Re: Das Man (again)

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This is in response to Christopher Rickey's recent post
concerning Das Man.

There can be little question that there is something other,
for Heidegger, than the "average everyday understanding" of
the "one does" concerning "publiclity", "public life", etc.
The "hero" that Heidegger writes of is obviously not lost in
the they. One that is lost in the they just "goes a long for
the ride", has idle talk, does what one does, and so forth.
A hero doesn't do that, but is obviusly public in important
ways. And Heidegger, to make mention of something that must
have some importance in here somewhere, is "public", and
downright heroic, even by his own professed, youthful
desires to "be a revolutionary" occupies a space that has a
certain essential publicity, that of the Book. Arendt
positively describes the arena of appearances with regards
to the Greek polis. I'm not sure what her relation to
Heidegger is in this aspect.

You talk of two modes of publicness, and see this is
problematic. You even suggest the possibility of the
"authentic Das Man", yet you fully realize the improbability
of such a formulation. You're inventing words. That's highly
irregular! I don't understand your "if no German": do you
mean, no German person (nationalistically speaking?) or do
you mean "no German word"?

Some questions come up here, though. What happens if and
when you find a Heideggerian division, category or thinking
unsatisfactory? You speak of improving. There can be
improvement, departure, change, deconstruction (as they
say), restructuring, rethinking, etc. Generally, such
movement is more possible, it seems to me, when lists such
as this one take the name of a theme rather than of a person
(i.e., Being rather than Heidegger, something like that). A
good name for this list would be "Being and Time", it seems
to me. Heidegger is a bad name. Heidegger wrote about Being
in the way that a mathematician writes about math, in
certain important ways. Whethere the conclusion concerning
change indicated by your post leads to a questioning of the
role of the proper name for the list in which you and I and
others are writing and reading, as it does obviously for me,
or not, my question is more broadly: how do you handle this
question of change?

The other point I want to make is that the "essence" of Das
Man as "regularizing" needs to be explored. In centering on
this essence, the division "with and apart" can be
decentered. Thus, we can find a kind of private coorelate to
Das Man as: one's regularities which are underway, averaged,
and leveled over. I play piano. I can play, privately
(though in the end this can be called "parasitic" or
derivitave on public performance of some kind; such is the
de-centering of the division public/private rather than its
elimination), to a certain extent, I can speak of a kind of
"regularized" aspect of things, that I "play as one plays",
where the "one" in question is me. This playing is "mine"
yet at the same time, it is somewhat mindless, non-
appropriated, and so forth. I "go through the motions" of
playing. Yet I can with a certain inner movement of
resoluteness open the playing of the piece into some kind of
much more authentic experience. I often make up wordphrases
to go with musical phrases, which are of poetic
significance. May pianists and other musicans do this. This
throws me into an "invested playing", an "authentic
playing", which isn't thereby free of the regularities of
playing. Rather, it is dependent on them. The events of
invested playing are more essentially irregular,
improvisational, and so forth, yet even these can be
regularized, to a certain degree, into a highly "emotional"
playing, at least. This might parallel a nationalist singing
a national anthem for the umteenth time, with little
*variation* as such, but full of Find Fervor. This example,
the national anthem, and the parade of regularized heros,
founding fathers, and so forth, obviously is a good example
to consider in light of this question of publicity and Das
Man. But the "authenic" "das Man", the "one does" is not
thereby without stuff, but it is questionable wither this
"stuff", which may be "passion" and so forth, is truly
authentic. But it is not, in any event, simply "idle"; in
some way, it's "in gear".

I would probably first start, then, with a whole string of
possibilities: regularized, nonregularized,
personal/private-regularized, public-regularized,
personal/private-nonregularized, public non-regularized,
irregular but inauthentic, regular but authentic, etc.

This opens up a broader question for me that haunts this
overall problematic, a question which presented itself in a
post a while back concerning the business of categorization,
drawing lines, deciding when what is what according to
Heideggerian categorization, or in a more properly general
formulation, simply cateogorization. So, one might as, to
use Arendt's categories: when is something "really" labor,
work or action? I'm not trying to do away with cateogories
here. In the piano example, or in personal, social and
political relationships, I shift according them, and
likewise, develop them according to my various shifts. The
shift (Being) informs the categories, and the categories
inform the shift (shifting in and out of gear of a
regularized-emotive way of playing, shifting in and out of
proper, polite, and idle conversation to a deeper
communication with someone, etc.)


"It is only after one ceases to reduce public affairs to the business of
dominion that the original data in the realm of human affairs will appear, or,
rather, reappear, in their authentic diversity." -- Hannah Arendt

Crises of the Republic; lying in politics, civil disobedience on violence,
thoughts on politics, and revolution. Hannah Arendt [1st ed.] New York,
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich [1972] pages 142-143

Tom Blancato
[email protected]
Eyes on Violence (nonviolence and human rights monitoring in Haiti)
Thoughtaction Collective (reparative justice project)
521 Main Street
PO Box 495
Harmony PA 16037

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