Sunday, January 22, 2012

Number Forty-Six

Das Wort »sein« bedeutet im Deutschen beides: Dasein und Ihmgehören.

In German, the word sein stands both for the verb to be and for the possessive pronoun his. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

The German word sein signifies both "to be there" and "to belong to Him." [Hofmann]


This is a reflection on the German language, perhaps implying that it tacitly equates existence with a kind of slavery, or at the very least that it conjures up for itself the idea of being in the form of a relationship to another. We have to wonder if one meaning is meant to subside beneath the other, if they are being strictly equated, or if they are two different meanings to be held side by side. If they are equated, then does that mean that the usual idea of being is somehow deconcretized into a relationship only, or that the relationship is made concrete?

As I said earlier, there are really serious quagmires to be waded into when it comes to the idea of "having."

What does belonging to him (or Him) entail? Duties, responsibilities, expectations ... But is this only a one-way relationship, or is there something binding on the other side, whatever that is? This aphorism noses a little in the direction of God without losing any ambivalence; Kafka knew Czech as well as German. There are other languages.

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