Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht
To be quiet for a moment



Now I know that Siegfried will ask me (tongue-in-cheek) what the »unconcealment of Being« may possibly be. The - again - surprisingly simple answer is that Being means the world without interpretations, without meanings, without dividing lines, a state of simultaneity so absolute that it even includes the simultaneity, the non-distinction of things being present and things being absent. As Heidegger once put it, Being is the sphere »die alles zueinander versammelt und zu sich selbst in das eigene Beruhen im Selben zurueckkehren läßt«. If we could ever »see« Being, i.e. if we could ever see the world without interpretations, meanings, dividing lines (but we can't), we would become part of it - and we would then become be indeed as quiet and composed as the plaster arch in García Lorca's poem. Unfortunately (as far as I am concerned) this will never happen, as we cannot really quit making sense. But how close to an experience of Being can we come - and under which conditions? Of course, »to experience Being«, under Heideggerean premises, is a paradox. For making experience always means to be concept-based in relation to the world - so that Being, as the absence of concepts, is impossible to experience (I am referring here, by the way, to Peter Fuchs' lucid description of the core situation of Zen Buddhism). Is there any solution - or are we trapped into this paradox? The solution, the answer to the question how it may be possible not to produce Erkenntnis in one's relation to the world, may lie in Heidegger's conception of the aesthetic. »Beautiful« for Heidegger is not just Being unconcealed - it is the process, the movement of this unconcealment. Why is this so? Being (or nothingness - in claiming this synonymity I am quoting Heidegger), Being as the non-distinct cannot enter the conceptual sphere of our human experience. But art, Heidegger suggests, can sometimes present to us (make present for us) the lightning-short moments of Being's entry / transition into the sphere of our experience and meaning. These are the moments in which, out of nothingness, Being transforms itself into being (Seiendes) by adopting a shape and by adopting a substance (i.e. by leaving behind itself the non-distinctness of the present and the absent). But the movement of emergence that I am invoking here along Heidegger's lines, is always accompanied by a simultaneous movement of withdrawal - a movement of withdrawal that has to happen because, if Being ever came completely into the zone of our experience, it would have lost itself.


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