ON THE QUESTION OF BEING


the tempo of reckoning and planning, which justifies its technical inventions directly for everyone by its economic successes. This evaluation of thinking puts excessive demands on it through standards that are alien to such thinking. At the same time, one subjects thinking to the presumptuous demand of knowing the solution to riddles and bringing the salutary. In the face of such demands, your pointing to the necessity of allowing all as yet intact sources of strength to flow and of bringing all assistance to bear so as to enable us to survive "in the wake of nihilism" merits full approval.

In addition, however, we must not have scant regard for a discussion of the essence of nihilism, and may not do so for the very reason that nihilism has the tendency to dissemble its own essence and thereby to withdraw from the all-decisive encounter and confrontation with it. The latter alone could help to open and to prepare a free realm within which we may experience what you call "a new turning of being" (Über die Linie, p. 32).

You write: "The moment at which the line is crossed brings a new turning of being, and with it that which is actual begins to shimmer."

This sentence is easy to read and yet difficult to think. Above all, I would wish to ask whether, conversely, it is not a new turning of being that would first bring the moment for crossing the line. This question seems merely to reverse your statement. Yet a mere reversal is always a fraught undertaking. The solution it might offer remains entangled in the question that has been reversed. Your statement says that "that which is actual," the actual, i.e., beings, begins to shimmer [235] because being takes a new tum. Thus we may now ask more appropriately whether "being" is something independent, something that in addition and on occasion also turns toward human beings. Presumably the turning itself, albeit in a way that is as yet veiled, is That which, in a quite perplexed and indeterminate manner, we name "being." Yet does not such turning also, and in a strange way, occur under the domination of nihilism, namely, in such a way that "being" turns away and withdraws into absence? Turning away and withdrawal, however, are not nothing. They prevail in a manner that is almost more oppressive for human beings, so that they draw the human being away, suck into his endeavors and activities, and thus ultimately suck these activities up into their withdrawing wake in such a way that the human being can come to the opinion that he now everywhere encounters only himself. In truth, however, his self is nothing more than his ek-sistence being used up in service of the domination of what you characterize as the totalitarian character of work.

Certainly, the turning and turning away of being, if we pay sufficient heed to them, can never be represented as though they affected human beings


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