Getting Back to My Roots

In the last few days I’ve had two interesting experiences of getting back to my roots, or at least glimpsing with pleasant recognition where my roots apparently lie.

The first moment occurred when I fired up a Pete Townshend playlist in iTunes and found myself singing along to “Athena” and quite happily finding it described my life in the present moment when I think about Yung and realize “I had no idea how much I’d need her.”

The second moment is a little less sappy. I’m working on what was simply to be an photo essay for [Technoculture]( but has turned into, at least in the beginning, an essay with photos. I wanted to think a bit about the term *technoculture* itself, and, as fortune would have it — and sometimes fortune wouldn’t have it any other way — to Heidegger’s essay on “The Question Concerning Technology.”

First, it was radiantly wonderful, lo these many years later, to read an essay by Heidegger from start to finish without really struggling to follow the twists and turns of his intricate language turns. In fact, I recognized them as language turns and realized how much Derrida does, in fact, owe to Heidegger, which Derrida himself makes very clear. I remember still quite vividly struggling with the first essay I read by Heidegger in my “Philosophy and Film” at LSU, of thinking myself quite clever when, later in a seminar on the Pre-Socratics, I could glimpse the meaning of a paragraph or two on *aletheia*. Here, last night and today, I read through “The Question Concerning Technology” and not only followed his argument but had questions to ask back to old Martin.

Second, as I transcribed some of his text into my own, and thus found myself paying close attention exactly to how he puts things, I recognized the steady progression of parallelisms, of moving forward by moving sideways. I remembered how my own writing, which must have been influenced by my reading of Heidegger, stymied Louise Phelps at Syracuse University, who admired its “poetic nature” but found it often “too oblique.” I am not, in this moment, going to argue with her assessment. I think the only good news is that, in that moment, I wasn’t consciously aping Heidegger, which would have been entirely possible at that pretentious age.

Instead, like my earlier discussion of one’s sense of God, I am led to wonder if the way I think was shaped significantly by my reading of Heidegger or that I read him, cleaved to him, because in his writing I found a resonance with my own way of thinking?

Born and raised by an architect and interior designer, each of whom was competent with words but really more reliant on volumetric arrangement and reasoning, I probably found in Heidegger some way to express the way I thought. (I remember that I wanted to write a poem that would recreate the feeling one got when inside a cathedral.)

Leave a Reply