Wednesday, July 29, 2015

old notes (2)

notes from Being and Time, Stambaugh translation; part IV and V.

(old notes #1)

part IV

begins with the question, "What is the self; the I?"

Is it simply the I we discover when we reflect? H asks, "Who is it who is in the everydayness of Dasein?"

We find in our interactions with world the being of Mitda-sein. Mitda-sein = others. Things, in their reference systems, reference others. Things made, for example imply...the maker, who user, etc...others, along with Dasein, are interlocked into the references.

We are not with people in the same way that we are with things. The others are "those from whom one mostly does not distinguish oneself." (111, laying groundwork for "they self"). We are amongst things, next to them, but we are "with" people. "Being-in is being-with others."

Traditional philosophy tries to find "self" by looking inward, at an isolated "I". H says the opposite is the correct approach- we find our self in what we do, need, etc, in our entanglement with the world. The self  is initially when it is in the world, in its habits and behaviors and this also means our self is first in the world, with others.

Self is not a solitary self that then enters the world; the "I" is already "over there", interlocked with the referential totality of things and people.

"taking care" is the nature of our being with things- but "concerned" is our attitude towards self and others.

Since Dasein is initially entangled in the world and with others, Dasein is not initially itself. Who is it, then? The they. (118)

In being-with-one-another, Dasein is one of the others. We are absorbed in the they.

Others function as life metrics. We see we are like or unlike others; we see we are doing worse or better, etc. The various distances we feel in relation to others, H calls this "distantiality". It's one of the primary ways we are absorbed in the they (126, 127)

By comparing ourselves to one another, we naturally tend towards states of "averageness". Our concerns that arise when we compare ourselves lead to similar behaviors, to avoidance of novelty, and so on. The they generates averageness. All human possibilities experience a "levelling down".

All together these factors (distantiality, averageness, levelling down) create "publicness". Publicness controls the interpretive framework of Dasein, limits its possibilities of being.

"Everyone is the other and no one is himself. The they, which supplies the answer to the who of everyday Dasein, is the nobody to whom everyday Dasein has always already surrendered itself in its being-among-one-another."

By establishing limits and metrics and boundaries, the they "disburdens" Dasein, makes life choices for it. This providing of all choices, H calls an "accomodating" of Dasein; life is made easier, more shallow, less complex.

The self of everyday Dasein is the they-self. Initially, "I" am not...I am others.

part V

With world and who described in some detail, H now focuses on being-in. This, in turn, will tell us more about the nature of care.

Dasein always finds itself in a "there"; an opening is disclosed. "Dasein is its disclosure."

dis-close: opposite of close, an opening, which connects to the Greek concept of "alethia", truth as opening, clearing, light.

this section = analysis of "there" and what "there" means in its everyday state; overview 126.

Ways to be "there":

1. attunement
2. understanding.

Once analyzed, H will describe a fundamental mode of "there", entanglement.

Attunement = mood; the ebb and flow of day to day moods. Mood discloses one's self. Seeking moods that cover up the burden of selfhood (distraction, for example) points to 1. the desirability of remaining concealed and therefore 2. your individual self. "In the evasion itself there is something disclosed." (127)

When mood discloses a self disconnected from absorption in the world, we experiences thrownness; Dasein is thrown into it's there. We are delivered over to ourselves. (synopsis 128)

(concept of movement...existential important, and will continue to be developed over next few sections; throwness is first example of self as movement; later you get "plunge", "eddying", etc; keep these concepts connected in terms of awareness of self, angst, etc)

We don't find self by looking for self. We find it by fleeing from it. Our day to day attunement steers us away from, and therefore reveals, itself.

"Attunement discloses Dasein in its thrownness, initially and for the most part in the mode of an evasive turning away."

Mood is not an inner psychological state that shapes our view of self and world. "Mood assails. It comes neither from 'without' nor from 'within' but rises from being-in-the-world itself as a mode of that being." (that is, as a mode of being-in-the-world; mood is what discloses being-in-the-world as a whole).

Our navigating the things of the world in their use-contexts, reference systems, is made possible via attunement. Attunement is our meshing with those contexts, as evidenced by the reaction to things that break; they briefly kick us out of those use-systems and our customary "taking care". (129) (particularly true today with tech, when tech breaks)

Next bit: Understanding is the being of attunement.

Understanding is what lays the groundwork for Dasein's potentiality of being, of "possibility". It's sort of the point of contact with Dasein's field of possibility in any given moment.

Understanding has the character of "project". It connects Dasein to the totality of things, the use-totalities, in a mode that unlocks their possibilities. (H's verb for project = projecting)

"As projecting, understanding is the mode of being of Dasein in which it is its possibilities as possibilities."

Understanding can be authentic- aware of its absorption in and ownership of possibilities- or inauthentic (what Sartre would call "bad faith")

The seeing of things in their potentiality, H terms "sight". The seeing of self as potentiality = "transparency". Dasein is its "there." Thrown, it projects itself into its there. Being-in-the-world = thrown-projecting (this section is super jargony; focus more on the role of mood and attunement...concealing of self, projecting  into possibilities of self and activities, and the role those projects have in organizing the world into use-contexts; and the fact that these projects conceal self, in publicness, but in doing so also hint at the authentic self being concealed).

Projecting = not just using the reference-systems but organizing them, unlocking their possibilities

As understanding, Dasein projects itself upon it's possibilities. The development of projecting is "interpretation". Interpretation is the development of possibilities projected in understanding.

"In interpretation, understanding does not become something different, but rather itself." (138)

Interpretation is our knowing "what something is for". Dasein is interpretive. We don't see things "as they are", but in their interpretive frameworks.

Again, all of this is hinting at things missed, skipped over, in subject/object thinking. He's offering counter-explanations for the usual responses of traditional philosophy. The question of how we perceive things- in thought? by ascertaining universal attributes? in senses? H breaks from all of this, says we first see things via the interpretive navigating of referential totalities. (and in doing so begins to create the bridge from phenomenology to existentialism)

Interpretation does not throw a layer of meaning over objectively present things. Rather, "what is encountered in the world is always, already in a relevance which is disclosed in the understanding of world, a relevance which is made explicit through interpretation."

Interpretation does not generate connections; we already are in-the-world. It operates instead on a "fore-having". Things interpreted are understood beforehand. How is this possible? H breaks down the structure of fore-having on 140, 141.

This fore-having...the fact that we don't walk into a room and have to pause, identify each object, then puzzle out how to do things, use things...the fact that we already always are in projects, so familiar with objects that they become invisible to us...this fore-having is what makes "meaning".

Meaning is the fore-having structures that make things intelligible for interpretation. (point here is just to lay down jargon and groundwork for how Dasein is, in it's everydayness...meaning built upon fore-having, fore-having built upon interpretation, interpretation built upon understanding, understanding guided by attunement, attunement connecting self to world in projecting, etc)

Expression of meaning happens with "statements", language, discourse and so on; this section breaks down what these mean, and digs into the original Greek conception. Again, the point is to develop concept of understanding and attunement and look at how they operate in day to day life; statement, discourse and such being what these factors look like as we interact with others and make sense of our world.

Statement is pointing establishes a predicate of what is stated, and at the same time it is a communication. In indicates a thing or being in the form of a communication. "Statement is a pointing out which communicates and defines".

H focuses on these elements of statement to demonstrate that statement is a modification of interpretation. Interpretation is how we make sense of the referential totalities that we navigate, use...and statement is a way to narrow down the totality, to focus only on a particular being, or whatever is being indicated in the statement.

"This levelling down of the primordial 'as' of circumspect interpretation to the 'as' of the determination of objective presence is the speciality of statement".

Continues to develop vocabulary for how we communicate, the existential structures of understanding as it exists in daily life...discourse "is the articulation of intelligibility", and therefore "lies at the basis of interpretation and statement". Our ability to make sense of being-in-the-world and articulate that meaning is "discourse." H uses this understanding of discourse and it's existential nature to critique language studies of the time, basically repeating his critique of traditional ontology in a different context. In breaking language down, you skip over it's nature.

Goes more and more specific with meaning, understanding and how it is filtered through discourse.

Most common, original, every day state of Dasein's language is "idle talk". Idle talk is language absorbed in publicness, in they self. Idle talk is Dasein "uprooted" is cut off from its self, kept in a sort of existential suspension.

In its they state, Dasein flees from itself...this flight requires an endless progression of input from publicness. What it needs is novel experiences, topics, projects, that it can remain in a state of detachment from the sting of selfhood. This detachment, H terms "not-staying"...and the mindset of seeking distraction is "curiosity". Curiosity is the guiding interest in new topics, is how we achieve "not-staying".

"In not-staying, curiosity makes sure of the constant possibility of distraction. It has nothing to do with has no interest in wondering...Rather, it makes sure of knowing, but just in order to have known." i.e., it only seeks short term, superficial involvement with any particular topic or project.

"The two factors constitutive for curiosity, not-staying ...and distraction by new possibilities, are the basis of the third essential characteristic of this phenomenon, which we call never dwelling anywhere. Curiosity is everywhere and nowhere."

(more true today, with internet, all topics being superficially discussed by all people, in assembly line fashion; topics drifting by, all people feeling qualified to make comments on all topics...there is a sort of everywhere/nowhere quality to it)

Idle talk drives curiosity...curiosity drives idle talk.

This results in: "ambiguity".

All they-generated information is just stretched out, made easy to discuss, have opinions about, made easy to pass over superficially before moving on to the next vague topic. Reality, the world, becomes ambiguous.

"When in everyday being with one another, we encounter things that are accessible to everybody and about which everybody can say everything, we can soon no longer decide what is disclosed in genuine understanding and what is not. This ambiguity extends not only to the world, but likewise to being-with-one-another as such, even to the being of Dasein towards itself."

This ambiguity leads to discomfort...we sense the underlying complexity of existence, but do not understand it and flee from it, into the comfort of publicness. Which in turn fuels the ambiguity and unease.

"Everyone keeps track of one another...Being-with-one-another in the they is not at all a self-contained, indifferent side-by-sideness, but a tense, ambiguous keeping track of each other, a secretive, reciprocal listening-in. Under the mask of the for-one-another, the against-one-another is at play."

obvious this is one of my favorite sections in the book.

Idle talk + curiosity + ambiguity = entanglement. Entanglement is the every day being of dasein. It is absorption in the world it takes care of, predicated on all of the various structures of attunement and understanding.

For the they reasons just described, this every day being of Dasein is one where it is detached from itself.

This absorption in the they world, Dasein's initial and most common state = "falling prey"

"Falling prey to the 'world' means being absorbed in being-with-one-another as it is guided by idle talk, curiosity and ambiguity."

Falling away is a falling away from self. summary 165

Being-in-the-world is "tempting". Dasein, in engaging with curiosity and they self, gives in to the "temptation" of falling prey.

The comforts of theyness, of publicness...the vague sense of having knowledge of most subjects, the absorption in idle talk, and so on...these comforts "tranquilize" Dasein.

(This is a key moment, as it lays the groundwork for alienation, which he will later develop into angst.)

This tranquilization is not a passive is a comforting mode of being that one has to constantly work to maintain. This requires "busyness", constantly immersing in the stream of distractions and various they activities.

This constant temptation, and constant seeking out of tranquil theyness...the sense that one must remains always "aggravates entanglement".

"Entangled being-in-the-world is not only tempting and tranquilizing, it is alienating." This causes Dasein to sometimes leave its entanglement with the world, and become entangled in itself. "self-entangling"

These factors all characterize the process of falling prey. Falling prey is a movement...movement towards the they, absorption into the world and publicness; alienation pulls it out of this world, sends Dasein into itself, which in turn fuels the need for distraction, busyness.

"We call this kind of 'movement' of Dasein in its own being the plunge."

The plunge is falling out of the they world. The impulse to flee self, correct the plunge, and hover forever in theyness...this H calls "eddying", just sort of remaining stuck in this middle ground of vague, ill defined selfness.

conclusion: Tempted, tranquilized, pulled into entanglement with the they world; meanwhile, this restless push for constant tranquility fuels anxiety, which drives Dasein into itself...and this move toward self-entanglement is called "the plunge." The anxiety reveals self...and eddying is the always needful effort to return into theyness.

end part V

Friday, July 24, 2015

the waiting room

I remember being a kid and thinking, somehow, that birds were transmitting noise into my mind. I'd hear bird sounds periodically, and then when I experienced sensory overload...or word mind would re-interpret it as bird interference; as if I'd internalized the cacophony.

Word things used to be more of a problem...overhearing conversations, listening to dozens of people in the course of a day, especially if it was in socially intensive contexts like school or grocery stores or whatever...I'd hear bits of discussion, replay it in mind mind, over and over, all of the differing threads overlapping, creating a haze of wordstatic. My mind would fill up with it, painfully.

Add sensory overload...lights, touch sensations, playing over the static...verse over beat. My self would feel small in all of that, lost...I thought the birds, their sounds, were filling my inner-life, drowning me out.

Later, 12, 13, I thought my mind was a movie projector...that I didn't have a real self like others...instead, always in front of me, my mind was projecting these flickering light shows, thin selves that others could see, but that I knew were weak shadows from the projector. I knew I didn't have a self, and I was always worried others would finally figure it out as well...they'd see the flicker, know what it meant.

I was a marionette for awhile, puppeting myself through life...afraid of people, more afraid that people would see the strings.

College, I began digging through psychology textbooks and diagnostic manuals. I seemed less and less real to myself. Every day, during every interaction, my identity formed, lightened, then evaporated, like breath on a mirror. I got close, with those books...I had a list of diagnoses I made that I thought might fit...the right one was on there, but I crossed it out. I decided, maybe, I was a ghost, or that a ghost was dreaming me.

Still later, I made two plans: therapy and to take my life. I thought I'd see if some stranger with the right kind of know-how could conjure up something that made sense. I didn't really think it would be possible, so I also moved ahead with plans for the second option. But of course, the stranger with the right kind of know-how had new stories I could believe in for awhile. She revived the diagnostic stuff, and those are good stories. They have enough concept-texture for a mind to hang onto, so I stuck with that, and used new myths to tight-rope my way through another few years.

At an earlier point during those story progressions...around 18 or so...I knew also that I was depressed. And I could feel the incoherence of that state. That's one thing depression slowly teases the real world apart, so that you're just left with pain. Pain is the world, it's all there is...people and things and weather and crickets, all of the stuff that add up to the real world, it fades away; you're stranded with the agony behind it all.

So what I wonder, as I think about I think about the stories my mind would latch onto, and the depression...I wonder what it's been like for my brother. I wonder about his stories and about what his world feels like.

I would always find boundaries to the extreme that I could go so far, to a certain point, but I always reached a stopping place. I could get depressed and isolate for 10 years, and work a graveyard shift during all of that time, so that I slept during the day, rarely had to see people...but even those tactics were strategies; they were a way of coping. I could collapse, but not destroy myself. Boundaries would go up, prevent me from going too far.

He doesn't seem to be able to stop an emotional begins and pretty quickly hits it's extreme state. All dark emotions, of course, he's not bi-polar; there's no upswing. He's depressive, but in an angry, explosive way.

I guess the cycle is: 6 to 8 months of plateau, which is sitting in his room 12 hours a day, staring at the television; his sensory issues are worse than mine, so he keeps lights off, windows covered. He sleeps the other 12 hours. Then it's a few months of chaos. Raging, uncontrollable anger, extreme binge drinking (which includes days-long bouts with alcohol poisoning)...beginning a few years ago, the rage began to include psychotic episodes. Hallucinating, delusional. Suicidal...the attempts started off fairly serious, now they're worse; it's feeling like a matter of time now. Family used to call and say, “He survived.” Now they call and say, “He survived this time.”

I try to think about what's he's said before, to understand his sense of self, his world. I think the biggest difference between the two of us is that his story includes a lot of hate. I had birds in my head, and projectors and marionette strings...I feel ridiculous, absurd when I think about my own mind-states compared to his. I just know, in all of those phases, I never felt an inclination to hate people.

Brother hates people. It's this gigantic hate. He hates people he, immediately family...but the further out you go, the more anger he seems to feel. Extended family, he sees as mocking him...I guess that's part of the hate, there's a paranoia there...he feels “less than”, so imagines the world laughing at him, laughing at the deficits he sees in himself. The world outside of those he knows, he just imagines that life comes easy for them...they live, and enjoy existence, it's all a cake walk, and they laugh at his being. They don't, but he feels deeply persecuted.

I guess that's resentment. I don't know what it looks like inside of his mind, but it telegraphs as resentment. That seems to be the biggest feature of the hate that I can pick out. It's what I never had...I was plagued with uncertainty about identity, about whether or not I was human...but he's plagued with a loathing of a world that he sees as “having it easy”, ignoring him, and so on. That resentment just eats at him; it's this constant fire.

But the extremes with the rage, and the psychosis, I can't understand it. I think resentment is a small part of the machine that's driving his emotional life.

I suspect it can't be made sense of. I suspect there are no real beats over discover and bring a feeling of shape to what's happening. Psychology, the diagnostic stuff, it's the new fairy tales we use to arrange our moral and social maps...they're useful and obligatory, in that we see them as real for the time being. But I don't think it offers anything for those who have lost truly their emotional life to chaos.

He has had so many diagnoses at this point. Depression consistent, but ever-new labels added to the mix, the futility of each one more pronounced as they give way to the next temporary guess. His life deflects them, breaks them.

Bits of jail time, and longer stays at the state hospital, then back to the plateau...back to the days divided by two; 12 staring, 12 asleep. I don't know what he dreams about; I would ask, but we don't talk anymore.

Two weeks ago, they said, “He survived this time.” He had tried to hang himself in a jail cell.

They called a few days later, again said, “He survived this time.” He had been transferred to a psych ward. He was on suicide watch. He was wearing a paper smock that the at-risk people have to wear; it's designed to be hang-proof. They found him with the smock balled up and shoved into his throat; he was trying to choke himself to death.

In the house, we have this chimney...there's a bird family living in the top of it. They must be small birds, they make so little noise; they make this very soft sound.

I can't concentrate when they're making sounds. I can't read or write. I'm constantly having to stop the things I'm doing, and just listen. But it's the kind of sound that it's hard to feel angry at. And I like that during storms, the birds talk the most.

I always wonder what brother hears, or what he thinks when he hears the things around him. We are truly so different.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

sketching roots: ruins, no history

brother memories...

I remember when mom wanted to go on a family canoe trip- I was 30 or so, had been avoiding people for a lot of years, including family, and mom wanted to do a get-together thing. So, we went on a canoe trip and it ended with my brother holding a paddle to my head, threatening murder. He and I were sharing a canoe...we were in the middle of the river. He had the flat end of the paddle against my temple, was yelling. I gave him a minute or so to go through with the murder, then hopped into the river, swam to shore. He tried to rage-paddle away from us, but since he was in the back of the canoe, he just went in circles for a bit. He screamed, adjusted his set up and steamed off on his own.

One time I thought maybe we could get along better if we shared a common interest. I liked comic books okay and I thought he might like them, so I asked if I could buy him a few comics. He said, “Comic books are for pussies.” I went to a shop anyway, looked around, found some brutally violent material. I gave it to him. He read the stuff, said, “It's okay.” I asked if he wanted more; he said, “Nah.” I realized that I was focusing on my interests, which was pretty selfish, so I asked him what he liked the most...if there was anything I might like. Literally his only two interests, according to him (and confirmed via observation) were watching ESPN and playing military games on X box. I thought about it, but discontinued the project.

Sometimes, when I visited home, we would go to a movie. We were under-employed and poor, so we usually went to this dilapidated one-dollar theater nearby. One day the theater was showing recent horror films as part of a Halloween-themed deal, so we watched the first Saw film. I thought it was mostly incoherent and loud. He had smoked a joint in the bathroom before the film, ended up sleeping through most of it. He would sometimes wake up, ask “Who's that?” about a character. I would say, “I don't know,” and he'd go back to sleep. He woke up a different time and asked, "Is the puppet killing people?" but I couldn't really tell, so I just shrugged.

As kids, we'd play in grandmother's garden a lot. She had a big, acre-sized garden, so we'd run between the rows, throwing balls of dirt at one another. In late summer, everything was so dry that the dirt would harden into clumps the size of golf-balls. So, we'd race around, hiding behind the plants and trees, launching the clumps at one another. If we ran across a rotten vegetable, we'd work those in as well. One day, I threw a lump of dirt that had a rock in the middle of clipped brother right behind the ear. He cried for awhile, the rock had left a scraped bruise. I was around 10 when this happened, he was around 8. A long time later, when we were both in our 20s, we were arguing about something...I don't remember what, we would argue a lot about anything. Mid-argument, he started yelling and said, “You'll just say stuff to make me feel like shit. It's like the time you threw the rock.”

It took me a few minutes to recall what he was talking about. I had to ask him what that meant and he described the garden incident. I hadn't thought about the rock thing since around the time it had my mind, it was just one of the countless, weekly scrape ups that happened as we played; some days he'd get hurt, some days I'd get hurt...once I remembered it, I was stunned. I couldn't believe he had held on to that memory for so long...I couldn't believe that it was still so fresh for him, 20 years after it had happened. I guess the most shocking thing was the window it opened into how he viewed me...this event had crystallized into an anger that had persisted and shaped his perception of me. I don't think I had realized until that moment how much he hated me.

For Christmas one year he gave me a Star Wars book. I've never been a particular fan of the films or off-shoot stuff. He said, “I didn't know what you wanted. I just saw this and thought it was something a nerd would like.” He said “nerd” in a purely descriptive way, not as an insult.

The only slightly good memory from adulthood I can think of is the one time I visited home and we both got bored and he told me about a Mexican place down the street that served free tacos during happy hour. They were tiny little miniature tacos. So, we drank a few pitchers, too much, and ate what seemed like 50 little tacos. The beer sort of triggered his energy level and he talked more than usual...usually he's depressed and doesn't talk a he drank and rambled about how much he hated people...people generally, at first, and then he worked through a list of specific people. He was loud, and gesturing a lot and laughing; it was the most excited I'd ever seen him.

For a brief time during his 20s, he was a low-level drug dealer. One day we were driving to the grocery store- he was driving...he reached underneath his seat and held up a large bag of a full gallon bag of marijuana. He said he would be selling it over the next month, described how much he expected to make. I asked him if he would lower the bag, put it away. He said, “No one is looking. No one gives a shit.” And I said I'd rather not go to jail just because he's too careless to be smarter about his product. It wasn't the best way to ask, but I was angry at him for being so casual about the large bag of drugs in public. He pulled the car over, said "Get the fuck out." He was breathing hard, veins standing out on his neck. He said, “I'm the fucking boss in my own car.” I had to get out at a busy intersection, walk half a mile to a payphone, and call mom, ask for a pick up.

Another time, a year or so later, I was driving...he took a bag of weed out of his pocket, a smaller bag this time, and then took out a little plastic grinder, for tearing the weed into shreds...and he started grinding the product, placing it in a second bag. I told him to put the stuff away, but he said “Wait, just need to finish this.” I sped up, then pumped the breaks, just to fuck with him, and he dropped the grinder...weed went everywhere. He screamed, threw fists...I pulled over...I had to wait outside the car for 30 minutes while he painstakingly pinched up the bits of weed, returned them to the bag. Driving back home, he seethed, muttered “You stupid shit” over and over. I was laughing and pissed off and confused.

We don't talk anymore. We haven't spoken in three or four years.

Mom calls and tells me about him. The jail stays, the psychiatric facilities, the state hospital. It's a pattern common to the seriously mentally ill. Places keep you until you're stable, then release you so that you can struggle to survive and wind up back in the places. He lives with mom and dad for a bit, then goes away for a few months at a time, to the places.

Mom calls every so often, says, “suicide watch” or “psychotic” or “jail”...she mentions the diagnosis of the month. She describes the newest round of meds. She asks which ones I've heard of. I say, “anti-psychotic,” or “anti-depressive” or “that's an old one; that's just to shut you down.”

I don't know why, but I think about the canoe trip the most. The hostility of it, the absurdity of it. Threats and hate and paddling in circles and everyone mystified by our inexplicable connection to strangers.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

old notes (1)

notes from 'being and time', stambaugh translation, intro through part III


historicity = dasein's individual interpretive framework; the customary interpretations one grows into (p 20, 21)

many of these interpretive threads are passed down or instilled, i.e. they are traditional artifacts. Dasein can uncritically live within traditional frameworks or critically examine them, but in either case we to some degree grasp that we are entangled in these traditional modes of interpretation. Initially, our historicity is obscured and we see a world and concepts and values that seem “obvious”.

With regards to the question of being, heidegger therefore calls for a “destructuring of the history of ontology”, just a shaking off of the fossilized, traditional concepts so that the basics can be re-examined. For him, this is not a negative process, not a destruction or tearing down; it is rather a positive process where present “now” stuff is brought to light

Part 1

H begins by making a distinction between things in the world (i.e. "objective presence”) and a person, Dasein. Things are characterized by thatness...Dasein is characterized by “being”, which contains elements of temporality. Dasein is not just a thing, it is existence.

Dasein is always its own being; it is “being-mine”. two characteristics then- being (existence) and being for itself, being-mine.

Consequence of 1st characteristic- attributes of a table are its shape, color, texture and so on. A table is its attributes. Dasein on the other hand is its existence, not its objective attributes. Existence has priority over essence (an idea sartre would later make catchier).

Because dasein is my own being, all possibilities are my own. And all possibilities are therefore either chosen or neglected. Dasein is either authentic or inauthentic. But it begins with “averageness”, day to day non-reflective entanglement. (41). this averageness provides info about structures of existence. Most inquiries skip over this; h thinks it's where we gain the most information

Existentials = dasein stuff
categories = world stuff

beings are a who (existence) or a what (objective presence)

rest of part 1- separating ontology from modern human sciences, why the modern stuff skips over the analytic of dasein, etc

part II

being-in-the-world for physical objects means being objectively in a specific physical location. “being-in” for dasein means to “dwell near”, to be “familiar with”. Its in-ness is qualitatively different from the in-ness of things. Therefore the “world” is something that only occurs for dasein. A chair against a wall is not “touching” the wall; it simply is. “touching” is a relational concept dasein uses as an organizing perception.

Daein's mode of being-in-the-world is “care”. Care, which he will define in more detail, is a foundational structure of existence.

Dasein's being-in “worlds the world” establishes relational structures and care is our mode of navigating those webs of relation. In its simplest form, care is basically using stuff, using the things and objects around us, but h connects it to the meaning-systems that those things are a part of.

Because in our everyday lives we see things and ourselves amongst those things, we take this to mean that we are merely objects amongst objects; this is the mistake we make, and that traditional philosophy has made. This is the origin of subject/object thinking.

Subject/object thinking causes dasein to overlook its worlding, the fact that it generates the relational structures of the things and contexts around us. This error makes being-in-the-world, its nature, invisible to us.

Dasein is not “in” its consciousness...and it does not then go “outside” to the world to gather data about things. Dasein is being-in-the-world. It is always already outside in-the-world, entangled with it as part of a unity.

Knowing- defined as the attitude of examining, a subject/object mindset; it misses the dasein/world unity.

Part III

world- that “in which” a particular dasein lives.

When one inspects a particular object or has a mindset of focusing on objectively present things, they de-world their world. Meaning that things in the world can never make the world of existence intelligible.

Traditional ontology makes this very mistake and loses sight of the world. For h, traditional ontology is over.

How do we recover the world and better understand existence? By looking at dasein's most common states, that is, its most common points of contact with the “world”, i.e. our average, daily attitudes and actions. (this leads to h's analysis of existential spatiality, 62)

everyday being-in-the-world = “association with”, that is, we find our self associating with a variety of things, beings, tasks, etc.

care- “taking care”- is a mode of being-in-the-world and one that does not need interpretation or analysis (since analysis just repeats the subject/object dead end). It is a pre-thematic understanding of existence and therefore offers a look at dasein, world, etc.

what we find in everydayness are things...and things in their use-value exist in a state of reference. Things are “in order to”, they are a reference of something to something.

“a totality of useful things is always already discovered before the individual useful thing.”

staring at a hammer...staring at it's shape, color, it. Using it, on the hand, means the hammer is in the “in-order-to” relationship. The in-order-to is our original relationship to things. Theoretical analysis causes us to step out of the very world that the analysis intended to discover.

When we use things, we are subordinate to the in-order-to. Gaining an awareness of this fact, of these use-value reference systems, h defines as circumspection.

The things in use value systems are characterized by “handiness” and this, then, is the definition of beings as they are “in themselves”. Handiness refers to things in their use value/use system state.

Dasein begins to sense things in their objective mere things...only when their use value breaks down. (the hammer breaks, and is then just a lump...electricity goes off, the computer is a heap of plastic and wires). If an item doesn't work (defined as conspicuousness) or a needed item is missing (obtrusiveness) or if a thing is in the way of a task or disruptive in some way (obstinancy), then we see things as an objective presence (the broken hammer, dead computer)...that is, we see a thing outside of its use-value system.

This disruption is significant because it makes us conscious of the use-value systems that we live in. it makes us conscious of that system of references of things that dasein is usually absorbed in.

a disruption doesn't make us discover the reference makes us realize that we have always, already been in it and that, in a moment of disruption, we are momentarily outside of it (this is what he later develops into the discussion on boredom and anxiety).

Or, to put it differently: in stuff disruption, we don't discover the world/matrix...we discover that it has already been discovered by us in our using of the things...we sense our previous absorption in the use-value reference system. (overview 69, 70)

world- not the things around us. In fact, when we notice things individually, it means the world is disrupted (when things break, go missing, etc). World is the system of references in which things are absorbed, inconspicuous...and dasein, in taking care, using those things, is absorbed in the system as well.

Traditional philosophy always tried to discover the world by focusing on the attributes of things...for h, the moment you do this you lose the world. The in-itself cannot be found in a solitary things, but only through an understanding of the phenomenon of “world”, i.e. the use/reference system (71)

“taking care of things always already occurs on the basis of a familiarity with the world. In this familiarity dasein can lose itself in what it encounters within the world and be numbed by it.”

discussion of references, signs begins on 71

signs indicate. Indicating is a type of referring. To refer means to relate (and so on, this part makes my head hurt).

One aspect of signs (like directional arrows on a car) is that they hint at the spatial nature of things in the relational systems. Signs enable orientation, giving a view of the spatial qualities of the world.

By explicitly referring to things, signs provide hints to dasein about the reference systems it lives within; the nature of the “world” can be glimpsed in signs (and spatiality) (77).

“signs are something ontically at hand which, as this definite useful thing, functions at the same time as something which indicates the ontological structure of handiness, referential totality and worldliness.”

signs- ontic
reference- ontological, part of the fundamental structure of the in-order-to systems.

On relevance:

the nature of beings at hand is reference. Things “refer to”, within their use-systems. They are relevant “together with” something else. Reference then leads us to the fundamental being of inner-worldly beings...that is, relevance. “to be relevant means to let something be together with something else.”

relevance points to the “what-for” of dasein. The relevance of things in their totality is the what-for. Dasein is not merely one of the things in the is what these systems point back to. That is, things in their relevance point to existence, to the fact that existence is what binds them into the what-for totality.

The relationship between the structures within these world totalities is a relationship of “signifying”. The signifying unites these various components into a “primordial totality”(81).

The signifying (interlocking) is what gives dasein it's pre-understanding of its own being-in-the-world.

(signification defined as significance)

conclusion- “dasein always means that a context of things at hand is already essentially discovered with its being. In that it is, dasein has always already referred itself to an encounter with the world.”

this is basically his critique and counter-point to descartes. It's not “i think therefore I am”, it's “i go about my day, using things that interlock into a referential totality that form a world that refers back to the organizing self that I am.”

In later sections of part 2, H switches to analysis of Descartes' view of ontology. Descartes defines world and being, basically, as attributes (he uses the term "extension"). And for him, math is the best way to pin down the nature of attributes. As mentioned, H sees this as skipping over the fundamental nature of Dasein and world; it's a leap into subject object thinking.

One positive in Descartes' analysis: he does skip over the world, but by defining being as "extension", he does get close to the existential concept of spatiality...that is, the interconnectedness of things oriented around Dasein...this, then, H plans to salvage and develop.

The use-systems arrange things as a result of their handiness. Things aren't just "there", they are in particular places and distributed according to their use-value within a referential totality.

Where they are, in this totality, is called "nearness". And the nearness of things divides into "regions". (95)

Things in their nearness divide into regions which interlock into the aroundness of Dasein's world. Conversely, these regions, spaces, determine the place of things, based on their use value.

What this means is that we do not live in consistent, regular math-like unites of space. We live in a space arranged and ordered by these use-value systems, these referential networks of handiness. Dasein's spatiality is given the name of "de-distancing".

De-distancing is not a categorical. It is not a measure of space units. It is an existential. It is a relational organizing of space (as in, chair not "touching" the wall, since "touching" is a relational concept of Dasein).

Handiness, care, is our relationship to things; de-distancing is our relationship to space, the way spaces are grouped into use-categories and arranged.

You can measure a short and long path. But the short path on a day with bad weather can feel much longer than the long path in nice weather. When we notice things like this, we get glimpses of de-distancing, of existential spatiality. Again, we noticed that our world refers back to us. "Dasein is spatial in the manner of de-distancing."

Example (99): the glasses on a person's nose are generally "invisible", further from the person than a conspicuous object across the room. De-distancing is the lived spatiality of a person.

As the glasses example indicates, things in their nearness and/or familiarity can become inconspicuous. Our use of things de-distances them.

H adds that these spaces, arranged by handiness, nearness and de-distancing, naturally form into an orientation towards the world, that is directionality. Directionality is part of the structure of the world; overview 102.

end part 3

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

disorder among the threads: travel notes

Weilerbach, Germany

I don't understand why I feel so afraid around people; even here in this heavily quiet village I wire-walk the streets, fearful. I rush back to the basement, darken it by clamping down shutters. I freeze up, try to hide behind stillness.

I like the shutters here.

Monday: everyone says "let's have dinner!" They want to walk to a nearby place.

I decline; I had crawled into pajamas early. I said I would stay in the basement.

They wouldn't hear of it. I was a guest.

"Let's have dinner!"

I tell them to go ahead, that I will meet them there after changing out of pajamas. They tell me to hurry as they leave.

I pace around for a bit, put on social clothes, exit the basement. Within a few minutes I am lost. Weilerbach is a small village, but I still manage to lose my way. At first I walk quickly, thinking I can find the restaurant in time. After an hour passes, I slowed down, just drift along. Every so often I sit on a bench and stare at cats or clouds. Then more walking. A heat wave has been raging all week; I pass quite a few elderly shirtless Germans working in their yards.

Walking; heat bends the sight lines. Streets waver, lead me astray.

I walk past a tiny farm populated with wooden ckickens. I wonder if I am dreaming.

Eventually, I see my hosts walking through a park. I had missed the meal; they were heading home. I follow. I don't eat that night, which is for the best; I feel nauseous from the heat.

I tell them about the tiny farm and the wooden chickens. It feels like I maybe discovered a magic place hidden within their village. But they tell me it's just a poultry museum.

At their house, we watch a confusing television program. The hosts talk over it trying to explain what is happening, but I can't make sense of anything. It's like a soap opera with guns and the scenes feel out of order.

I go to the basement, resume the pajamas. I read Hunger and come across this passage:

"The Lord stuck his finger in the net of my nerves gently- yea, verily, in desultory fashion- and brought slight disorder among the threads. And then the Lord withdrew His finger, and there were fibers and delicate root-like filaments adhering to the finger, and they were the nerve-threads of the filaments. And there was a gaping whole after the finger, which was God's finger, and a wound in my brain in the track of his finger."

I read and sleep and wake up and stay in the basement.

Monday, July 6, 2015


last week; monday.

walking about deranged. buildings squeeze the canals and streets together, forcing the people and cars and boats and bikes to surge faster.

the movement freezes, jerks forward, stops, flows.

i weave through it, nauseous, seeking out the small, mercurial openings that drift about like living wax- stitching these spaces together with the magic of fearful steps; movement as the magic accumulates.

vertigo hopscotch; sweating.

a ding means a bicycle is aimed at your back.

grinning mammals float by on wooden boxes; dazed eyes, green bottles, wine mirth and stupor.

people, cars, boats, bikes; flowing, stretching into frenetic bars that stab forward, overlap.

(i imagine video of myself drifting in a river during a log jam, head barely above the water, logs surging forward, their violence buffeting my skull as i frantically seek out the safety of open spaces. and someone is fucking with the video, pausing it, speeding it up, reversing it, all at random, no discernible pattern. and somehow, within the video, i am conscious of the changes, aware of the observer and the alterations to my reality; aware of the speeding forward, the reversals, the abrupt pauses.)

then she says "market" and we enter it and i stare at cherubic fruits and stacked cheeses and shaved, pink flesh and row after row of sedate gems in the juice aisle.

we tote sacks through the log jam, up dollhouse stairs and i lay around reading comic books until the nausea passes.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

"Celan is sick"

The world we live in: mostly a dense tangle of artificial constructs that we erect and then use like handrails. Outside of the handrails, it's just the chaos of...well, it's just chaos; we don't really know where the chaos comes from; we can't know the nature of it. I guess, really, our minds are- at their- core, chaos, and so the hand-rail building ensues...we try to cram structures, i.e. ideas, labels, ideologies and so on...we try to cram those into the horror, make it seem less frightening, more respectable.

The horror is formless. It resists our shaping...but we're able to fool ourselves, and perhaps that's enough. It seems to be. Most of us live life without screaming through every waking second.

I don't know if there's a non-handrail world that we can actually touch with our minds, I suspect not. I mean, it's out there; it's just obscured behind all of the hand-rails we live between, fully out of reach.

I suspect we just wake up in a human reality...let's call it a holodeck now, or if movies are more your thing, the matrix. We wake in the matrix- it has been built and constructed by others, and then to varying degrees, we add our own pixels and constructs as we go along through life.

People afraid of change add nothing, just glide along through the simulation, watching it unfold, careful to keep their arms and legs inside the ride at all times. Creatives sort of resent all of the pre-existing shit (the constructs and value systems and handrails) and try to tear down as much as they can, re-configure the matrix as they see fit. I don't think there's an outside to any of it...a primordial reality we can reach; an exit. There is no genuine tearing down of matrix bits, just replacing old matrix bits with new ones. This is either good or bad depending on which words you use to describe it. It can be inexhaustible surplus, it can be a prison, etc.

Handrails. Choose your handrails. Look away from the horror.

Trying to get out of the matrix...this is what got Heidegger into trouble. He realized that we were all living inside of this big simulation; the world was culture and language and, anyway, handrail stuff; so he began to write about what escape would look like. Dasein, our existence, gets bored and anxious, you see. In moments of day to day life, our mind secretly notices that things are just weird, alien stuff, and we hide that fact with concepts and labels and ideas. We hide the formless horror behind the matrix. Over time, humans forgot they were in the matrix. It's a pretty good gig, so we let ourselves forget. Heidegger, on the other hand, couldn't not see the matrix; it was too vividly artificial to him; he wanted out.

How do you get out of something so ancient and sturdy and tenacious? How do you escape the big human construct that's swallowed up all of our minds and blinded us to both reality and ourselves? Heidegger- and this was his Faustian moment- he thought it would take a huge amount of strength. Heidegger, who had previously seen philosophy as disconnected from politics, began to feel like humans needed a big, cultural prison break, and this would only be meaningful if it took place in the political sphere.

He began to dream of a strongman who could come along and tear down the matrix.

Tangled together in his Faustian moment were a few factors: Heidegger, around the late 1920s or so, became obsessed with Plato and the cave metaphor. He became obsessed with it because his elitism found something he liked in the metaphor- the lessers (as Heidegger viewed them) stayed in the cave, fooled by the shadows, but one person- one brave, authentic person- escaped the cave and found reality, truth. This escapee...this strongman who broke out of the matrix/cave- then needed to go back into the cave and educate the silly lessers, so that they could escape as well.

Another thread in the tangle: Heidegger was having these thoughts during the brief reign of the Weimar Republic.

Democracy had come to Germany and he hated it. People were free to think and support any given belief system. Again, Heidegger's elitism couldn't take it. People needed a shepherd to guide them through life, not the freedom to entertain this seemingly endless procession of noisy, squabbling values.

Democracy didn't discriminate; this offended Heidegger.

So his philosophy- channeled through the Plato stuff- turned political. When Hitler came along, Heidegger's dreams felt tantalizingly real- here was someone who could sweep away the matrix (exit the cave), tear it all down- someone willing to kill people to kill the ideas in their head. All of that annoying democracy stuff...Hitler was going to brush it away.

Heidegger enthusiastically embraced the tenets of national socialism; he joined the party; he even became the dean of a college all so that he could implement the new fuhrer policies.

He saw the matrix...wanted out of it, wanted to make human life something real, authentic...and this desire literally turned him into a nazi. 

After the war, after the de-nazification committee released him back into the wild, his writing became conveniently mystical and cryptic. It's like, “I'm taking my toys and going home now.”

He's holed up at Todtnauberg, thinking, “Fuck politics; I'm too weird for you people anyway. I'm just gonna sit in my cabin now and make up a bunch of words.”


Topic switch; I don't know why. It's the tangle effect: I'm reading Safranski's Heidegger biography, and periodically having discussions with my family, so it all mixes together.

I think about the use-value of the matrix, of our fun little reality-generating holodeck, any time mom says my brother is “sick” or “mentally ill”.

I think, really, he's none of these things...I think these words are just handrails. They help make sense of horror.

I think, somehow, he can't see the matrix at all...probably just fragments; enough to know it's there, not enough to feel like he's living inside of it. And what he's left with is just raw, screaming chaos.

Maybe, in some instances, that's what depression is: matrix failure. The illusion drops away and you're powerfully alone with, I guess, nothing; you become strange to yourself; the world becomes the horror.

I suppose some feel enlightened by nothingness. The difference between enlightenment and depression, as each encounters the nothing...I don't know what that difference is. Choice? I don't know. Tell me on Twitter if you know.

The word “nothing” is misleading. I don't think “nothing” is blank, I'd say it's the opposite- it's stark, overwhelming texture; vibrant, all-consuming information, too much for a mind to absorb.

This is what religion fears when it fears the face of god; when it turns away from divine representation.

In my own struggles with bouts of depression, I think some part of me always retained an ability to create handrails...just something, anything, to hold onto. Philosophy, for example, helps me intellectualize the horror, make it manageable; popular culture helps me intellectualize the horror. I worry it's just a beneficial cowardice.

With my mind, and it's connection to the world, there was a dropping away and I would feel powerfully lost, to the point that death seemed like an exit. Death as ultimate handrail. But I remained in the matrix; the dropping away only went so far. It's terrifying watching what happens with my brother. I don't think he can halt whatever happens with his thinking. He drops away and just keeps going.

Not all the way; not yet.

For now, he stays in some sort of tortured balance between matrix fragments and formless horror.

Heidegger could see the matrix too clearly; little brother not clearly enough; both extremes result in, I don't know; agony, madness, one of the handrails we use in these situations.

Mom says, “We didn't realize how sick he was.” This after he tried to hang himself in the county jail.

Mom says, “There's just no good help for the mentally ill.' This after he attempted suicide by police.

I've lost track of what has happened, the full accounting of incidents; or the stabilizing part of my mind blurs memory.

For now, there's the vague outline of a pattern: isolation, isolation, months of it, building up a dark energy, then rage; as the rage peaks, he begins to hear voices, turns more furious, incoherent; wildness ensues, with erratic/threatening behaviors, extreme binge drinking; then he's jailed or institutionalized, usually both, in that order.

Then isolation, isolation; He's sent home, builds dark energy, and so on.

Mom says crash, poison, broken bones.

Mom says depression.

I don't think he's sick or mentally ill...sometimes They tack on new labels; sometimes They remove them, admit confusion.

I just think there is formless horror.

Anything I say, any label They apply, it's just a handrail. And it's a handrail designed for our comfort, not his. It's our way of looking away from whatever it is that he sees.

Heidegger had an after; he had Todtnauberg. I don't know what brother has, can have. He just falls.

I don't know if he can retain those last remaining fragments when the pattern finally changes.