442
BASIC WRITINGS

"light" which means "bright," neither linguistically nor materially. This is to be observed for the difference between clearing and light. * Still, it is possible that a material relation between the two exists. Light can stream into the clearing, into its openness, and let brightness play with darkness in it. But light never first creates the clearing. Rather, light presupposes it. However, the clearing, the open region, is not only free for brightness and darkness but also for resonance and echo, for sound and the diminishing of sound. The clearing is the open region for everything that becomes present and absent.

It is necessary for thinking to become explicitly aware of the matter here called clearing. We are not extracting mere notions from mere words, e.g., Lichtung, as it might easily appear on the surface. Rather, we must observe the unique matter that is named with the name "clearing" in accordance with the matter. What the word designates in the connection we are now thinking, free openness, is a "primal phenomenon" [Urphänomen], to use a word of Goethe's. We would have to say a "primal matter" [Ursache]. Goethe notes (Maxims and Reflections, no. 993): "Look for nothing behind phenomena: they themselves are what is to be learned." This means the phenomenon itself, in the present case the clearing, sets us the task of learning from it while questioning it, that is, of letting it say something to us.

Accordingly, we may suggest that the day will come when we will not shun the question whether the opening, the free open, may not be that within which alone pure space and ecstatic time and


*“Light” is also two adjectives in English, each having its own origin. “Light” in the sense of having little weight derives from the Sanskrit लघु and the Greek ελαφρός, ἐλαχύς (slight, small); in the sense “bright, shining, luminous” it derives from the Indo-Germanic leuk- (white) and Sanskrit रुच् (to shine). Yet already in Old English, though not yet in Old High German, the words take the same form; during the history of both languages they increasingly converge. The verb lichten, “to lighten,” also has two senses: to illuminate and to alleviate. Heidegger emphasizes the less familiar sec¬ ond sense—to make less dense and heavy, for example, to lighten a ship by dispatch¬ ing “lighters” to it to relieve it of cargo—see Whitman, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” lines 47-48 and 92.—Ed.


Martin Heidegger (GA 14) The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking - Basic Writings (1993)