Heidegger's Hand (Geschlecht II)

in this same passage, that the animal has no hand, that a hand can never originate from a paw or claws, but only from speech, Heidegger specifies that "man does not 'have' hands," but that the hand occupies man's essence in order to dispose of it ("Der Mensch 'hat' nicht Hande, sondern die Hand hat das Wesen des Menschen inne") (P 118-19; 80).

B. The second thread leads back to writing. If man's hand is what it is only from out of speech or the word (das Wort), the most immediate, the most originary manifestation of this origin will be the hand's gesture for making the word manifest, namely, handwriting, manuscripture (Handschrift), which shows [montre] —and inscribes the word for the gaze. "The word as what is inscribed [eingezeichnete] and what thus appears to the gaze [und so dem Blick sich zeigende] is the written word, i.e., script [d.h. die Schrift]. And the word as script is handwriting [Das Wort als die Schrift aber ist die Handschrift]" (P 119; 80). Instead of handwriting, let us say rather manuscripture, for, let us not forget, the writing of the typewriter against which Heidegger is going to lodge an implacable indictment is also a handwriting. In the brief "'history' of the art of writing ['Geschichte' der Art des Schreibens]" he sketches out in a paragraph, Heidegger sees the fundamental motif of a "destruction of the word" or of speech (Zerstörung des Wortes). Typographic mechanization destroys this unity of the word, the integral identity, the proper integrity of the spoken word that manuscripture—both because it appears closer to the voice or to the body proper and because it joins the letters together—conserves and gathers together. I insist on this gathering motif for reasons that will also become clear in a moment. The typewriter tends to destroy the word: the typewriter "tears [entreisst] writing from the essential realm of the hand, i.e., the realm of the word [of speech]" (P 119; 81). The "typed" word is only a copy (Abschrift), and Heidegger recalls those beginnings of the typewriter when a typed letter offended good manners. Today, it is the manuscripted letter that seems culpable: it slows down reading and seems outmoded. The manuscripted letter obstructs what Heidegger considers a veritable degradation of the word by the machine. The machine "degrades [degradiert] the word or the speech it reduces to a simple means of transport (Verkehrsmittel), to an instrument of commerce and communication. Furthermore, the machine offers the advantage, for those who desire this degradation, of dissimulating manuscripted writing and "character." "The typewriter makes everyone look the same," Heidegger concludes (P 119; 81).

One would have to follow closely the paths along which Heidegger's