Singing and Thinking

Martin Heidegger, one of the greatest minds of all time, was born 125 years ago on September 26. Phew, just made it!

This is my favorite poem of his:

When the evening light, slanting into
the woods somewhere, bathes the tree
trunks in gold...
Singing and thinking are the stems
neighbor to poetry.
They grow out of Being and reach into
its truth.
Their relationship makes us think of what
Hölderlin sings of the trees of the
"And to each other they remain unknown,
So long as they stand, the neighboring

A careful eye could detect that the above smartphone photo does not feature evening light. But fear not! At some point, I would like to put together a visual collection to illustrate every text from Heidegger's "Thinker as Poet."


I rarely get to draw nowadays, which is a cause for frustration I'll refrain from discussing. So, whenever the opportunity arises, I jump on it, as is the case with this portrait of Heidegger. Of course, suffering from a severe case of perfectionism, I felt dissatisfied with this drawing (not having looked at it for about a year), so I put it through a filter.

This feels right now.

At least for the next few weeks. :) 


I've been working very closely with a number of texts by and on Martin Heidegger for about a year. The side effect of that is, yet again, my realization that I cannot stop illustrating him, specifically the concept of the Abandonment (Seinverlassenheit) by and the Oblivion (Seinsvergessenheit) of Being.

In Contributions to Philosophy (of the Event), he writes:

The abandonment by Being is cloaked in the increasing authority of calculation, speed, and the claim of the massive.

I'm also unsure as to why I don't engage in creating such photo illustrations more often. After all, I like the end result quite a bit. I suspect that it's my perfectionism: at times, adding effects to a photograph that I shot is simpler than actually setting up and shooting it. It's as if I feel that artistic pursuits must always contain excessive toil and torment, especially traditional art (e.g., drawing), and that enjoyment must come only in the end as a result of producing something worthwhile.

In a way, this is a productivist attitude that I cannot seem to shake off: I create these for myself, and I enjoy the process; therefore, this cannot happen! ;)


"The mortals are the human beings. They are called mortals because they can die. To die means to be capable of death as death. Only man dies, and indeed continually, as long as he remains on Earth, under the Sky, before the Divinities. " (Heidegger, Building Dwelling Thinking)

Worte, wie Blumen

"Language is the flower of the mouth," according to Martin Heidegger, and it is "[i]n language that the earth blossoms toward the bloom of the sky."

"When the word is called the mouth's flower and its blossom," he continues, "we hear the sound of language rising like the earth." 

(Martin Heidegger in "The Nature of Language" lecture, 1958 (via Christopher Bracken, Magical Criticism [Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 2007], 19.)


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As I continue to illustrate books I read, music I enjoy, and people I find worthwhile, here is Heidegger on Greek thought:

"The gods of the Greeks are not commanding gods, but, rather, ones that give signs, that point." (Martin Heidegger, Parmenides, tr. Schuwer and Rojcewicz [Bloomington: IN University Press, 1992], 40)

More specifically: 

The Greek gods are not "personalities" or "persons" that dominate Being; they are Being itself as looking into beings. But because Being always and everywhere infinitely exceeds all beings and juts forth in beings, therefore where the essence of Being has come originarily into the unconcealed, as is the case with the Greeks, the gods are more "excessive"... (ibid., 111)

This photograph is meant to evoke the contextual notions of concealment and unconcealment:

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The fact that the Greek god who is older than the highest of the Olympic gods, the "ancient father" of Zeus, is called "Kronos," "time," can be appreciated by us only if we realize that the Greek divinities consist in general in a looking and appearing and that "time" is what lets appear and conceals. (ibid., 141)

Der Wächter des Seins

Recently promising myself to sketch fairly regularly, I never imagined that I'd feel the need to illustrate certain concepts intrinsic to the historical-philosophical destiny of the West (specifically, its conclusion). Yet, a number of photo illustrations later (here and here), I've decided to conflate two related concepts--the night watchman from Nietzsche and the guardian of Being from Heidegger--into a single conté sketch. A personification, of course. 

"I had turned my back on all life, thus I dreamed. I had become a night watchman and a guardian of tombs upon the lonely mountain castle of death. Up there I guarded his coffins: the musty vaults were full of such marks of triumph. Life that had been overcome looked at me out of glass coffins."
(Nietzsche describing Zarathustra's dream)

Can you guess who was the source for this image? 

Pseudos / Aletheia

Martin Heidegger writes: 

"To twist a thing" is called pseudesthai by the Greeks. The struggle for the unconcealment of beings, aletheia, thus becomes the struggle against the pseudos, against twisting and distortion. But the essence of struggle implies that the one who struggles becomes dependent on his opponent, whether he conquers him or is defeated by him.
So because the struggle against untruth is a struggle against the pseudos, then the struggle for truth, in contrast to the pseudos against which one is struggling, becomes the struggle for the a-pseudes, the undistorted, the untwisted.

Introduction to Metaphysics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 205.