Academic journal article Philosophy Today

On the Ethopoetic Possibilities of the Work of Art: Responding to Brogan and Sallis

Academic journal article Philosophy Today

On the Ethopoetic Possibilities of the Work of Art: Responding to Brogan and Sallis

Article excerpt

I met Walter Brogan on Nietzsche's birthday in 1987. We were both part of a SPEP book panel devoted to discussing Reiner Schürmann's Heidegger on Being and Acting. John Sallis, whom I had not yet met, was in a book session in the next room. Walter would introduce me to John nine months later, in July, while we were waiting to eat dinner at the Collegium Phaenomenologicum where Nietzsche was the topic. Besides pointing out that good things can come of SPEP book sessions, I mention this to say that meeting Walter Brogan and John Sallis gave birth to two of my most important and enduring friendships. They have been conversation partners and friends for three decades now, and during that time I have been saying thank you to John and Walter over and over. I need to say that again: their responses to my book have helped me understand myself better and have opened key questions. Since both John Sallis and Walter Brogan each raise wide-ranging and complex questions, I will not try to address them seriatim so much as weave the issues they each raise into a more blended response. Their remarks deserve more detailed responses than I can offer here.

Let me begin by saying something about the very small impulse for this book that has ambitions larger than I have perhaps made clear. The beginning of this project was a matter of sheer serendipity: by chance, I came across Heidegger's "Notizen zu Klee"1 and I was excited to find Heidegger writing anything about Klee, whose work had long fascinated me, but I was also perplexed by the rather hermetic notes that I read. Those notes are mostly scribbles and fragmentary comments handwritten in Heidegger's own spikey version of Sütterlinschrift. Many of these notes were written, so far as we know, while Heidegger was viewing eighty-eight paintings by Paul Klee in the Gallerie Beyeler outside of Basel, Switzerland. But even though these notes are difficult to understand, it is not difficult to see that Heidegger found something absolutely extraordinary in these paintings, something that he had not seen before. So, I searched for some more comments by Heidegger on Klee and found that although Heidegger makes a few scattered remarks about Klee elsewhere-most notably in the 1958 seminar he ran with Hisamatsu on "Art and Thinking"2-for the most part, his comments on Klee are rather random and not at all systematically developed. And yet they were invariably full of hints of something grand to be found. I also found that strangely Heidegger's sudden excitement about Klee would disappear with the same suddenness with which it emerged and so, only a few years after his initial enthusiastic encounter with Klee, Heidegger would again speak of the "Kunstlosigkeit" of our age and suggest that nothing new was to be learned from modern art forms.3 When I first began to think about Heidegger's remarks on Klee, my curiosity was as much peaked by this disappearance of a concern with Klee as it was by the interest Heidegger took in Klee. As Walter Brogan notes, my intention in Between Word and Image was to pursue the possibilities that Heidegger saw in Klee, but abruptly abandoned.

So, I decided to research these few remarks a bit, but when I did this I did not have any sense of the deep rabbit hole I would fall down. I expected to investigate a sort of interlude, an episode, in Heidegger's larger concerns, but it soon became clear that those larger concerns were very much at stake in his remarks on Klee. In fact, it seemed as if these notes were opening up a new avenue into Heidegger, one that I had not quite understood before. This is the point at which larger questions, questions that reached beyond Heidegger's own concerns, emerged and the stakes became far more significant than simply making sense of Heidegger's interest in Klee. This is the point at which the project of Between Word and Image began. John Sallis recognizes how this starting point is even replicated in the title and the cover of the book. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.