pursue further. Is this unity something that encompasses and contains the four? Do the four simply join together into the unity of their fouring? Heidegger rejects both of these options, observing, “the fouring does not happen in such a way that it encloses the four and as this enclosure only comes to them belatedly. Just as little is the fouring limited to the four, once again present at hand, merely standing next to each other” (GA 79: 19/18). The belonging together of the four cannot be construed in terms of a containment, especially not when this is understood as happening to four present at hand entities. The four members of the fourfold do not precede it, they belong to it and only are what they are through their participation in it. In construing the four as simply together we think an amalgam, but not the thing, and certainly not its seams. But this is precisely Heidegger’s task, to think the thing by its seams, i.e., in all its disintegrity.

To do so means attending to the vulnerability of things, and this in at least three ways. First, in regards to the very manner of the fourfold’s coalescence, Heidegger thinks this strange assembly in terms of a “mirror-play” (Spiegelspiel) of the four. Held together by nothing more than a play of reflections, the thing must be understood in terms of an inherent ex-propriation. This distinguishes the Heideggerian sense of a reflective mirror-play from all dialectical speculation. Second, as the expropriation of the thing undermines any claims to a self-reliant perseverance of the thing, the thing is consequently slight (gering). But it is slight with a slightness that bestows a great pliancy and receptivity to the thing. Third, along with this slightness of the thing, the thing is fleeting. Its constitution as a gathering prohibits any long term existence. The thing abides (weilt), but only for so long and only for a while (Weile). Things are ephemeral upon the earth and under the sky. Nevertheless, it is these same things that are said to “gesture” world, and the world that is said to “grant” these things. The differentiation (Unter-Schied) between thing and world is just so fine. The disintegration of things is simultaneously the very creation of the world.

§21. Mirror-Play and Speculation (Hegel)

Toward the close of “The Thing,” Heidegger explicitly takes up the question of the interrelation between the members of the fourfold. He designates the relation a mirroring (spiegeln). Here at the heart of the thing, at its core, would be found no stable center or substantive foundation.

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