The New York Times has published an opinion essay on why reading Heidegger remains important, despite his many carbuncles. (And he had some.)
So you’re happily work in a Mac application and it suddenly quits, and you get the notice that “Safari quit unexpectedly.” It’s a brilliant observation, capturing as it does the thing which just happened. The intelligence, the verve of it! And just below is a blank text box asking you to type something into it. Sometimes you do try to report what you were doing, or trying to do, or thought you were trying to do but maybe now that you think about it that wasn’t the way to do it. And you’ve done this often enough that you have a kind of history here. Wait a minute. There is history here, but it’s been all you. You have never gotten a response back. Who’s to say anyone ever reads these things? Maybe you’re like the mouse trained to click the bar for cheese who keeps clicking the bar for cheese even after the researchers have gone home. Maybe they’ve locked up the lab for the weekend. For the holidays. Maybe the university has shut the place down and no one is ever coming back, no cheese is ever coming your way again, but you’re still clicking the damn bar.
And so you write a note that attempts to find the human in an inhuman environment, and in writing it confront ugly epistemological and metaphysical realities:
> Never try to undo editing you’ve done in a text box in a web page in Safari!
> Safari does not like it, and when Safari does not like something, it quits.
> And when Safari quits, you will be asked to report it as a problem.
> And when you report it as a problem, you will type things into a text box and be forced to answer life’s greatest mystery:
> OK or Reopen?
> You will click one of the two, the text box will go away, and you will wonder what happened to those words you typed.
> Did they disappear into the maw of a giant trouble-ticket system?
> Or are they more like the close and open door buttons on elevators?
> Put there to placate the impatient.
> Alas, you will never know the truth.
> Can never know the truth.
For the record, the machine’s own report looked like this:
Process: Safari 
Version: 6.0.1 (8536.26.14)
Build Info: WebBrowser-7536026014000000~2
Code Type: X86-64 (Native)
Parent Process: launchd 
User ID: 501
Date/Time: 2012-11-09 15:03:49.432 -0600
OS Version: Mac OS X 10.8.2 (12C60)
Report Version: 10
Interval Since Last Report: 603431 sec
Crashes Since Last Report: 2
Per-App Interval Since Last Report: 520875 sec
Per-App Crashes Since Last Report: 1
Crashed Thread: 0 Dispatch queue: com.apple.main-thread
I just purchased Mark Frauenfelder’s [Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World][mbh] and once I completed my purchase, Amazon showed me a set of books in which I might also be interested. There’s Crawford’s _Shop Class as Soulcraft_ and Richard Sennett’s _The Craftsman_, both of which appear in my own book. Frauenfelder, by the way, is a regular contributor to BoingBoing. I am so in the right place right now.
Leigh Alexander, a regular writer over at Gamasutra, has an interesting report of an interview with Wolfgang Hammersmith. Hammersmith is Vietnam War veteran who went on to do some Black Ops work — I guess as part of his career in the Marines. He now has a book out, Beyond The Call Of Duty: Gunfight!. Smith, who regularly questions the violent dimension of many video games, draws some interesting points out of Hammersmith, including the following:
A key tenet of Hammersmith’s tactical lessons doesn’t even require a weapon in hand: “Wield your attention,” he advises, elaborating in his book on how crucial it is for individuals to be able to control the sphere of their focus, dealing with immediate circumstances and with a wide-lens view of their environment in a more total fashion. It’s advice that can be applied directly to gun combat, or can be taken abstractly as philosophy and metaphor.
The interview is here.
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](http://tcjournal.org/) 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.)
Some old notes on a yellowed slip of paper that were in my copy of _Being and Nothingness_. I am backdating this entry to 1986.
* Sadism – transcendence trying to incarnate other’s transcendence
* Fat – superabundant facticity (521).
* How does Sartre deal with “wanting to be desired”? I.e., making oneself incarnate in order to be possessed and free from transcendence.