I CAN'T. Never again.
When my editor-in-chief texted to ask how I was doing in graduate school, I said I was sneak-reading fiction to clear my hangover over Martin Heidegger.
Since the age of Enlightenment, Germany yielded many intellectuals. The ideas that swept Europe since the 18th Century are as relevant now, specially in communications.
At first glance, the world three centuries ago barely shows any kinship with the digital age. How did people communicate then?
From the Net: “(T)hey wrote letters, sent telegrams, gave a message to a messenger, attached a letter to a bird and (obviously) talked to each other.”
Waking up to read that Malacañang has again backpedaled on an earlier pronouncement about the “remote possibility" that martial law may be declared nationwide a few days from now—the 45th anniversary of the first declaration of martial law in the country—I realize that “talking to one another” remains as reflexively human, and thus as complicated, as ever.
So, despite my forthright reply to my editor-in-chief, I am back in the labyrinth with Heidegger, who countered many ideas of the Enlightenment in the 20th Century.
“To read Heidegger is to set out on an adventure,” wrote William Lovitt in introducing the philosopher’s essays, translated in 1977.
To get lost and remain lost is part of the Heideggerian tour. Try parsing this line in his seminal essay, “The Question Concerning Technology”: “That which pervades every tree, as tree, is not itself a tree that can be encountered among all the other trees.”
An astounding ability to use one noun multiple times, with each use signifying a different meaning, is, fortunately not the only (doubtful) virtue of Heidegger.
His love for words should mean something in a world beset by fake news, “illegal content,” and the even more nefarious legislations created to attack the weeds in our midst.
Using etymology, which traces how words developed meanings over time, Heidegger wrote in the same essay that the Greek word “aletheia” means truth, which involves a “bringing-forth”.
Paradoxically, Heidegger illustrated best the complications of truth not with philosophy but his own life. Illuminating the post-Enlightenment world of ideas, he embraced Nazism and seduced his student, then 19, the intellectual and humanist Hannah Arendt.
“Why is love rich beyond all other possible human experiences and a sweet burden to those seized in its grasp? Because we become what we love and yet remain ourselves,” wrote the man who loved a Jew and hated the race, bringing forth how, in talking to each other, we walk a tightrope, then and now.
*First published in SunStar Cebu’s September 17, 2017 issue of the Sunday editorial-page column “Matamata”