flowers—likewise a sign, namely that they are of a mind to tend [pflegen] to the right dwelling” (GA 16: 582/MSC 55, tm).
Heidegger’s thinking of the plant, growth, soil, ripening, maturation, and cultivation (tending and fostering), reveal the plant to be something more than an organism trapped in an environment of disinhibiting prompts. It grows into the between of earth and sky, ungrounded, where it gives of itself in fruition. In fact, by the time of the fourfold, Heidegger will even draw out the etymological connections between the word for building and dwelling, bauen (via the Old High German buan), and that of being itself, in the German conjugations of “to be,” namely bin, “I am,” and bist, “you are” (see GA 7: 148–49/PLT 144–45). Given the role of colere intrinsic to bauen, it is not too much of a stretch to see this illustrating nothing less than an essential connection between being and the plants around us.
d. Animals (Getier)
Heidegger’s location of animals within the fourfold under the aegis of the earth means that there should be an aspect of bearing to be found in animality as well. In the 1953 text “Language in the Poem,” Heidegger rethinks animality in terms of its exposure to world. In so doing, what comes to the fore is a new relation between mortality and animality, blurring the distinction between the two. Obviously this marks a decisive break with the proposals of the Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics, so it is surprising that this later text on Trakl is entirely overlooked in the wealth of literature devoted to Heidegger and animality, which largely presumes a clean distinction between the animal and the human in Heideggerian thought (the 1929–30 course is almost always taken as his final word on the matter).32 This being so, after presenting Heidegger’s later view of the animal, I will briefly address what it has to offer for questions of Heidegger’s “ontotheological anthropocentrism.”33
The consideration of the animal in the Trakl essay arises out of a thinking of departure and wandering. Trakl’s poetry is full of wanderers who set out on dusky, twilight paths, away from the cottages of town and out toward the edge of the forest. Heidegger will read these wanderers as out between their homes and destinations, indeed, as figures of the between itself. They wander between traditional oppositions of metaphysics. The opposition that concerns us now is that between the sensible and the super-sensible, i.e., the opposition expressed in both the definition of the human as zôon logon echon, the animal having reason, and as the animal rationale, the rational animal. In both of these cases an antagonism
32 It is not discussed in Elden’s otherwise comprehensive look at the role of the animal in Heidegger’s work (“Heidegger’s Animals”), nor does it find its way into Agamben, Derrida (even when this exact text is the focus of his analysis, as in Of Spirit), Calarco, Lawlor (though his attention is more to the issue in Derrida’s work than in Heidegger), or Oliver, to name only the most prominent commentators on this issue.
33 Calarco, Zoographies, 30.