In our preceding discussion, we have taken a decisive step. In a lecture course, everything depends on such steps. Occasional questions that have been submitted to me regarding the lectures have betrayed over and over again that most of the listeners are listening in the wrong direction and getting stuck in the details. Of course, the overall context is important even in lectures on the special sciences. But for the sciences the overall context is immediately determined by the object, which for the sciences is always given in advance in some way. In contrast, it is not just that the object of philosophy does not lie at hand, but philosophy has no object at all. Philosophy is a happening that must at all times work out Being for itself anew (that is, Being in its openness, which belongs to it). Only in this happening does philosophical truth open up.
– Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics (tr. Fried and Polt)
Only a god can still save us. I think the only possibility of salvation left to us is to prepare readiness, through thinking and poetry, for the appearance of the god or for the absence of the god during the decline; so that we do not, simply put, die meaningless deaths, but that when we decline, we decline in the face of the absent god.
– Heidegger, 1966
The essence of technology comes to the light of day only slowly. This day is the world’s night, rearranged into merely technological day. This day is the shortest day. It threatens a single endless winter. Not only does protection now withhold itself from man, but the integralness of the whole of what is remains now in darkness. The wholesome and sound withdraws. The world becomes without healing, unholy. Not only does the holy, as the track to the godhead, thereby remain concealed; even the track to the holy, the hale and whole, seems to be effaced. That is, unless there are still some mortals capable of seeing the threat of the unhealable, the unholy, as such. They would have to discern the danger that is assailing man. The danger consists in the threat that assaults man’s nature in his relation to Being itself, and not in accidental perils. This danger is *the* danger. It conceals itself in the abyss that underlies all beings. To see this danger and point it out, there must be mortals who reach sooner into the abyss.
But where there is danger, there grows
also what saves. – Hölderlin
– Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology
A being happens as a given composition or arrangement, something simply there, but not inertly there. ‘There’ as a saying, as coming forth, as a claim, as an event with which I am immediately in the possibilities that it occasions. The immediate complement of ‘claim’ is ‘answer.’ Human existence says itself. That means that it is present always as someone. To be someone is to be a state of giving heed in the presence of beings. Even when I refuse a claim and turn away from it, I am attending to it, and I am in conformity with it in the sense that I respond with it, hear it, and answer.
The vulnerability of human existence is frequently remarked, and man’s fear of his own state of being is frequently discussed. We are remarkably undefended in the immediacy of our being. We are constituted by givennesses which have at once the character of gift and threat because immediacy is neither deserved nor avoidable. When we answer by backing away from our own state of givenness, from what is given, and from the inevitability of answering, we literally refuse our own being, a refusal that immediately countenances what we refuse. This deep contradiction is lived as injury and misery, self-encroachment in the most profound sense, because in this case we are open in the disclosure of what is present by denying both our responsiveness and the meaningful presences.
– Charles E. Scott, ‘Heidegger, Madness and Well-Being’
And yet – in all the disguising belonging to enframing, the bright open-space of world lights up, the truth of being flashes. At the instant, that is, when enframing lights up, in its coming to presence, as the danger, i.e., as the saving power. In enframing, moreover, as a destining of the coming to presence of being, there comes to presence a light from the ﬂashing of being. Enframing is, though veiled, still glance, and no blind destiny in the sense of a completely ordained fate.
Insight into that which is – thus do we name the sudden ﬂash of the truth of being into truthless being.
When insight comes disclosingly to pass, then men are the ones who are struck in their essence by the flashing of being. In insight, men are the ones who are caught sight of.
– Heidegger, ‘The Turning’ (tr. Lovitt)
The handy representation of history as the temporal actualization of the supratemporal makes more difficult any effort to bring into view what is unique, the unique concealed in the enigmatic constancy which at times erupts and is assembled into the suddenness of what is genuinely Geschick-like. The sudden is the abrupt that only apparently contradicts that which is constant, which means, that which endures. What is endured is what lasts. But what already lasts and until now was concealed is first vouchsafed and becomes visible in what is abrupt. We must calmly confess that we never reach the vicinity of the historicity that is to be thought with a view to the Geschick of being so long as we remain ensnared in the web of representations which, all in all, blindly take refuge in the distinction between the absolute and the relative without ever going on to sufficiently determine that solely upon which this distinction can be determined, limited.
– Heidegger, The Principle of Reason (tr. Lilly)
Heidegger: ‘The unfittingness of mere beings, of nonbeings as a whole, and the rarity of being, for which reason the gods are sought within beings. If someone seeks and does not find and therefore is compelled into forced machinations, then no freedom for the restrained waiting of an encounter and an intimation…’
Machinations… We see ourselves in animals, nature, other people, in God, cunningly remake them in our own images for our own ends. We diminish and master them, reduce them to almost nothing. Isn’t the path then cleared to replace the whole world with a mirror of ourselves, to a total communication network and a total, false immediacy? We’re forced into machinations that empty our lives of meaning. Many we enable because they feel good. This isn’t only an age of exploitation, but also of fun; the two have become linked. ‘Have fun!’ we shout to each other, ‘enjoy!’ When you’re not busy earning money – exploiting or being exploited – you’re supposed to have fun, do something exciting, be exciting: above all fill your time to the brink with activity. What they used to call idolatry is now almost life in its entirety. We reflect ourselves in the things we buy, eat and wear, our homes, jobs, interests, politics, friends, children and lovers. We stress over critical targets that mean little to anyone outside our workplaces. We claim more and more fraught identities, manage our social media profiles on platforms that manipulate us, and create personal brands (something that’s now being taught in British schools). We try to define ourselves using the tools that dispersed us in the first place.
No freedom for the restrained waiting… For meaningful idleness, a gathering up of your time on earth: what they used to call prayer. Everything seems to conspire against it. Yet everyone knows the unease that comes over you when you’ve spent long enough doing nothing meaningful, at work or in your ‘spare time’. What do we do to hold it at bay? Work harder, have more fun; devise clever therapies and health and fitness fads to administrate it out of our minds and bodies.
Of an encounter or intimation… An intimation of something more, something wholly Other that can take us out of our everyday machinations and show them for what they are. A hint of God in the moment, passing through the innermost heart of time.