Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Teutonic Bombast

In the recent interview with Richard Polt (thanks to Enowning for the link), Ereignis identifies three "rough" meanings of Ereignis:

1. the phenomenological appropriation of phenomena
2. an ontologically determinative event
3. the universal condition that gives time and being to humans.

These strike me not as differences of meaning, but differences of emphasis, consistent with a philosophical project that had to cover a variety of issues. Polt (whose translation of the Introduction to Metaphysics has been very useful in my work) cites Thomas Sheehan for the idea that

[Heidegger] is teaching us that humans are constituted a priori (or "always already") by finitude, historicity, etc. The rest -- all the business about our fate at this unique moment in history -- is "Teutonic bombast".

He then proposes "to take the opposite tack":

I take the term das Ereignis seriously: it means "the event," that is, a unique happening that would found intelligibility.

This idea of "founding intelligibility" can be understood in terms of two questions: "what makes it possible for things to make sense to us? Or in still other words, how are we given our sense of givenness itself?"

Here's a story that Glenn Gould tells about recording the A minor Fugue in Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier:

Upon most sober reflection, it was agreed that neither the Teutonic severity of Take 6 nor the unwarranted jubilation of Take 8 could be permitted to represent our best thoughts on this fugue. At this point someone noted that, despite the vast differences in character between the two takes, they were performed at an almost identical tempo (a rather unusual circumstance, to be sure, since the prevailing tempo is almost always the result of phrase delineation) and it was decided to turn this to advantage by creating one performance to consist alternately of Takes 6 and 8. ("The Prospects of Recording")

It is worth noting that Gould is here discussing the morality of splicing. Meanwhile, I'm reading Deer Head Nation alongside The Lichtenberg Figures and Invisible Bride. I think our best thoughts on the Ereignis of Flarf will emerge also in the splicing.

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