whereby what exists does so by extending itself toward another. This is Heidegger’s response to those who would object that what he presents as true of stone or river is only applicable to the poetized stones of Trakl or the rivers of Hölderlin. Relationality is not a quality of objects. It is not something that can be observed by an otherwise untouched subject. It does not appear at a distance, it is closer than it appears. For there to be relationality, we must be relayed into it ourselves. The world appears relational to the poet who relates into it. In the 1934 course on Hölderlin this was expressed in terms of the historicality of a people: “River and poet both belong in their essence to the founding of the dwelling and Dasein of a historical people” (GA 39: 259–60). The 1942 “Ister” course is more direct: “When Hölderlin poetizes the essence of the poet, he poetizes relations that do not have their ground in the ‘subjectivity’ of human beings. These relations have their own prevailing, essencing, and flowing. The poet is the river. And the river is the poet” (GA 53: 203/165, tm, em). This is why the poet is not presenting symbols of an otherwise extant river or providing imaginative coloring for something otherwise actual. What the poet poetizes is that river, not a sign of it, as Heidegger never tires of repeating: “The rivers cannot be ‘poeticized images’ or ‘signs of’ something because they in themselves are ‘the signs,’ ‘signs’ that are no longer ‘signs’ of something else, nor symbols of something else, but are themselves this supposed ‘something else’” (GA 53: 204/166).

The poetic presentation of material nature is thus not an embellishment of what otherwise already exists. The poetic presentation allows the thing in question to show itself as relational and this means at the same time that it shows itself as participating in a world of sense. The metaphysical separation of the sensible from the super-sensible—“only within metaphysics is there the physical and the sensual in distinction from the non-physical and non-sensual. Metaphysics is precisely the reign of this difference” (GA 75: 166)—no longer applies to the material nature of Heidegger’s fourfold. We shall have opportunity to return to this line of thought in our discussion of the thing and world (chapter six).

c. Plants (Gewächs)

The earth is also spread out in plants and animals where its bearing-fructifying constitution is again visible. Around the time of the fourfold, Heidegger’s considerations of plants revolve around a new understanding of growth and life, his considerations of the animal around exposure and death. Each of these is indebted to the bearing of the earth. Taken together they present a renewed conception of the organism that dramatically departs from Heidegger’s treatment twenty years earlier in the

Andrew J. Mitchell - The Fourfold

Page generated by FourfoldSteller.EXE