Sunday, March 12, 2017

on “the experience of thinking”

Poetry, Language, Thought begins with a piece titled “The Thinker as Poet.”
The original is titled by Heidegger “Aus der Erfahrung des Denkens” (1947): “From the experience of thinking.” It’s part of a collection of short pieces titled The Experience of Thinking. So, “The Thinker as Poet” is the heart—one might surmise—of The Thinker as Poet—if one surmises that the title is not intended to be read as “From The Experience of Thinking.”

Indeed, the last writing that Heidegger distributed (as far as I know), 1973, was a dwelling with a sentence from Parmenides which opens with a quotation from “The Thinker as Poet.” No wonder, then, that it appears first in the 1971 collection of essays for English reading audiences that is prevalently concerned with poetic thinking.

But that isn’t just a nice beginning for PLT, as if the philosopher shares his sweet attempt at verse and comments on that. No, this expresses something essential about Heidegger’s thinking.

By the way, his meditation early on contains the epigram that appears on the frontispiece of W. J. Richardson’s monumental book on Heidegger: “To head toward a star, only this.” But Richardson translates ‘gehen’ as “follow”; PLT: “head toward.” The latter is clearly better because initiating/heading deserves to prevail over answering to a given heading, albeit answering to the sky (so to speak) gives way to experience in which a star emerges (channels itself?: the divine; lives itself?: with mortality; recognizes itself?: in the world).

Also a single star appears on Martin and Elfride’s single gravestone; no cross, like their children’s headstones.

From whence—from whom and where—comes origination? Is a star a mirror (of the heading initiator) or a window (the appeal to follow)? Both!

The “from" (“Aus”—which could be translated “Out of...") implicitly expresses a keynote of Heidegger's thought: the difference between setting forth and setting up (“The Origin of the Work of Art,” 1936-37). A text is a set up (a presentation) derived from process: composing, itself derived from the thinking which leads to presentational composing; and the path to the thinking or pathmaking, on the way to that thinking that is set forth into the set up—the pathwaying, the pathing—is likely long. Think of what goes into constructing a curriculum, which is a path for interaction which derives from that which results in the curriculum. The "about" is concerned with (about) both its fidelity to that from which it’s derived (a hermeneutical venture) and its presentational efficacy (a rhetorical venture).

These kinds of distinctions are integral to an analysis of creative working toward the work (presentation). I’ve fabricated them here, but they’re integral to Heidegger’s thinking (e.g., the difference between “Heidegger” to others and Martin translating his thinking for others).

The “experience of thinking“ isn't primarily the thinking experience itself—the thinking as such; it's the experience that thinking contains, yet also the experience that thinking constitutes. The thinking contains, and results in, differentiables, including experiences (and things, referents). “From the experience of thinking“ isn't merely a title; it's a keynote of the thinking itself: differential engagements given an integral way.

His text shows two kinds of paths: a “bearing” set of verse stanzas (not great poetry, but implicitly symbolic); and his “granting” sets of meditative moments associated with each stanza—sets of sets, one set overtly granting the other's bearing, one set bearing what can be implicitly granted of it.

Anyone could write to each feature in their own way. We would be writing to each meditation earlier written to each stanza. Eventually, I’ll dwell with all of “From…,” to be linked from here as well as from my project page.

One document in the volume The Experience of Thinking is merely two short paragraphs, “What Is Reading?” (Translation here is from John Sallis, Reading Heidegger, 1993, p. 2):
That which is sustaining and directive in reading is gatheredness. To what is it gathered? To what is written, to what is said in writing.

Authentic reading is a gatheredness to which, unbeknown to us, has already claimed our essence, regardless of whether we comply with it or withhold from it.

Heidegger is not addressing specialists. He’s seeking to bring a general university audience (probably one that is averse to the humanities) into doing philosophy in a new way (see item #1: what calls for thinking).

By the way, Hannah Arendt’s nostaligic article, “Martin Heidegger at Eighty” (1971), conveys an appealing sense of Heidegger’s thinking (though her penultimate paragraph, alluding to 1933, lacks a sense of constructive engagement by Heidegger, which explains his hope for influencing bureaucrats and fellow-traveler faculty, which didn’t get far, of course, but which was no moral error to attempt).