerians." I have yet to be entirely sure of what Gadamer means by this, but as suggested in this paragraph, I wonder if he is not  addressing the difference of those who "respond to the call" and those who do not, though all ostensibly gathered around the same name (Plato, Heidegger).
We are urged to engage with texts, to think for ourselves, and what is more, as per Heidegger, to be venturesome, "more daring than life" and remove our nature from the realm of "procurement and production" i.e., "things that can be utilised and defended". To will more strongly than self-assertiveness - which thinks it is possible to channel the energies of physical nature to make man happy in all respects and brings a peace that is really "the undisturbed ... relentlessness of the fury of self-assertion". Self-assertive man lives by risking his nature in the vibration of money and currency of values, without knowing the true weight of things. Only "one who stands aside from actuality and  ... the collective" can see that man's dwelling is essentially and foremost poetic. Only those open to the widest orbit, to acknowledgement, to death, can reach the interior of uncustomary consciousness, beyond the arithmetic of calculation.


Speaking of calculation, Heidegger writes that measuring something unknown with rods confines this thing within a quantity and order that can always be determined. A more essential measuring is a sketch of something known indirectly only or a conflict of measure and unmeasure, illustrated by a disclosing that reveals what conceals, such as God appearing through the sky. This measure-taking gauges the in-between, which brings heaven and earth together; the rift, which carries opposites to the source of their unity due to their common ground. This is "inconvenient to the cheap omniscience of everyday opinion which likes to claim that it is the standard for all thinking".
This kind of measuring also comes up in Gadamer's Truth and Method. Similar to the "confinement" of a predetermined "order", he writes of the horizon of meaning of the statement being concealed by methodical exactness: "meaning thus reduced to what is stated is always distorted meaning". There is an aspect in "saying what one means" that is connected to "an infinity of what is not said in one unified meaning" which can be seen by comparing this to someone merely repeating what is said, or someone who takes down statements, who will invariably change the meaning of what is said, without consciously distorting it. He uses this as the premise for his argument that hermeneutics is necessary, drawing us into an event of truth. Like Heidegger, he proposes that man is first addressed before he speaks. 
Man learns to live in the speaking of language that presences through his speaking, that uses him to sound out silence, Heidegger writes. Man's home is in a disclosing that reveals what conceals it, a rift that carries opponents to the source of their unity, something alien in the sight of something familiar, a nothing that presences. Poetic projection comes from a nothing that nonetheless contains the withheld vocation of the historical man himself. Man can only truly speak if he is ready for a command that he is to be already waiting to hear.
So "finding one's way" seems to point to an attentiveness disinterested in trade, unafraid of travelling the Styx for nothing more than an anticipated command of the familiarity of life in the alien underworld. Heidegger cannot be held responsible for this conclusion.


Brush: ~surfing-ant at DeviantART. 
Book in background: Amy Butler's Midwest Modern.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License