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t h r e e The Enigma of Manifestation (Figuration in Heidegger) From the ‘‘Overcoming of Aesthetics’’ to the ‘‘Step Back’’; or, From Nietzsche to Hölderlin Heidegger’s detour through Hölderlin’s poetry leaves the project of the ‘‘overcoming of aesthetics’’ in disarray and opens the path to a ‘‘step back’’ from metaphysics and a radical redefinition of language. This detour does not amount to making Heidegger’s a poetic thinking, a conceptual retranslation of poetry’s findings—whatever they may be—nor the model of Heidegger’s Kehre. Not without a certain interpretative violence on Heidegger’s part, Hölderlin the poet acts much like a ‘‘chemical agent’’ that captures metaphysics’s ‘‘unthought,’’ the dimension in which metaphysics finds its proper site. If the philosopher institutes being, the poet is the one who says be-ing (Seyn) by bringing it to language as sacred. Poetry is not simply the arbitrary product of imagination and a function of the unreal (Sartre). It is the setting up according to a schema that will recur throughout ‘‘The Origin of the Work of Art,’’1 and which I will refer to in detail below, of what is effectively real (das Wirkliche) in PAGE 55 55 ................. 16243$ $CH3 11-27-06 10:49:19 PS 56 Intrigues: From Being to the Other language. The poet’s song sets up being; it is the enigma of being that sings in Hölderlin’s poetry. The singular task of poetry is to institute being in language. Poetry is the poetry of being; it is being that in poetry says the first and last word. In its essential determination language is, for Heidegger, Urdichtung or primordial poiēsis, previous to any poetic work but also to any poetry or to the poetic that any form of work of art entails. Poiēsis, as ‘‘The Origin of the Work of Art’’ defines it, is the unconcealment or setting forth of truth. Language is the poiēsis of truth because in it being manifests itself in the open, because it opens the space of a world in which entities come into presence and in which they are preserved as such. This understanding of language yields a rather astonishing conception of poetry as a founding saying that subtracts itself from the grounds of metaphysics and particularly from a metaphysics of representation. At what price, though? Heidegger’s attempt to hear in the poem the poetizing previous to the poem (das Gedichte) compels him to bracket or even suppress the subjective dimension of poetry, as well as its materiality ; for the most part, he tends to disregard Hölderlin’s theoretical essays. Further, Heidegger’s approach to the poem bypasses the materiality of writing as if it were simply an obstacle, something Vorhandenheit (presentat -hand). Here, as with the most recalcitrant forms of logocentrism, writing must be left behind if a true understanding is to be obtained, an understanding that is inseparable from hearing. Listening to the poem means hearing the resonance and vibration of a saying (Schwingubgsgetüge eines sagen) (GA 39, 15); this is the echo of the abandonment of being. This resonance determines the syntax and the semantics of the poem and not the other way around, as would normally be expected. In Being and Time hearing is defined as an essential possibility of discourse (BT ‫ن‬ 34, 206/163). By hearing Heidegger does not refer to a mere acoustical perception but to an existential possibility, the understanding’s condition of possibility (Verstehen). Hearing supposes a particular relation to the other human being, since it inscribes the dimension of alterity at the heart of existence. It also expresses the discursive modality of beingwith and understanding: ‘‘lending an ear to, listening to . . . (hören auf. . .) is Dasein’s existential way of being-open as being-with towards the other PAGE 56 ................. 16243$ $CH3 11-27-06 10:49:19 PS The Enigma of Manifestation (Figuration in Heidegger) 57 (den Anderen)’’ (BT 206/163, translation modified). There is no being-with without hearing, which explains why Heidegger states: ‘‘Indeed, hearing constitutes the primary and authentic way in which Dasein is open for its ownmost potentiality-for-being—as in hearing the voice of the friend whom every Dasein carries with it’’ (BT 206/163). Without engaging with the rather baffling appearance of the ‘‘voice of the friend’’ in this context, it is important to stress that the first figure of alterity that is at the origin of hearing is...


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