between rationality and animality is written into the very definition of the human. Abandoning this antipodal construction not only releases the human from its pincers, it likewise releases the animal.
Heidegger begins from Trakl’s line that “The soul is a stranger on this earth,”34 explaining that “strange” (fremd) derives from the Old High German “fram,” which means “on the way to ...” (GA 12: 37/OWL 163, tm). The soul that is a stranger on earth is one that has set out on the way to somewhere else. It has left behind any domicile for paths on the way somewhere, without yet having reached any destination. The soul that is underway is thus “between” places. The soul is defined by this being underway, so much so that it is not even the source or “origin” of its own movement, but is “called” out along the paths it traverses. Heidegger asks, “to where is the stranger called?” and answers, in accordance with Trakl’s poem, that the stranger is called “into the downfall [Untergang]” (GA 12: 47/OWL 171, tm). This Untergang, however, is not so much a downfall or even a “going under”; rather it is, translated just as literally, a “going among” or “going amidst” (unter zu gehen). The soul is called to be among the things of the world, which is to say, it is called into this between. If there is any downfall or demise to be had here, it is solely that of the self-centered and encapsulated subject that would imagine itself at home, master of the world, regarding it from on high.
Indeed, Heidegger describes this Untergang in just such terms of dissolution: “it is losing oneself in the spiritual twilight of blueness” (GA 12: 47/OWL 171, tm). To set out underway, to enter the between, is to enter this spiritual twilight of blueness. It is “spiritual” insofar as Heidegger follows Trakl in understanding spirit as a flame capable of offering inviting warmth at a hearth as well as burning everything to ashes in conflagration. Spirit as flame is never wholly one or the other of these, it is always in between. The loss of oneself by entry into the between occurs at “twilight” (Dämmerung), the crepuscular transition of the day. It is not simply the end of the day, but also the dawn of morning; “morning, too, has its twilight [dämmert]” (GA 12: 38/OWL 164). Twilight is always between the end and the beginning. Lastly, the between is a spiritual twilight of “blueness” insofar as blue is the color of twilight, of the time that is neither day nor night. Blue is the color of the trace, of what remains light in the dark and dark within light. As Heidegger puts it, “the brightness sheltered in the dark is blueness” (GA 12: 40/OWL 165, tm). In all of these aspects, the loss of self is revealed to be an entry into the between of relationality.
No longer at home and not yet at its destination, the wandering soul finds itself on the way somewhere. On these paths between enclosures, it wanders exposed. The essence of this soul as a stranger means that it is never at home, not even with itself. It is not defined by being in place,
34 Trakl, “Frühling der Seele,” Dichtungen, 141/Poems, 160; cited at GA 12: 35/OWL 161.