There is still more: poetry and thinking not only move within the element of saying, they also owe their saying to manifold experiences with language, experiences which we have hardly noticed, let alone collected. Where we did notice and collect them, we did so without adequate regard for just what concerns us more and more closely in our present reflections: the neighborhood of poetry and thinking. Presumably this neighborhood is not a mere result after all, brought about only by the fact that poetry and thinking draw together into a face-to-face encounter; for the two belong to each other even before they ever could set out to come face to face one to the other. Saying is the same element for both poetry and thinking; but for both it was and still remains "element" in a different way than water is the element for the fish, or air for the bird—in a way that compels us to stop talking about element, since Saying does more than merely "bear up" poetry and thinking, more than afford them the region they traverse.

All this is easily said, that is, put into words, to be sure, but difficult to experience especially for us moderns. What we try to reflect upon under the name of the neighborhood of poetry and thinking is vastly different from a mere inventory of notional relations. The neighborhood in question pervades everywhere our stay on this earth and our journey in it. But since modern thinking is ever more resolutely and exclusively turning into calculation, it concentrates all available energy and "interests" in calculating how man may soon establish himself in worldless cosmic space. This type of thinking is about to abandon the earth as earth. As calculation, it drifts more and more rapidly and obsessively toward the conquest of cosmic space. This type of thinking is itself already the explosion of a power that could blast everything to nothingness. All the rest that follows from such thinking, the technical processes in the functioning of the doomsday machinery, would merely be the final sinister dispatch of madness into senselessness. As early as 1917, Stefan George, in his great ode "The war" written during the First World War, said: "These are the fiery signs—not the tidings" (Das Neue Reich, p. 29).