The space of the door (Hölderlin)

Hölderlin's Der Ister

lange haben
Das Schickliche wir gesucht,
Nicht ohne Schwingen mag
Zum Nächsten einer greifen
Geradezu
Und kommen auf die andere Seite.
Hier aber wollen wir bauen.
Denn Ströme machen urbar
Das Land.

Hölderlin's rivers unite what would otherwise be separated: east and west, north and south, high and low, mountains and plains, Greeks and Germans, humans and nature. This riverine action of unification is original and ontological, it constitutes the complex fabric of the real from the beginning. This is why Hölderlin specifies that the sought-for destining is 'geradezu', 'immediately there'. Because it is original, it is nothing constructed or in any way secondary. Compare Heidegger: "Das Erkennen ist nicht wie eine Brücke, die irgendwann und nachher zwei an sich vorhandene Ufer eines Stromes verbindet, sondern selbst ein Strom, der strömend erst die Ufer schafft und sie ursprünglicher einander zukehrt, als dies je eine Brücke vermag. (GA 47,156-157)

This beginning must, however, be somehow absent. Otherwise, how could it be sought?

But if the sought-for beginning is absent, another beginning must be present. Otherwise, how be seeking?

Beginnings are plural. Hölderlin speaks later in Der Ister of 'die Wasserquellen', the water's various springs.

The plurality of beginnings at origin is the gigantomachia.

The problem of the seeker is that she is in search of another beginning. But how to search, so to say, backwards?

Just this backwards motion is said by Hölderlin to characterize the Der Ister:
Der scheinet aber fast
Rückwärts zu gehen und
Ich mein, er müsse kommen
Von Osten.
Vieles wäre
Zu sagen davon

The seeker needs to go backwards to another beginning. It would seem that she needs to arrive (presumably mediately) at a new immediacy (Geradezu).

The river shows that this strange action is possible. But the river also shows the difficulty of the motion through which this possibility is to be accomplished. The water of the Danube (Ister) flows from west to east, from the Black Forest to the Black Sea. Not far from its sources near Donaueschingen, a considerable portion of the young river goes underground to the south where it issues as the source of the river Aach (die Aachquelle). Now the Aach quickly flows into the Rhine, which at this point flows from east to west, exactly contrary to the nearby Danube. As a result, some of the Danube water begins by going east, but then goes underground in a backwards motion to begin again, this time flowing west:
Der scheinet aber fast
Rückwärts zu gehen und
Ich mein, er müsse kommen
Von Osten.
Vieles wäre
Zu sagen davon.

So with the seeker. Her motion must reverse itself through an underground passage (the space of the door) through which she is to come to a new source (like the Aachquelle). However:
Nicht ohne Schwingen mag
Zum Nächsten einer greifen
Geradezu
Und kommen auf die andere Seite.

A certain crossing back and crossing under (ie, going through the space of the door, several times) is needed in order to cross over to the real and at the real between possibilities. The seeker goes backward to her source in the gigantomachia and there she must cross between possibilities to that of the child 'holding to both':
Zum Nächsten…greifen
Geradezu
Und kommen auf die andere Seite.

The difficulty is that the identification of the way, and the orientation along the way, must come from what will be found only at the end of the way, after it has been taken: “Ob er der einzige oder überhaupt der rechte (Weg) ist, das kann erst nach dem Gang entschieden werden.” (SZ, S. 437)

The way cannot be seen or mapped until it has successfully been taken, but in order to be successfully taken, it must have been fitted in advance (Nicht ohne Schwingen) to what it must find: Das Schickliche…

How can the end and the beginning be fitted together in a way which is stronger than (our) time? In a way which flows in the opposite direction to our time and which overpowers it, so to say, in advance? Somehow from the advance?

“It seems that only one course (!) is open to the philosopher who values knowledge and truth above all else. He must refuse to accept from the champions of the forms the doctrine that all reality is changeless and exclusively immaterial, and he must turn a deaf ear to the other party who represent reality as everywhere changing and as only material. Like a child begging for 'both', he must declare that reality or the sum of things is both at once.” (Plato's Sophist 249c)

In Identität und Differenz, Heidegger similarly asks: "Wie wäre es, wenn wir, statt unentwegt nur eine Zusammenordnung beider vorzustellen, um ihre Einheit herzustellen, einmal darauf achteten, ob und wie in diesem Zusammen vor allem ein Zu-einander-Gehören im Spiel ist?" (ID, S 18)

This belonging together in advance is the divine child, who is being (‘o on). It is this child which preserves the secret of the space of the door.

Nicht ohne Schwingen mag
Zum Nächsten einer greifen
Geradezu
Und kommen auf die andere Seite.

The child ‘holds to both’ (Zum Nächsten greifen…kommen auf die andere Seite), originally - Geradezu. As this hold, the child is able to govern that Schwingen through which the end and the beginning, the seeking and the finding, beings and being, can belong together in their unbridgeable difference.

This belonging together in advance, the divine child, works through (per me si va) the space of the door, ie, through Hölderlin's rivers. Therefore,

Hier aber wollen wir bauen.
Denn Ströme machen urbar
Das Land

October 21, 2003 in Hölderlin, Original difference, Pathways | Permalink