Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Heidegger on Poetry

A few thoughts from Heidegger’s “The Origin of the Work of Art” on poetry:

Few are experienced enough in the difference between an object of scholarship and a matter of thought.

Discourse cheers us to companionable reflection. Such reflection neither parades polemical opinions nor does it tolerate complaisant agreement. The sail of thinking keeps trimmed hard to the wind of the matter.

One who thinks greatly must err greatly.

Thinking’s saying would be stilled in its being only by becoming unable to say that which must remain unspoken.

Such inability would bring thinking face to face with its matter.

What is spoken is never, and in no language, what is said.

The unpretentious thing evades thought most stubbornly.

Art is truth setting itself to work.

It is precisely in great art . . . that the artist remains inconsequential as compared with the work, almost like a passageway that destroys itself in the creative process for the work to emerge.

The work lets the earth be an earth.

[T]he poet also uses the word—not, however, like ordinary speakers and writers who have to use them up, but rather in such a way that the word only now becomes and remains truly a word.

There is much in being that one cannot master. There is but little that comes to be known. What is known remains inexact, what is mastered, insecure.

Earth juts through the world and world grounds itself on the earth only so far as truth happens as the primal conflict between clearing and concealing. But how does truth happen? We answer: it happens in a few essential ways. One of these ways in which truth happens is the work-being of the work. Setting up a world and setting forth the earth, the work is the fighting of the battle in which the unconcealedness of beings as a whole, or truth, is won.

The more essentially the work opens itself, the more luminous becomes the uniqueness of the fact that it is rather than it is not.

Each answer remains in force as an answer only as long as it is rooted in questioning.

Poetry is the saying of the unconcealedness of what is.

The truth that discloses itself in the work can never be proved or derived from what went before. What went before is refuted in its exclusive reality by the work.

. . .

And is there any greater fear today than that of thinking?


At 5/29/2012 2:08 PM, Blogger David Grove said...

"the primal conflict between clearing and concealing": what's this in the German? "Unconcealing and concealing"--aletheia and lethe--would convey H.'s meaning more clearly. & interesting how this relates to the Bresson quotation in your last post, the difference between the real and the true. Bresson--one of my favorite directors--might like the idea that an artist is just a passageway for truth/aletheia/unconcealment, since he saw his films as unrealistic realistic passageways for a higher truth.

At 5/29/2012 2:14 PM, Blogger David Grove said...

World is aletheia. I want a word that suggests disclosure of alternate worlds, as when the doors of perception are cleansed. Poetry opens all the doors. (Jim Morrison, right.)

At 5/29/2012 2:29 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

That's what made me think of the Heidegger, the REAL and the TRUE. Yeah, the Heidegger needs the context for several of his concepts, World (which is kind of the human history world) and Earth (which is more the fact of the planet and other than strictly human, I think) are important distinctions for him as well. I don't know the German, but I can fake a Hogan's Heroes German accent at parties. "I see nothink."

At 5/29/2012 5:20 PM, Blogger David Grove said...

Hogan's Heroes: un homme s'est échappé, and then he sneaked back into the prison camp. And the following week he did the same thing. Now that's the truth: losing and finding salvation over & over.

I used to know a German guy who watched HH regularly and laughed all the way through. Ordinarily he was rather dour.

But I'm curious about Werner Klemperer. Why didn't he become a conductor like his dad...

At 5/30/2012 4:18 AM, Blogger David Grove said...

Clearing (lichtung)--"In German the word Lichtung means a clearing, as in, for example, a clearing in the woods. Since its root is the German word for light (licht), it is sometimes also translated as 'lighting,' and in Heidegger's work it refers to the necessity of a clearing in which anything at all can appear, the clearing in which some thing or idea can show itself, or be unconcealed. Note the relation that this has to Aletheia and disclosure (Erschlossenheit)."

"Being, but not beings, stands out as if in a clearing, or physically, as if in a space. Thus, Hubert Dreyfus writes, 'Things show up in the light of our understanding of being.'"


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