Only (a) God Can Save Us Now : Heidegger, Modernity, and Poetry

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DeSanto, Vincent
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Heidegger, in a 1966 interview with German magazine Der Spiegel (published posthumously), spoke about his relationship to National Socialism and how it broadly was informed by his concerns regarding technology. In the interview, Heidegger utters a now-famous phrase, which I have taken as the title for this paper: “Only a god can save us now.” Contextualizing this phrase within the Nietzsche-Hölderlin discourse, its initial tonal despondence is revealed as a call to action for thinkers and poets. “Only a god can save us. The only possibility available to us is that by thinking and poetizing we prepare a readiness for the appearance of a god, or for the absence of a god in [our] decline, insofar as in view of the absent god we are in a state of decline…we cannot bring him forth by our thinking. At best we can awaken a readiness to wait…” In the same interview with Der Spiegel, Heidegger makes this comment, within which lies the entire scope of this paper: “Everything is functioning. That is precisely what is awesome, that everything functions, that the functioning propels Everything more and more toward further functioning, and that technicity increasingly dislodges man, and uproots him from the earth. I don't know if you were shocked, but [certainly] I was shocked when a short time ago I saw the pictures of the earth taken from the moon. We do not need atomic bombs at all [to uproot us] — the uprooting of man is already here. All our relationships have become merely technical ones. It is no longer u on an earth that man lives today. Recently I had a long dialogue in Provence with Réné Char— a poet and resistance fighter, as you know. In Provence now, launch pads are being built and the countryside laid waste in unimaginable fashion. That poet, who certainly is open to no suspicion of sentimentality or of glorifying the idyllic, said to me that the uprooting of man that is now taking place is the end of everything human], unless thinking and poetizing once again regain [their] nonviolent power.”
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