type of useful object that one should best leave to the arbitrariness of unrestricted usage.

Now, certainly there would emerge a distinct image of the modern relation to the word, were one to present this relation only as a neglect of language. Over against this—but also dependent upon it—are the efforts of some writers who practically form a cult out of the technics of language and reckon themselves to be members of The Guild of “Splitting-Hairs.” Here, however, even with all due care, language has merely a technical character or, in the idiom of Ernst Jünger, a “work- character.” The word is an instrument of the hunt and the strike [71] in the ‘process’ and the ‘work’ pertaining to the ‘bulletproof ’ objectification of all things. The machinegun, the camera, the ‘word,’ and the billboard all have this same fundamental function of seizing and arresting the object. The technical precision of the word is the counterpart to the neglect of language that occurs when it is treated as a mere means of conveyance. Considered metaphysically, both relations stay on the level of that particular relation to reality which, since Nietzsche, appears as the “will to power,” and both experience reality itself as the will to power.

Were we now to abandon ourselves to the common relation to the word (which is in fact an uncanny and skewed relationship), we would never be able to consider a saying of Heraclitus’s. Therefore, we must first, through some kind of ‘reflection,’ approach the inceptual word. However, it is not as if the inceptual thinkers produced ‘reflections’ ‘about’ the word; it is only we who need to take such long detours to the word, on account of the fact that our much- acclaimed ‘immediate experience’—not in its ‘content,’ but rather in its basic structure—is perhaps the most abstract and abstruse form that Occidental history has ever taken. However, since we have not yet found a way other than that of grammar in order to grasp, even just superficially, the word in its essence, this provisional path must suffice.

The word δῦνον is a participle. As such it takes part in both the substantive and verbal meanings. ‘The submerging thing’ can mean that which is either subject to submergence or not; but it can also mean the submerging thing in its submerging, that is, the submerging thing during its submerging and in the endurance of it. Which meaning the thinker intended, and thereby which meaning we must think, cannot yet be decided. Seen in terms of form, we can think the participle either nominally or verbally; but there also exists the possibility of understanding the participle as simultaneously both ‘nominal’ and ‘verbal,’ in which case the emphasis can be placed [72] either on the verbal or the nominal aspect. All of these possibilities of understanding reside in the so- called ‘participle,’ and indeed within a unity proper to it. In this unity, the richness of the word flourishes in a way that cannot be exhausted by grammatical dissection. The word whose meaning has come to be reduced to a single form has still another richness precisely because it comes from the originary unity of speaking and saying.


The inception of the inceptual to-be-thought    67

Heraclitus (GA 55) by Martin Heidegger