QCT 14, tm). The conversion into energy is a defining characteristic of positionality. Indeed, nature is so thoroughly relegated into the delivery of energy that it now only exists as “the main storehouse of energy reserves [Hauptspeicher des Energiebestandes]” (GA 7: 22/QCT 21, tm), or as he puts it in “Releasement,” a few years later, “a gigantic gasoline station” (GA 16: 523/DT 50). As a result, we cannot construe nature as somewhere outside of technology, somewhere otherwise safe that is now encroached upon by an over-zealous technology. Rather, nature is already claimed by technology.24 Nature “does not at all stand over against technology as an object that is opportunely exploited. In the world era of technology, nature belongs in advance in the standing reserve of the orderable within positionality” (GA 79: 41–42/39). A marginal note to this claim simply reads “atomic physics” (GA 79: 42 n. q/39 n. 15).
Atomic physics is the means by which nature becomes destruction. Indeed, western thinking celebrates “its ultimate triumph” insofar as it has “compelled nature into relinquishing atomic energy” (GA 79: 88/84). In “Positionality,” Heidegger traces the path of the requisitioning of this energy from the air we breathe to atomic destruction. He states, “even the tending of the fields [die Feldbestellung] has gone over to the same requisitioning [Be-Stellen] that imposes upon the air for nitrogen, the soil for coal and ore, the ore for uranium, the uranium for atomic energy, and the latter for orderable destruction. Agriculture is now a mechanized food industry . . . the same as the production of hydrogen bombs” (GA 79: 27/26–27).25 The bombs harness atomic energy and embody destruction on demand. All that is empowers its own destruction.
Nevertheless, while Heidegger is cognizant of “the hydrogen bomb, whose detonation, thought in its broadest possibility, could be enough to wipe out all life on earth,” he still sees this detonation as a derivative event (GA 79: 4/4). In the opening “Point of Reference” for Insight Into That Which Is as a whole, he states: “The human is transfixed by what could come about with the explosion of the atomic bomb. The human does not see what for a long time now has already arrived and even is occurring, and for which the atomic bomb and its explosion are merely the latest emission” (GA 79: 4/4). The atomic bomb is the consequence of the shift into positionality. The horror of the bomb has been with us for some time; “what is this clueless anxiety waiting for, if the horrible [das Entsetzliche] has already occurred?” (GA 79: 4/4). The horror of it is precisely its displacing character. The horrible is a shift in the presencing of things: “The horrifying is what transposes [heraussetzt] all that is out of its previous essence. What is so horrifying? It reveals and conceals itself in the way that everything presences, namely that despite all overcoming of distance, the nearness of that which is remains outstanding” (GA 79:
24 And this even for the Greeks; see Heidegger’s comments on the need of physis for technê in section 38 l of Basic Questions of Philosophy: Selected “Problems” of “Logic” (1937–38), entitled, “Technê as the basic attitude toward physis, where the preservation of the wondrous (the beingness of beings) unfolds and is established. Technê maintains the holding sway of physis in unconcealedness” (GA 45: 177–80/153–55).
25 A parallel passage in “The Question Concerning Technology” four years later seems to mark a shift in Heidegger’s view: “The air is imposed upon for the discharge of hydrogen, the soil for ore, the ore, for example, for uranium, and this for atomic energy, which can be unleashed for destructive or peaceful uses” (GA 7: 16/QCT 15, tm). It would seem now that destruction is not so necessary after all. Recalling Heidegger’s comments on World War II, however, we can see here a coincidence to the opposition. As Heidegger explains, “as long as the contemporary meditation on the world of atomic energy, in all the seriousness of responsibility, only urges for—and thereby satisfies itself with—pursuing the peaceful use of energy, contemplation remains standing at the halfway point” (GA 79: 128/120–21). Peaceful uses and destructive uses make no difference at this point. To believe otherwise would be to succumb once again to the myth of a neutral technology.