Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Noted: Martin Heidegger

Eventually I hope to write an essay on "wonder" and that sense of it that sf people are always on about, because I often feel like basically everyone who writes about sense of wonder, those who praise it and attack it alike, either misidentifies both the wonder and the sense (mostly the attackers), or fails even to ask what they might be (mostly the praisers). Unfortunately while my own sense of, um, my own sense of wonder is pretty firm, my ability to talk about it feels dependent on a whole lot of reading and thinking I haven't done yet. Plus, as you can probably tell from the fact that this paltry thing is my first post in well over a month, I've largely lacked the essay-writing ambition recently.

In the meantime, though, this caught my eye. Maybe I'm overreading the coincidence of the word "wonder," and maybe (ok more than maybe, probably) I don't grasp the meaning of this passage, because Heidegger (y'know?), but this, well, feels relevant. It's from David Farrell Krell's translation of "What Is Metaphysics?", in the collection Basic Writings, and follows from a lot of discussion of the "negation is grounded in the not that springs from the nihilation of the nothing" type, which I am neither competent nor energetic enough to summarize.

Only because the nothing is manifest in the ground of Dasein can the total strangeness of beings overwhelm us. Only when the strangeness of beings oppresses us does it arouse and evoke wonder. Only on the ground of wonder--the revelation of the nothing--does the "why?" loom before us. Only because the "why" is possible as such can we in a definite way inquire into grounds, and ground them. Only because we can inquire and ground is the destiny of our existence placed in the hands of the researcher.

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