Appropriation assembles the design of Saying and unfolds it into the structure of manifold Showing. It is itself the most inconspicuous of inconspicuous phenomena, the simplest of simplicities, the nearest of the near, and the farthest of the far in which we mortals spend our lives.
We can give a name to the appropriation that prevails in Saying: it—Appropriation—appropriates or owns. When we say this, we speak our own appropriate already spoken language. There are some verses by Goethe that we the word "own" in a meaning close to "showing itself' (though not with reference to the nature of language). Goethe says:
Caught soon and late in supentition's snare,
It owns, it shows itself, it says "beware."
Elsewhere we find a variation:
Name one thing or name a thousand,
What we covet, what we fear—
That life owns itself to thanking,
Is alone what makes it dear.*
Appropriation grants to mortals their abode within their nature, so that they may be capable of being those who speak. If we understand "law" as the gathering that lays down that which causes all beings to be present in their own, in what is appropriate for them, then Appropriation is the plainest and most gentle of all laws, even more gentle than what Adalbert Stifter saw as the "gentle law." Appropriation, though, is not law in the sense of a norm which hangs over our heads some· where, it is not an ordinance which orders and regulates a course of events:
Appropriation is the law because it gathers mortals into the
* Von Aberglauben früh und spat umgarnt:
Es eignet sich, es zeigt sich an, es warnt.
(Faust, Part II, Act V, "Midnight")
Sei auch noch so viel bezeichnet,
Was man fürchtet, was begehrt,
Nur weil es dem Dank sich eignet,
Ist das Leben schätzenswert.
(To the Grand Duke Karl August for New Year 1828)