THE ORIGIN OF THE WORK OF ART


say "only" but this is a mistake; for it is the reliability of the equipment which first gives the simple world its security and assures the earth the freedom of its steady pressure.

The equipmental being of the equipment, its reliability, keeps all things gathered within itself, each in its own manner and to its own extent. The usefulness of the equipment is, however, only the necessary consequence of reliability. The former vibrates in the latter and would be nothing without it. The individual piece of equipment becomes worn out and used up. But also, customary usage itself falls into disuse, becomes ground down and merely habitual. In this way equipmental being withers away, sinks to the level of mere equipment. Such dwindling of equipmental being is the disappearance of its reliability. Such dwindling, however, which gives things of use that boringly oppressive usualness, is only one more testament to the original nature of equipmental being. The worn-out usualness of the equipment then obtrudes as the sole kind of being that is (it seems) exclusively its own. Now nothing but sheer utility remains visible. It creates the appearance that the origin of equipment lies in a mere fabrication which gives form to some bit of matter. In fact, however, equipment acquires its equipmental being from a more distant source. Matter and form and the difference between them have a deeper origin.

The repose of equipment resting in itself consists in reliability. It is here that we first catch sight of what equipment, in truth, is. Yet we still know nothing of that for which we were originally looking: the thingness of the thing. And of that for which we are actually and solely looking - the workly character of the work in the sense of artwork - we know absolutely nothing.

Or have we now, rather, unexpectedly and, as it were, in passing, learnt something about the work-being of the work?

The equipmental being of equipment was discovered. But how? 􀅵ot through the description and explanation of a pair of shoes actually present. Not through a report on the process of shoemaking. And not through the observation of the actual use of shoes as it occurs here and there. Rather, the equipmental being of equipment was only discovered by bringing ourselves before the van Gogh painting. It is this that spoke. In proximity to the work we were suddenly somewhere other than we are usually accustomed to be.

The artwork let us know what the shoes, in truth, are. To suppose that our description, as a subjective action, had first depicted everything thus and then projected into the painting would be the worst kind of self-delusion. If there is anything questionable here it is only this: that in the proximity of


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