Monday, April 13, 2009

My first experience with this part of On the Way to Language was negative, in that I could not get past the language to see the experience attached to the language. I was not making a connection between the language and a practical meaning. Based on what I've read of Heidegger prior to this section, I assumed the connection between the experience and the language used to describe it could only come when a "being" was aware of themselves and their "being", not being distracted by the everyday or the Other. But the very understanding of it does not come to us by "thinking", trying to apply it to an everyday experience or assign it a label or put it into a useful category, but by being thoughtful poetically, which is entirely different. This thoughtfulness is freer than the restricted thinking that one forces upon themselves. It comes when one frees the mind from forcing its thoughts into categories and useful, "sensible" categories. It is allowed to happen in poetry, or art or music. It does not achieve the same outcome that other types of thinking may achieve, which are useful and helpful when applied to problems in the world. But these two types of philosophy cannot be manipulated to try to do each other's work. Understanding the experience is not something that happens by applying a method or thinking about its usefulness. What Heidegger describes must itself be experienced by the poet or the artist or the musician. This is hinted at by the language used to describe the complexity of the phenomenon. The fact that I experienced the text in a certain way means, in Heidegger's terms, that I had an experience with it, which revealed his meaning once I realized this. This is the difference between speaking about language and letting language speak to us, being "within language". By looking at the language itself, rather than trying to make the language mean something that I could readily "understand", I could understand the point that thinking wouldn't allow language or poetry find its own words but would force things upon it. Often when I try to figure something out I change its meaning or apply my own thoughts and motives to it. This brings up the conversation about who is speaking in language: whether it is the author's intentions or how it is interpreted by the reader, or whether the text has an independent life of its own.

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