The Way to Language [GA 12 248-249]

In order to catch a glimpse of this state of affairs in its full enormity, we would have to think the essence of mortals, in all its sundry connections, in a sufficiently comprehensive way. And of course, above all else, we would have to think propriation as such. Here a mere reference must suffice.*

Propriation propriates the mortals by envisaging the essence of man.† It does so by remanding mortals to that which in the saying advances from all sides in order to converge on the concealed, which thus becomes telling for man.‡ The remanding of human beings, the ones who hear, to the saying is distinctive in that it releases the essence of man into its own. Yet it does so only in order

*See Vorträge und Aufsätze, 1954, as follows: "The Thing," pp. 163ff. [in the translation by Albert Hofstadter in Poetry, Language, Thought, pp. 163-86]; "Building Dwelling Thinking," pp. 145ff. [see Reading VIII]; "The Question Concerning Technology," pp. 13ff. [see Reading VII]. Today, when half-baked thoughts, or things scarcely thought at all, are rushed into print in one form or another, many readers may be incredulous about the fact that the author has used the word Ereignis [propriation] in his manuscripts for the matter thought here for more than twenty-five years. This matter, albeit simple in itself, remains at first recalcitrant to thought. For thought must wean itself from the habit of lapsing into the view that here "Being" ["das Sein"] is being thought as propriation. Yet propriation is essentially other, other because richer than every possible metaphysical determination of Being. On the contrary, Being lets itself be thought—with a view to its essential provenance—from out of propriation.

Das Ereignis ereignet in seinem Er-äugen des Menschenwesens die Sterblichen dadurch. . . . The homophony and homology of Er-eignen/Er-äugen is lost in translation. Once again Goethe provides the fundamental clue. Where one would expect to find ereignen in Faust (e.g. 11. 5917 and 7750) one finds instead sich eräugnen, containing the root Auge, "eye." Although the relation to eignen, "to own," cannot be denied, Ereignis also has to do with "bringing something before the eyes, showing." Ereignis is as much related to envisagement (Old High German irougen, Middle High German eröugen) as to enownment.—ED.

‡Continuing the above phrase: . . . dadurch, dass es sie dem vereignet, was sich dem Menschen in der Sage von überall her auf Verborgenes hin zu-sagt. The verb vereignen, here rendered as "to remand," is a neologism whose sense is extremely difficult to hear. Ver- has no fewer than seven different functions as a verbal prefix in modern German. The two that seem most relevant are these: vereignen could either be an enhancement and intensification of eignen or a negation, distortion, or transformation of it. That concealment here becomes telling somehow suggests both enhancement and negation of owning and eyeing. The reflexive sich zu-sagen, here rendered as "telling," more literally suggests that in the saying things are "said to" man, affirmed (Zusage means "acceptance"), precisely as concealed.—ED.