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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Again and again we must emphasize that precisely because we dare to take up the great and lengthy task of tearing down a world that has grown old and of building it truly anew, that is, historically, we must know the tradition. We must know more– that is, we must know in a more rigorous and compelling way– than all earlier ages and upheavals before us. Only the most radical historical knowledge brings us face to face with the unfamiliarity of our tasks and preserves us from a new onset of mere restoration and uncreative imitation. – Heidegger

For a familiar task is an obvious task, an assumed task that quickly becomes a formula, pattern, habit we perform without real thought and therefore depth, that is to say without our Being being fully engaged, fully absorbed in the task because of how common it has become. An unfamiliar task is one which we can not perform mechanically. Which always requires our whole Being to be in the task or else it necessarily falls short. Because we are wholly engaged in our task it becomes uncommon, new, strange. Our true engagement transforms the task into an event. An event at which we are completely present, completely submerged. We are the event itself, what happens, happens in and through us. We delight in this rarity of awareness, this uncommon understanding and grasping that transposes what was merely ordinary and habitual, into something greater, deeper, intrinsically and without a doubt real. Such events become worthy of history because we have become historical. We have engaged in something that changes things from the moment of that event onward. We have made a de-cision.

And it is monumentally true that we live in a tradition, the Western Tradition, which has had many such events over the course of its span. We live in a tradition that has made de-cisions about life and its happenings. But what are these de-cisions? Where do they stand with us today? Are we merely following along blindly? Unaware of what has happened and so unaware of what is happening? Are we uncreatively imitating and so not experiencing and allowing these events to come and happen to us? In short we live in a tradition and within these guiding de-cisions without properly understanding the meaning they had then and what it means for us now and so we busy ourselves with mere busyness and degrade everything into a business.

solitudinus

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Again and again we must emphasize that precisely because we dare to take up the great and lengthy task of tearing down a world that has grown old and of building it truly anew, that is, historically, we must know the tradition. We must know more– that is, we must know in a more rigorous and compelling way– than all earlier ages and upheavals before us. Only the most radical historical knowledge brings us face to face with the unfamiliarity of our tasks and preserves us from a new onset of mere restoration and uncreative imitation.

 

– Heidegger