144 The Emergency of Being

authentic being-away, and being-there with authenticity (323). The “necessity” of falling or being-away is, so to speak, a contingent necessity: it is necessary only as long as we fall short of genuine ownness. In Being and Time, even if we attain authenticity, we are doomed to fall back into inauthenticity for the most part, because the tendency to fall is a basic existential characteristic of being-there. The Contributions seem to entertain the rather utopian prospect that inauthenticity might be left behind.

Even if we leave fallenness behind, however—in brief or protracted episodes of authenticity—we have no hope of making be-ing perfectly accessible. As we saw when we considered telling silence, Heidegger claims that “every saying already speaks from the truth of be-ing and can never directly leap over itself to get to be-ing itself” (79). This is a still more necessary concealment. As the background to all presentation and representation, be-ing eludes all attempts to picture it. We can never completely control or understand be-ing, for all possibilities of control and understanding grow out of be-ing as an event that exceeds them. Just as a snake swallowing its tail can never make itself disappear, our understanding can never get its sources totally into its view in such a way as to conquer them and make them superfluous.

This predicament pertains to what Heidegger calls “earth.” The word points to the limitations of all orders of intelligibility. Truth happens only in the strife between world and earth; genuine unconcealment requires both intelligibility and unintelligibility. When we recognize the limits of our understanding, this understanding becomes more intense and more heedful—so we can renew the world by rescuing the earth (412). This renewing power is found in artworks, which have the paradoxical capacity to reveal the hidden as hidden.6 The Contributions extend this insight beyond art, to all the great accomplishments of being-there—creations, acts, and sacrifices (349, 391). The strife between earth and world is thus essential to being-there (72, 322), to history (96, 275), to language (510), and to be-ing itself as appropriation (29, 34).

In what respect is the earth hidden or unintelligible? “Earth” has to do with our immersion in the multiplicity of given beings, beings that are not exhausted by our current interpretations of the being of beings. In this sense, earth is nature—not nature as it is studied by natural science, which has already interpreted its basic features, but nature as the mystery that sustains all interpretations (91, 277–78). Heidegger asks us to experience our dependence

6. “The Origin of the Work of Art,” in Off the Beaten Track, 25. As Richardson puts it, there is a “subversive element” in truth, the concealment that haunts it: “Dasein and the Ground of Negativity,” 48.

Richard Polt - The Emergency of Being