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    originary flow, conceptual design,
and concerted cultivation

gary e. davis
  July 25, 2015 /
April 16, 2017

My title is an enactive version of a simple 3-fold in Heidegger’s thinking—poiesis, logos, and ethos—which is easy to oversimplify ( [poiesis [logos [ethos] ] ] ), concealing Its enactivity via accessible representation, like figures of speech can be at once felicitous and self-concealing, like alive personality appealing in a photo. With his experimental notion of “Ge-Stell,” he wants to find and advance a contemporary onefolding of that which Aristotle understood altogether as poiesis, logos, and ethos. That which Aristotle understood as 3-fold may just as truly belong with us as enactive 3-folding Onefold, named variously.

In a sense, of course, there is always Logos: a prevailing conceptuality of Our Time and thinking (that gets to be proximally constitutive); but It’s also malleable, if you know how to work it—malleable in ways that an Aristotelian cannot understand (e.g., understanding “prevailing conceptuality” as a post-metaphysicalist complex—or relative to a cultural-evolutionary paradigm that We aggregately evolve). Secondly, an ethos of our time can be regarded as prevailing, as Given—yet, It evolves. Thirdly, though creativity is commonly confused with novelty, it’s conceivable relative to rare achievement. There is high conceiving that shows so singularly that its nature seems to be the Conception itself, evincing a Creativity through the work itself that is sui generis, eluding theories of creativity. Paradigms of Creativity after cognitive science might be beyond “philosophy” (and beyond Heidegger’s anticipations of conceptual prospecting, because he was ultimately yielding to an “Opening” that his eductions sought to “blindly” educe, as a man dies while there-being continues to flourish).

Though one cannot capture the conceptuality of an era in terms of leading voices, eras can be comprehensively prospected fruitfully (which Heidegger displayed for the times of his middle career with Being and Time). This rare kind of work would be a singular kind of concerted cohering, just as Being and Time is singular. Can the creativity evincing Being and Time be conceived other than in terms of Being and Time itself?

No and yes, I think—because a designation of Being and Time as exemplar of Heidegger’s Ereignis (heuristically as, for now, enowning/eventing of a high Appropriation of Our Time in fruitful terms of our shared potentials) can seem nonsense, other than to direct attention to explicating Being and Time in some primordially new way. One might surmise—I do—that Being and Time expresses an evolving sense of Ereignis prior to Heidegger having that focus. He sought a new way of Conceiving, during the late 1930s. But the times were too radically transformative. Primordial prospecting was primordially inhibited by available conceptuality.

Last week, Theodore Kisiel graciously sent to me a paper by him, “Heidegger and Our 21st Century Experience of Ge-Stell” (evidently unpublished, that he presented in Messkirch, Germany, May 25, 2011). I don’t need to discuss the entire paper (available here) because most all of it is a review of Heidegger’s sense of technologization, and I want to focus on Ge-Stell itself, as Kisiel seeks to do. So, I’ll quote him fully enough for that, covering Heidegger’s specific sense, the basis of Kisiel’s discussion, and engage that in my own way. This is a discussion of Ted Kisiel’s key points, Heidegger’s sense of Ge-Stell, and my extrapolations from Heidegger.

My reply, after greetings, began: “Your coalescence of Heidegger’s views related to Ge-Stell seems comprehensive. Your discussion was fun to read....I’m delighted to see the notion of Ge-Stell shown in full experimental range of Heidegger’s prospective thinking with It, near and far (conceptual phenomenon and horizon of our planetarity), as a unified path of narrative considerations. He might have been excited by recent coinage by paleoscience of The Anthropocene.”

I wouldn’t be surprised that Ted read that last sentence as a non sequitur. But maybe not: Heidegger experimented with his notion of Ge-Stell relative to planet-scale technologization, and Kisiel’s discussion aptly focuses on that. We commonly now associate the challenges of climate change with the planetarity of our evolving, and the notion of the Anthropocene was coined to name a geological claim that Earth has evolved into a new epoch of Itself within the past century.

Heidegger was already elderly when writing in the wake of The Bomb. Kisiel notes Heidegger’s expressed feeling of fright when he saw a photo of the Earth taken on the surface of the Moon.

I replied: “There was no good reason for Heidegger to fear the photos from our moon, as the beauty of that has had a dramatic efficacy for the environmental movement, for transnational humanism, and—to my mind—as a pointer at last to where Heaven really is.”

I didn’t follow up that precious last point there, but it’s worth recognizing that the evolution of humanity has idealized a realm that transcended the suffering and finitude of ordinary life, almost as if we could accept worlds that we felt powerless to change, because there was reward to reap Elsewhere. For much of human evolution, the gods were outside of our worlds; or their superior human traits were unreachable (thus requiring priestly gatekeeping for the distant kingdom that cannot be among and/or within us). But we know now that we own It: Either We enown the Earth, or there is no sustainable good life in store for our heirs.

Kisiel comprehensively reviews Heidegger’s critique of technologization in order to show how Heidegger exhibits, mid-century, prospects for New Beginning in terms of enowning our regions newly, a “new authochthony,” Heidegger calls it.

I wrote: “I’m glad to see your focus on the ‘Memorial Address’ from Discourse on Thinking because it shows how Heidegger was indeed shepherding into English what was most important to his thinking....” Discourse on Thinking was among the first publications of Heidegger-in-English, a combining of that “Memorial Address” with a translation of the second half of “Country Path Conversation,” written 1944-45, whose ending I quoted earlier. These days, Heidegger scholars are obsessed with materials that Heidegger didn’t bother to publish during his life (not in Germany, let alone translated for other markets). Kisiel’s expert focus on early material in English is notable, exemplifying (as I put it, in my note to Ted) “... what was most important to his thinking: that which best serves a wide audience, showing expertly how to do it [i.e., doing “3-fold” Ereignis accessibly, i.e., pragmatically set up as 3-fold]. His demonstrated skill for sense of audience is masterful. His post-war publication sets up what his unpublished monographs sought to set forth. His unpublished / posthumous work to understand Ereignis—that ethos of logos of poiesis—echoes in the exacting accessibility (the events of appropriation) that are his post-war shows. Yet, Enowning belongs to us all, of course.”

After detailed discussion of technologization, Kisiel discusses Heidegger’s 1935 “The Origin of the Work of Art,” as if that earlier work was Heidegger’s response to the dangers of technologization of things. So, Kisiel wondered what sense of lasting works were thought by Heidegger to evince from originary work. I quote him, in quoting here from my reply to him: “...‘What would ...“lasting works” created out of the new autochthony look like?,’ you ask. Or: How might the work go?”

I didn’t mention my view that going back to the “Origin” essay was probably a mistake—useful for Kisiel, surely; but not working toward the sense of poetic thinking that Heidegger was drawn to in later life. Heidegger had the “Origin” essay appear in Poetry, Language, Thought (hereafter: PLT) nearly first in the book, as appropriately preceding every other lecture/essay in PLT because “Origin” was the precursor, not the origin of what follows in PLT. He begins his 1957 lecture, “The Principle of Identity” (which he considered among the most important in his career) by anticipating his lecture on “The Thing,” which he had first presented eight years earlier, a revised version of which appears far into PLT, following “Building Dwelling Thinking,” which follows “What Are Poets For?,” which follows the “Origin” essay: “Origin”—> “What Are Poets For?”—> “Building Dwelling Thinking”—> “The Thing.”

But I didn’t pursue this line of reply with Ted. I went with the flow, which gets into the dynamic of “strife” between “Earth” (setting forth) and “World” (setting up) that’s integral to the “Origin” essay—a difference (setting forth, setting up) which is axial for Heidegger’s 1930 lecture “The Essence of Truth” (where truth is already an event of appropriation—not, of course, anything like a theory of truth-functionality or mere authenticity, i.e., truthfulness).

Kisiel writes: “Heidegger’s early use of the hyphenated word Ge-stell in 1935 as it operates in the gestalt of an artwork evokes a 1956 cautionary note from him to distance this more focused ‘local’ sense from the modern meaning of Ge-Stell operative on a global scale in modern technicity. But it also opens the opportunity for us to examine the different sort of gathering of modes of stellen [place], the different kinds of settings and positioning that are operative in an artwork.”

Kisiel notes that Heidegger says, late in life (c1966), that Ge-Stell is “the great complement” of Ereignis—like a two-fold, I would add; e.g., well-formedness of a work with free-forming of origination (but this is just an analogy)—responsiveness of the male archetype with receptiveness of the feminine archetype; outer-directedness with inner-directedness. [These analogies may seem ridiculous, but the point is an efficacy of, so to speak, analogeny or trope employments: tropology.]

So, it seemed to me that Kisiel would be mistaken to seek a transition from one to the other, rather than a sense of how they interplay. Quoting him, I asked: “If Ge-Stell is the great complement of Ereignis ( in ‘Language in the Poem’? [last essay of On the Way to Language—an essay that obsessed Derrida, late in his shortened life), is it ‘clues to the possible transition from’ one to the other we should seek? Or is it clues to living intimacy of the mystery of one with the other?”

In working toward the artwork—the set-up that, then, works, for others, with others—there’s surely intimacy. What is the intimacy of horizon and site-ation in “a global scale” with “focused ‘local’ sense” as gathered “modes of stellen”? (The fourfold of fourfolding is at least a mirrorplay of horizonality and site-ation.)

Near the end of Kisiel’s paper, a quote by him of Heidegger (one among too many to discuss here) is: “the truth in the work is projected to the coming preservers, i.e. to a historical humanity [and not a Volk!].” That’s Kisiel’s inserted exclamation. I bet that the “historical” is active: a humanity be-ing historical in a lasting efficacy of “Our” work with works. The truth of the work belongs to advancing humanity, to which the work is released. We can be historical by designing our futurity. The Game of Evolving!

Another fine statement by Heidegger that Kisiel quotes: “The world is the self-opening openness of the broad courses of the simple and essential decisions in the destiny of a historical people,” though Heidegger is probably more fond of “destining.” [When I see scholars reading Heidegger’s Considerations in bad faith, I wonder about the inaccessibility to them of decision to read in good faith. Is it a lack of ability? lack of hermeneutical imaginability? historically-induced paranoia, causing projective identification?]

“Life itself lays itself out,” Kisiel notes, because—I would add (and here add)—we are becoming the self-designing form of life, leading “what must be repeatedly retrieved and retaining” [says Heidegger via Kisiel] relative to prospecting and giving way. This is intimated in the literature of “post-humanity” and “distributed mind” melding with social netweaves while “trending” new ways to weave our electric topologies.

Well, so much for expansiveness at the end of a third reading of Kisiel’s paper.

I want to go back to the beginning of his discussion, where he translates Heidegger’s sense of ‘Ge-Stell.’ I wonder if Heidegger’s sense of Ge-Stell is intended to be thought “in its global essentiality” (Kisiel’s aspiration at the beginning of his paper) already in that intimacy above—i.e., addressed to a reader already deeply engaged in their own way of thinking of their—Our—present, contemporary sense, of futurity—but also facing an audience in great need of bridging a lost intimacy between primordial complements—in the present instance: between unretrieved historicality (that we might advance) and a not-yet comprehended technicity (that we might appropriate excellently).

Kisiel quotes the German passages where Heidegger indicates what Ge-Stell means, but also referencing English versions of the texts that were translated by Andrew Mitchell. I looked up Mitchell’s translations of the same passages and was interested in the differences.

I’ll compose translations bit by bit here, but the originals, quoted by Kisiel are (within my quoting here of Kisiel): “What then is Ge-Stell in its global essentiality? It is, in Heidegger’s breakdown of this single word, [A] ‘die versammelnde Einheit aller Weisen des Stellens....[B] Im Ge- spricht die Versammlung, Vereinigung, das Zusammenbringen aller Weisen des Stellens....[C] Das Ge-Stell ist die Versammlung, die Gesamtheit aller Weisen des Stellens, die sich dem Menschenwesen in dem Masse auferlegen, in dem es gegenwärtig ek-sistiert’...”

Looking at Kisiel’s translations, word by word, and Mitchell’s (quoting of quoting here can get confusing, but...): I wrote to Ted: “You write ‘...the collective unity.’ Mitchell writes ‘the gathering unity.’ But I wonder if Heidegger hears ‘Einheit’ like onehood or onefold, which avoids the systemic overtone of ‘unity’. You write ‘all modes,’ Mitchell writes ‘all ways.’ Common translations are: way, manner, and fashion. You stretch the sense of ‘Stellens’ as ‘setting in place, positioning, positing,’ and Mitchell writes ‘positing.’ What about ‘emplacing’? I’ve been using ‘emplacing’ for many years.”

So, Ge-Stell may be thought as: [A] the gathering onefold of all ways of emplacing. And: [B] The ‘Ge-’ speaks the gathering, cohering, concerting of all ways of emplacing.”

But [B], in the Heidegger seminar (from which Kisiel quotes), is about how ways are “challenging” (Mitchell). And all ways include ways that impose themselves—or are imposing or are allowed to be imposing. So, [C] Ge-Stell is also the gathering, the totality of all ways of emplacing that (as Kisiel and Mitchell say—I’m combining their slightly different translations), “impose themselves on the human being in the manner (and to the extent) that it ek-sists today.”

So—continuing to quote my reply to Ted, but without bothering with quote marks for my own replication here—Mitchell translates from the seminar: “enframing is essentially ambiguous” (Four Seminars, Ger: 104/Eng: 60), which might be usefully characterized as a resonance of enowning and disowning (or being disowned).

Beings are emplaced in an ambiguity or ambivalence between being framed as standing reserve (losing or lacking integrity and/or dignity) or enowned as reserved standing (having or gaining integrity/dignity).

In any case, the en-activeness of this is key. There is em-placement, not mere place—place of emplacement; frame of enframing.

[Kisiel sent me his 2011 paper because I expressed satisfaction with translation of Ge-Stell as ‘enframing’, relative to a 2015 paper that Kisiel sent to me a couple of weeks ago, which included his objection to translating Ge-Stell as enframing. Enframing was used decades ago for ‘Ge-Stell’ in The Question Concerning Technology, also used by Mitchell in his translation of the four seminars. But this choice is unsatisfactory to Kisiel’s reading, so he sent to me his 2011 paper, which I’m discussing here, in order for me to get a better understanding of his dissatisfaction with ‘enframing’. So, my reply to his 2011 paper continues:]

A reason why I have no problem with ‘enframing’ is because the English neologism gains its own rich meaning, which Heidegger intends (presumably) for ‘Ge-Stell’, through the way that the English term is used across “his” (Heidegger’s translated) narrative. ‘Enframing’ gains gravity as an identity in Heidegger’s discourse.

The simplicity of ‘enframing’ is also felicitous. The resonance of Flow (gathering onefold of all ways, etc.[—I’m heuristically using ‘Flow’]) and strife (imposing, challenging) can be easily interrelated as a potential containment of strife in a play of Flow, rather than a Flow at odds with an alien strife not easily brought into Flow. The strife is part of the Flow! Enframing is part of emplacing. [I don’t equate my unexplicated sense of Flow here with its sense in positive psychology.]

Anyway, at this point (still on p. 2 [I wrote to Ted—basically, still at the point which is the basis for the entirety of his discussion]), you footnote “a rich note” that you don’t translate, but which I manage to discern, and it is indeed rich—but I don’t see how it’s “the same point” [as those above for ‘Ge-Stell’], such that you will “therefore propose” a new translation [of ‘Ge-Stell’, i.e., a substitute for ‘enframing’]. However, associating that c1955 point [by Heidegger] with my discussion above is rich for me. [The German is: ““Im Wort ‘Gestell’ spricht die Versammlung des Stellens, in der ‘Versammlung’ spricht das Echo zum Logos, im ‘Stellen’ spricht das Echo der Thesis (Poiesis).”] The footnote might be usefully translated as: “In the word ‘Gestell’ speaks the gathering of placing, in the ‘gathering’ speaks the echo of logos, in the ‘placing’ speaks the echo of the thesis (poiesis).”

In other words: In ‘Gestell’ speaks the gathering echo of logos echoing poiesis emplacing.

Drawing challenges into a play is an art.

So, it seems to me that Heidegger would want to ensure the en-active, creative generativity of the native word—not so much as German, but as autochthonous; English, German, French, no matter, according to the word’s home language. I don’t see why Greek or Latin roots are apt here (for something autochthonous). [—which the German word is supposed to be, for Heidegger. Kisiel alluded to Greek and Latin roots of ‘Ge-Stell’ to warrant his recommendation of a translation that is compound: “syn-thetic com-posit[ion]ing.”] Going for roots belongs to genealogical work, where the distant root holds lost insight to be gained. Going for living potentials evinces from where we spring, our house of being.

Now, pragmatically distinguishing emplacing from enframing—ideally framing enframing as a fallen mode of emplacing—gels well with the epochal issue of objectification of that which deserves reserved standing. Regarding other persons as objects is a destiny of a phenomenology that originates itself in the face of objects (Husserl, unwittingly implying technicity toward others) rather than with others (Heidegger). Relatedly, reading that trades in prima facie validity (mere surface-level “meaning” in E.D. Hirsch’s famous The Validity of Interpretation, 1971) conceals prospects for deeper meaning (“significance” in Hirsch—I mention Hirsch because interest in deeper meaning or significance is so axiomatic in normal literary studies). [I mention prima facie self-concealment because Richard Polt has insisted on sufficiency of surface meaning for reading Heidegger’s Considerations, which is hilarious to me.]

In fact, a baby comes into the world regarding everything as an other person—re: things that don’t move, as well as things that do. [I’m simplifying, of course. In the beginning, all is oneself, then individuating into there being other aspects of oneself—> there being other selves—> other persons (mysteriously self-concealing).] Personification belongs to all. Then we learn that there are things that are impersonal. [The undesired food will not throw itself off the high chair because toddler wills it to get lost.] Being well with objects—caring for the world of everything—derives from (is an ontogenic achievement of) being with others—caring for each other, thus caring for everything. “Dasein ist Mitsein.” That simple. Our nature is with-being. Our nature is with being. We are to be with Nature, rather than imposing ourselves on Nature. Nature “desires” to be with us. The trees tell me so. [I may have lost credibility with Ted by saying that. What we cause little children to take to heart guides the sway of how they see. The great, swaying old trees precede us and will succeed us. To the most sophisticated, albeit poetic, mind, the trees speak Time and welcome our resortful passages, be we walking with the sway of things or making verse of animating winds.]

In receptiveness and responsiveness to others, they show themselves—persons and things. Things speak to us because they own something to be shown—concealed to be disclosed, if we’re not receptively responsive enough, responsively receptive enough.

“Authorship” of the work of art stands there to be found—which is the spirit of “Found Art” or an art of experiencing. [art of authorship, authorship of authoriality, i.e., authorship of originary experience]

The work of art is there, showing itself—or else waiting (there to show itself), as things renewed in each receptiveness, each responsiveness: the field, the horizon, the life, the heights. [Earth, sky, mortality—all so divine.]


    Be fair. © 2020, g. e. davis.