friend. More than this, we are related, affiliated, and endeared to each other (it introduces us to all its other friends, we might say). We need not go looking for death, since as our element, it is everywhere around us. To seek for signs of death, one need look no further than the world around us. The world is death. This world is our death. We die always in the world and of the world. Death is nothing we harbor within us; instead, it shelters us, enabling us to be what we may be. Death enables us, where “to enable something [etwas vermögen] here means: to guard it in its essence, to retain [einbehalten] it in its element” (GA 9: 317/242, tm). We need no longer guard against death, for death itself stands guard for us.

Since it is this death that lets us be what we may be, mortal death can still be construed in terms of “possibility,” but now thought in conjunction with capability and affiliation. As he explains, “this capability [Vermögen] is the genuine ‘possible’ [‘Mögliche’], that whose essence rests in affiliating [Mögen]” (GA 9: 316/242, tm). The possible is nothing beyond us that awaits realization, it is a possible relationship that has already taken hold of us; i.e., it is already supporting us in the world, in the midst of death.40 Possibility is another way of affiliating us with death, endearing us to it and it to us. Possibility is the danse macabre of mortal existence. And to be sure, Heidegger is careful to keep at bay the thought of possibility as something to be actualized: “Admittedly, under the dominance of ‘logic’ and ‘metaphysics,’ our words ‘possible’ and ‘possibility’ are only thought in distinction from ‘actuality,’ which means in terms of a determinate—metaphysical—interpretation of being as actus and potentia, a distinction which is identified with that of existentia and essentia” (GA 9: 316–17/242, tm).

Mortality is our affiliation to, even love of, the element of death. But as every lover knows, liking, loving, and affiliating are worlds apart from sheer identification (more precisely, they are “the” world away from such seamless belonging, as we have noted). Thus to be “in” our element means being opened up to that “inning” (to contort a term to our purposes) without entirely occupying it. As a relationship, we must relate to it and belong to it, and not in some collapsed belonging or complete merger. To draw the drastic consequences of this, this means that we cannot simply “be” the mortals, if to be mortal is to be “in” death. Instead, we have to both be and not be the mortals. Mortality is the condition of mediation and as such it entails that we be “not yet” the mortals, otherwise we could not be in anything at all, much less death. To be in a medium is to be always arriving, otherwise one would be trapped in a container, a marble in a sack. Thus Heidegger will at times claim that “the mortals are the humans” (GA 7: 180/PLT 176, tm; GA 7: 152/PLT 148, tm), or that “the human essences as the mortal” (GA 7: 200/PLT 219, tm), but

40 Again the lecture “What Is Called Thinking?”: “The human can think insofar as he has the possibility for this. Yet this possible would be not yet sheltered from us in that we are capable of it. For to be capable of something means: to allow something entry alongside us, in accordance with its essence, to ardently protect this entrance. Indeed we are capable of always only that which we like, something to which we are devoted, in that we allow of it. In truth, we like only that which each time in advance on its own likes us and indeed likes us in our essence, in that it inclines itself to this. Through this inclination our essence is taken into its claim. The inclination is address. The address speaks to us in our essence, calls us forth into our essence and thus holds us thus in this” (GA 7: 129).

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