EARLY GREEK THINKING


Presenting is luminous self-concealing. Shying away corresponds to it. It is a reserved remaining-concealed before the closeness of what is present. It is the sheltering of what is present within the intangible nearness of what remains in coming—that coming which is an increasing self-veiling. Thus shying-away, and everything related to it, must be thought in the brilliant light of remaining-concealed.

Consequently, we must also be prepared to consider more thoughtfully another Greek word, whose stem is λαθ-. This is έπιλανθάνεσθοα. The correct translation is "to forget." On the basis of this lexical correctness everything seems perfectly clear. We act as if forgetting were the most transparent thing in the world. Only fleetingly does anyone notice that there is a reference to "remaining concealed" in the corresponding Greek word.

But what does "forgetting" mean? Modern man, who puts all his stock into forgetting as quickly as possible, certainly ought to know what it is. But he does not. He has forgotten the essence of forgetting, assuming he ever thought about it fully, i.e. thought it out within the essential sphere of oblivion. The continuing indifference toward the essence of forgetting does not result simply from the superficiality of our contemporary way of life. What takes place in such indifference comes from the essence of oblivion itself. It is inherent in it to withdraw itself and to founder in the wake of its own concealment. The Greeks experienced oblivion, λήθη, as a destining of concealment.

Λανθάνομαι says: I am—with respect to my relation to something usually unconcealed—concealed from myself. The unconcealed, for its own part, is thereby concealed—even as I am concealed from myself in relation to it. What is present subsides into concealment in such a way that I, because of this concealing, remain concealed from myself as the one from whom what is present withdraws. At the same time, this very concealing is itself thereby concealed. That is what takes place in the occurrence to which we refer when we say: I have forgotten (something). When we forget, something doesn't just slip away from us. Forgetting itself slips into a concealing, and indeed in such a way that we ourselves, along with our relation to what is forgotten, fall into concealment. The Greeks, therefore, speaking in the middle voice, intensify it: έπιλανθάνομοα.


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