then, does not refer to moments in which human beings recognize or fail to recognize a given state of affairs. Be-ing itself takes place only as an inception. To seek the other inception, then, is not just to hope for a new relation to be-ing, but to prepare for the essential happening of be-ing itself. The happening of be-ing is the primal “that” that forces itself upon us intermittently and unpredictably; the challenge is to experience “the nonderivable shock of be-ing itself, which is to be seized in its purest ‘that’” (464, cf. 463).109 Be-ing must strike us with the strangeness and obscurity of “what happens only once, only this time” (463). It is the rarest because it is the most unique, and it happens only at a few, inconspicuous moments (255). In short, be-ing is not a constant; “be-ing is at times” (das Seyn ist zuzeiten: GA 70, 15).
It hardly seems tenable now to deny that appropriation happens, and not just as an a priori structure but as an event.110 “Event” here cannot indicate the sort of occurrence that is usually chronicled by physicists, historians, or journalists—this, I take it, is what Heidegger is trying to distinguish from Ereignis in his late remarks. Furthermore, by calling Ereignis an event, we do not just mean that appropriation is temporary (although it is true that it does not last forever), but that it inaugurates a unique epoch. Our task is to characterize this happening.
What occurs in the event of appropriation? Consider some key statements. First, “be-ing essentially happens as the appropriating event of the grounding of the there” (183). Ereignis is an abbreviation for das Ereignis der Dagründung, the event in which “the there . . . is ap-propriated [er-eignet]” (247). Appropriation is the event in which be-ing literally takes place (in German one could say das Seyn findet statt, “be-ing finds its site”). A site is staked out where interpreting can happen, where being-there can take root. Time and space then happen together as the “site of the moment” (323, 384). Such a site can be grounded only in an inception—an origin that founds an open realm. From the inceptive event of appropriation springs an order of unconcealment—a world in which the givenness of beings can be cultivated by a people (97).
Heidegger also writes that appropriation is “history” (32, 494). This does
109. According to “Das Ereignis,” what-being (essence) is just a stilling of the “that” of the event of appropriation, which has yet to be grasped and which was already lost when it was interpreted as physis. On the “that,” cf. GA 70, 46.
110. Beistegui tries to have it both ways when he calls “the event of being” “the event of all events, or, more accurately perhaps, the eventness or eventuality of all events”: Truth and Genesis, 113; cf. 114, 142, 338–39. Being as Ereignis is then a “primordial and forever recurring event”: ibid., 112. But a constant “eventness” is precisely not an event, particularly not a historical event. Cf. Miguel de Beistegui, The New Heidegger (London: Continuum, 2005), 83.