Seminar Notes on Felipe Martínez Marzoa, Heidegger y su tiempo (Madrid: Akal, 1999). (Alberto Moreiras)

First Note: Heidegger’s time=our time. The time of reading remains the time of writing.   This can be said of Heidegger’s work but not of Hegel’s or Nietzsche’s.   But it can be said on the basis of Heidegger’s own thought. It is Heidegger’s thought that reveals or unconceals a state of affairs—but this state of affairs is the state of affairs out there, in the world out there, with things themselves, with the thing as it is.   Heidegger’s thought is the unconcealment of a temporal state of affairs that is still ours.   The state of affairs is: our time, and Heidegger’s time, is the unlimited and unqualified, de-qualified time of being.   Heidegger’s thought is, on the one hand, the determination, in the sense of unconcealment, of a particular state of affairs with being (unlimited, de-qualified). On the other hand, the meditation on it: if so, what of it?   How do we relate to what relates to us fundamentally, how do we dwell in unlimited and dequalified time, how do we survive our belonging to it, if it is a matter of surviving, of not simply falling for it?   We assume that it is a matter of surviving it on the notion that time as unlimited and dequalified is historical, that is, that it has come to be, that it is not eternal and fixed—it therefore has an outside, there is an outside of the time that fundamentally determines our belonging.   Keeping the question open regarding such an outside—that is Heidegger`s thought, and there is, there would be nothing else to it but that.   It is a simple thing. If time is historical, there would be, and there would have been, another time . . . Being is the referent of that fundamental, and abyssal, frameless frame=the history of being is history as such.

[We could say: deconstruction is a working out of that state of affairs, essentially the thought that the state of affairs exceeds or subceeds the state of affairs, that there is always something that escapes. As to infrapolitics, it comes to the same: if, precisely, the time of unlimited and dequalified time is also the time in which, for the first time, one can say that everything is political, that everything is politics, if politics has now become one with the state of affairs of time as it is, if politics, at the time of the completion of metaphysics as the metaphysics of subjectivity, exhausts the horizon of time, and time exhausts the horizon of politics, then infrapolitics is only the simple claim that there is an excess, or sub-cess, that there is an outside to politics, an otherwise than political when politics is nothing but the implementation of unlimited and dequalified time. And that is a simple thought that, however, calls for a task: the task of an alternative understanding of the time of life. Perhaps infrapolitics, vis-à-vis Heidegger’s work or the task of deconstruction, is only its turn towards the thought of the time of life—which is not the time of work, and is not the time of the subject.]

(Note from Jorge Alvarez Yagüez: El tiempo del cumplimiento de la metafísica es el tiempo de la “techné”, no el de “polítiké”. Esta desaparece justamente por el recubrimiento de todo por aquella, la política se convierte en “gestión”, que es el modus técnico en la esfera en que se mueve. La extensión (e intensión) planetaria de lo técnico pone todo a disposición del sujeto, que al mismo tiempo adopta formas de relación consigo y con los otros de carácter técnico (estratégicas, calculísticas), su propia subjetividad, todo é, sensible y cognitivamente, es colonizado por aquello que coloniza. La forma que impone al mundo se le impone a sí. El momento de desaparición de lo político es paradójicamente el momento de su posible potenciación, toda vez que esa disponibilidad universal demanda una decisión compartida guiada por el interés de la polis, el de lo común. Y ahí entra la infrapolítica, en una doble tarea: 1) la de rescatar lo político sobre lo técnico; reivindicación de lo político 2) la de debilitar lo político mismo (este es su lado”infra”, en el sentido de inferiorizar, menoscabar) en la nedida en que este se asuma aun como forma del imperio de la subjetividad. Es posible que esto segundo no pueda ser cumplido sino dando lugar a una forma nueva ya no catalogable como “política” (ni siquiera en el sentido de la contraposición entre lo político y la política), pues esta no sea susceptible de superar su condición moderna. Y tal intento demanda otro manera de pensar, otro modo de pensamiento, que no puede ser sino, al mismo tiempo, otra forma de vida, y un modo en que pensamiento y acción (uso, inoperosità, praxis pura ??) vengan a fundirse.)

Second Note: There is a thing, or the thing, but we cannot be certain that we have access to it. There is the thing, it can always escape. By the same token, we may have access to it.   Let us bracket for the moment the thing that is only certain. Every other thing is also uncertain.   But it is a curious uncertainty, because of every thing we can say there is a possible certainty, even if we miss it.   In other words, there is a position of certainty for every thing in the context of everything else. This mote of dust is here (or it is not): if it is here, our certainty is correct. If it is not here, then we must revise our position regarding every thing else as well. (Hegel: the universe itself would be destroyed if a mote of dust in it could be destroyed: everything is interdependent.)   But this means, if we are properly certain of one thing, then we are properly certain of every thing else: we have access to the ens unicum, also called, the subiectum, the what of every thing.   The ens unicum, the subiectum, the what of everything, that thing of which things can be predicated (a cat is . . . an animal), opens the thought that the ens unicum is also the ens totum, the totality, the one-all.   This is metaphysics, but not any metaphysics. This notion of the thing, die Sache, re, to pragma, is itself historical. The thing as explained is modern metaphysics, certainly Hegel’s.

So the question is about the question. If the thing ends up in the one-all, this has to do with the nature of the fundamental question behind it.   We don’t ask about what we already know, we ask about what is somehow distant.

Modern metaphysics reveals itself as a distance from the thing which is at the same time a distance with the totality of things.   We ask about the thing because the thing has vanished or sunk, the ens unicum is distant, and so is the one-all.

But of course even here we find a difference between the type of distance to things that turns them all into an “indefinite, neutral, aconceptual, merely quantitative multiplicity”—this would already be the vulgar version of modern metaphysics, what would be ordinary or prephilosophical.   And the philosophical determination of the question of the being of beings in modernity. Both are certainly related, but there is a difference between them. If nothing else, this difference is the very alibi of modern metaphysics (and science, and politics, etc.): a disparaging reference to a vulgar understanding that does not rise to the level of a concept with which, otherwise, it is perfecty compatible (in a vulgar manner). [We need only point out to the difference between actually existing communism and its idea, or actually existing democracy and its idea, or actually existing religion and its idea, etc.]

So modern metaphysics is already the symptom of a loss, of an uprooting (“desarraigo o pérdida o desapego”) (we ask about what is no longer ours). But there is no turning back to the moment prior to it. The loss is all there is. Understanding that is assuming the distance, understanding the distance as loss, the loss as distance.   The one-all as unlimited continuum is loss. Every thing from now on would be an arbitrary, gratuitous cut in the continuum, every thing is just as good as any thing else—things are de-qualified [and general equivalence, which is the same thing as indifferent difference, reigns].

“La pérdida no es sino la propia comparecencia de aquello que se pierde; ello mismo acontece perdiéndose, su tener lugar es su escaparse,” “el zapato es en verdad zapato sólo mientras no es aquello de lo que se trata, es decir, mientras simplemente caminamos seguros.”

Being therefore means not just presence, but also and inseparably that which in presence has been left behind.

Third Note: We call that double sense “ontological difference.”   In a precise phenomenological sense: what is is ontic. The ontic prompts a question—the question makes us move towards . . . something that will not be found, because it is not itself ontic (and only ontic things can be found).   This is a tearing, a “desgarro.” There is this and there is the fact that this this is already a loss. When I say cat I kill the cat, when I say shoe I kill the shoe.

How can one, then, thematize the ontological difference without killing the ontological difference? [Is this not the fundamental question of what we are calling infrapolitics?]

Modern metaphysics has always already solved that question, appealing to the non-vulgar understanding of the being of beings as one-all, unlimited continuum, the absolute.   “La cuestión de cómo hay que entender y pensar para que se pueda estar en efecto reconociendo la exigencia de totalidad es, en este espacio, la peculiar versión de la diferencia ontológica; claro que no es la cuestión ontológica, pero precisamente por eso en cierta manera sí, porque no es la omisión estéril de esa cuestión, sino justamente la marca de ausencia de la misma, a saber, el que la cuestión del ser ya es expresamente sólo posible como cuestión de lo ente uno y total, el que la cuestión ontológica ha derivado en cuestión óntico-total . . . la cuestión óntico-total sólo es posible como derivación o marca de ausencia de la cuestión ontológica.”

There is therefore a peculiar mode of saying, of Saying, in modern metaphysics, just defined. But—is there an alternative Saying? Is there a Saying that could say the ontological difference without covering it over as the ontic-total vs. the particular thing?   There is always a “sense” of the questioning, and the question about that “sense” is the question about a particular kind of Saying.

Could the poet be the fellow who can Say the ontological difference without killing the ontological difference?

Fourth Note: But who is the poet? Is the poet just . . . the poet?   Or do we invert the definition and we talk about the thinker of ontological difference as the poet?   Poet= whoever can Say the difference, that is, say the difference without killing it. So, it is not in any case a matter of the poet being poetic and casually hitting, through her or his innate genius or poetic talent, whatever escapes the metaphysical taming, the withdrawal of Being as such in its articulation with its presencing.   We could even say that, as Willy put it in a recent comment, the last thing we need are poetic poets—they are just as bad as authentic authentics or musical musicians (they always end up whistling Bulgarian wedding tunes in any case, pachan pachan).   So perhaps we can say that there is a problem as to “the poet” in Heidegger, concretely regarding the question “what is a poet supposed to Say?” Because it is the Saying that makes the poet, not the other way around (this may not be so for right Heideggerianism, where a nationalist poet might qualify as the Namer of Being.)   Is Cecil Taylor a poet, in the Heideggerian sense?   Is Cezanne a poet in the Heideggerian sense?   Perhaps the answer is yes.   But then Lope de Vega may not be a poet, Espronceda may not be a poet, Neruda may not be a poet—mere amateurs.

Which brings us to Hölderlin.   Heidegger depends on Hölderlin in a way, says Martínez Marzoa, that cannot be limited to the dependence of a thinker on a poet.   Why? Because Hölderlin, who was a member of the Jena Circle, that is, a friend of Schelling and Hegel, understood something crucial (that very thing that Kant may also have understood but pulled away from, according to Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics)—it was so crucial that could and would have put German Transcendental Idealism on its head.   It has to do with the fact that the ens unicum, the interdependence of the thing with the one-all, the belonging of the thing to the unlimited continuum of timespace, means that the thing is subordinate to the one-all, that what truly is is the one-all, that a thing is only insofar as it is subsumed into the one-all.   The one-all is therefore the self-positing of everything, the subjectum of everything. And this is what German Idealism would have called the ego, I, the subject. The subject is the substance. This is the moment in modernity that begins the completion of metaphysics (Nietzsche will take one more step and so forth).   The self-positing of being as substance is the moment of maximum withdrawal of the ontological difference, the moment of the triumph of Being as Presence.   But, through the extreme absence of the question of the difference, the question of the difference returns as maximum presence, in the same way that only places from which even the ghosts have departed can be full of ghosts.

Hölderlin would have understood that, which is that in Hölderlin that drastically attracts Heidegger. But we don´t have the time to see how Hölderlin processes such an understanding through his poetry—except to say that it has something to do with Greece. Why?

Hölderlin understood, and stated, that in the apotheosic absolute self-positing of metaphysical modernity something “queda atrás,” is left behind, withdraws, and sinks into concealment.   Modernity refuses to understand that, and sees in its very refusal, in its “clearing of the ground,” a radical “absence of prejudice” which is consistent and compatible with the general indifferentiation of things into the unlimited continuum.   It is clear that the unlimited continuum is not historically new—it had been posited in the Hellenistic period. But, at that time, it was considered a state of affairs pertaining to the world of appearances, which could only be made consistent through theology (onto-theology). Modernity does away, in regards to the unlimited continuum, with the notion that things are inconsistent, that the world of appearances is only illusion. It posits its own understanding as final—prejudice-free empirical materialism, which of course does not preempt the belief in ontotheological spirit as well.

Another way of saying that: it is not the absence of the question of the ontological difference that identifies modernity, rather it is the fact that the absence has become principial, constitutive, grounding.   And this started with Hellenism, that is, after Aristotle. Aristotle is still a thinker for whom the ontological difference counted as a problem that had to be dealt with. Hellenism has already dealt with it, has already made its own solution “obvious,” and that dealing launches the history of modernity as the history of a forgetting.

So, Greece, and Greece also for Hölderlin and in Hölderlin’s work, is the historical name for the moment in which our history begins. How does it begin? Politically: “Que el juego que siempre se está jugando pretenda hacerse relevante él mismo, eso es lo que llamamos la pólis, no doctrinas acerca de la pólis, sino precisamente la pólis misma; y el que esa relevancia sea a la vez la pérdida podría decirse exponiendo cómo la pólis perece no por el ataque de los bárbaros, sino precisamente porque se sostiene.”

So Greece is the name of that historical beginning whose examination may help us remember the dual face of being, the ontological difference, also in or starting from, the political realm.   Why should we do this? Because our time, our modernity, our completion of the loss and the forgetting, our plight of having forgotten the plight itself, makes itself noted.   It is simple: if there is a problem you cannot solve, study the problem—historically.

Fifth Note: So who is the poet? And what is a poet? It just so happens those are not Greek notions, they are Hellenistic. In Greece proper we find no word for poets, or poem, or poetry.   What we have there is a notion of an excellent Saying.   And the Saying was excellent also in the sense that it was preeminent—not as it is the case with us, in which there is an objective, normative Saying, which is precisely not poetry.

So in Greece there is an excellent Saying that is excellent because it achieves relevance and preeminence.   In what sense?   In the sense of the ontological difference: “la excelencia del decir comporta . . . el que lo que lo que siempre ya queda atrás tienda a hacerse ello mismo relevante de alguna manera. . . . en el decir excelente, el decir, diciendo en todo caso las cosas, esta y aquella y la otra cosa, a la vez permanece especialmente enganchado en el decir mismo como tal.

The Saying of the poet is the saying of the ontological difference.   Excellent Saying says beings in reference to Being.

And was that not precisely what Dasein is supposed to accomplish as Dasein, that is, insofar as Dasein remains authentically as Dasein instead of letting itself be covered over by the inauthenticity of a false saying? If Dasein has it in itself to access Being, that is, to be responsible to the call of Being, if the voice of conscience, which calls to Being, is precisely the constant reminder of ontological difference as such, beyond the thrownness into the midst of beings, the Saying that corresponds to that is . . . Saying.

Can we get its possibility back from historical forgetting at the time of the full completion of metaphysical onto-theology as technology?

Sixth Note: The unlimited continuum is the unlimited continuity of the now—it is secondary (if it were not secondary, there could not be things, since a thing always implies a limit), it only operates on the (primary) absence of the question of sense (which is also the question of the ontological difference).

Dasein wonders about sense, because Dasein wonders about its own limit—being means limit. The affirmation of the limit is also at the same time the questioning of the unlimited continuum.   But Dasein’s limit is: death.   The anticipation of death is both the questioning of the unlimited continuum, the realization that it is secondary, and the priority of another temporality, a temporality that, as coming from the future, embeds the question of the ontological difference.   Time is already the ontological difference, and points to it. Time breaks time.

In the mood of the unlimited continuum, however, time does not break, it simply fails. Why? Because the one-all has no opposite, nothing is its opposite. And if the one-all confronts nothing, it does not take place. Nietzsche realized this. Hence his Doctrine of Eternal Return is his attempt—the last doctrine of metaphysics—to guard time from itself, that is, from its own failure—in the metaphysical mode, although inverted.

We talk about Hegel and Nietzsche, but the situation they reflect, the situation their thoughts reflect, is the general situation, that is, it also applies, for instance, to the State, and to everything else. Which means that the time of the end of metaphysics is also the time of the completion of the State, hence of the end of the State, the time of the end of ontotheological politics, etc.

But Heidegger has left few indications to take his thought into realms alternative to the philosophical tradition, particularly as regards the political sphere, civil society, and the like. And yet we can say: “la posición del Estado con respecto a la cuestión ontológica es la que hemos atribuido a la ciencia en sentido fuerte; por así decir: él es un problema ontológico, e incluso se basa en que haya quedado atrás la cuestión ontológica, pero no es él mismo ontología.”

The scientist, the statesman or politician, the poet—they eventuate truth in different ways.   The thinker is not the poet or the artist: if the latter two Say the truth, the thinker interprets it. The thinker is the hermeneutist, the reader.

But this means, for the thinker: the thinker can only read the unthought in the thought, that is, the thinker can only read what appears insofar as it is lost; what appears withdrawing, in withdrawal.   Everything else is, today, merely culture, and cultural industry.

[Understanding history, understanding the event of history—if this is all that is left, at the end of the pathway, for Heidegger in Martínez Marzoa’s interpretation, and if we claim Heidegger as an important guide towards infrapolitics, the question comes up: is infrapolitical reflection merely, and nothing but, a mere understanding of history, a mere dwelling in the errancy of history, a mere freeing of the hermeneutical relation? And yes is the only possible answer—which does not make it any easier.]

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