OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
They would have to discern which is the danger that assails man. The danger consists in the menace that bears on the essence of man in his relationship to being itself, hut not in accidental perils. This danger is the danger. It conceals itself in the abyss in its relation to all beings. In order to see and to expose the danger, there must be such who first reach into the abyss.
But where the danger lies, there also grows
that which saves.
(Hölderlin, Sämtliche Werke, vol. IV, p. 190)
Wo aber die Gefahr ist, wächst
Das Rettende auch.
Perhaps any salvation other than that which comes from where the danger lies is still within the unhealing unholiness. For man endangered in his essence, any salvation by any makeshift, however well intended, is still an empty sham for as long as his destiny endures. Salvation must come from where there is a turn among mortals in their essence. Are there mortals who first reach into the abyss of the desolate and desolation of the desolate? These most mortal of mortals would be the most risked. They would risk even more than the self-asserting human essence that already risks more than plant and animal.
Rilke says in lines 5ff.:
. . . Only that we,
still more than plant or animal,
go with this risk, will it, . . .
And Rilke continues in the same line:
. . . sometimes even
risk more (and not from self-interest),
than life itself docs, by a breath
risk more . . .
Man not only in his essence risks more than plant and animal. Man, at times, even risks more "than life irself does." Life means here: beings in their being: Nature. Man at times risks more than the risk, is more being than the being of beings. I lowever, being is the ground of beings. Who risks more than the ground risks himself to where all ground is lacking, into the abyss. l lowever, if man is the one who, being risked, goes with the risk by willing it, then men who sometimes risk even more must also will even more. But can this willing be intensified beyond the absoluteness of deliberate