letting oneself into the “identity” of being and beings
that is, however, to convert [verwinden] identity into the event of
appropriation as the sanction of the fourfold [das Ereignis als
Befugnis des Ge-Vierts]
the thing—(GA 11:
77 n. 126)
The realization that Cézanne brought to image, the simplicity of that, is the same conversion moving from object to thing, or, more pointedly, from particular being (Seiende) to thing. Ontological difference converts at the fourfold. Identity is here likewise rethought, it is an appropriating, by which we would understand that identity lies in the relations that support a thing in its essencing, how it “appropriates” its place in the world, relating to what lies beyond it and contextualizing itself there. This relation of appropriation (the event of it) is determined as the “sanction” (Befugnis) of the fourfold.
We have already addressed this sanction in considering the thinging of the thing. Sanction named a compliance with a directive that was not simple obedience, but instead, through its compliance, first establishes the authority of the sanctioning authority (a “bearing” relation). At that time we considered how the authority in question is being and the sanction delivered to us and demanding compliance a particular dispensation (Geschick) of being. The conversion that is indicated in Heidegger’s note is a transformation in our experience of identity—we now understand identity as beginning from this relation of appropriation, it is understood in terms of compliance. This compliance requires something slight. Conversion is consequently a conversion into “the event of appropriation as the sanction of the fourfold” (GA 11: 77 n. 126).
The collection of notes entitled “The Slight,” almost exactly contemporaneous with the later version of “Cézanne” (they can only be dated from 1973–75), again addresses the fourfold in its relation to ontological difference. In a particularly poignant note that synthesizes much of what we have considered above, Heidegger writes:
Withholding and fourfold7
7 Heidegger, Das Geringe, 20.