Not to stand Heidegger on his head or anything, let’s put a translator’s footnote at the top here for simple purposes we’ll get to later.
1. The German word for region is Gegend. What is in question here,
however, is not region in general, but as Heidegger says, “the region of
all regions” (“die Gegend aller Gegenden”) or the region. Heidegger
uses an old variant of Gegend as the word for the region: die Gegnet —
a word that still occurs in spoken German although only in South German
dialects. Since an analogous variant is not available for the English counter-
part, die Gegnet has been rendered in the text by the phrase that-which-
regions. That-which-regions reflects a movement attributed by Heidegger to
die Gegnet and further emphasized by his use of the verb gegnen (to region).
(Tr. Anderson & Freund)
Thanks to Goethe Institut in New York, I recently came across a slim volume called Discourse On Thinking, which features CONVERSATION ON A COUNTRY PATH.
My friend John Benton spotted it popping out of my hip pocket and teased me for my pretentiousness. Heavens bless him for it. It didn’t stop the madness.
We were at Storycode at Lincoln Center to hear Andrew Hoepfner and David Gochfeld wax on the Poetics of Immersive Experience Design. They had been discussing how theatre is about place and players. It’s as Peter Brook suggested.
In many schools of Philosophy, advanced practitioners trade and compare assiduous notes in order to find increasing comprehension and mastery. By working to establish basic agreement on those things of which we may be certain, we may then build upon these agreements new formulations of awareness. This work involves rigorous testing of premises, including questioning of basic assumptions, sometimes uncovering unexpected areas into which we may decide we should redirect our explorations. Here too we discover spatial relations and human relations at play.
Neither any formality of Philosophical approach nor Scientific Method were on my mind as I attended the lecture (the book in my pocket was a surprise to me when Benton pointed it out afterward). Yet in retrospect it seems to me this is exactly the level at which both distinguished gentlemen were operating.
Mr. Hoepfner methodically massaged the audience’s senses from safe zone to safe zone, not without taking us from one plane to another, even while the whole time we sat very still. Systematically, starting with reminders of typical childhood pastimes, moving into examples of experimentation depicted in slides, then showing short video clips, then bringing our attention back to his presence at the podium, he allowed our minds to enter a shared imagination of where we might like to go next. Importantly, since this lecture itself was not the kind of deeply immersive adventure he was describing, it was instead an opportunity to see under the hood. He shared his thought process through detailed notes. Many attendees were taking note of these notes, typing constantly. The sound of typing has particular ASMR qualities for me, so I mostly just listened and enjoyed. I’m hoping the creator himself will share his deck but, in the meantime, here is a picture I took.
Mr. Gochfeld had a lot of ground to cover too, and did so in a way that made it look easy. Here again a tremendous amount of strenuous but practical effort takes place behind the scenes in order to provide an audience with a fleeting, momentary glimpse into the sublime. As if directing for VR were not hard enough, he’s already gone beyond that and done what almost no one else has done. Beyond difficult would be to have multiple participants in headsets able to see each other in real time in virtual space. Beyond difficult would be to have them then form an audience for multiple actors controlling avatars in the same shared virtual space. He did that, with the help of a man named Ken Perlin, someone calling himself William Shakespeare, and a bunch of other strong individuals.
So, having handled a long series of engineering challenges in a manner that can be repeated with reliable success, we can get back the original questions we keep asking. When people like Jaron Lanier and Brenda Laurel were asking these questions, they were able to arrive at some good answers, and then get onto the ongoing engineering challenges. This is a new cycle.
The questions may be summed up by asking, where are we, who are we, and what’s the story?
Here I will skip to the part where I am on the train talking to Mr. Hoefner afterward. I’m trying to remember the name Ida Benedetto but my brain is misfiring because I’ve become reliant on a cloud I can’t always access from underground. He leaves the subway at 34th Street and I turn to printed matter.
The new material might have appeared completely opaque to me at first pass, skipping the introduction (the discourse on the discourse) which I am sure will illuminate the next pass. Instead, the ideas jump right out at me. They’re all about the possibility of release from representational thinking into a more authentic relation with being and the world. It makes total sense, right? Better yet, the ideas are offered up through conversation between a scientist, a scholar, and a guide walking together on a country path. Not only are they situated in a kind of place that is very real to me — I mean, just say “country path” and I am there; you don’t even have to go into representational detail about it — but also, they talk about their abstract ideas as if they had form and place, though often just out of reach.
Because I am suddenly seized with a desire to render Heidegger’s work in VR, it is copied in full here. The one footnote, about what they mean when they say Gegnet or that-which-regions, we got heading in. Thank you all for playing.
Translation is by John M. Anderson and E. Hans Freund.
This discourse was taken from a conversation written down in 1944-45
between a scientist, a scholar, and a teacher.
A COUNTRY PATH
Scientist: Toward the last you stated that the question
concerning man’s nature is not a question about man.
Teacher: I said only that the question concerning man’s
nature makes a consideration whether this is the case
Scientist: Even so, it is a mystery to me how man’s nature
is ever to be found by looking away from man.
Teacher: It is a mystery to me too; so I seek to clarify how
far this is possible, or perhaps even necessary. —
Scientist: To behold man’s nature without looking at man!
Teacher: Why not? If thinking is what distinguishes man’s
nature, then surely the essence of this nature, namely the
nature of thinking, can be seen only by looking away
Scholar: But thinking, understood in the traditional way,
as re-presenting is a kind of willing; Kant, too, understands
thinking this way when he characterizes it as
spontaneity. To think is to will, and to will is to think.
Scientist: Then the statement that the nature of thinking is
something other than thinking means that thinking is
something other than willing.
Teacher: And that is why, in answer to your question as
to what I really wanted from our meditation on the
nature of thinking, I replied : I want non-willing.
Scientist: Meanwhile this formulation has proved
Scholar: Non- willing, for one thing, means a willing in
such a way as to involve negation, be it even in the sense
of a negation which is directed at willing- and renounces
it. Non-willing means, therefore : willingly to renounce
willing. And the term non-willing means, further, what
remains absolutely outside any kind of will.
Scientist: So that it can never be carried out or reached
by any willing.
Teacher: But perhaps we come nearer to it by a willing in
the first sense of non-willing.
Scholar: You see, then, the two senses of non-willing as
standing in a definite relation to each other.
Teacher: Not only do I see this relation, I confess that ever
since I have tried to reflect on what moves our conversation,
it has claimed my attention, if not challenged me.
Scientist: Am I right if I state the relation of the one sense
of non- willing; to the other as follows? You want a non-
willing in the sense of a renouncing of willing, so that
through this we may release, or at least prepare to release,
ourselves to the sought-for essence of a thinking that is not a willing.
Teacher: You are not only right, but by the gods! as I
would say if they had not flown from us, you have
uncovered something essential.
Scholar: I should now be tempted to say that you, in your
interpretation of the ambiguous talk about non-willing,
have surpassed both us and yourself — if anyone were
entitled to mete out praise and if that were not contrary
to the style of our conversations.
Scientist: That I succeeded in this, was not my doing but
that of the night having set in, which without forcing
Scholar: It leaves us time for meditating by slowing down
Teacher: That is why we are still far from human habitation.
Scientist: Ever more openly I am coming to trust in the in-
conspicuous guide who takes us by the hand — or better
said, by the word — in this conversation.
Scholar: We need this guidance, because our conversation
becomes ever more difficult.
Teacher: If by “difficult” you mean the unaccustomed task
which consists in weaning ourselves from will.
Scholar: Will, you say, and not merely willing . . .
Scientist: . . . and so, you state an exciting demand in a
Teacher: If only I possessed already the right releasement,
then I would soon be freed of that task of weaning.
Scholar: So far as we can wean ourselves from willing, we
contribute to the awakening of releasement.
Teacher: Say rather, to keeping awake for releasement.
Scholar: Why not, to the awakening?
Teacher: Because on our own we do not awaken releasement
Scientist: Thus releasement is effected from somewhere else.
Teacher: Not effected, but let in.
Scholar: To be sure I don’t know yet what the word releasement
means, but I seem to presage that releasement awakens
when our nature is let-in so as to have dealings
with that which is not a willing.
Scientist: You speak without letup of a letting-be and give
the impression that what is meant is a kind of passivity.
All the same, I think I understand that it is in no way
a matter of weakly allowing things to slide and drift
Scholar: Perhaps a higher acting is concealed in releasement
than is found in all the actions within the world
and in the machinations of all mankind . . .
Teacher: . . . which higher acting is yet no activity.
Scientist: Then releasement lies — if we may use the word
lie — beyond the distinction between activity and passivity . . .
Scholar: . . . because releasement does not belong to the
domain of the will.
Scientist: The transition from willing into releasement is
what seems difficult to me.
Teacher: And all the more, since the nature of releasement
is still hidden.
Scholar: Especially so because even releasement can still
be thought of as within the domain of will, as is the
case with old masters of thought such as Meister Eckhart.
Teacher: From whom, all the same, much can be learned.
Scholar: Certainly. But what we have called releasement
evidently does not mean casting off sinful selfishness and
letting self-will go in favor of the divine will.
Teacher: No, not that.
Scientist: In many respects it is clear to me what the word
releasement should not signify for us. But at the same
time, I know less and less what we are talking about.
We are trying to determine the nature of thinking.
What has releasement to do with thinking?
Teacher: Nothing if we conceive thinking in the traditional
way as re-presenting. Yet perhaps the nature of thinking
we are seeking is fixed in releasement.
Scientist: With the best of will, I can not re-present to myself
this nature of thinking.
Teacher: Precisely because this will of yours and your
mode of thinking as re-presenting prevent it.
Scientist: But then, what in the world am I to do?
Scholar: I am asking myself that too.
Teacher: We are to do nothing but wait.
Scholar: That is poor consolation.
Teacher: Poor or not, we should not await consolation —
something we would still be doing if we became disconsolate.
Scientist: Then what are we to wait for? And where are
we to wait? I hardly know anymore who and where I am.
Teacher: None of us knows that, as soon as we stop fooling
Scholar: And yet we still have our path?
Teacher: To be sure. But by forgetting it too quickly we
give up thinking.
Scientist: What are we still to think about, in order to
pass over to and into the nature of thinking which we
have not yet come to know?
Teacher: Why, about that from whence alone such a
transition can happen.
Scholar: That means that you would not discard the
traditional view of the nature of thinking?
Teacher: Have you forgotten what I said in our earlier
conversation about what is revolutionary?
Scientist: Forgetfulness does seem to be an especial danger
in such conversations.
Scholar: So now, if I understand correctly, we are to view
what we call releasement in connection with the nature
of thinking as talked about, even though we hardly know
it and above all are unable to place it properly.
Teacher: I mean exactly that.
Scientist: Previously, we had come to see thinking in the
form of transcendental-horizonal re-presenting.
Scholar: This re-presenting, for instance, places before us
what is typical of a tree, of a pitcher, of a bowl, of a
stone, of plants, and of animals as that view into which
we look when one thing confronts us in the appearance
of a tree, another thing in the appearance of a pitcher,
this in the appearance of a bowl, various things in the
appearance of stones, many in the appearance of plants,
and many in the appearance of animals.
Scientist: You describe, once again, the horizon which en-
circles the view of a thing — the field of vision.
Teacher: It goes beyond the appearance of the objects.
Scholar: Just as transcendence-passes beyond the perception
Teacher: Thus we determine what is called horizon and
transcendence by means of this going beyond and passing beyond . . .
Scholar: . . . which refer back to objects and our re-presenting of objects.
Teacher: Horizon and transcendence, thus, are experienced
and determined only relative to objects and our re-presenting them.
Scholar: Why do you stress this?
Teacher: To suggest that in this way what lets the horizon
be what it is has not yet been encountered at all.
Scientist: What do you have in mind in this statement?
Teacher: We say that we look into the horizon. Therefore
the field of vision is something open, but its openness is
not due to our looking.
Scholar: Likewise we do not place the appearance of objects,
which the view within a field of vision offers us,
into this openness . . .
Scientist: . . . rather that comes out of this to meet us.
Teacher: What is evident of the horizon, then, is but the
side facing us of an openness which surrounds us; an
openness which is filled with views of the appearances of
what to our re-presenting are objects.
Scientist: In consequence the horizon is still something else
besides a horizon. Yet after what has been said this
something else is the other side of itself, and so the same
as itself. You say that the horizon is the openness which
surrounds us. But what is this openness as such, if we
disregard that it can also appear as the horizon of our
Teacher: It strikes me as something like a region, an
enchanted region where everything belonging there
returns to that in which it rests.
Scholar: I’m not sure I understand what you say now.
Teacher: I don’t understand it either, if by “understanding”
you mean the capacity to re-present what is put before
us as if sheltered amid the familiar and so secured;
for I, too, lack the familiar in which to place what I
tried to say about openness as a region.
Scientist: That is perhaps impossible here, if for no other
reason than because presumably what you call a region
is exactly that which alone permits all sheltering.
Teacher: I mean something like this; but not only this.
Scholar: You spoke of “a” region in which everything
returns to itself. Strictly speaking, a region for everything
is not one region among many, but the region of all
Teacher: You are right; what is in question is the region.
Scientist: And the enchantment of this region might well
be the reign of its nature, its regioning, if I may call
Scholar: It seems a region holds what comes forward to
meet us; but we also said of the horizon that out of the
view which it encircles, the appearance of objects comes
to meet us. If now we comprehend the horizon through
the region, we take the region itself as that which comes
to meet us.
Teacher: In this way, indeed, we would characterize the
region through its relation to us, just as we did a moment
ago with the horizon — whereas we are searching for the
nature, in itself, of the openness that surrounds us. If
we now say this is the region, and say it with the meaning
we just gave it, then the word must name something else.
Scientist: Moreover, the coming to meet us is not at all a
basic characteristic of region, let alone the basic characteristic.
What does this word imply?
Scholar: In its older form it is “Gegnet” and means open
expanse. Can anything be learned from this about the
nature of what we now call the region?
Teacher: The region gathers, just as if nothing were
happening, each to each and each to all into an abiding,
while resting in itself. Regioning is a gathering and
re-sheltering for an expanded resting in an abiding.
Scholar: So the region itself is at once an expanse and an
abiding. It abides into the expanse of resting. It expands
into the abiding of what has freely turned toward itself.
In view of this usage of the word, we may also say “that-
which-regions” in place of the familiar “region.”
Teacher: That-which-regions is an abiding expanse which,
gathering all, opens itself, so that in it openness is halted
and held, letting everything merge in its own resting.
Scientist: I believe I see that-which-regions as withdrawing
rather than coming to meet us . . .
Scholar: … so that things which appear in that-which-regions
no longer have the character of objects.
Teacher: They not only no longer stand opposite us, they
no longer stand at all.
Scientist: Do they lie, then, or how about them?
Teacher: They lie, if by this we mean that resting which
was just discussed.
Scientist: But where do things rest? What does resting
Teacher: They rest in the return to the abiding of the
expanse of their self-belonging.
Scholar: But in this return, which after all is movement,
can there be rest?
Teacher: Indeed there can, if rest is the seat and the reign
of all movement.
Scientist: I must confess that I can’t quite re-present in my
mind all that you say about region, expanse and abiding,
and about return and resting.
Scholar: Probably it can’t be re-presented at all, in so far
as in re-presenting everything has become an object
that stands opposite us within a horizon.
Scientist: Then we can’t really describe what we have
Teacher: No. Any description would reify it.
Scholar: Neverthless it lets itself be named, and being
named it can be thought about . . .
Teacher: . . . only if thinking is no longer re-presenting.
Scientist: But then what else should it be?
Teacher: Perhaps we now are close to being released into
the nature of thinking . . .
Scholar: . . . through waiting for its nature.
Teacher: Waiting, all right ; but never awaiting, for awaiting
already links itself with re-presenting and what is
Scholar: Waiting, however, lets go of that; or rather I
should say that waiting lets re-presenting entirely alone.
It really has no object.
Scientist: Yet if we wait we always wait for something.
Scholar: Certainly, but as soon as we re-present to ourselves
and fix upon that for which we wait, we really wait no
Teacher: In waiting we leave open what we are waiting for.
Teacher: Because waiting releases itself into openness . . .
Scholar: . . . into the expanse of distance . . .
Teacher: … in whose nearness it finds the abiding in
which it remains.
Scientist: But remaining is a returning.
Scholar: Openness itself would be that for which we could
do nothing but wait.
Scientist: But openness itself is that-which-regions . . .
Teacher: . . . into which we are released by way of waiting,
when we think.
Scientist: Then thinking would be coming-into-the-nearness
Scholar: That is a daring definition of its nature, which
we have chanced upon.
Scientist: I only brought together that which we have
named, but without re-presenting anything to myself.
Teacher: Yet you have thought something.
Scientist: Or, really, waited for something without knowing
Scholar: But how come you suddenly could wait?
Scientist: As I see more clearly just now, all during our
conversation I have been waiting for the arrival of the
nature of thinking. But waiting itself has become clearer
to me now and therewith this too, that presumably we
all became more waitful along our path.
Teacher: Can you tell us how this is so?
Scientist: I’ll be glad to try, providing I don’t have to run
the risk that you will at once pin me down to particular
Teacher: In our conversations, we don’t usually do that.
Scholar: Rather, we see to it that we move freely in the
realm of words.
Teacher: Because a word does not and never can re-present
anything; but signifies something, that is, shows something
as abiding into the range of its expressibility.
Scientist: I am to say why I came to wait and the way I
succeeded in clarifying the nature of thinking. I tried to
release myself of all re-presenting, because waiting moves
into openness without re-presenting anything. And,
released from re-presenting, I tried to release myself purely
to that-which-regions because that-which-regions is the
opening of openness.
Teacher: If I have it rightly, then, you tried to let yourself
Scientist: To be honest, I did not think of this particularly,
although we just spoke of releasement. The occasion
which led me to let myself into waiting in the way
mentioned was more the course of the conversation than
the re-presentation of the specific objects we spoke about.
Scholar: We can hardly come to releasement more fittingly
than through an occasion of letting ourselves in.
Teacher: Above all when the occasion is as inconspicuous
as the silent course of a conversation that moves us.
Scholar: But that means, the conversation brings us to that
path which seems nothing else than releasement itself . . .
Teacher: . . . which is something like rest.
Scholar: At this point, how movement comes from rest
and remains let into rest suddenly becomes clearer to me.
Teacher: Then releasement would be not only a path but
Scholar: Where does this strange path go? Where does
the movement proper to it rest?
Teacher: Where else but in that-which-regions, in relation
to which releasement is what it is.
Scientist: Finally I must now go back and ask, how far is
it really releasement into which I tried to let myself?
Scholar: This question causes us great embarrassment.
Teacher: In which we have found ourselves constantly
along our path.
Scientist: How so?
Teacher: Because what we have designated by a word
never has that word hanging on it like a name plate.
Scientist: Whatever we designate has been nameless before ;
this is true as well of what we name releasement. What
do we go by, then, in order to estimate whether and
how far the name is adequate?
Scholar: Or does all designation remain an arbitrary act
with regard to the nameless?
Teacher: But is it really settled that there is the nameless
at all? There is much which we often cannot say, but
only because the name it has does not occur to us.
Scholar: By virtue of what kind of designation would it
have its name?
Teacher: Perhaps these names are not the result of designation.
They are owed to a naming in which the namable, the name
and the named occur altogether.
Scientist: What you just said about naming is unclear to me.
Scholar: Probably that is connected with the nature of
Scientist: However, what you noted about designation, and
about the fact that there is nothing nameless, is clearer
Scholar: Because we can test it in the case of the name
Teacher: Or have tested it already.
Scientist: How so?
Teacher: What is it that you designated by the name
Scientist: If I may say so, not I but you have used this name.
Teacher: I, as little as you, have done the designating.
Scholar: Then who did it? None of us?
Teacher: Presumably, for in the region in which we stay
everything is in the best order only if it has been no one’s
Scientist: A mysterious region where there is nothing for
which to be answerable.
Teacher: Because it is the region of the word, which is
answerable to itself alone.
Scholar: For us it remains only to listen to the answer
proper to the word.
Teacher: That is enough; even when our telling is only
a retelling of the answer heard . . .
Scientist: . . . and when it doesn’t matter in this if there
is a first retelling or who does it; all the more since
one often doesn’t know whose tale he retells.
Scholar: So let’s not quarrel over who first introduced the
name, releasement, let us consider only what it is we
name by it.
Scientist: And that is waiting, as the experience I referred
Teacher: And so not something nameless, but what is
already designated. What is this waiting?
Scientist: Insofar as waiting relates to openness and
openness is that-which-regions, we can say that waiting is a
relation to that-which-regions.
Teacher: Perhaps it is even the relation to that-which-
regions, insofar as waiting releases itself to that-which-
regions, and in doing so lets that-which-regions reign
purely as such.
Scholar: Then a relation to something would be the true
relation if it were held in its own nature by that to which
Teacher: The relation to that-which-regions is waiting.
And waiting means : to release oneself into the openness
Scholar: Thus to go into that-which-regions.
Scientist: That sounds as if before then we had been out-
Teacher: That we were, and yet we were not. Insofar as
we as thinking beings (that is, beings who at the same
time re-present transcendentally) stay within the horizon
of transcendence, we are not and never could be outside
that-which-regions. Yet the horizon is but the side of
that-which-regions turned toward our re-presenting.
That-which-regions surrounds us to us and reveals itself
as the horizon.
Scholar: It seems to me that as the horizon it rather conceals itself.
Teacher: Certainly, nevertheless we are in that-which-
regions when, re-presenting transcendentally, we step
out into the horizon. And yet again we are still not in it,
so far as we have not released ourselves for that-which-
regions, as such.
Scientist: Something which happens in waiting.
Teacher: As you have said, in waiting we are released from
our transcendental relation to the horizon.
Scientist: This being-released-from is the first aspect of
releasement; yet that does not hit its nature exactly, let
alone exhaust it.
Scholar: How not?
Teacher: So far as authentic releasement may come about
without necessarily being preceded by such being-released-from
Scholar: If authentic releasement is to be the proper relation
to that-which-regions, and if this relation is determined solely
by what it is related to, then authentic releasement must be based
upon that-which-regions, and
must have received from it movement toward it.
Teacher: Releasement comes out of that-which-regions
because in releasement man stays released to that-which-
regions and, indeed, through this itself. He is released to
it in his being, insofar as he originally belongs to it. He
belongs to it insofar as he is appropriated initially to that-
which-regions and, indeed, through this itself.
Scholar: In fact (supposing that it is waiting which is essential,
that is, all-decisive), waiting upon something is
based on our belonging in that upon which we wait.
Teacher: Out of the experience of and in relation to just
such waiting upon the opening of that-which-regions,
waiting came to be spoken of as releasement.
Scholar: Thus waiting upon that-which-regions is named
Scientist: But if heretofore the reigning essence of thinking
has been that transcendental-horizonal re-presenting
from which releasement, because of its belonging to that-
which-regions, releases itself; then thinking changes in
releasement from such a re-presenting to waiting upon
Teacher: Yet the nature of this waiting is releasement to
that-which-regions. But because it is that-which-regions
which then lets releasement belong to it, since resting in
it, the nature of thinking lies, if I may say so, in the regioning
of releasement by that-which-regions.
Scholar: Thinking is releasement to that-which-regions
because its nature lies in the regioning of releasement.
Teacher: But by this you say that the nature of thinking is
not determined through thinking and so not through
waiting as such, but through the other-than-itself, that
is, through that-which-regions which as regioning first
brings forth this nature.
Scientist: I can follow, after a fashion, all that we have said
now about releasement, that-which-regions, and regioning.
All the same I can re-present nothing of it to myself.
Scholar: You aren’t supposed, to — if you think what was
said in accordance with its nature.
Scientist: You mean that we wait upon it in accordance with
the changed nature of thinking.
Scholar: That is, wait upon the regioning of that-which-
regions, so that this releases our nature into that-which-
regions, and so into belonging to it.
Teacher: But if we are already appropriated to that-which-
Scientist: What good does that do us if we aren’t truly
Scholar: Thus we are and we are not.
Scientist: Again this restless to and fro between yes and no.
Scholar: We are suspended as it were between the two.
Teacher: Yet our stand in this betweenness is waiting.
Scholar: That is the nature of releasement into which the
regioning of that-which-regions regions man. We presage
the nature of thinking as releasement.
Teacher: Only to forget releasement again as quickly.
Scientist: That, which I myself have experienced as waiting.
Teacher: We are to bear in mind that thinking is in no way
self-subsisting releasement. Releasement to that-which-
regions is thinking only as the regioning of releasement,
a regioning which releases releasement into that-which-
Scholar: However, that-which-regions also makes things
endure in the abiding expanse. What are we to call the
regioning of that-which-regions with respect to things?
Scientist: It can’t be regioning with respect to man for that
is the relation of that-which-regions to releasement,
and releasement is said to shelter in itself the nature of
thinking, whereas things themselves do not think.
Teacher: Evidently things are things through the regioning
of that-which-regions as an earlier conversation on
the abiding of the pitcher in the expanse of that-which-
regions showed. However, the regioning of that-which-
regions does not cause and effect things, as little indeed
as that-which-regions effects releasement. That-which-
regions in its regioning is neither the horizon of releasement;
nor is it the horizon of things, whether we experience
them only as objects or take them as “things-in-themselves”
and in addition to objects.
Scholar: What you now say seems to me so decisive that I
would like to try fixing it in scholarly terminology. Of
course I know that such terminology not only freezes
thought, but at the same time also renders it ambiguous
with just that ambiguity which unavoidably adheres to
Teacher: After that scholarly reservation, you shouldn’t
hesitate to speak in a scholarly manner.
Scholar: As you state it, the relation of that-which-regions
to releasement is neither a connection of cause to effect,
nor the transcendental-horizonal relation. To state it still
more briefly and more generally: the relation between
that-which-regions and releasement, if it can still be
considered a relation, can be thought of neither as ontic
nor as ontological . . .
Teacher: . . . but only as regioning.
Scientist: Similarly, also, the relation between that-which-
regions and the thing is neither a connection of cause to effect,
nor the transcendental-horizonal relation; and hence neither
an ontic nor an ontological relation.
Scholar: But evidently, the relation of that-which-regions
to the thing also is not regioning with respect to man’s
Teacher: What are we then to call the relation of that-
which-regions to the thing, if that-which-regions lets the
thing abide in itself?
Scientist: It determines the thing, as thing.
Scholar: Therefore, it is best called the determining.
Scientist: But determining is not making and effecting; nor
is it rendering possible in the sense of the transcendental . . .
Teacher: . . . but only the determining.
Scientist: We must first learn to think what determining
is . . .
Teacher: … by learning to become aware of the nature of
thinking . . .
Scholar: . . . that is by waiting upon determining and
regioning with respect to man.
Scientist: Nevertheless, such naming is also of some help
even now in bringing a certain clarity into this variety
of relations. Still, precisely that relation remains
undefined whose characterization concerns me most of all.
I mean the relation of man to the thing.
Scholar: Why are you so persistent about this relation?
Scientist: Earlier we began by illuminating the relation
between the ego and the object by way of the factual
relation of thought in the physical sciences to nature. The
relation between the ego and the object, the often mentioned
subject-object relation, which I took to be most
general, is apparently only an historical variation of the
relation of man to the thing, so far as things can become
objects . . .
Teacher: . . . even have become objects before they
attained their nature as things.
Scholar: The same is true of the corresponding historical
change of the human being to an ego . . .
Teacher: . . . which likewise emerged before the nature of
man could return to itself . . .
Scientist: . . . providing we do not regard the coining of
man into the animal rationale as final . . .
Scholar: . . . which would hardly be possible after today’s
Scientist: I hesitate to decide upon this so quickly. How-
ever, something else has become clear to me. In the
relation between ego and object there is concealed something
historical, something which belongs to the history of
Teacher: Only so far as man’s nature does not receive its
stamp from man, but from what we call that-which-re-
gions and its regioning, does the history you presage
become the history of that-which-regions.
Scientist: I can’t follow you that far yet. I am content if
some obscurity in the relation between ego and object
is removed for me by this insight into its historical character.
For when I decided in favor of the methodological
type of analysis in the physical sciences, you said that
this way of looking at it was historical.
Scholar: You strongly objected to that statement.
Scientist: Now I see what was meant. The program of
mathematics and the experiment are grounded in the relation
of man as ego to the thing as object.
Teacher: They even constitute this relation in part and
unfold its historical character.
Scientist: If any examination which focuses on what is a
part of history is called historical, then the methodological
analysis in physics is, indeed, historical.
Scholar: Here the concept of the historical signifies a mode
of knowing and is understood broadly.
Teacher: Understood, presumably, as focused upon a history
which does not consist in the happenings and deeds
of the world.
Scholar: Nor in the cultural achievements of man.
Scientist: But in what else?
Teacher: The historical rests in that-which-regions, and in
what occurs as that-which-regions. It rests in what, coming
to pass in man, regions him into his nature.
Scholar: A nature we have hardly experienced as yet, sup-
posing it has not yet been realized in the rationality
of the animal.
Scientist: In such a situation we can do nothing but wait for
Teacher: Wait in a releasement through which we belong
to that-which-regions, which still conceals its own nature.
Scholar: We presage releasement to that-which-regions as
the sought-for nature of thinking.
Teacher: When we let ourselves into releasement to that-
which-regions, we will non-willing.
Scientist: Releasement is indeed the release of oneself from
transcendental re-presentation and so a relinquishing of
the willing of a horizon. Such relinquishing no longer
stems from a willing, except that the occasion for releasing
oneself to belonging to that-which-regions requires
a trace of willing. This trace, however, vanishes while
releasing oneself and is completely extinguished in
Scholar: But in what ways is releasement related to what
is not willing?
Teacher: After all we said about the enduring of the abiding
expanse, about letting rest in returning, about the
regioning of that-which-regions, it is hardly possible to
speak of that-which-regions as will.
Scholar: Certainly the fact that on the one hand both the
regioning with respect to man and the determining of
that-which-regions, and on the other hand, all effecting
and causing are essentially and mutually exclusive,
shows how alien that is to anything pertaining to the
Teacher: For every will wants to actualize, and to have
actuality as its element.
Scientist: Someone who heard us say this could easily get
the impression that releasement floats in the realm of
unreality and so in nothingness, and, lacking all power
of action, is a will-less letting in of everything and,
basically, the denial of the will to live!
Scholar: Do you then consider it necessary to counter this
possible misunderstanding by showing in what respect
something like power of action and resolve also reign in
Scientist: Yes I do, although I don’t fail to recognize that
all such names at once misinterpret releasement as per-
taining to the will.
Scholar: So, for example, one needs to understand
“resolve” as it is understood in Being and Time: as the
opening of man particularly undertaken by him for
openness . . .
Teacher: . . . which we think of as that-which-regions.
Scholar: If, in accordance with Greek story and thought,
we are aware of the nature of truth as a dis-closure and
recovery; then that-which-regions, we are reminded, is
presumably the hidden coming forth of this nature.
Scientist: Then the nature of thinking, namely, release-
ment to that-which-regions, would be a resolve for the
coming forth of truth’s nature.
Teacher: There could be a steadfastness hidden in release-
ment, residing simply in the fact that releasement
becomes increasingly clearer about its inner nature and,
being steadfast, stands within this.
Scholar: That would be behavior which did not become a
swaggering comportment, but which collected itself into
and remained always the composure of releasement.
Teacher: Releasement, thus composedly steadfast, would
be a receiving of the regioning of that-which-regions.
Scientist: This composed steadfastness, in which the nature
of releasement rests, could be said perhaps to correspond
to the highest willing; but it could not. This resting in
itself of releasement, which lets it belong to the region-
ing of that-which-regions with respect to man . . .
Teacher: . . . and after a fashion to determining as well . . .
Scientist: . . . this steadfastness of a belonging to that-
which-regions which rests in itself, still lacks a name.
Scholar: Perhaps the word “in-dwelling” could name some
of this. At a friend’s I once read a few lines which he
had copied somewhere. They contain an explanation of
this word. I still remember them. They read :
Never one truth alone ;
To receive intact
The coming forth of truth’s nature
In return for boundless steadfastness :
Imbed the thinking heart
In the humble patience
Of unique high-minded
And noble memories.
Teacher: The in-dwelling in releasement to that-which-
regions would then be the real nature of the spontaneity
Scholar: And, following the quoted lines, thinking would
be commemoration, akin to what is noble.
Teacher: In-dwelling in releasement to that-which-regions
would be noble-mindedness itself.
Scientist: It seems to me that this unbelievable night
entices you both to exult.
Teacher: So it does, if you mean exulting in waiting,
through which we become more waitful and more void.
Scholar: Apparently emptier, but richer in contingencies.
Scientist: Then please tell me also, in your curious
emptiness, in what respect releasement can be akin to what is
Scholar: Noble is what has origins.
Teacher: Not only that, but abides in the origins of its
Scientist: Now authentic releasement consists in this : that
man in his very nature belongs to that-which-regions,
i.e., he is released to it.
Scholar: Not occasionally;, but — how shall we say it — prior
Scientist: The prior, of which we really can not think . . .
Teacher: . . . because the nature of thinking begins there.
Scientist: Thus man’s nature is released to that-which-
regions in what is prior to thought.
Scholar: Which is why we also added at once : and, indeed,
through that-which-regions itself.
Teacher: It appropriates man’s nature for its own regioning.
Scientist: So we have explained releasement. Nevertheless
we have neglected to consider — something that struck
me at once — why man’s nature is appropriated by that-
Scholar: Evidently the nature of man is released to that-
which-regions because this belongs to it so essentially,
that without man that-which-regions can not be a coming
forth of all natures, as it is.
Scientist: This is hardly conceivable.
Teacher: It cannot be conceived at all so long as we want
to re-present it to ourselves, that is, forcibly bring
before ourselves an objectively given relation between an
object called “man” and an object called “that-which-
Scientist: That may be so. But even if we are mindful of
that, doesn’t there remain an insurmountable difficulty
in the statement of the essential relation of human na-
ture to that-which-regions? We have just characterized
that-which-regions as the hidden nature of truth. If to
be brief we say truth in place of that-which-regions,
then the statement of the relation of human nature to
that-which-regions is this : human nature is given over
to truth, because truth needs man. Yet now the distinguishing
characteristic of truth — particularly in its relation
to man — is, is it not, to be what it is independent
Scholar: Here indeed you touch upon a difficulty we can
discuss only after we have explained the nature of truth
as such, and have more clearly determined the nature of
Teacher: Now we are but on our way to both. Nevertheless,
in order to make clearer what we have to reflect
upon if we consider this relation by itself, I would like
to paraphrase the statement about the relation of truth
Scientist: For the present, then, what you are to say about
it will be an assertion only.
Teacher: Assuredly, and I mean this : the nature of man
is released to that-which-regions and used by it accordingly,
for this reason alone — that man of himself has no
power over truth and it remains independent of him.
Truth’s nature can come forth independently of man
only because the nature of man (as releasement to that-
which-regions) is used by that-which-regions in region-
ing both with respect to man and to sustain determining.
Evidently truth’s independence from man is a relation
to human nature, a relation which rests on the region-
ing of human nature into that-which-regions.
Scholar: If this were so, then man, as in-dwelling in re-
leasement to that-which-regions, would abide in the
origin of his nature, which in consequence we may para-
phrase : man is he who is made use of for the nature of
truth. And so, abiding in his origin, man would be drawn
to what is noble in his nature. He would have a presenti-
ment of the noble mind.
Scientist: This presentiment could hardly be anything other
than waiting, for the in-dwelling of releasement has been
thought of as waiting.
Scholar: So if that-which-regions were the abiding expanse,
patience would extend the furthest — even to the expanse
of the abiding, because it can wait the longest.
Teacher: A patient noble-mindedness would be pure resting
in itself of that willing, which, renouncing willing,
has released itself to what is not will.
Scholar: Noble-mindedness would be the nature of thinking
and thereby of thanking.
Teacher: Of that thanking which does not have to thank
for something, but only thanks for being allowed to
Scholar: In the nature of thinking so understood, we may
have found what we seek.
Scientist: On the supposition that we have found that in
which everything in our conversation appears to rest.
This is the nature of that-which-regions.
Teacher: Because this is only supposed, let us add that for
some time, as you have noted perhaps, we have said
everything in the mode of supposition only.
Scientist: All the same I can no longer hold back the confession
that while its nature has neared, that-which-regions
itself seems to me to be further away than ever before.
Scholar: You mean to say that you are near to its nature and
yet are distant from that-which-regions itself?
Scientist: But that-which-regions and its nature can’t really
be two different things — if we may speak here of things
Scholar: The self of that-which-regions is presumably its
nature and identical with itself.
Teacher: Then perhaps we can express our experience
during this conversation by saying that we are coining
near to and so at the same time remaining distant from
that-which-regions $ although such remaining is, to be
sure, a returning.
Scholar: Only the nature of waiting and of releasement
would be named in what you say.
Scientist: Then what is that nearness and distance within
which that-which-regions opens up and veils itself,
approaches and withdraws?
Scholar: This nearness and distance can be nothing outside
Teacher: Because that-which-regions regions all, gathering
everything together and letting everything return to
itself, to rest in its own identity.
Scientist: Then that-which-regions itself would be nearing
Scholar: That-which-regions itself would be the nearness
of distance, and the distance of nearness . . .
Scientist: … a characterization which should not be thought
of dialectically . . .
Teacher: . . . but how?
Scientist: In accordance with the nature of thinking so far
as determined solely by that-which-regions.
Scholar: And so by waiting, by in-dwelling in releasement.
Teacher: Yet what then would be the nature of thinking
if that-which-regions is the nearness of distance?
Scholar: Probably this can no longer be said in a single
word. Still I know a word which up to now seemed to me
appropriate to name the nature of thinking and so of
Scientist: I would like to hear this word.
Scholar: It is a word which had occurred to me as early
as our first conversation. I had this in mind when I re-
marked at the beginning of today’s conversation that I
owed a valuable suggestion to our first conversation on
a country path. Several times in the course of today’s
conversation, I was about to propose this word; but each
time it seemed to fit less what neared us as the nature
Scientist: You talk mysteriously about this thought of
yours. It is as if you didn’t want to reveal your discovery
Scholar: The word I have in mind was not my discovery;
it is merely a scholarly thought.
Scientist: And thus, if I may say so, an historical reminder?
Scholar: If you want to put it that way. Also it would have
suited well the style of today’s conversation, for in the
course of it we often threw in words and sentences from
Greek thought. But now this word no longer suits what
we are attempting to name by a single word.
Teacher: You mean the nature of thinking (that in-dwell-
ing releasement to that-which-regions) which is the
essentially human relation to that-which-regions,
something we presage as the nearness of distance.
Scientist: Even if the word is no longer suitable, you might
divulge it to us at the end of our conversation; for we
again near human habitation, and in any case, must
break off our discussion.
Teacher: And even if this word, earlier esteemed by you as
a valuable suggestion, is no longer suitable, it could make
clear to us that meanwhile we have come to confront
Scholar: This word is Heraclitus’ word.
Scientist: From which fragment did you take it?
Scholar: This word struck me because it stands alone. It is
that word, which, all by itself, constitutes Fragment 122.
Scientist: I don’t know this shortest of Heraclitus’ Fragments.
Scholar: It is scarcely noticed by others either, because one
can do hardly anything with a single word.
Scientist: How does the fragment read?
Scientist: What does it mean?
Scholar: The Greek word translates as “going toward.”
Scientist: I regard this word as an excellent name for
designating the nature of knowledge; for the character of
advancing and moving toward objects is strikingly ex-
pressed in it.
Scholar: It appeared so to me too. That is also probably why
it occurred to me in our first conversation, when we spoke
of the action, the achievement, the work inherent in
modern scientific knowledge, and, above all, in research.
Scientist: Actually, one could use this Greek word to make
clear the fact that scientific research is a kind of attack
on nature, but one which nevertheless allows nature to
be heard. ‘Ayxipaab]; “going toward” : I could think of
Heraclitus’ word as keyword in an essay on the nature
of modern science.
Scholar: For that reason, too, I have hesitated to utter the
word at this point for it does not hit that nature of
thinking which we have come to assume along our way.
Scientist: Indeed, waiting is really almost a counter-movement
to going toward.
Scholar: Not to say a counter-rest.
Teacher: Or simply rest. Yet has it been definitely decided
that ‘kyyifiaa’w] means going toward ?
Scholar: Translated literally it says “going near.”
Teacher: Perhaps we could think of it also as: “moving-
Scientist: You mean that quite literally in the sense of “let-
Teacher: About that.
Scholar: Then this word might be the name, and perhaps
the best name, for what we have found.
Teacher: Which, in its nature, nevertheless, we are still
Scholar: ‘Ayx^aaiT] : “moving-into-nearness.” The word
could rather, so it seems to me now, be the name for
our walk today along this country path.
Teacher: Which guided us deep into the night . . .
Scientist: . . . that gleams ever more splendidly . . .
Scholar: . . . and overwhelms the stars . . .
Teacher: . . . because it nears their distances in the heavens . . .
Scientist: … at least for the naive observer, although not
for the exact scientist.
Teacher: Ever to the child in man, night neighbors the
Scholar: She binds together without seam or edge or thread.
Scientist: She neighbors; because she works only with nearness.
Scholar: If she ever works rather than rests . . .
Teacher: . . . while wondering upon the depths of the height.
Scholar: Then wonder can open what is locked?
Scientist: By way of waiting . . .
Teacher: … if this is released . . .
Scholar: . . . and human nature remains appropriated to
that . . .
Teacher: . . . from whence we are called.