Wednesday, September 19, 2007

On Heidegger: This passage being less stercorine

Highly amusing exegesis of a "passage" from Heidegger's On the Way to Language over at the Varieties of Unreligious Experience. The following is Heidegger:

I: What is the Japanese word for “language”?

J: (after further hesitation) It is “Koto ba.”

I: And what does that say?

J: ba means leaves, including and especially the leaves of a blossom-petals [sic]. Think of cherry-blossoms or plum blossoms.

I: And what does Koto say?

J: This is the question most difficult to answer. But it is easier now to attempt an answer because we have ventured to explain Iki: the pure delight of the beckoning stillness. The breath of stillness that makes this beckoning delight come into its own is the reign under which that delight is made to come. But Koto always also names that which in the event gives delight, itself, that which uniquely in each unrepeatable moment comes to radiance in the fullness of its grace.

I: Koto, then, would be the appropriating occurrence of the lightening message of grace [das Ereignis der lichtenden Botschaft der Anmut].

J: Beautifully said!

Following is excerpted exegesis from Varieties of Unreligious Experience:

My bullshit-detectors were, at this point, raging out of control. (I concede the possibility—certainly not the likelihood—of this passage being less stercorine in the original German.)

... Perhaps Heidegger would praise Tezuka's remarks, in his own words, as 'playful thinking that is more compelling than the rigor of science'.

... Heidegger's project, in this book, and this dialogue, is to come to terms with (or at least address) the alterity of Japanese thinking, and consequently of its language.

... But Heidegger's real project is to make strange even Western thinking and language.

... Heidegger here defines iki as 'the pure delight of the beckoning stillness'. Wikipedia articulates the word's meanings with the adjectives 'simple, improvised, straight, restrained, temporary, romantic, ephemeral, original, refined, inconspicuous'. One can only conclude that there are few minds less iki than that of Martin Heidegger.


Grace note: I am reminded of joke that my father used to tell me when I was young (and never understood until years later).

Did you hear about the cannibal who passed his friend in the jungle?


Mysti Easterwood said...

Quentin just told me that joke yesterday.

So, what does this have to do with Heidegger?

(Besides the patent joke of your keywords. Who puts dreary German phenomenologists under 'humor'?)

S. Casey said...

Pretty silly actually. Kicking out the shit from a dead horse metaphor. Conrad calls bullshit on H. in an "exegesis." Parenthetically remarks on a "passage" being less stercorine - which I interpret to mean not quite as bad as total bullshit. Plays here upon the process of digesting information, the passages along which it travels through our being, until re-manifesting itself as the "appropriating occurrence of the lightening message of grace." I am sure Norman O. Brown is smiling in his grave. And finally, the very subtle cannibal joke that was obscure to me in my youth because I didn't understand the more excretory connotation of the word "passage." Robert Johnson sang of stones in his passway. I got bones in my passway.