freezing and standing at the oven can be found at anyone’s house at any time. Why, then, should they seek out a thinker? Heraclitus reads the disappointed curiosity in their faces. He recognizes that, for the crowd, the mere absence of an expected sensational event suffices to turn them toward leaving. Therefore, he tells them to have courage and prompts them to enter with these words: εἶναι γὰρ καὶ ἐνταῦθα θεούς: “Here, too, the gods are present.”

These words cast the abode of the thinker and his occupation in another light. Whether the visitors understand these words instantly or at all, thereby seeing everything in this other light, the story does not say. But the fact this story has been told and passed down to us [8] moderns is based upon the fact that it hails from out of the atmosphere of the thinking of this thinker and thus designates it. καὶ ἐνταῦθα—even here at the oven, in this everyday and ordinary place where each thing and every circumstance, each action and every thought, is familiar through and through, common and ordinary; ‘even here,’ in this region of the familiar, εἶναι θεούς, the ‘gods presence.’ θεοί are the θεάοντες καὶ δαίμονες. The essence of the gods who appeared to the Greeks is precisely this appearing, in the sense of a peering into the ordinary in such a way that what peers both into, and out of, the ordinary is the extraordinary that presences in the region of the ordinary. Even here, says Heraclitus, at the oven, where I warm myself, the presencing of the extraordinary in the ordinary prevails. καὶ ἐνταῦθα—‘even here’—says the thinker, thereby speaking to the expectations of the visitors, and therefore, in a certain sense, in accordance with the desire and disposition of the crowd. Supposing, however, that the words of a thinker say what they say in a way that is different from everyday language, so that in each common surface meaning of his speech a subtext necessarily conceals itself, then these words of Heraclitus’s, when we heed them as the thoughtful word, have a strange meaning.

When the thinker says καὶ ἐνταῦθα (“even here”), ἐν τῶι ἰπνῶι (“at the oven”), the extraordinary presences, then he wants to say in truth: the presencing of the gods unfolds only here. Where, namely? In the inconspicuousness of the everyday. You need not avoid the customary and ordinary and chase after the eccentric, exciting, and tantalizing in the misguided hope of thereby encountering the extraordinary. You should keep only to your daily and familiar, as I do here, abiding with the oven and warming myself. Is what I do here, and how I abide, not full enough of signs? The oven gives bread. But how can humans live properly without the gift of bread? This gift of the oven is the sign for what the θεοί (the gods) are. [9] They are the δαίοντες, those who give themselves in the ordinary as the extraordinary. I warm myself at the oven and thereby remain in the nearness of the fire: the Greek πῦρ, which at the same time means ‘light’ and ‘glow.’ You find me here near the fire, in which alone the ray of light of those peering in is possible and is one with the ray of warmth, and which lets ‘emerge’ into appearance that which, in the cold, would otherwise fall victim to the numbness of nothingness.

Two stories concerning Heraclitus    9

Heraclitus (GA 55) by Martin Heidegger