Sunday, January 13, 2013

Philosophy: Martin Heidegger's METAPHYSICS part 1.

Chapter 1: Mississsippi.

It's often said that Heidegger's great philosophical achievement was the murder of metaphysics, and of course whenever I heard this statement I took it at face value, assuming it meant that he had developed a mode of thought that needed no recourse to ideas outside the physical world, "ideas “such as God, soul, or platonic forms, to explain its true existence, or something to that effect. But one day this notion was shattered to bits; it was about 3:30 4 O' clock or so and I was waiting for the neighborhood bee man to call me back, he told me that he could introduce me to some people that had been farming some land owned by Toby Hemingway, the Permaculturalist, I have a deep interest in Permaculture for its practical meditation of the interconnectedness of organisms, and its application as a sustainable food production system. I like Heidegger for the same reason actually, for Heidegger, we human beings, what he calls Dasein, only have our being in the way we relate to others, organisms/things ect.. Dasein means Being-there, and is an indivisible unit that implies that our very essence is defined by the way things and people appear to us, or in other words we are nothing without other, people and things.

The Fresh Pot on Mississippi Shaver--my neighborhood.

Now, it was about 3 or 4 o-clock and I work grave yard so I had just got up, and was still pretty groggy so I figured I would go to the fresh pot on Mississippi and Shaver while I waited for the Bee Man to call me back. I get there and get my coffee and sit outside and start to read a book, when this guy Cody comes by, Cody's got a blue baseball cap, and is holding a copy of “Hi-fidelity.” Cody is kind of an enigma to me because he speaks with an English ascent but he says he's for South Dakota, or I could be getting the state rung but it's like some mid-western state obviously vary far from the British isles. Anyway, the whole thing doesn't add up, but he's a cool guy so it's not like I'm suspicious, I just don't really get what’s going on. Anyway he studied philosophy in collage, and was really turned off by the whole rigmarole of it all, but still really like's Deleuze and some of the other guys I like so I like to talk to him about such things, I mean I like to talk about philosophy any chance I get, but really not a lot of people get Gilles Deleuze, or Heidegger so I think it's kind of awesome when someone gets it. We got talking and I was comparing Heidegger's theory of temporality with Burgeson's, and D&G's (Deleuze and Guattari) theory of the plain of imminence with Heidegger’s referential totality. Then I asked him what he was reading, he said that he was enjoying hi-fidelity and that he tried to read some Heidegger recently, but he just couldn’t get his head into it, he said the Heidegger was called, "what is metaphysics?" from his Basic Writings. Hmm, I thought, didn’t Heidegger spell the end of metaphysics? and really what would metaphysics even mean to Haidegger any way? how can there be anything outside of the physical world when all meaning comes from our being-there in the world? It was about that time when the Bee Man called me back so I had to go, but as I was living I remembered that my house had Heidegger's Basic writings on our book self, and thought I'd check it out after I went to the garden.

I kind of forgot about the whole thing for a while, but then I came accuse a certain blog that proclaimed that Gilles Deleuze was responsible for reviving metaphysics after Heidegger had left it for dead, and I remembered that conversation I had with Cody and decided to investigate, so I went to my house book shelf, found the 'basic writings,' cracked it open, and as I read I came across this passage;

 "Our inquiry concerning the nothing is to bring us face to face with metaphysics itself. The name "metaphysics" derives from the Greek Meta ta physical. This peculiar title was later interpreted as characterizing the inquiry, the Meta or trans extending out "over" beings as such."

Reading this passage it accord to me that Heidegger associates metaphysics with nothingness and that in this way perhaps he is destroying metaphysics, a startling thought I know but as I read it started to make more and more sense to me.

It all starts in anxiety. Kierkegaard called anxiety the dizziness of freedom, but Heidegger says that "in anxiety there occurs a shrinking back before....that is surely not any sort of flight but rather a kind of bewildered calm." This calm sort of anxiety is the opining up of possibility, it is the same freedom that Kierkegaard is talking about, but Heidegger calls freedom nothingness because he wants to express it as an 'opening' of possibilities. This might sound startling at first to equate freedom with "nothingness" but it makes sense when you realize that if the future already exists then there could be no freedom in the present.
If the future doesn’t exists then it is "nothing," and is therefore a pure possibility for the present.

Heidegger Says, "Without the original revelation of the nothing, no selfhood and no freedom," by which he means that nothingness is the opening up to meaning in the world, and is essential to Dasein’s being in the world and its freedom. So we see that not only does "nothingness" provide the possibilities of freedom it also grants us our "selfhood", this is because once again if the future or our identity where already fixed then we could have no control over our actions and we would then be strictly speaking like cogs in a machine.

This anxiety that provides the possibilities for freedom and identity is not necessarily the same as what is meant in its normal usage, infect for Heidegger's anxiety need not even be unpleasant; "the anxiety of those who are daring cannot be opposed to joy or even to the comfortable enjoyment of tranquilized bustle. It stands--in secret alliance with the cheerfulness and gentleness of creative longing." Anxiety is joyful because it is the limitless possibility in art and of life itself, because it "Anxiety", "robs us of speech (...) as a whole slips away, so that just the nothing crowds round, in the face of anxiety all utterance of the "is" falls silent. That in the malaise of anxiety we often try to shatter the vacant stillness with compulsive talk only proves the pres-immediately demonstrates when anxiety has dissolved. In the lucid face of which and for which we were anxious was "properly"--nothing. Indeed: the nothing itself--as such --was there."

So it’s through anxiety that we, Dasein, come to the nothing, and it is the nothing that opens us to other beings making their meaning possible for us, for "human existence can relate to being only if it holds itself out into the nothing. Going beyond beings occurs in the essence of Desein, but this going beyond is metaphysics itself." Because "nothingness" is none-being Heidegger makes the surprising conclusion that in order for being to be free it must stay open to none-being, a kind of Hegelian twist that brings harmony to what would ordinarily be conflict.

So there we have it in the connection between anxiety, nothingness, and metaphysics; the possibilities of free will. If there was some definite future then freedom would be imposable, if the future is open, that is nothing, then it can become anything. If the role that each person will play in our lives is already defined then our relationships will never change, it's only the nothingness that is an open possibility which make's new love or collaboration possible. Heidegger proves that nothingness is necessary in order for the state of things to exist as it does.

Chapter 2: America.

On another occasion I was at a party with my friends Andy, and Ben and Chrystal Anderson, we were all excited to see each other because it been a while, and on a whim we decided to go see the movie Moon Rise Kingdom by Wes Anderson--no relation. The only theater that was playing it was Clackamas Town Center, now as I wright this I get chills realizing that this would later be the site of an unspeakable tragedy.

It's vary interesting to me the way places hold certain moods, some places are cheery, while others are profoundly sad, still others send you into a state of emotional vertigo, most places have a degree of chaos to them, and then there are places where you have never been that somehow hold a degree of nostalgia, very mysterious--but there isn't even a single place in the universe that doesn’t hold some mood even if that mood is a very bland one.

We were out in Vancouver at the time so it was a long drive which gave us plenty of time to catch up. Unfortunately when we got there the theater was closing, so we just wondered around the mall. Clackamas Town Center is an outdoor mall and all the shops look like old Victorian aria houses (in a really fake way) so it kind of felt like we were walking through a ghost town, I'm sorry if this word choice sounds crass, honestly this is the way I felt at the time, but it really wasn't all that scary just kind of lonely, all those empty buildings. We found a play gound and started climbing on it, and pretending we where kids again, we tried special challenges like climbing up the later with no hands. I remember one time when my brother went down a fire pull upside down, it was a worm spring day I think it had just rained, safe bet in the Willamette valley. It was at a video shooting for a political campaign advertisement, a conservative senator that was running at the time. One of the other kids keep going down that fire pull over, and over, and I could see it in my brothers eye's, he wanted to give it a go, so he did; he hit his head real hard, then got up walked around screaming, all the adults where like see shouldn’t do that stuff, and eventually he just got over it and ran back to the play ground.

After we finished with the play ground we just walked around, and I think someone commented on the ghostliness of the seen, "think of all this empty buildings, and all the people without a home to go to, you think some one would think of something to do about this!?" I just staired at the items in the windows. One store of sunglasses had all these weird futuristic modals that I had never seen before and really couldn’t picture any one wearing them, and this profound anxiety came a pone me and I realized that this was the emptiness of Capitalism commented on so often by leftist social commentates. It certainly wasen't a pleasant feeling but it did have a kind of calming effect, perhaps it was one inflection of what Heidegger meant by "anxiety," it certainly was disconcerting (If this was what Heidergger called anxiety then bumer it was the unpleasant kind). I don't mean to say that Heidegger was talking about commoditized identity because I know he wasn't, but perhaps there’s something about "emptiness" as Heidegger speaks of it that is somehow at the heart of capitalist dissatisfaction. For Heidegger the anxiety is supposed to make an opening to a new possibility but for some reason in our society the opening leads to no possibilities, it's just one product after another each failing to deliver on its promise of fulfillment.

The ride home from the mall that night was a quiet one, I wander if my friends where feeling what I was feeling, like this immense opening to God knows what, like standing over a great chasm, dizzy with disappointment. I tried to talk, but I instantly realized that if I did I would enviably begin to cry. No! Thats not right. I felt as if I could never cry again, and this saddened me all the more. I tried to grasp my memories and ring them for whatever bit of refreshment they may have held, as if perhaps maybe just maybe, then I would see that it's all connected, that somehow the opining of time, the great void swirling with anxiety might perhaps lunched out at me some hidden gift of meaning, and in a way it did, but I was so tier, and it still wasn't time for me to see it.

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