Helden von Langemarck

(I am circumnavigating an essay on Heidegger I've found difficult to digest.
The essay written by Professor Johannes Fritsche is called On Brinks and
Bridges as published in the Philosophy Journal of the Graduate Faculty, vol
18. no. 1, 1995. This is the third wind of a spiral that is leading me to
analyze the center of this essay and the pronouncement on Heidegger it
advocates.)
It is an essay whose avowed purpose is to focus on the problems of
translating Heidegger using examples from Being and Time and later essays.
No doubt he warns that he will also make suggestions on "Heidegger and
Auschwitz", even indicating that perhaps this is the sole concern of the
essay. Perhaps this is not a very auspicious statement of purpose because it
makes reference to two different themes, translating and Auschwitz, without
indicating what the ultimate connection will be nor what exactly will be
demonstrated concerning them. Is Professor Fritsche perhaps afraid that by
stating too much of his purpose at the beginning he will shun some readers
who may find the themes unpalatable or simply overworked specially after
Victor Farias' "magnifico ejemplar" (magnificent exemplar - ie. his book
"Heidegger y El Nazismo")? I don't know. But if that was partly his reason,
it worked like a Trojan charm on me that Sunday afternoon in which I only
wished to be indulged in a measure of Heideggerian metaphysics or lack of
it. So as I proceeded and the Sunday clouds loomed darker, I ultimately felt
trapped, ensnared, like an animal. Oh yes, certainly, I could have laid down
the journal or turned to another article. But when one reads an essay from a
journal one respects one does not do that except at the chance of frivolity,
boredom, or interruption. I don't want to say this essay is worthless or to
otherwise simply pass a negative judgment on it. Candidly, I dislike it
intensely. But at the same time, perhaps mesmerized I have a need to dwell
on its contents and come to terms with its indictment, even as I look for an
escape, a way out from the stifling accusations and innuendoes this essay
lays as so many traps to catch an animal.
As any reader of Heidegger must come to terms, must dwell, on this the
inevitable indictment. Am I repeating or mimicking Lacoue-Labarthe (La
fiction du politique - Heidegger, Art and Politics - 1990)? At best, yes. (I
am now beginning to read Lacoue-Labarthe thanks to the indications from
members of this list.) But the circumstances and occasion are different.
Perhaps my conclusions will be different. (That will be my secret, my snare,
my trap, the one I give out in turn, even to myself. How should I know how
my adventure will end, me the trapped animal, looking for the way out?) I
never would have dared read Heidegger as an undergraduate on my own. The
German teacher I had scandalized us by giving enigmatic references to him in
connection with twentieth century literature. Of course, I was naive, I did
not plan the events of my life with such anticipation, I was a victim also
of my times and my ignorance. We knew he was a Nazi - how could that escape
us? - long before the recent scandal. I only approached Heidegger after
having read Sartre. It was Sartre who first pointed me insistently to
Heidegger. But once I read Heidegger I never went back to question how could
I read the philosophy of a nazi. I never read him for that even if all
along I was reading the philosophy of nazism without knowing it. Oh is that
what I was reading all along? So you see, perhaps you are learning about me,
or the you in me, or I am learning something about myself by this
questioning. Perhaps it is matter always of authentication, of dealing with
ones Bad Faith, and attempting to find there the good faith therein.
Without anticipation we are thrown into part II of this essay, without
anticipation as we English, or rather Anglo Saxon speakers , us naive
readers, who know our German poorly or not at all - I speak for myself - ,
rush into a reading of this essay. And it is an explanation of the
anticipatory, the "vorlaufen", that Professor Fritsche, a native German
speaker, will tell us of his mother tongue, of that same tongue which
Heidegger has esteemed closer to the "Boden" (ground), perchance to the
"Bosen" (evil) of metaphysics. Without anticipation, perhaps lacking all
foresight all security, that is the meaning of the "vorlaufen" that Dr.
Fritsche isolates and contests on the translators of anticipatory
resoluteness, "vorlaufende Entschlossenheit". For it is without the security
of foresight that authentication in the face of the possibility of death,
which is our innermost possibility, which is the even more certainly most
assured probability of those "Helden von Langemarck", those heroes of
Langemarck, who mythically rushed out of their "trenches into the open"
towards the French bayonets with the "German national anthem on their lips".
It is the image of these heroes, of "Der Deutsche Soldat", that Fritsche
compellingly affirms must have been in the back of the writer of Being and
Time when he wrote about anticipatory resolution. How could Being and Time
NOT have had the experience of World War I within it? Unfortunately the
experience of the myth of the Helden von Langemarck does not stop there, and
the dagger of treachery must also be reenacted. For the Germans lost that
war, the heroes only rushed gallantly to their deaths, because
"vaterlandlose Gesellen", unpatriotic traitors including Communists,
liberals, and Jews "reneged upon the brave promise" of the heroes. By
implication, this treachery must somehow also be read into Being And Time,
perhaps as the inauthentic, the idle talk, that is the constant background
in which authenticity, as anticipatory resolution, must assert itself. It is
no doubt, the beginning of a certain reading of Heidegger, filled with
associations and innuendoes that have mostly no explicit references to rely
on, but find the semblance of validation in expert linguistic analysis of
the subtleties of Heidegger's German coupled with the historical context in
which Heidegger wrote and lived his life. A treachery that ricochets back
and forth from the trenches of World War I and echoes forward into our own
time.
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Robert A. Wendel [email protected]
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*****
"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones.
So let it be with Caesar."

William Shakespeare
"Julius Caesar" Act III, sc. ii
*****



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