So here I am in Plainfield, I hope. As you might have surmised, I’m writing this in Georgia but scheduling it for the day after we’re supposed to drive.
On the last few trips I’ve brought some sort of epic narrative with me so that I could enjoy some people hitting each other with spears rather than digging through the sloppy arguments of New Historicism and the self-indulgent neologizing of the post-Freudians. A few years ago I brought along the Aeneid, and the year after that I brought along Homer’s Iliad. Last Christmas I brought two, Gilgamesh and Morte d’Arthur. This year, though, I couldn’t come up with a narrative that I’ve just been itching to revisit (I considered Langland and Ovid, but neither inspired), so I’m going to try to bring along some philosophy on this trip.
Michial Farmer (friend and faithful reader of this blog) and I have made plans to read through as much of Heidegger’s Being and Time as we can next semester, he for the sake of his comprehensive exams and I for the sake of better understanding Radical Orthodoxy. I’ve muddled through the opening sections, and I’d like to annotate as much of it as I can before we start up a new semester. I’m also bringing along my Sony Reader, and I might give up Heidegger in favor of a reread of Frankenstein, but I would like to bring along one book for which one needs a pencil to read.
I’m not sure what to think of Heidegger, having read only excerpts up to this point. His biography alone is controversial among the folks with whom I’ve talked philosophy: Fred Norris, whose research assistant I was for two years, says that his participation in the National Socialist Party should give any Christian pause, but Andrew Cole, with whom I most recently read Heidegger, brushed off his participation in the Party as something that he did out of necessity, if he wanted to save the university whose Rector he had become. Beyond his involvement with Hitler (who, if I remember right, would not answer his telegraphs), I’ve read a number of accusations that Heidegger de-historicizes humanity, preferring a flat generic conception of human temporality that denies genuine change across periods. I’m not sure that any of that will come up in this book, but I’ve listened to the opening podcasts in Hubert Dreyfus’s lecture series on Being and Time, and he presents Heidegger’s philosophy as profoundly humanizing, quite to the contrary of what I’ve read elsewhere.
All of this is to say that I’m looking forward to reading this famous/infamous book, and I imagine I’ll be writing more on it as we work through it.