THE ORIGIN OF THE WORK OF ART
however, is not all we ascertain, for in this history we discover, at the same time, a clue. Is it mere chance that, in the interpretation of the thing, the interpretation which is carved out in terms of matter and form achieved a particular dominance? This definition of the thing is derived from an interpretation of the equipmentality of equipment. This being, the piece of equipment, is, in an especial way, close to human representation, since it achieves being through our own manufacture. This being, the piece of equipment, with whose being we are familiar, occupies a particular position intermediate between thing and work. Let us follow this clue and search, first of all, for the equipmentality of equipment. Perhaps we will learn from this something about the thingliness of the thing and the worldy character of the work. We must, however, be careful to avoid turning thing and work into a subspecies of equipment. We will, on the other hand, ignore the possibility that, in the way that equipment is, historically essential distinctions are present.
But what is the path to the equipmentality of equipment? How arc we to learn what equipment in truth is? Obviously the procedure we now need must keep itself apart from any attempt which carries within it the assault we have seen to be represented by the usual interpretations. The best guarantee of that is simply to describe a piece of equipment quite apart from any philosophical theory.
We will take as an example an everyday piece of equipment, a pair of peasant shoes. We do not need to exhibit actual examples of this sort of useful article in order to describe it. But since what concerns us here is direct description, it may be helpful to facilitate their visual realization. 'Io this end, a pictorial presentation suffices. We will take a well-known painting by van Gogh, who painted such shoes several times. But is there a lot to be seen here? Everyone knows what shoes are like. If they arc not wooden or bast shoes, there will be leather soles and uppers held together by stitching and nails. Equipment of this kind serves as footwear. Whether it is for work in the field or for dancing, material and form vary according to use.
Correct statements such as these only tell us what we already know: the equipmentality of equipment consists in its utility. But what about this utility itself? In understanding it do we already understand the equipmentality of equipment? In order for this to be so, must we not look out for the useful piece of equipment in its use? The peasant woman wears her shoes in the field. Only then do they become what they are. They are all the more genuinely so the less the peasant woman thinks of her shoes while she is