Re: peasant shoes

Steve Martinot writes that

>when Heidegger first
>broaches the story of the peasant woman walking down a path, he=
is
>presenting a "case" that need not refer back to the painting. And=
I
>quoted only the section that referred to the shoes as equipment,=
and
>not to their representation in a painting -- by Van Gogh or anyone
>else. So I think it is immaterial to the point I was making about
>authenticity whether the "painted shoes only work at showing a world
>..."

I do not think that the painting is at all immaterial to the discussion=
of
authenticity in TOWA. If it were, you would then have to explain=
why the
painting was there at all. What is interesting is that MH himself=
says
that while "[e]veryone is acquainted with them," the painting is=
to serve
as a "pictorial representation [bildliche Darstellung]" of a pair=
of
peasant shoes. (UK, 18/33 [first number is to Holzwege/second to=
Poetry,
Language, Thought]) We might wonder why the artwork is important=
at all.=20
If Steve is right, then the painting is of no interest at all because=
what
MH is talking about are *shoes*. Now, it does seem that this is=
right,
because MH begins by discussing equipmentality [das Zeughafte]. =
And surely
such equipmentality could only be found in `real' shoes and never=
in
painted ones.

But the painting, Heidegger claims, serves to bring out the equipmentality
of the shoes in a way which the shoes themselves never could. It=
seems, at
first, as if from the painting "we shall never discover what the
equipmental being of the equipment in truth is." (UK, 18/33) The=
painting
shows "[a] pair of peasant shoes and nothing more" which sit in an
undefined space without "even clods of soil =8A sticking to them".=
(UK,
18/33) This would seem to put an end to the matter. The painting=
gives us
no access to the shoes; we would do far better to look at the shoes
themselves or at how they are used by the peasant. That is, it looks=
as if
Steve is right and the equipmentality -- the readiness-to-hand of=
the shoes
-- can be reach without the painting.

"And yet- [Und dennoch]" (UK, 18/33) So writes Heidegger, this brief
phrase serving to create a transition to a reading of the painting.=
This
reading is to serve to make manifest in the painting exactly what=
it was
claimed could not be made manifest: the equipmentality of the shoes=
and the
world of the peasant who wears them. This `interpretation' of the=
painting
renders it not into prose but into poetry (or at least poetic prose).=
The
reading is poetic in the sense of creation -- for it exceeds the=
given of
the image to (re)create the world of the peasant whose shoes they=
are. So
while the soil is no longer present there is still its "dampness=
and
richness". (UK, 19/34) While "we cannot even tell where these shoes=
stand"
, we can see that "[u]nder the soles slides the loneliness of the
field-path as evening falls." (UK, 19/34) "In the shoes," Heidegger
writes, "vibrates the silent call of the earth [In dem Schuhzeug=
schwingt
der verschwiegenen Zuruf der Erde] =8A. This equipment," these *painted
shoes*, "belongs to the earth [Erde], and it is protected in the=
world
[Welt] of the peasant woman." (UK, 19/34) This poetic reading recovers
quite a lot from a painting which seemed to yield nothing. Perhaps=
more
than is there? This question Heidegger does not address. It is=
taken as a
given that all of this is in the painting (or at least in Heidegger's
reading thereof). The question he raises is whether it is in the=
shoes.=20
To this he answers yes, but not unreservedly.

The equipment itself -- the shoes -- evidences all of this in its
usefulness [Dienlichkeit] and reliability [Verlaesslichkeit]. This
reliability -- akin to what Heidegger had called readiness-to-hand
[Zuhandenheit] in Being and Time -- allows the woman to be "made=
privy to
the silent call of the earth" and to be "sure of her world". =20

Now it seems to me that MH's discussion of the equipmentality of=
the shoes
is intimately linked to the elucidation of the painting. This means,
firstly, that we have discovered this world only indirectly. The=
world of
the peasant woman is not disclosed to her through artistic representations
thereof. And the world is not even opened up *to us* through the=
painting.
The world is opened to us through MH's interpretationg of it. MH=
says
that "The painting spoke. In the vicinity of the work we were suddenly
somewhere else than we usually tend to be." (UK, 21/35) The work=
shows us
the world of the peasant woman, not as it appears to her but in its=
truth
where truth means disclosedness -- aletheia.


>With respect to the artwork, I do not think that Heidegger is intent
>on addressing any world opened up by artwork; rather the artwork
>reveals Being, in the sense that the truth of the artwork is the=
truth
>of Being. What is interesting about his approaching the existentiality
>(or Being) of the shoes through the painting is the suggestion that
>the sense of Being that concerns him can be approached only through=
a
>representation, and a particular kind at that.

As I have attempted to show above, what the painting does show is=
exactly a
world. What world means for MH is a difficult question which I have
thought about quite a bit (much of the analysis here is drawn from=
a paper
of mine on MH's use of `Welt' in various texts). Mh does not say=
in TOWA
that the artwork reveals Being; he does say that it reveals a world.=
He
also says that it reveals truth. Within TOWA and many of the texts=
that
follow it, what a world is a space in which truth can be disclosed.=
This
means that, in a sense, both of us are right here.

Jonathan Maskit

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~=
~~~~

=46or we, which now behold these present days,
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.

Jonathan=
Maskit
[email protected]

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