Monday, 16 April 2012

Self-Assertion of an English Garden (After-Life Topoi of Nazi Desire) Chapter 4

1.     Il faut cultiver notre jardin   
2.     Pêcheurs de lune
3.     Iterability of the Nazi State (Economy of Genocide)
4.     Growth (and Form/Morphe)
5.     Decay
6.     Pompes Funèbres
6.1.  Type (Model, Example, Tupos)
6.2.  Usus Tyrannus (Interlude)
6.3.  The Ageing of a Note
7.      Critique of Beginnings
8.      Demonology of Defeat 

4.      Growth (and Form/Morphe)


Growth seems such an archetypical natural phenomenon – especially true of plant matter.  Plants grow so much more absolutely than animals.  For one – they do not just grow above ground – they are always simultaneously under ground and in the air above ground – except for that rare breed of rootless plants called epiphytes – who can detach themselves from their roots and live in suspension on trees. Plants ‘live’ underground – where animals are mostly already dead and buried (except the insects who spend part of their metamorphosis in a half-live, half-dead state).  The underground dominion of plants has always caused them to be associated mythically and otherwise with the regions of the other world – Proserpine the bride of Pluto (daughter of Demeter, earth) in Hades is also the goddess of spring – the season of growth’s beginning.  Death for the Greeks is the spouse of birth or ‘natality’ – but as the system of deities is patriarchal – they live in the husband’s estate – the underworld.
The ‘Mothers’, the most terrifying of deities in Goethe’s Faust 2, have their dreadful abode in a vast underground area even deeper than Hades.  In their unreachable kingdom all forms past, present or future have their origin – swirling around incessantly in a perpetual storm.  Goethe is a true classicist – seeing natality as the most gruesome of secrets – even more than death – and having the same cosmic address.  The horror of both birth and death is “in the earth” like any plant.

Montaigne does not recommend imitating plant growth in human enterprises.  At least not the growth pattern of bamboo.  It shoots straight out of the earth very quickly – but soon stalls at joints where it forms a knob-like ledge.  Although I find Montaigne’s description of bamboo unsuited to the ‘manic’ bamboo now extinct in our garden - dug up with lust, every shred of impertinent bamboo blade annihilated the moment a tip appeared above the earth - that's what happens in a garden when something gets too big, great.  Still as a negative model bamboo recalls a wise principle of action, one should begin gradually – and slowly accelerate, building up momentum as one gains a certain facility. 

In the same sense – Montaigne says a good horse can be judged by the precision and quickness with which it comes to a halt, how it knows how to quit.  None of this sounds very much like plant life.   Although plants can delay underground for ages – until they finally burst forth.  It is also a well-known botanical fact – that flowering is a cause of death – certain species of agave flower only once after many years and then die.  The longer a plant remains sheer foliage – the more it prolongs its life. 

Although Montaigne has inherited the same history of Western metaphysics as Heidegger, with his constant references to Socrates and to Horace as if they were his intimate friends, – Heidegger obviously has another view of the growth of human endeavor/action.  Quite abruptly – in the first chapter of Introduction to Metaphysics – Heidegger announces “Alles Große aber kann nur groß anfangen.  Sein Anfang ist sogar immer das Größte.  Klein fängt immer nur an das Kleine, dessen zweifelhafte Größe es ist, alles zu verkleinern;(…)” [“Everything great can only begin great.  Its beginning is even always the greatest.  The small begins always only small; its dubious greatness is to make everything smaller; (…)” (Martin Heidegger, Einführung in die Metaphysik, Tübingen, 1998, p. 12)]
Greatness is a miraculous substance immune (resistant) to any abrasion even in use – it starts great, keeps itself great in a frictionless preserving of its substance (Bestand) and equally miraculously just ends in greatness. On the other hand, only the “little man” (der kleine Mann) with his everyday understanding expects greatness to last forever (endlos dauern), which he then equates with eternity (ibid.).
Strangely missing in Heidegger’s ultra-linearity of greatness, implying a model of growth without development, no difference between essentia and existentia – is any concept of speed – either acceleration or deceleration.  Devoid of any principle of development (in the aesthetic musical sense), peripeteia, movement or rhythm – this static greatness is highly undramatic, a movement moving nowhere – and thus not Greek.  Growth and decay is the natural model for drama. The rise and fall of action, like growth and decay, is constituted by an innate asymmetry – the existence of this disharmony also underpins the dramatic concept of Japanese cosmic Noh drama, Jo-ha-kyuJo means beginning or preparation, ha means breaking, and kyu means rapid or urgent.  Jo is a spatial element – the opening position.  Ha or breaking is the destruction of the order contained in the beginning.  Kyu means fast, it is the rhythmic element – referring to speed and time.  Jo-ha-kyu “(…) allows us to apprehend the spatial balance of heaven-earth-man within time, seeing position in space and speed in time as one.” (Kunio Komparu, The Noh Theatre Principles and Perspectives, New York and Tokyo, 1983, p. 25)  All drama must contend with the simultaneity of an opening stable position, reversal and change over time – the composite of which is the play and its cosmic order/disorder. 

[Commentary:  Although Noh theatre originated in the 13th century – Kojeve regards it as an example of “formalized values”, after the Hegelian end of history, similar to the tea ceremony and the arrangement of flower bouquets, – when action has been emptied of all ‘historical’ and ‘human’ content and exists as pure “snobbery”, one might also call it dandyism.  Action is no longer the negativity of war and revolution or “forced work” – but rather gratuitous, anti-natural, anti-animal and aesthetic.  This is somewhat paradoxical in regard to Noh – the themes of Noh drama are mainly taken from tales of the warring Genji and Taira clans, rivals for the power of the shogunate – who fought each other until extinction.  But in Noh theatre this history is viewed from the perspective of the after-life.  Noh is the passage through the ‘mirror-room’ to the second innocence of what Hegel calls in the Phenomenology of Spirit – the religion of flowers.  The mirror-room through which the Noh actors enter the stage is the corridor of the preceding life where the “seriousness of the warring life”, “the guilt of the religion of animal” is touched in passing.  The Noh play shows then the act of returning from the “destructive being-for-self” to the “quiet and im-power of the contemplative individuality” – a release from Western conatus at the end of history in the Japanese afterlife.]

One has the feeling Heidegger’s insistence on unchanging greatness comes in answer to numerous unknown interlocutors, both the doubters and the zealots of the ‘beginning’ of 1933 – defending it blindly or preparing organized modes of retreat, as much unspoken as spoken.  Is this also an example of his method of “conscious ambiguity” (bewußte Zweideutigkeit)?  Ostensibly of course he is speaking of the beginning or birth of Greek philosophy – clearing it of the “containment and alienation” (Abriegelung und Entfremdung) perpetrated upon it by the Roman translation of Greek concepts.  The Roman word for the Greek physis is Natura meaning birth or to give birth to – the Greek physis means according to Heidegger – Seiende – or beings.  Heidegger seems intent on de-naturing physis – restoring to it the question of being  (Sein) situated even prior to that of beings – the beginning before the beginning.  When criticizing the Roman reception and tradition, he does so within his own primordial interpretation or reconstruction of the ‘beginning’ of Greek philosophy – its ‘birth’ in other words.  Heidegger discriminates against Latin antiquity – preferring to keep his direct line to the Greeks pure.  But the Romans were more aware of the ‘divine’ nature of the beginning than the Greeks, perhaps paradoxically because of the greater closeness of the Roman ‘polis’ to the organization of the family (kinship) in hearth and household.  Ianus is the Roman god of beginnings, transitions and endings and hence of time, who is depicted as having two faces looking in opposite directions.  He is also the numen of the house door and the state ‘door’ – the gate at the northeast corner of the Forum, which according to Augustan legend, opens in the time of war and shuts only when Rome is at peace with the world.  The beginning is likened to the ‘humble’ door through which one enters fateful events and circumstances.  Or as Cavell notes somewhere in The World Viewed – there is no more common beginning of a film or a scene than the entering of a door; if one would choose one symbol of cinematic fatality it would be the Western’s saloon door.
In Kafka’s fable “Vor dem Gesetz” (“Before the Law”) – it was precisely the door to the law the man from the country stood before but could not enter which was the symbol of his own personal fatality.

 “The door again is the first thing you come to in entering a house: the ‘door-spirit’, then with that tendency to abstraction (…) becomes the god of beginnings.  He watches over the very first beginning of human life in his character of Consevius; to him is sacred the first hour of the day (pater matutinus), the Calends of every month of the year (Ianuarius); to him is offered by the rex sacrorum the first sacrifice of the year, the Agonium on the 9th of January. (…) In his capacity as pater matutinus he has a native female counterpart in matuta, a dawn deity, who becomes a protectress in childbirth (…)” (Cyril Bailey, M.A., The Religion of Ancient Rome, London, 1911, pp. 76-77) 

In contrast to Heidegger’s flat entelechy of greatness – one can compare the Roman poet Horace’s ironic almost devious response to his benefactor Maecenas in which he mocks ‘greatness’:  “(…)behalt, Atride, dein Geschenk, du kannst/ es besser nützen. – Einem kleinen Manne,/ wie ich, paßt nur, was klein ist an.  Mir ist/ das königliche Rom zu groß; dafür gefällt/ das leere Tibur mir, das ruhige Tarent.”
[(…) keep, Atride, your present, you can/ use it better. — A small man,/like me, is only suited to what is small.  For me/ the kingly Rome is too big; instead I like/ the empty Tibur, the quiet Tarent.” (C. M. Wieland, Horazens Briefe, Nördlingen, 1986, p. 171)]  Horace presents himself to Maecenas as a “small man” at the moment he is defying Maecenas’ friendly demand that he show his gratitude for all of Maecenas’ gifts.  Maecenas had wished to claim what is his due as the ‘patron’ of Horace – Horace declares he is no simple ‘client’ of Maecenas, rather a ‘small man’ who does not enslave himself even for the Sabine, the modest country estate bestowed on him by Maecenas.  The greatness of Rome means for Horace also the heavy weight of total client servitude as a mere appendage of Maecenas’ luxurious household; this is “too great” – meaning not a price he is willing to pay for Maecenas’ gifts.  [Although the burden was not one-sided – the old Roman law of the 12 Tables determined, that if a patron cheated his client – then Sacer esto – he has lost all protection of the law: “Patronus si Clienti fraudem faxit, Sacer esto!” (“If a patron cheats his client, let him be cursed.”, Wieland, ibid., p. 179)  In Rome everyone was either a patron or a client.]
Horace says indirectly that his freedom and own way of life is greater than Maecenas’ patronage.  He is not rejecting Maecenas’ attentions outright – but the moment they assume an aspect of slavery they become despicable, in keeping with the Greek and Roman contempt for any form of slavery as unworthy ‘life’ and its consequence, unworthy death.            

Given that Sein und Schein (being and appearance) are almost indistinguishable, how does one know exactly what is great? Is not the hidden or disguise an integral element of being? (see Heidegger, Einführung in die Metaphysik, ibid., p. 87) What exactly is “greatness” or “the great”?  Heidegger assumes greatness must always ‘appear’ great – or rather he does not refer to this immanent difference between how greatness might ‘appear’ and how it might ‘be’ or how it ‘is’.  Is greatness something other than Sein?  If greatness alone were Sein – what then would smallness be?  In itself great, greatness is an attribute, which assumes quasi-autonomy as a substantive, suggests a measure, but has no distinguishing qualities besides size as in shoe-size etc.  Greatness alone (on its own) has no form, or more Heideggerian – is not form.  Heidegger is cognizant of the need to refine his terms – language, he says, is more than just words, transport(ation) vehicles of things, empty husks packed with meaning – in language itself things first become the things they are.  He warns thus against the ‘misuse’ of language, before returning to the original question of what is physis?  In his idiosyncratic definition physis means that which opens up of itself (das von sich aus Aufgehende) – for example the blossoming of a rose (das Aufgehen einer Rose).  But the rose is not a very apt example – as the opening up of physis has to lead towards something more permanent – something which endures as it unfolds, appears in the sense of coming and remaining in view, something rather permanent which unfolds its power (das aufgehende verweilende Walten).
In Liddel’s Greek-English dictionary – the first meaning of physis is simply nature (Heidegger would say this translation is tainted by the whole Roman-Christian appropriation of Greek philosophy).  The other meanings expand this first one – physis for instance is opposed to nomos – or the natural order as distinct from custom; physis is also the natural origin as in birth.   Heidegger wants to avoid all these connotations – amongst them is also – the outward form, stature, look.  Physis implies then morphe – not just raw nature.  But in the first meaning, that of nature – there is already a sense of inborn quality or property or constitution of a person or thing.  Nature does not appear detached from the specific quality or form manifested by whatever’s or whoever’s nature is being considered.

Instead Heidegger shifts physis first towards the verbal mode – phyein ϕυειν or growing, to make grow.  Here he implicitly reflects or anticipates the ‘danger’ of regarding his term Greatness or great as merely a quantitative indicator.  “Doch was heißt wachsen?  Meint es nur das mengenmäßige Zu-nehmen, mehr und größer Werden?”(“But what does it mean to grow?  Does it only mean the quantitative increase, to become more and greater?”, ibid., p. 11)  Without really answering this question of what is growth – Heidegger persists in his infra-mince distinction between physis as “opening up (rising)”, the motion or mode of natural phenomenon such as sunrise, the tides, growth of plants, “going forth of animals and humans from the womb (Schoß)” and everywhere else in nature and that other physis – not observable in nature or on beings (Seiende).  The second Heideggerian physis, denoted as an opening up that prevails, reigns is not a natural process.  Finally, relieving the suspense, Heidegger identifies the second physis as “das Sein selbst” or Being itself – by whose power any being can first become and remain observable. (see ibid.)  

[Commentary: One of the sayings of Heraclitus intimates that physis is, rather the “essence of things” not Being – and this essence likes to hide - in things. (B 123) – Heraclitus’ ‘physis’ would be that element which ‘hides’ in things – quite the opposite of Heidegger’s interpretation of physis as Being which makes things appear.  Physis is translated as “essence of things” (Das Wesen der Dinge) in Bruno Snell’s edition of Heraclitus’ Fragments – an online English edition at translates physis simply as nature – “Nature likes to hide.”   Heidegger is obviously forming Greek words to suit his sacralized fetish of Being – he offers an interpretation of Fragment 123 in this light (see Einführung in die Metaphysik, ibid., p. 87).]

Hannah Arendt, although a pupil of Heidegger, does not follow him in his slanting of the meaning of physis towards being.  For her physis is simply nature – and as she tends more towards Roman than Greek antiquity – she traces its root both to the Latin ‘nasci’ meaning to be born and the Greek verb phyein meaning to grow out of, appear by itself.  The tree is already in the seed out of which it grows without interference, a self-moving process - unless it is malformed or otherwise stopped.  Strangely this organic process is most apt to describe the automatism in automated industry.  No longer the work of homo faber – it is a preordained process, which moves itself forward with the subservient assistance of human operators. (See Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, Chicago, 1998, p. 150) The ‘growth’ of capital (realized surplus value) in financial markets and investments also appears to augment itself organically; the self-activating process of what Marx calls the “automatic subject”.
Physis as nature moves in a full circle to encompass, according to Arendt, a “biologization of production” (ibid. p. 153) – in a symmetrical but opposite manner to Heidegger’s association/conjoining of physis as being to techne – his Greek term for technology: “physis and techne are essentially the same (…)” as modes of knowledge – producing, building and bringing forth (see Einführung in die Metaphysik, ibid. p. 13).  Physis related to techne is not ‘nature’: technology for Heidegger is the “sending of being” (cited in Jean-Luc Nancy, “A Finite Thinking” in A Finite Thinking, Stanford, 2003, p. 25) – “(…) as being sending itself as its ultimate message (…)” (ibid.).  In Heidegger there can be no “second nature” – because he has eliminated the first nature.

Still Heidegger does not explain what greatness is.  Does it belong to ‘his’ physis 1 or physis 2?  Is it an observable or measurable natural process or phenomenon or is it this unengendered (uncreated) preliminary Being – Seiende or Sein?  And what about smallness?  Does greatness grow to be great or is it ‘born’ that way?  Does growth have anything to do with greatness or smallness?     

Labour of Faust

The only things that start great and end great are those in the realm of the quantitative.  A great number is not born from a small number – it just is.  A sum of money, capital is great without reference to any preceding state.  Growth is a mainstay of all economic jargon, seeming to imply an organic process.  Even such a perspicuous thinker as Jean Baptiste Say could still regard capital as analogous to land – hinting at even more archaic roots in the physiocratic idea that rent or wealth sprouted directly out of the earth.   “There are some immaterial products, towards which the land is the principal contributor.  Such is the pleasure derived from a park or pleasure-garden.  The pleasure is afforded by the continual and daily agency of the natural object, and is consumed as fast as produced.  A ground yielding pleasure must, therefore, not be confounded with ground lying waste or in fallow.  Wherein again appears the analogy of land to capital, of which as we have seen, some part is productive of immaterial products, and some part is altogether inactive.” (Jean-Baptiste Say, A Treatise on Political Economy, I.XIII.27, Philadelphia, 1855, online at Library of Economics and Liberty)

Capitalist ‘growth’ is a quantitative amplification and contraction, measured quantitatively, using various parameters thought to show the increasing and decreasing of social productivity.  Such measures are only possible, because all economic life is apriori quantified in its existence as and for capital. 

The ‘growth’ of capital itself can be represented as greatness – but one is compelled to express this greatness according to a quantitative scale of ‘principal’ and interest.   If Being is greatness – it must also be quantity.  What better representative of Being as quantity– as that quantity which quantifies all of life ‘automatically’, in other words capital?  Capital is automatic greatness alias Sein – capital is that pure quantity which itself cannot be quantified. If Kant’s transcendental subject could be discovered in the commodity-form (Sohn-Rethel) – why could not Heidegger’s Being be equally a reflection of the real abstraction of money in its completed form of capital? The condition of the possibility of all reification?
Or as Adorno wrote in “Negative Dialectic”: “Unter der Last der Tradition, die Heidegger abschütteln will, wird das Unausdrückbare ausdrücklich und kompakt im Wort Sein; der Einspruch gegen Verdinglichung verdinglicht, dem Denken entäußert und irrational.”(“Under the weight of the tradition, which Heidegger wishes to shake off, the ineffable becomes expressible and compact in the word Being: the appeal against reification reified, separated from thought and irrational.” Theodor W. Adorno, Negative Dialektik, Frankfurt, 1982, p.116)

Being is purified of all qualitative predicates (this would be beings) like the commodity form or exchange value, its sheer presence is a presupposition of human (social) existence (Mitsein) in the world.  Sein is not thought – otherwise Heidegger would not distinguish between the two, but it is not exactly material either, it has no sensuous properties, it precedes all that, as pure continuous unchanging presence, it is in itself abstract but not in the way thought is, rather a spatial ‘gathering’ or where space is ‘gathered’ – is that not a “real abstraction”?  The commodity form is a category of Being (capital) – the commodity owner a Doppelgänger of Dasein.  Or speaking in more Badiouist terms: If ontology is the matheme and capitalism is the principle of quantification of the world and all forms of life, then capitalism is itself ontology.

Benjamin Noys, in a post about Marx and real abstraction arrives at a similar complicity of capital and Sein:
“To paraphrase Horkheimer, if one 'wishes to speak of metaphysics or ontology, one must first speak of capital'.” (“Notes on Historical and Speculative Materialism”, 13th July 2009, at No Useless Leniency, online)  Is Capital perhaps most ‘ontological’ in its fascist metamorphosis?

Heidegger’s obsession with the origins of being in ancient Greece (Parmenides’ το εον) is equally a turning back towards the origins of money (and abstraction) and the first developed money economy.
As Sohn-Rethel notes, in Greek ousia has the meaning both of being (existence, Dasein) and property. (Alfred Sohn-Rethel, Geistige und körperliche Arbeit, Frankfurt, 1973, p. 70)  Besides historically the first general money circulation started in Greece (Ionia) – a necessity of the expansion of the Greek states as trading and colonizing powers.  Pythagoras himself, one of the ‘fathers’ of mathematical thinking is thought to have been active in the introduction of the coin system in Kroton. (see ibid., p. 75)

[Excursus: Walten:  The double meaning of parousia in the time of Aristotle as landed property and being was not lost on Heidegger – on the contrary, he considers this concept in its German translation – Anwesen, the name of an enclosed farm or manor (Hofgut).  He moves from the German word for agrarian property and its implicit economic category of rent to Anwesenheit or presence.  Nothing is more present than the land – so the Greeks quite rightly considered “being” to be presence – what is.  Although he retreats from this brief foray in the ‘pre-ontological’ roots of being, what it “holds” (birgt) – the overpowering ‘presence’ of the earth, dwelling, origin, stand-ing, homeland in Heidegger’s ontology shows that being (Sein) for him is also some sort of landed property or territory in specific ownership.  One is almost tempted to say – just as Marx develops the categories of capital dialectically out of the Ur-element of the commodity – Heidegger develops all the categories of beings (Seiende) undialectically out of the archaic category of agrarian property or rent – the ground of Sein. (See Martin Heidegger, Einführung in die Metaphysik, Tübingen, 1998, p. 46)  Instead of dialectic – Heidegger substitutes the word of those times – struggle (Kampf) – or his literal use of the word “Auseinandersetzung” – taking apart.  Both Kampf and Auseinandersetzung are his renderings of Heraclitus’ term polemos from Fragment 53 – “War is the father of all things…”.  Seiende (beings) is the end product of a production hierarchy fabricated from the hegemonic one-ness of “Walten” – the root of many such German words of subjugation or ruling – Gewalt, Bewältigung, Vergewaltigung, Verwaltung, Überwältigung (power/authority/violence, mastering, rape, administration, overpowering); “Walten” is the proper activity of physis – strictly modified to exclude nature.  In a surprising lapse – Heidegger crosses his own forbidden barrier between being and thought (reverting almost to neo-Kantianism of a Husserlian variety/strain) – and via the mediation of Walten finds Walten ‘all of a sudden’ in “Thought” – and from thought its trail leads ‘back’ to World.  As if for a brief moment – so as to continue smoothly with his genealogy of the subjectless subject of ‘polemos’ – he had been forced to interject a digression through the thinking subject. 
In diesem Walten sind aus ursprünglicher Einheit Ruhe und Bewegung verschlossen und eröffnet.  Dieses Walten ist das im Denken noch unbewältigt überwältigende An-wesen, worin das Anwesende als Seiende west.  Dieses Walten aber tritt erst aus der Verborgenheit heraus, (…) indem das Walten sich als eine Welt erkämpft.  Durch Welt wird das Seiende erst seiend.
(“In this prevailing/ruling, out of an original unity, rest and movement, are closed and opened.  This prevailing/ruling is the unconquered conquering estate (An-wesen) in thought/thinking, in which the present (Anwesende) as beings is present.  This prevailing/ruling first emerges out of hiding (…) in that prevailing conquers itself a world.  Through world beings first become beings.”) (ibid. p. 47)     

As if this thinking which Walten inhabits were a divine nous or logos – where the formless not yet mastered but overpowering ‘presencing presence’ resides in a waiting position – bracing itself for the moment when it comes out of hiding and becomes a ‘struggle for world’.  Sounding like an accountant so emboldened by the marvels of his own ‘creative accounting’ he exposes himself in flagranti – Heidegger seems for a moment to admit/confess that the origin of Seiende is in thought and not some nebulous otherworldly region prior to the distinction between subject and object alias ‘world’.  As a consequence of this thought-generated world, he introduces the idea of “block of work” (Block des Werkes).  Overpowering “Walten” has opened its jaws (both inside and outside of thought?) like Lord Shiva – and in those interstices world is opened.  The works are then thrown at it – these works are those of the creative producers (Schaffende) – poets, thinkers and statesmen.  In the same undisguised circular manner Heidegger seeks the essence (Wesen) of art, which really/actually (wirklich) prevails (waltet) in art.  In an even more fetishized dismemberment of art and work - he says: we seek the reality/actuality of the artwork to really find the art that prevails in it. [“Wir suchen die Wirklichkeit des Kunstwerkes, um dort wirklich die Kunst zu finden, die in ihm waltet.”
Martin Heidegger, “Der Ursprung des Kunstwerkes”, in Holzwege Frankfurt, 1977, p. 23]  As if the artwork were the terrestrial shadow (phantom shoes trudging home through phantom fields) of the Idea alias essence of art prevailing (walten) in it.
Walten shifts its position once again to become physis and with these works – and in them – it is held fast, suspended, and with it world.  What could be more idealist or metaphysical than that?  This process of the ‘birth of world’ as Walten – from thought through the works of poets, thinkers and statesmen is what Heidegger then calls ‘becoming-world’ and that he says is the “proper history” (die eigentliche Geschichte). 

But perhaps it is not idealism – but a magical atavistic, animistic effect of the German root “Walten” upon the German mind?  Walten is not in thought; it possesses it – lays its eggs there to incubate until the moment of the bursting forth of the basilisk.  One of Primo Levi’s anecdotes from his chemical autobiography The Periodic Table seems to confirm this ‘overpowering’ demonic aspect of Walten.  He had submitted an official complaint to a German manufacturer and supplier of resin for paint, a successor firm of I.G.-Farben, dismantled by the Allied Command after the war, which ‘by chance’ put him in touch with a German chemist who had been one of the overseers of the laboratory he worked in as a prisoner-slave in Auschwitz.  A certain tic in spelling (t when th was customary) led Levi to discover in his correspondent Dr Lothar Müller, a chemist formerly of the Buna-Werke in Auschwitz – who had been in charge of the ‘fake rubber’ project.  Parallel to the official correspondence about the defective non-drying resins, Levi addressed a personal letter to Müller wishing to confirm that he is indeed the Müller.  He is.  Müller sends him a long letter justifying his actions, those of the engineer Faust, the technical director –and even I.G.-Farben.  He makes the “outlandish claim” that the eight square kilometres of the Buna-Monowitz ‘block of works’ had been built for the express purpose “to protect Jews and preserve their lives”.  (The “I.G.-Farben-Haus” in Frankfurt, where the production of Zyklon B among other projects were managed and research was conducted during the Third Reich, later headquarters of the US Army V Corps from 1952 until 1995 is now the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University.  The I.G.-Farben Building and surrounding land houses the Westend campus of the Frankfurt University.)

In his letter Müller refers to “Bewältigung der Vergangenheit” (overcoming the past) – a very common way of alluding to the consequences of the Nazi era –, which Levi as an Italian heard for the first time from Müller.  He muses upon this word “Bewältigung” – “In seinem ersten Brief hatte er von “Bewältigung der Vergangenheit” gesprochen: ich erfuhr später, daß dies eine stereotype Redewendung im heutigen Deutschland ist, ein Euphemismus, der gemeinhin als “Freisprechung vom Faschismus” begriffen wird:  aber die in dem Ausdruck enthaltene Wurzel “walt” erscheint auch in anderen Worten, wie Gewaltherrschaft, Gewaltanwendung, Vergewaltigung, und ich glaube, würde man den Begriff mit “Verdrehung der Vergangenheit” oder “Vergewaltigung der Vergangenheit” umschreiben, ginge man nicht weit an seiner tieferen Bedeutung vorbei.” [“In his first letter he had spoken of “overcoming the past”:  I learned later that this is a stereotypical manner of speech in today’s Germany, a euphemism, that is generally understood to mean “acquittal of fascism”:  but the root “walt” contained in that expression, appears also in other words such as rule of violence (Gewaltherrschaft), use of violence (Gewaltanwendung), rape (Vergewaltigung), and I believe if one were to reformulate the concept with “perverting the past” or “raping the past”, one would not be passing by its deeper meaning.” (Primo Levi, Das periodische System, München Wien, 1987, p. 226)]

Müller’s letter is a concoction of fact and phantasy (about Müller’s personal relationship to Levi then in Auschwitz) expressing the urgent wish to meet Levi wherever he likes.  Levi is very reluctant but when Müller telephones him unexpectedly from Germany, saying he would be in Finale Ligure in six weeks, he is caught off guard and finally agrees. The meeting though could never take place – eight days after the telephone call Müller’s wife sent Levi a message saying Dr. Lothar Müller had died suddenly on his sixtieth birthday.]

But one can even live a non-commercial life, never engage in any exchange transactions and still be a subject of that ‘real fiction’ - the regime of pure greatness, pure quantity, and their unity in pure growth which is capital. 

Capital in its sheer being quantifies the world, makes it commensurable – it is the being-quantity-greatness, which is more originary than any other relation, although it is a non-relation (only the lack thereof), a ‘house of being’ no less absolute than language and more universal.  One is injected or ushered into it by birth as if it were some rooted place, but it is a non-place, an abstraction, but one brimming with singularities to whom one is bound by this placeless abstraction (being-with).  This being-greatness is Capital – the ultimate quantity that itself can never be quantified – the origin of all quantities, without beginning or end, ephemeral and in its ephemerality immeasurably durable.    

Marx refers to a “fictio juris” of bourgeois society regarding the so-called “commodity science” (Warenkunde) – every person as a buyer of commodities (Warenkäufer) is presumed to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of all commodities.  The self-appointed guardian of this “commodity science” is advertisement, both of organized business and the free-floating spectacle of the commodity-user.
A similar fiction is the presumption of continuous universal exchange transactions as the condition or origin of the commodity form – as if the “real abstraction” money and its alter ego the commodity would depend on or even be created by a seamless flow of transactions determined by the will and desire of singular economic actors.  How can one decide/know how many such transactions are required to bring about the existence of the “exchange-abstraction” (Tauschabstraktion, Sohn-Rethel) and in what (average) period of time – or is one single transaction enough to induce the permanence of the “real abstraction”?  Conversely, if all buyers of commodities would stop their transactions would that be the end of the commodity form or “real abstraction”?  During the cyclical crisis of capitalism – that is indeed what happens in large parts of the economy, yet capitalism and capital survive these intermittencies of the “exchange-abstraction”. 

Sohn-Rethel’s dyad of commodity exchangers is another sort of ‘Robinsonade’.  The two individuals exchange ‘quantities’ of objects without the medium of money - oblivious to their secret life as objectified labour time.  It is as if each time a Neolithic family wanted to take a ride in its cart in the company of moths and spiders they would have had first to invent the wheel.

In The Human Condition Hannah Arendt proposes a notion of value resembling Sohn-Rethel’s fetishized “exchange-abstraction” – divorced from labour and the production process.  For Hannah Arendt value arises somehow spontaneously only in the exchange market or what she calls the “public realm”.  Arendt distinctly rejects Marx’s analysis of commodity and value form, returning rather to the gentlemanly times of political economy when Locke pointed out that “marketable value” has nothing to do with the “intrinsick natural worth” of things (Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, Chicago, 1998, p. 164).
Like Sohn-Rethel though she cannot explain how the ‘rate’ of exchange is determined – how much of any commodity can be exchanged for any other – all others?  How are they made commensurate?  Is it merely the result of constant never-ending barter of exchange agents?  Are prices recorded in town hall for future reference?  Is it all because of the weather?  Or must the exchanging agents “apply to the calculation (…) the annuity tables in current use on the London Exchange (…)” (Karl Marx, Zur Kritik der Politischen Ökonomie, p. 38 cited in Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, New York, 1967, p. 76, Footnote 1)

Neither Sohn-Rethel nor Arendt contend that production takes place in the exchange transaction – Arendt’s “homo faber” works only in “splendid isolation”; obviously production and consumption are separate from exchange and from each other (says Sohn-Rethel) – except if what is exchanged is an ‘immaterial product’ like a doctor or lawyer consultation, a music performance, etc., then Sohn-Rethel’s presumption of a neat segregation of production, consumption and exchange does not hold.  But his theorem unambiguously limits any and all value to formal exchange transactions (Tauschverkehr), “the formalized and generalized system of appropriation” – thus for him “the value form has no inherent relation to labour (…)”, emphasizing that in this claim he is not in any discord with Marx. (Geistige und körperliche Arbeit, ibid., pp. 76-77)  “Aber die Wertform der Waren, d.h. die Warenabstraktion, steht in keinem inhärenten Zusammenhang mit der zur Produktion der Waren erforderlichen Arbeit.  Nicht Zusammenhang, sondern Trennung kennzeichnet dieses Verhältnis. Anders gesagt, die Warenabstraktion ist Tauschabstaktion, nicht Arbeitsabstraktion.  Die Arbeitsabstaktion, welche in der kapitalistischen Warenproduktion in der Tat stattfindet, hat (…) ihren Ort im Produktionsprozeß, nicht im Austauschprozeß.” [“But the value form of the commodities, that is, the commodity-abstraction, stands in no inherent connection to the labour needed for the production of the commodities.  Not a connection, but a separation characterizes this relation.  In other words, the commodity-abstraction is exchange-abstraction, not labour-abstraction.  The labour-abstraction, which does actually take place in the capitalist commodity production has (…) its place in the production process, not in the exchange process.”, ibid. pp. 78-79]
And what is the value if any of the commodity labour power –, that peculiar commodity which as Marx says, has the (use) value of creating (exchange) value?  Where and when and how would that value creation (although not realisation) take place if not in the production process?  Not only, according to Sohn-Rethel, does abstract labour (which he has quaintly renamed “labour-abstraction”), have no bearing on value, the production process itself is outside of and irrelevant to the formation of the social in general (except in “primitive communism”).  Societal articulation (Vergesellschaftung) as an objective abstraction rests alone for Sohn-Rethel on the congregated private exchange transactions, in other words the system of property and money (“Aneignungsverhältnis”).  Besides if the “exchange-abstraction” were the sole medium of social synthesis in capitalism as Sohn-Rethel suggests - then the developed money economy of ancient Greece would have already been full-blown commodity capitalism.  Or – there would be no specific difference between the universal commodity-production economy of modern capitalism and the money economy of ancient Greece.  It would appear that Sohn-Rethel’s thesis says exactly that.  For in the second half of his thesis – he claims that the ‘social-synthesizing’ function of commodity and money, as they operate in society, act as the “organization principles” of knowledge – in other words the same commodity structure and the concomitant universality of money exchange is the “conceptual foundation of ancient philosophy as well as the modern natural sciences, and that we call for simplicity’s sake with the usual name since Kant of “apriori categories”. (ibid., p. 21)  Not only, for Sohn-Rethel’s needs, is the “exchange-abstraction” in ancient Greece, arising in a primarily slave mode of production, the same as in modern commodity capitalism based on wage labour, ‘freely’ contracted and ‘free’ from any means of production – this form despite the thousands of years in between has given rise in the same way both to ancient philosophy and modern natural science. 
As Marx wrote in Capital: “(…) Don Quixote long ago paid the penalty for wrongly imagining that knight errantry was compatible with all economic forms of society.” (Capital, ibid. p. 82)

[Commentary: There is a melancholy of action far more pernicious than the melancholy of inaction.  Melancholy is not the same as pessimism or nihilism for that matter.  Melancholy is the view from beyond– from the other world, the “magic of faraway” (Pessoa).  It is the perspective of eternity in the present moment.  Itzik Manger calls this the thinking of Kohelet. “Ja es könnte bald so weit kommen, daß man einen Hang zur vita contemplativa (…) nicht ohne Selbstverachtung und schlechten Gewissen nachgäbe. — Nun!  Ehedem war es umgekehrt:  die Arbeit hatte das schlechte Gewissen auf sich.  Der Sclave arbeitete unter dem Druck des Gefühls, daß er etwas Verächtliches thue: – das “Thun” selber war etwas Verächtliches.  “Die Vornehmheit und die Ehre sind allein bei otium und bellum”: so klang die Stimme des antiken Vorurtheils!” [“Yes it could soon come that far, that one would not give in to a leaning/turn towards vita contemplativa (…) without self-contempt and a bad conscience.— Now! Earlier it was the opposite:  labour carried bad conscience on itself.  The slave laboured under the pressure of the feeling, that he is doing something contemptible: — “doing” itself was contemptible.  “Nobility and honour are only in otium and bellum”: so sounded the voice of the ancient prejudice!” (Friedrich Nietzsche, Die Fröhliche Wissenschaft, (The Gay Science), KSA 3, München, 1988, Aphorism 329 p. 556)]  A memorable scene from Fellini’s I Vitteloni recollects the “ancient prejudice” – it shows the film’s main characters, the group of idlers in a car, passing some labourers toiling on the road.  One of the idlers shouts back mockingly “Lavoratori” – just then the car runs out of gas, after which all of the friends have to run for it. 

Hegel’s “master-slave” dialectic is thoroughly bourgeois; no glimmer of the ancient prejudice is left there.  Quite the opposite, is not the “unhappy consciousness” exactly the bad conscience of ‘not doing’ (the ‘inoperative’) or at least intimately connected to it?  Similarly, Bloch’s ‘discovery’, that residing within the Phenomenology of Spirit is a “Faustdialektik” (a discovery he at least shares with Lukacs’ “Fauststudien”) – underlines this non-aristocratic perspective of the “labour of the concept”. (see Bloch, “Methodisches Fahrtmotiv” in Tübinger Einleitung in die Philosophie, Frankfurt, (1970), 1982 and “Leitfiguren der Grenzüberschreitung” in Prinzip Hoffnung, Frankfurt (1959), 1985 and Lukacs, Goethe und seine Zeit, Bern, 1947)  Striving, purposeful action, even when the actor is ensnared in a contradictory curve, an algorithm of insatiability and transgression, still bears the defect of utility (cost-benefit) thinking.  Bloch even turns the “Wette” (bet) between Faust and Mephisto – that when Faust says to the moment “stay, you are so beautiful” according to his bargain with Mephisto he thus has pronounced his own instantaneous death sentence – into a purposeful action, vita activa, showing that Faust is not one to ‘lie on the lazy bed’.  In keeping with the deep early bourgeois disapproval of the perceived aristocratic habits of gambling, ostentatious waste and idleness, Bloch speaking as Goethe and Hegel – allows the “wager” solely as the absolute proof that Faust will only cease his activity and come to rest at the moment of his death.  Rest though, even at that moment is not ‘laziness’, but the “fulfilled-fulfilling” moment (Bloch thus removes Faust’s death and dying from any possible slur of laziness), the substance of Nunc stans (the everlasting now).        

The whole of Greek philosophy originated in the time of the “bad conscience of labour” – only during the episodes of tyrants was the polis put to “work” – in service of the tyrant who saw himself as embodying the polis.  The idea of usefulness or ‘public benefit’ (Zweckmäßigkeit) is originally a tyrannical idea or the idea of a tyrant.  Usefulness crept into Greek philosophy through the relationship between philosophers and despots (as shown in Plato’s “Republic”).  At least some Sicilian and Great-Grecian tyrants were known to seek the company of philosophers.  In the case of the tyrant Periander, who later counted as one of the seven wise men, it was difficult to reconcile his two vocations.  One assumed these must be two different Perianders. (See Jacob Burckhardt, Griechische Kulturgeschichte, Erster Band, Leipzig, first published 1898-1902, p.181) As Burckhardt writes “As if one could not find sufficient evidence of a despotic personality in any number of philosophers!” Was he perhaps thinking of Nietzsche?
As opposed to utilitarian capitalist societies, in Hellenic aristocratic society a curse lay over paid labour or any other commercial activity, a relic of the Golden Age.  Tyrants arising out of the decaying aristocracy tried to change the customs and morals of the masses, proclaiming the “kingdom of usefulness, of enterprising activity”. (Burckhardt, ibid., p.177)  Of course usefulness was only measured in terms of their own use and that of their dynasties, which according to popular Greek wisdom rarely made it as far as the grandchild.  A certain Pheidon, King of Argos, a rare example of a second-generation tyrant, promoted commerce and industry, introduced standards of measurement and weight and minted some of the earliest Greek coins.  Money and tyranny are closely associated since ancient times – as is the principle of quantification. (Freud Museum held a conference in 2010 on another close union of money and ‘tyranny’ – the role of money and talking about money in psychoanalysis – or the connection between money, economy and psychoanalysis.)]

The “exchange-abstraction” – itself a formal (semi-juridical) relation between commodity owners - is rather itself an epiphenomenon of a relation of no relation, more fundamental though than any other relation – that of the capital form in all its manifestations.  In this sense of the Aristotelian ‘unmoved mover’ (ou kinoumenon kinei) – one can see the resemblance of capital and Heidegger’s concept of Being.  Each commodity buyer enters (at birth) the world already shaped and predetermined by an ominous presence – he is immediately encaged in a Mit-Kapital-Sein, laden with an apriori being-guilty or being-in-debt through no own volition or knowledge.  This Being-Capital (in-Kapital-Sein) or Greatness (it is rather a lack) is more fundamental than any subsequent exchange relation (ephemeral and recurring) – and is its ultimate possibility.  Capital is “greatness” without beginning or end (‘world without end’) – both totally ephemeral and infinitely durable.   
What Marx discovers in the commodity form is not the eternal ‘truth’ of abstract formal thinking, Kant’s transcendental categories – rather the ‘fetish’ of social relations embodied in the quantitatively proportional relation of value between objects (commodities) in capitalist (bourgeois) society.  Hence for such an inverted world another sort of ‘abstraction’ is best suited – the Christian cultus of abstract man:  “And for a society based on the production of commodities, in which the producers in general enter into social relations with one another by treating their products as commodities and values, whereby they reduce their individual private labour to the standard of homogenous human labour – for such a society, Christianity with its cultus of abstract man, more especially in its bourgeois developments, Protestantism, Deism, etc., is the most fitting form of religion.” (Capital I, ibid., p. 79)  Capitalism is rather a religion, as Benjamin says, than an exact science.

Greatness is first of all – or appears to be – a vague unit of measure. But a measure of what?  Perhaps greatness is simply the function of commensurability in itself, similar to Marx’s “Wertgröße” (magnitude of value) for the value (commodity) form.  (Heidegger in Introduction to Metaphysics, 1935 refers to a contemporary glut of articles about “values” and is anxious to prevent the confusion of his idea of Nazism qua Being with the type of values found in the “Wirtschaftslehre” (economic teachings).  After all, Nazism – national socialism – is an economic system.)  Greatness is greater than smallness. Is greatness the value-less value – the zero form of the “Umwertung der Werte” (revaluation of value)?
If greatness is there from the beginning – as in Greek philosophy – the only historical Dasein comparable to the Nazi “Aufbruch” (bursting forth) – then greatness is somehow foundational in Being itself.  Greatness is there as soon as ‘there is’ Being – Being and Greatness must be somehow coeval or equally primary.  Greatness is not a ‘result’ of growth – not even a quality or essence inherent in existence, which unfolds itself to ‘become’ greatness.  It must be there from the start – the only ‘thing’, which is there before everything else – as the groundless ground of its possibility – is Being.  Being is also physis 2 – so it would seem that both are also identical with greatness.  As one knows – greatness is the characteristic reserved for the movement of Nazism, reiterated on page 152 of the Einführung in die Metaphysik as the “innere Wahrheit und Größe der Bewegung” (“inner truth and greatness of the movement”).  So to complete the row of isomorphisms – the Nazi movement of the German Volk, Being and Greatness become interchangeable and indistinguishable from one another in Heidegger’s construction.  But Greatness as distinct from Being or Nazi Movement is a predicate – one qualifying the essence of the other two.  Being though is that power by which any phenomenon ‘unconceals’ itself, comes to be observable – so greatness must be the unquantifiable measure of force with which Being acts upon the observable world.  Being like Greatness are designations of force – or more simply power, will to power.  “Being is power” as Lacoue-Labarthe concludes, in his exegesis of Heidegger’s “Rektoratsrede” – but it is not just any power or power per se.  Being has only one determination of its power. 

Being itself is the force, which wills (drives) the Nazi movement to power and sustains it there - would be a primary axiom of Heidegger’s post 1933 “Realmetaphysik”. 

This is a consequence of Heidegger’s Nazism – Being has only one favourite destiny (destination)– and it is identical with the destiny of the German Volk.  Or rather Being has been in ‘période de carence’ since the passing of ancient Greece – and now finally comes to the fore again – to its ‘clearing’ in the German ‘Nazi revolution’ and its Führer.  The rest of world history till then and beyond had only been ‘supporting media’.  Even Lacoue-Labarthe is somewhat anxious about this Germanic-Greco exclusivity of Being —  “(…) this historical co-belonging, will reveal itself, in its turn, to be paradigmatically not simply German but — there are, however, only two genuine examples — either Greek or German, how will one be able to contend that the privilege thus accorded to these two “peoples” (…) is not first of all philosophical, that is, is not the (incommensurable) privilege of ontology, of metaphysics?” (see Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe,“Transcendence Ends in Politics”, in Typography, Stanford, 1998, p. 286)

Here Heidegger implicitly couples ‘the political’ or Nazism, the ‘great beginning’, the “greatness of the movement” not just with the metaphysics of pre-Socratic philosophy, but with unengendered uncreated Being itself – not an observable phenomenon – but something which gives a hold (Halt) a standing (Stand) to the phenomenal world.

One still does not know what greatness measures – or what Being is.  There is however as of 1933 – an immediate ‘model’ of Being for Heidegger – he no longer has to approximate it and vaguely foretell its coming (the call of conscience) as in Sein und Zeit and the discourse prior to 1933 – it is what he calls in the language of the time “the national socialist revolution”, an ‘event’ which “has precipitated the total transformation of our German Dasein.”  Being has arrived.  In this epochal context, he addresses students at the beginning of the winter semester 1933, “(…) not teachings and “ideas” are the rules of your Being.  The Führer himself and he alone is the present and future German reality and its law.”, ending the speech with “Heil Hitler!” (October 1933)

But one should not think of Being as ‘will to power’ in the physical sense of action – or poiesis.  No transformation occurs as a result of being’s ‘will to power’ – being does not ‘move’ in any physical or historical sense.  It has always been there – it is in its withdrawn state always ‘ready-to-hand’ to be found or re-founded.  Being’s power is ‘stasis’ – in the first sense of the Greek word as unmoved essence – not in the second sense of upheaval or conflict.  Paradoxically – being’s power is a drive for equilibrium – almost a Freudian “Todestrieb” (death drive) or more appropriately Heidegger’s “Sein zum Tode” (being toward death).  Being’s drive for the equilibrium of anorganic matter manifests itself in one of the principal words of the first phase of the Nazi ‘revolution’ – Gleichschaltung which literally means ‘making the same’.  Being’s power or ‘being-to-revolution’ can be no more dynamic than being itself – being’s immovability is a major premise of Heidegger’s thinking.  And since the Nazi revolution is for him the revolution of philosophy itself qua being – it is a revolution of the same or the ‘thinking of the same’.  Being, thinking its essence as always the same, is the figure (Gestalt) of pure spatiality.  Being does (can) not move in order to think the Same.  Heidegger adheres to the still ‘unthought’ thought of Parmenides in his concept of being. “When philosophy attends to its essence it does not make forward strides at all.  It remains where it is in order constantly to think the Same.  Progression, that is, progression forward from this place, is a mistake that follows thinking as the shadow that thinking itself casts.  Because being is still unthought (…)” (Martin Heidegger, Letter on Humanism, translated by Frank A. Capuzzi, in Pathmarks, 1949, PDF online, p. 255)  Similarly, as a consequence of this unmoved determination of being – history does not ‘happen’ or consist of ‘events’ which pass by and are ‘evanescent’.  Being has no history in the temporal sense – otherwise it could disappear itself at some point, it is ‘the past which never passes’.
“History does not take place primarily as a happening.  And its happening is not evanescence.  The happening of history occurs essentially as the destiny of the truth of being and from it (cf. the lecture on Hölderlin’s hymn “As when on feast day…” [1941], p. 31).  Being comes to its destiny in that It, being, gives itself.” (ibid.)

Heidegger thinks this thought of history as ever present in being in 1949, nostalgically looking back in the sentence to 1941, – a not so oblique (zweideutig) reference to the Nazi destiny of the German Volk now preserved in Being “as when on a feast day…” forever.  (The Hölderlin quote is also reminiscent of the ‘blessing’ of Plato with which Heidegger concluded his inaugural address in 1933 “All that is great stands in the storm…”.)
As is his wont, when Heidegger wishes to position thinking within being or being within history he returns to the relation of “belonging”, to property or “propriation”.  A consequence thereof - he can never think ‘agency’ or willed action.  Any ‘action’ is a ‘gift’ of being and only a manifestation of being’s history of its own gifts to itself – its ‘destiny’ does not ‘happen’ but is only ‘given’.  In a similar vein – a critique of Heidegger’s “mature theory of technology” also reveals the delegation of all causality and agency to Being – this is an effect not so much of technology but of Heidegger’s attempt to implicate Being as its origin and ‘sender’:  “When Heidegger attributes ultimate causal authority to Being, he clearly reverses the Enlightenment view that through the exercise of reason human being can attain dominion over the world and itself.  In the final analysis, if Heidegger is correct, human actions depend on the gift of Being, hence on a suprahuman form of agency.” (Tom Rockmore, On Heidegger’s Nazism and Philosophy, Berkeley, 1991, p. 237)  How then does Dasein ever engage ‘the enemy’ in polemos – or are the enemy and polemos also a ‘gift’ of being?
If defeat is the act of losing action, then Dasein has forfeited its ‘own’ action in advance.

Duration (of Greatness)

The theme of greatness in the beginning of Introduction to Metaphysics is intimately shadowed by that of duration (Dauer).  Or rather negative duration.  What one should not expect to last.  The whole passage is defensive, almost shrill.  Heidegger feels called upon to defend philosophy – its use and “greatness”.  Or rather its lack of usefulness in the ordinary sense.  He instructs his class, some have thus said that because “metaphysics” has contributed nothing to the preparation of the “revolution” – it should therefore be rejected.  Philosophy cannot provide a foundation for the future culture nor ease its construction in a practical sense.  But that is exactly what philosophy does not do – make things easier.  Rather it makes the “historical Dasein” harder (heavier) – gives its some weight in other words - being.  This weightiness of being or making harder/heavier (Erschwerung) pulls everything down to Sein – in the same way metaphysics is likened to a Hobelbank (carpenter’s bench) which cannot fly – unlike the “revolution” for instance, which can.  But the heaviness induced into historical being by philosophy is a necessary prerequisite for the coming about of “greatness” defined as “das Schicksal eines geschichtlichen Volkes und seiner Werke” (the destiny of a historical people and its works).  But greatness is even more so the condition of philosophy itself – the extraordinary questioning of the extraordinary.  Heidegger begins with the fate of the historical people and its work and then displaces it with philosophy.  Although greatness is primarily what a people does – when greatness is associated to philosophy it now describes one of the few great things of man. When Heidegger specifies the fate of a people and its works as greatness, no mention is made of how long this might last.  Great is great.  But when referring to greatness of philosophy he puts a limit on it – or on greatness.  It is limited in the way it begins – greatness can only begin greatly.  Even more – this great beginning is always the greatest about greatness.  Obeying a principle of symmetry – Heidegger’s table of sizes proceeds to smallness which of course can only begin small – although it too possesses a “dubious greatness” – it can make everything small – everything means presumably that which is great.  In a certain sense – then smallness is greater than greatness – because it can diminish it or even worse.  Greatness is vulnerable to smallness.  And when smallness takes on the form of the inception of decay, it can become truly great.  As decay smallness can grow enormously – (small cause, great effect) – to reach an immeasurability of total destruction (extermination).  Although he is referring to Greek philosophy and its beginning – the language is one of extermination (Vernichtung) – as the end of a process – that of decay.  Total extermination is difficult to imagine in regard to philosophy – even its end.  But it is not philosophy’s end which he means – because its end is as great as its beginning.  It begins great is great in the middle and finishes greatly – so it was with Greek philosophy and its end in Aristotle.  An immeasurable end (another sort of greatness), which is total extermination, erupts briefly in his text, a premonition of a kind of “Götterdämmerung” – an emergency of Sein rather than a satisfying ending in greatness.  A foreboding melody in the ouverture of the new Nazi state – still just called “the revolution” – anticipating how it all might end, followed by the reassuring ‘model’ of Greek philosophy (alias Nazi-hood), which began and ended in greatness in the first sense.  Heidegger’s urgent thought of the end in year two of the revolution corresponds to Adorno’s description of the mood in Berlin during the first months of Nazi rule of “tödlicher Traurigkeit, des halbwissend einem Unheilvollen sich Anvertrauens (…)”amidst all those torch parades and drumbeats of the official ecstasies, ‘the great beginning’.
[“No one who observed the first months of Nazi rule in 1933 could overlook the moment of deathly sorrow, of the half-knowing entrusting of oneself to something sinister, (…)” Theodor W. Adorno, “Unmaß für Unmaß” in Minima Moralia, translated by Dennis Redmond, 2005, p. 132]
Even the title of Adorno’s aphorism “Unmaß für Unmaß”(“Unmeasure for Unmeasure”) illuminates (anticipates) Heidegger’s phrase “Unmaß der völligen Vernichtung” (unmeasure of total extermination) – immeasurability or infinitude was on the side of decay (‘starting small’) leading to extermination but was itself not part of greatness 1.  Greatness 1 is finite, comes to a great end.  But the greatness 2 of total destruction/extermination is without measure.  Adorno concludes his reflections on German “unmeasure for unmeasure” with an image of the end of flight interrupted in midair, the crash of the Hindenberg Zeppelin (Goebbels had demanded of the owner-inventor that this flagship Zeppelin be named Adolf Hitler).  Shortly before landing the Hindenberg set itself on fire and was gone in 34 seconds.  
“At the beginning of German imperialism stands Wagnerʼs Twilight of the Gods, the rapturous prophecy of their own doom, whose composition was undertaken simultaneously with the victorious war of 1870 [the Franco-Prussian War, which sealed the unification of Germany]. In the same spirit, two years before WW II the German public saw a film of the downfall of their Zeppelin in Lakehurst. Calm, poised, the ship went on its way, only to suddenly plummet straight down. If there remains no way out, then the destructive drive becomes completely indifferent (…)”
[“Am Anfang des deutschen Imperialismus steht die Wagnersche Götterdämmerung, die begeisterte Prophetie eigenen Untergangs, deren Komposition gleichzeitig mit dem siegreichen siebziger Krieg im Angriff genommen wurde.  Im selben Geiste hat man zwei Jahre vor dem zweiten Weltkrieg dem deutschen Volk den Untergang seines Zeppelins in Lakehurst gefilmt vorgeführt.  Ruhig, unbeirrt zieht das Schiff seine Bahn, um plötzlich senkrecht herabzustürzen.  Bleibt kein Ausweg, so wird dem Vernichtungsdrang vollends gleichgültig, (…)” Theodor W. Adorno, “Unmaß für Unmaß”, Minima Moralia, Frankfurt, 1980, p. 133)]  Even in the midst of the greatest moments of pomp, it would seem that the Nazi echelons’ inner ominous expectation of the ‘immeasurable end’, had to be given its own architectural memorial.  One of the few structures of the Reich’s Party Congress Grounds in Nuremberg to be completed was the Zeppelin tribune in the Zeppelin Field.    

Images of crashes and sudden falls pervade/abound in Heidegger’s Einführung in die Metaphysik  - in particular in his interpretation of a chorus from Sophocles’ Antigone.  He draws out of Sophocles’ verse – the progress of the Greek subject – tragic, dangerous, exposed, self-positing, unwittingly transgressive.  The verse begins with the word in which all this is grasped – the uncanny (das Unheimliche).  Not the world – but the human who navigates it with neither a fixed cartography nor originary ground – is the “uncanniest”.  All this recalls some of Heidegger’s characterizations of Dasein in Sein und Zeit – and it is not an unfamiliar concept of Greek tragedy, certainly one common to German idealism.  But for German idealism  - the preordained outcome of the tragic hero’s singular and free struggle against overpowering fate (the gods) was a model for dialectical speculative thought and a contradictory notion of human freedom.  For Heidegger it is merely a pretext for the ‘return’ to the question of Being/Sein – the counterweight to this tragic ‘uncanniness’.  This question is not singular as in Greek tragedy – but ‘being-plural’ in the German Volk.   

Hence his point is better served by deconstructing (auslegen) a chorus (the voice of the people, ‘Mitsein’, the passive bystanders of singular destiny), rather than a strophe of the principle character Antigone.

Heidegger’s return to Sein has nothing to do with singular human freedom – on the contrary the question of being is always the German question of the historical people and its mission.
The sudden crashes then – the abruptly opening abysses are not German, they are Greek.  Such a tragic vision is not resolved in greatness, but in the cathartic acceptance of the irreconcilable, what Hegel calls “looking at the negative in the face, remaining with it” (G.W.F. Hegel, Vorrede, Phänomenologie des Geistes, Werke in zwanzig Bänden, 3, Frankfurt, 1976, p. 36). 
Still Heidegger tries to match the end of Greek philosophy (as he interprets it) what he calls the “collapse of unhiddenness”, another word for truth - to the falls and vertigo of Greek tragedy, but only under the aspect of a ‘repetition’ of the great beginning (of philosophy) in Being. 
Hegel is far more Greek than Heidegger – Hegel’s thinking translates the ‘futile’ heroism (Faustian daring) of the Greek individual to the adventure of consciousness, of spirit.  ‘Greatness’ is for Hegel non-essential (unwesentlich), without concept (begriffslos), having neither (will to) power nor form.  It comes from mathematical thought.   

If Heidegger is fixated for his concept of Greekness on the unmoving substance of Parmenides or the passivity of the chorus in Greek tragedy – Hegel, in the Phenomenology of Spirit, finds a model for the self-destroying, self-knowing dynamic of self-consciousness in the knowing-unknowing actions of the protagonists of Greek tragedy.  As opposed to mathematical formal thinking of “(dead) space and the One”, true speculative thought traces a movement of becoming and disappearing modelled on the temporal dimension.  This movement becomes embodied in figures (Gestalten) – most notably in tragedy.  There is not just one ‘bringing forth’ of truth – but at least two – the ‘truth speaking God’ (der offenbarende Gott) of the oracle – actually the deceiver or swindler God, whose word is the impetus for the actions of the protagonists - and the self-concealing force – the Erinnye (Furies) or fate (die sich verborgen haltende) – lurking behind the oracle.  The power, which reveals itself to consciousness, but falsely, is the “higher law” – “aspect of light” in the oracle – and the other power is the “lower law” which waits in ambush and is represented by the Erinnyes or fate.  The two powers are an externalization of what in the hero or self-consciousness is the opposition of knowing and not knowing – not knowing is not only the absence of knowing but worse – it is false knowing planted in him by the god of the oracle.  The false knowledge comes from the revelations of the source of light (Zeus, Phoebus) to the hero, who trusts in them like a child.  Light is darkness (treacherous falsehood), the ‘aspect of darkness’ is light (the eventual ‘revelation’ of the hidden truth of fate).  “The present actuality is thus both an other in itself and an other for consciousness.  Within this relation, what the higher and lower law continue to mean are both the power which knows and which reveals itself to consciousness and the power which conceals itself and lies in ambush.  The one is the aspect of light, the god of the oracle, which in according to its natural moment, has sprung forth from the all-illuminating sun, who knows all and reveals all – Phoebus and Zeus, who is his father.  However, the commands of this truth-speaking god, along with his proclamations about what is, are to a greater degree deceptive, for within its concept, this knowing is immediately not-knowing, since in acting, consciousness is itself this opposition.  He who had the power to unlock the riddle of the sphinx itself, trustingly, as with childlike confidence, is sent to ruin through what the god reveals to him.” (G.W.F Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, translated by Terry Pinkard, 2008, online pp. 666-667)
[“Die gegenwärtige Wirklichkeit ist daher ein anderes an sich und ein anderes für das Bewußtsein; das obere und das untere Recht erhalten in dieser Beziehung die Bedeutung der wissenden und dem Bewußtsein sich offenbarenden, und der sich verbergenden und im Hinterhalte lauernden Macht.  Die eine ist die Lichtseite, der Gott des Orakels, der nach seinem natürlichen Momente aus der alles beleuchtenden Sonne entsprungen, alles weiß und offenbart, - Phöbus, und Zeus, der dessen Vater ist.  Aber die Befehle dieses wahrredenden Gottes und seine Bekanntmachungen dessen, was ist, sind vielmehr trügerisch.  Denn dies Wissen ist in seinem Begriffe unmittelbar das Nichtwissen, weil das Bewußtsein an sich selbst im Handeln dieser Gegensatz ist.  Der, welcher die rätselhafte Sphinx selbst aufzuschließen vermochte, wie der kindlich Vertrauende werden darum durch das, was der Gott ihnen offenbart, ins Verderben geschickt.“ G.W.F Hegel, ibid., p. 537]
The hero is doubly betrayed – he believes in what he hears from the source of light, but that which speaks out of the mouth of the oracle-priestess is the ruse of the “doppelsinnige Schicksalsschwestern” – of the “double-meaning sisters of fate”.  What is – is false.  The god of light is ‘possessed’ by the force of the lower law.  The lower law, says Hegel, sits together with Zeus on the throne “and enjoys equal standing with the revealed law and the mindful god.” (ibid.)  (It is tempting to see the upper law of Zeus as analogous to Freud’s consciousness and the lower law of the Erinnyes as the unconscious and death drive in one.)

The ‘becoming’ of the hero is “negative labour”, “self-emptying-out” of consciousness (Entäußerung), his “substance”, appearing to him falsely recognizable in the “desolation” (Verwüstung) of ‘positive’ contingent forms of law, religion and family, – fate is the disappearing, the demise, the dissolving power of negative self-consciousness, arriving as if inflicted on the hero by his own actions, but which have been deflected by other unknown destructive forces outside of him. 

Only in their combination is the necessity of truth, - the life of spirit – but consciousness through its actions unlocked the duplicity of the cosmic powers.  “Das Bewußtsein schloß diesen Gegensatz durch das Handeln auf; nach dem offenbaren Wissen handelnd, erfährt es den Betrug desselben, und dem Innern nach dem einen Attribute der Substanz ergeben, verletzte es das andere und gab diesem dadurch das Recht gegen sich.” (Hegel, ibid., p. 589) (“Consciousness disclosed this opposition by acting.  In acting in terms of revealed knowledge, it experiences the deceptiveness of that knowledge, and in acting in terms of the content, in submitting to one of the attributes of substance, it violates the other, thereby giving the latter a right against itself.” Pinkard, ibid. p.669)  

[Commentary: In Hegel’s interpretation the conflict between the power of the ‘divine’ law of the family (the law of the underworld) and the  ‘human’ law of the state (the law of the upper world) has no victor, this is a logical consequence of the situation in which “both laws are equally right and equally wrong”.  Their confrontation is more a war of all against all, in the end what remains is the calming force of “forgetting” into which both powers and the abstract thought of good and evil disappear as into an “immobile unity of fate”, this fate completes the “depopulation of the heavens”, although in cosmic geography the heavens are below in the underworld.  The acting consciousness is the catalyst not only of his own downfall but also of those powers whose falsehood crushes him.
“The movement of acting itself demonstrates their unity in the mutual downfall of both powers and of the self-conscious characters.” (ibid.)  A given of ancient Greek consciousness is that law is not a straightforward command – but a hidden or unknown rule, whose very nature of law requires that it remain unknowable.  Only by transgressing the law can the violator become aware of its existence – but then just in the form of punishment or disastrous consequences.  These are the unwritten laws and if one is unfortunate enough to violate these – the consequences are seen as fate.  The “spectatorial” chorus reflects this powerlessness twofold – as the sheer “positive and passive material” of the “individuality” of human government facing them and as bystanders of life, who, unlike the characters, remain fixated in their ordinary timid routine for fear of transgressing the unwritten law.  Law is only existent to lure the unwary into its violation.  Such is the malice of both divine and human power.  Behind what seems to be sheer capricious malice – is another logic – that of sacrifice.  It has the structure of an indeterminate curse, another name for unwritten law.  A curse is mostly based on a prohibition – if you eat from the forbidden fruit, then you will suffer the consequences etc.  It is non-teleological and unspecific.  If the prohibition is never violated it is worthless, no sacrifice will occur.  But if ‘holiness’ requires a sacrifice – regardless if a transgressor has violated the prohibition (known or unknown, or long forgotten) – the forces of holiness will manufacture those conditions necessary to induce a violation.  For the forces of holiness there is no distinction between good and evil only between holy and unholy (common or profane).  Thus “radical evil” has no bearing upon the proceedings of holiness.      

Benjamin’s reflections on mythical law and its effect on “mere life” in “Zur Kritik der Gewalt” seem to flow from Hegel’s concept of Greek tragedy in which revealed false knowledge broadcast by the oracle drives the hero to his ruin.  Benjamin speaks of the “planned ambiguity” (planvolle Zweideutigkeit) of ancient law, and citing Hermann Cohen, considers that these laws were devised not to be obeyed but to attract transgressions/transgressors with all the ensuing consequences.  Out of the unavoidable transgression built into the law arises the ancient idea of fate.  This same ‘spirit of the law’ exists today in the modern precept – that ignorance of the law does not protect from punishment.  The law’s immemorial ‘trickiness’ is its immanent self-destructive flaw – or rather it is what predestines itself to annihilation – in the same act (given indefinite epochal time) in which it brings about the demise of the transgressor.  As law and state are more or less identical – the law being the order of the state – this “planned ambiguity” of law is what determines the form of the state, its temporary fragile substance.  A state founded on such law will always pass away in turn.
Impunity is nowhere.  The gods may deceive a hero into his perdition but as a consequence they devolve or revert back into a simpler form – the “simplicity of Zeus”. 
Hegel speaks of the unconscious where the “persons of divine essence and the characters of its substance” disappear – as opposed to the self-consciousness (Selbstbewußtsein) which is the “abstract necessity” and “negative power” of this disappearance.
Forgetfulness is Lethe – in the underworld, location of divine power, it is death and in the upper world it is the “form of absolution”, both are “disappearance of actuality (Wirklichkeit) and of the activities” of powers. 

The “Lethe of the upper world” (Hegel) is the action of law – it absolves not from guilt, because consciousness acted and made itself guilty, but from the crime itself, showing that guilt is a necessarily durable condition outlasting any violation.  Benjamin adopts this partition between guilt and crime, but adds another face, that of law, to this logic of atonement.  The unknowing transgressor is implicitly ‘guilty’ even before he transgresses; the ‘crime’, a transgressing of an unknown law, is potentially already committed by his very nature.  That is the “guiltiness of mere natural life”, innocent and unhappy, abandoned to its atonement.  Law, “the Lethe of the upper world” absolves the guilty one not of his guilt but of the law.  Here, with mere life, the “hegemony of law” over the living comes to its end.  The depopulation of the heavens and the finitude of law is a ‘result’ of the tragedy of the self-conscious character.]

Hegel is not only more Greek; he is also more Faustian than Heidegger – although one of the major categories of “Sein und Zeit” – “care of being” or Sorge is drawn from Goethe’s Faust II.   The “enormous power of the negative” which Hegel finds in Greek tragedy reappears in Faust – expressed by the much quoted phrase of Mephisto (also by Freud and Marx): “Ich bin der Geist der stets verneint!/ Und das mit Recht; denn alles was entsteht/ Ist werth, daß es zu Grunde geht.” [I am the spirit which always negates!/ And rightly so; because everything which comes into being/ is worth (of value), that it be destroyed.]

The doubleness of self-consciousness is expressed in the figures of Mephisto and Faust:  Faust is the principle of unbounded growth, desire, accumulation of knowledge; Mephisto is the principle of equally unbounded decay.  “Dieser Geist bildet sich daher nicht nur eine Welt, sondern eine gedoppelte, getrennte und entgegengesetzte aus.” [This spirit develops not merely one world, rather a doubled, separate world opposed within itself.”, Hegel, Phänomenologie des Geistes, ibid., p. 361] 

Although Faust alone – in Goethe’s tragedy – is already the embodiment of this doubleness, when he tells Wagner “two souls dwell in my breast”, shortly before his unspoken wish is fulfilled and Mephisto appears as his own imago.  Faust is actually himself and Mephisto who appears as a result of his conjuration – this dialectical unity of Faust and Mephisto becomes in Hegel – the absolute riven-ness of self-consciousness.  “Aber nicht das Leben, das sich vor dem Tode scheut und von der Verwüstung rein bewahrt, sondern das ihn erträgt und in ihm sich erhält, ist das Leben des Geistes.  Er gewinnt seiner Wahrheit nur, indem er in der absoluten Zerrissenheit sich selbst findet.” [“But not the life, that takes fright at death and keeps itself pure from ruin, rather the one that can bear it and preserves itself in this, is the life of spirit.  Spirit only wins its truth, when in the absolute riven-ness it finds itself.” (Phänomenologie des Geistes, ibid., p. 36)] 

Heidegger’s Being is stuck in the first part of this maxim of Mephisto – “Everything which comes into being (…)”. “Physis meint daher ursprünglich (…) den Menschen und die Menschengeschichte als Menschen-und Götterwerk, schließlich und zuerst die Götter selbst unter dem Geschick.  Physis meint das aufgehende Walten (…).  In diesem aufgehend verweilenden Walten liegen “Werden” sowohl wie “Sein”, im verengten Sinne des starren Verharrens, beschlossen.  Physis ist das Ent-stehen, aus dem Verborgenen sich heraus- und dieses so erst in den Stand bringen.”
[“Physis thus means originally (…) humans and human history as human- and gods-work, finally and first of all the gods themselves in fate.  Physis means the arising reigning (Walten) (…).  In this arising enduring reigning “becoming” as well as “being” lie enclosed, in the narrow sense of immobile remaining.  Physis is the originating (coming into being) out of the hidden-ness and this first brought into standing.” (Einführung in die Metaphysik, ibid, p. 12)]

In German entsteht contains within itself the word or root stehen – meaning stand.  This is always Heidegger’s perspective – that, which out of its position of hiding - stands or comes to standing (to a halt).  He pointedly omits to burden physis with Vergehen (passing away) that necessary complement to any Ent-stehen – as if the ‘movement of no movement’ which is Heidegger’s “coming into being” or “becoming” could just stop, come to a standstill, and rest forever in what Hegel calls the “dead positive”. 
Whereas for Hegel – whatever comes into being, also departs being – and only this complete movement is the “life of truth” in which we swirl (taumeln) like in the bacchantic rites. 
Time, although one might think it would have an equal status in mathematics as does space, says Hegel, eludes this kind of formal sterile thinking.  Time is intimately connected to the concept – it is simply “the existing concept itself”.  Time thus does not lend itself to such a treatment as space does – as a fixed, rigid and lifeless frame for mathematical operations based on magnitude (Größe) and equality (Gleichheit).  Hegel contrasts this with the pure restlessness of life and the absolute difference.  This restlessness is another name for consciousness, whose movement of self is also the life of spirit – “das Bewußtsein selbst ist die absolute dialektische Unruhe.” [“(…) consciousness itself is the absolute dialectical restlessness.” (Phänomenologie des Geistes, ibid., p. 161)]  Such a movement has no extraneous place for any part to abscond from the incessant self-positing of the actual (das Wirkliche) – only the whole of the movement is truth.  There can not be any sediment left behind after the rush of the movement has passed – when it passes all members pass. This is the “living moment of truth”, “the bacchanalian revel where not a member is sober” – and if a member isolates himself, he is “immediately dissolved into it (…)”  Heidegger’s four distinctions (Scheidungen) conceive of being as exactly this kind of residue or remainder – what is left – after the turbulences of becoming, appearing, thinking, that which should be (sollen) have been ‘subtracted’.  Once again, he omits “vergehen” (passing) from his list of distinctions – as if becoming were not at the same time a disappearing; becoming implies a continuous leave taking of what has been, so that becoming and passing are actually one.  But Heidegger’s absences are structural – as he expounds in the brief section devoted to “Sein und Werden” (Being and Becoming) – for him Parmenides’ thought of static being is still unsurpassed.
Heidegger upholds the thought of Parmenides totally – he neither countenances Entstehen (coming into being) nor Vergehen (passing from being), nor Unrast (restlessness; see first Scheidung/Taking Apart in Introduction to Metaphysics).  Time is merely an adjunct of Sein (Being) - of its duration.

As Parmenides-Heidegger have explicitly banished from being any thought of “Entstehen und Vergehen”, being is almost ‘logically’ in Heidegger’s view the bulwark, the stronghold (Gegenhalt) against becoming.  Speaking of Parmenides as his immediate predecessor – Heidegger apodictically pronounces: “Bei solchem Hinblick auf das Sein müssen wir nämlich alles Entstehn und Vergehen usf. von ihm wegsehen, fort-sehen im aktiven Sinne: sehend weg-halten, ausstoßen. (…) Sein zeigt sich diesem Sagen als die eigene in sich gesammelte Gediegenheit des Ständigen, unberührt von Unrast und Wechsel.” [“With such a view of being namely, we must actively deduct from it, extract from it all coming about and passing away and so forth: by holding it away in the act of seeing it, banishing. (…)  Being shows itself in this saying as the proper self-gathered sterling quality of the constant, untouched by restlessness and change.”, (Einführung in die Metaphysik, ibid., p. 74)  “By holding it away in the act of seeing it” – is that Heidegger’s version of the ‘evil eye’?]

For Hegel that which “is” – is not Heidegger’s Being – it is not “presence” (Anwesenheit, das Ständige) or a lasting unmoving ‘substance’ left over when all else has been removed.  In keeping with his ‘Heraclitean’ thought, Hegel conceives of that which is in itself (an sich ist) not outside of the actual movement of the concept but within it – identical to it.  That which is in itself is a negative figure of appearance: posited as precisely that coming into being and passing away (Entstehen und Vergehen), which Heidegger-Parmenides have banished permanently from being.  Things appear or come to be and pass away, but the movement of their rising and falling does not.  “Die Erscheinung ist das Entstehen und Vergehen, das selbst nicht entsteht und vergeht, sondern an sich ist und die Wirklichkeit und Bewegung des Lebens der Wahrheit ausmacht.” (Phänomenologie des Geistes, ibid., p. 46) [“Appearance is both an emergence and a passing away which does not itself emerge and pass away but which instead exists in itself and which constitutes the actuality and the living movement of truth.”, Pinkard, ibid., p. 41]

Heidegger’s Being is a sheer metaphysics of presence.  Hegel’s “concept” is the thought of the possibility of historical transformation seen as identical with the transformation of self-consciousness.  Rest (Ruhe) is only in an act of remembering (Erinnerung) of singular figures of spirit and determinate thought not durable in themselves but only preserved, suspended in their being “positive necessary” and “negative disappearing” moments of the “whole” of this unceasing movement of spirit.  This “memory” is especially material and spiritual – as that which remembers, whose existence (Dasein) is also identical with its knowledge of itself, “just as this self-knowledge is no less immediate existence”. (ibid. p. 42)
Hegel’s perspective is always of what disappears (“the fury of disappearing”), rather than what lasts – although the restless, ceaseless movement of spirit or self-consciousness takes place nowhere else but in world-historical time.

Heidegger’s unwavering insistence upon a Parmenidean freezing of Being (actively ejecting all coming about and passing away) is a kind of self-defeating strategy – at that ‘epochal’ moment when something Heidegger considered to be both “great” and a “beginning” had taken place – in other words something not there before emerged from Being – the Nazi ‘movement’ and its breaking forth in its Nazi state.  (Heidegger is careful not to speak of the ‘new’ – only of a beginning, which is actually a return to the beginning of being and philosophy in Greece.)  At the end of Introduction to Metaphysics he distances himself in a rude tone from some other sort of  “philosophy of national socialism” in circulation at the time (1935) – that has not the slightest to do with “the inner truth and greatness of this movement”. (Einführung in die Metaphysik, ibid., p. 152)  But how in fact can Heidegger himself conceive of such a ‘movement and its inner truth’ within his unmoving pure Being?  Perhaps this is partially why Bataille is ‘disappointed’ by Heidegger’s unfulfilled promise – his ‘suspended’ philosophy of Sein und Zeit – his failure to exit Western metaphysics, to truly end philosophy.  Heidegger instead clings to the Greeks and a repetition of their beginning in the beginning in perpetuum posed for him by Nazism.    

Although he punctuates his text with words meant to strike awe and terror, to frighten, to create a kind of magisterial archaic splendour – like Unheimlichkeit, Abfall, Gewalt-tätigen, Überwältigung (uncanniness, steep drop, violence-doers, overpowering-ness) – what really preoccupies Heidegger is augmenting Bodenständigkeit (soil-rootedness), all that endures, the repetition of the same, guaranteeing Being, how to hold on to Being, how to climb back into being out of which ‘we’ have mysteriously fallen – even more urgent – how to contradict or disprove Nietzsche’s merciless annihilatory judgement of Being – as mere “vapour” (Dunst) and “error” (Irrtum).  The violent terminology is a fake bureaucratic thunder (fog machine) meant to instil fear and trembling at the prospect of the epochal novelty – the Nazi state and its apparatus: “Ein Staat – er ist.  Worin besteht dessen Sein?  Darin, daß die Staatspolizei einen Verdächtigen verhaftet, oder darin, daß im Reichsministerium so und so viele Schreibmaschinen klappern und Diktate von Staatssekretären und Ministerialräten aufnehmen?  Oder “ist” der Staat in der Aussprache des Führers mit dem englischen Außenminister?  Der Staat ist.  Aber wo steckt das Sein?  Steckt es überhaupt irgendwo?”
[“A state – it is.  Of what consists its being?  In the arrest of a suspect by the state-police, or that in the Reich-ministry so many typewriters are banging away and taking dictations from state-secretaries and deputy assistant under-secretaries?  Or “is” the state the meeting of the Führer with the English foreign secretary?  The state is.  But where is its being hiding?  Is it actually hiding anywhere?” (ibid., p. 27)]

Heidegger’s proposed identity between Sein and Führer-State could not have been stated more clearly.  In this case the ontologized ‘copula’ – ‘the state is’ - is as transcendent (metaphysical) as the state itself.
Still, it seems all rather quaint – as if in the eternal presence of state-being, the Nazi state were the first German state ever – implying that the previous states such as the Prussian had not yet been ‘being’ – perhaps because it hadn’t had any typewriters?

But for his contemporary auditors/readers he must also make those required domestic tasks or “services” to the Nazi state announced in the rectorate address – labour, defence, knowledge – appear to be ancient or Greek.  He subtly moulds or fashions an artificial state body; it traverses the thousands of years since Sophocles’ tragedy until the present day (in his lecture) of the beginning of the Nazi state, giving it a Hellenic vintage, a millennial age.  The thousand years of the Nazi Reich were already past – not to come.
In this sense he paraphrases Sophocles’ chorus – in his own onto-anthropological parameters: the elemental forces such as sea, earth and animal are not alone what is ‘overpowering power’ (überwältigenden Gewaltigen; ibid., p. 119), but those social, constructive, emotive-cohesive activities of the positive race-community, oikia – language, understanding, mood, passion and building (work) are equally ‘overpowering power’.  Heidegger superimposes some sort of helotic (Nazi) ‘being-with’ on the Greek tragic vision of the paradox of singular human freedom in a world rigged by gods alias fate.

Greek cosmic disorder – a wild precarious trajectory without boundaries – has to be germanised (nazified), domesticated and whittled down on the Hobelbank of philosophy into the homespun quotidian necessities of establishing a durable lasting vehicle of Sein.  What Emmanuel Faye calls Heidegger’s question of the “longevity of the Nazi State” is the onto-historical metamorphosis of his Swabian soil-rooted sense of “schaffe, schaffe Häusle baue” (drudge, drudge, they build a little house).

Wittgenstein Fragment

Measurement of Pain (or Pleasure) – Affects

The elusive measurement of pain is a direct aspect of the immanence of sensation (any sensation) – although a sensation is not metaphysical, it is neither quantifiable nor measurable, because of its essential absolute quality of immanence.  It is material and unknowable.  Hence it is futile and specious to say the pain is equal in two different individuals, subjects – equally unknowable, equally immanent.
If work is pain – in the sense of Jünger – or in the sense of sensuous concrete labour, then abstract labour is a possible measure of pain.

Even if Capital would disappear a Christian (‘Franciscan’) ontology would still require the Body of Pain. 

Wittgenstein’s favourite example for his anti-privacy argument is pain, in particular toothache.  He uses toothache as an example to show how states of individuals are generic, egoless.  Pain and such ‘states’ cannot serve as a basis for identity.  Pain is sensation; one can understand that such pain is more or less the same from one species-individual to another.  Perhaps though one could extend this comparability to idea, emotions – are they equally generic or ‘public’?  As we as a species are sensing animals, so many of our perceptions are mere interpretations of our sensory data, how can we be generically alike in our senses and so individually unique in our ideas and more spiritual aspects?  Not only are we alike in pain – we are alike in our ultimate pleasure – that of the orgasm and all the sexual moments of excitement preceding it.  (Pain and pleasure differ in themselves – pleasure as Nietzsche writes does not look back, pain wants to know its origin. Die Fröhliche Wissenschaft: The Gay Science)  Some might have more of them or need more unusual sorts of stimuli – like the de Sade libertine who craved being farted on in the face to achieve an erection.  But his erection itself is no different from all other erections.  His erection is as impersonal as a toothache, as the enemy.  Perhaps the whole ordeal of perversion is one of those infinite trajectories within the finite organism– such as opium addiction or other physical ‘transcendences’ (Baudelaire)  – originating in the despair of ever discovering another kind of erection, a completely different ending for the whole cataclysm of arousal. 


If it were merely a philosophy of language or even worse a science of language or the philosophical foundation of a science of language, it would be very poor, deficient, inferior.
It must be something else.
The fallacy of certain ordinary language Wittgensteinians – their point of departure being ‘an ordinary life with language’ – is to assume that ordinary language is equal to ordinary life (even if in practise it often is) – but as a philosophical conclusion this is unfounded.  One can also lead a non-ordinary life with ordinary language.  Language is limited but the world of action, experience and affect is unlimited – at least it exceeds the limits of language.  Otherwise words would never be inadequate. 

The picture theory of language is equivalent to a ‘Goethean’ idea of Apollonian contemplation - the Dionysian view of language dispenses with images – or images are mere ciphers of passions, sensations, obsessions (Bruno).  Language is an outer shell, skin of secretive undisclosable immanence of sensation and passions.  That is why words, especially names, in themselves ordinary – can conjure up whole fields of sensations including fear and disgust, without the need of visual stimuli either as physical bodies, simulacra or projections.  The pronouncing (uttering) of the most sacred name of God is itself forbidden – just as the Hebrew word for one of the surrogate appellations means simply ‘name’ – Hashem.  The negative examples are more striking, because fear and disgust are more powerful affects than tranquillity and delight – contrary to what Spinoza says.

Wittgenstein seems always torn between a language of names and a language of forms – vaguely similar to the dichotomy proposed by Spengler (one of Wittgenstein’s favourite authors) between the “principle of law” and the “principle of form (Gestalt)”.  The name is a rule, a living definition – if something does not ‘obey’ its definition, this threatens the existence of the name itself.  For instance, he is perplexed by the difference between an empirical act or x number of empirical acts and the validity of the concept to which they are supposed to refer.  As if when empirical reality would not correspond to the meaning of a concept, the concept would go up in smoke. In paragraph 345 of Philosophical Investigations he writes – “(…) Befehle werden manchmal nicht befolgt.  Wie aber würde es aussehen, wenn Befehle nie befolgt würden?  Der Begriff “Befehl” hätte seinen Zweck verloren.” (Commands are sometimes not obeyed.  What would it look like, if commands would never be obeyed?  The concept “command” would have lost its purpose.)  The principle of obedience is not just one ‘outside’ of language – inside language itself meaning or purpose must be obeyed – or language would be abolished.  As if one could extinguish a concept/word by never doing what it says/means.  This is his ‘mathematical side’ – mathematical theorems cannot abide contradiction as Badiou says.

Is the ‘type’ more resilient?  Following Goethe and Spengler in their anti-Newtonian, anti-Darwinist organicist morphologies – Goethe’s Metamorphosis of Plants, Spengler’s Decline of the West – Wittgenstein’s “aspect theory” is also tainted by ideas of “Gestalt”.   
“What I give is the morphology of the use of an expression.”(cited in Ray Monk, Wittgenstein The Duty of Genius, London, 1991, p.303)  In Logik, Sprache, Philosophie written in collaboration with Waismann, Wittgenstein offers a morphological credo of language in the tradition of Goethe.  Morphological thought does not seek a “common origin” in the past, in time, approximating the structure of a “causal schema”:  “Our thought here marches with certain views of Goethe’s which he expressed in the Metamorphosis of Plants. (…) His conception of the original plant (Ur-Pflanze) implies no hypothesis about the temporal development of the vegetable kingdom such as that of Darwin.  What then is the problem solved by this idea?  It is the problem of synoptic presentation.  Goethe’s aphorism ‘All the organs of plants are leaves transformed’ offers us a plan in which we may group the organs of plants according to their similarities as if around some natural centre.  We see the original form of the leaf changing into similar and cognate forms, into the leaves of the calyx, the leaves of the petal, into organs that are half petals, half stamens, and so on.  We follow this sensuous transformation of the type by linking up the leaf through intermediate forms with the other organs of the plant. 
That is precisely what we are doing here.  We are collating one form of language with its environment, or transforming it in imagination so as to gain a view of the whole of space in which the structure of our language has its being.” (cited in ibid., pp. 303-304)

Isn’t it rather queer, that the language of the human animal, its ‘body of grammar’ should be structured like the morphology of plants?  Is language then a vestige of ‘natural religion’ in Hegel’s sense, the one he calls in the Phenomenology of Spirit – a ‘religion of flowers’?  How would we have ever achieved the stage of culpability of the ‘religion of animals’, of those of blood who can spill blood (not water) if language were lingering in the innocence of botany?  Is language a relic of Eden – pre-Fall?  Is language the hieroglyphic Eden from which we were banished and through which we futilely seek to return? 

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