Further Thoughts on Brockelman on Heidegger


The common notion that Heidegger is promoting some sort of return to some idyllic pastoral existence is predicated on the tempting way in which he describes the pastoral. It is tempting, tranquilizing, peaceful, rooted. That Heidegger also talks of the uprooting of everything via technology is seen as demonstrating that he is anti-technological.

Yet tempting, tranquilizing, even rooted as what is not free, is precisely Heidegger’s description of Dasein as inauthentic. Simultaneously it is in technology, if we have the nerve to look at it as it is and not ‘quail’ and flee from it, that Dasein’s potential for authenticity is attested to in the later writings, a potential that has, in a sense, become possible for the first time. The ‘change’ wrought by metaphysics itself is not a change from some mythical golden age. Heidegger recognizes explicitly that the restriction of meaning had already occurred, that Plato simply responded to it. The common man already saw aletheia as adequatio, Kairos as currency, Mnemosyne as the record-keeping of accountants. As change it only exchanged what was already exchanged, something we cannot get behind. It was the first beginning in that it brought this change into thinking, but not as the thinking of change.

The re-interpretation of aletheia as unconcealment, rather than truth as adequatio, is not a return, except to an improvised alternate possibility that, while latent in the word, has never factically come to pass as its basic meaning. Looking at the essence of technology without ‘quailing’ is precisely what makes that other possibility into a real potential, one that has never previously been. The danger of technology is the danger inherent in all revealing, that we will run away from it. Those who, like Brockelman, see the ideological basis of modern science yet claim that it is still true base that claim on an uninformed priority of science, itself part of the ideology. In claiming it as true he fails to see that the accounting-for technology that constitutes modern science can simply be jettisoned without affecting technology or what it properly reveals. Brockelman does what he accuses Heidegger of doing, running away from his own insight. Yet it is Heidegger who does not do that, who stays with it despite it condemning precisely the life of a burgher that Heidegger himself lived, condemning precisely the temptations and tranquilizations that life offers.

In bringing another beginning into play technology and the thinking that accompanies it brings the change into thinking as did the first beginning, but the other beginning brings it into thinking as thinking of change, which itself changes both change and thinking, where both can first become properly what they are.

The two experiences of technology, as danger and as what frees, are not isomorphic. One is an experience of technology itself, the other an experience of what technology reveals. This revealing can be made explicit through what is simultaneously technological and not, techne in the sense of art. This art, though, is itself changed. It can no longer represent, it must also be technological art. What Heidegger is pointing towards is the kind of art that irrupted in Stockhausen, in Xenakis, in Einsturzende Neubauten. An explicitly technological art, and one that is non-representative, non-pictorial, yet gives the experience of abground metaphorically, since we understand via metaphor, not via reason. Technology un-grounds, but there is no re-grounding, Abground is like background noise, always there but indistinct, from which particular sounds, threads of sound, sonic structures irrupt and fade. The very form of form has changed into structure, which can only be perceived when it is no longer, after it has faded, when the work is over.

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