The obscure, the enigmatic, the elusive

One might think that, if Heidegger had anything worth saying, he could have communicated it in ordinary language.

The fact is that he does not want to be ordinary, and he may not even want to communicate in the usual sense. He wants to make the familiar obscure, and to vex us. George Steiner thought that Heidegger’s purpose was less to be understood than to be experienced through a ‘felt strangeness’. It is something like the  ‘alienation’ or estrangement effect used by Berthold Brecht in his theatre, which is designed to block you from becoming too caught up in the story and falling for the delusion of familiarity. Heidegger’s language keeps you on edge. It is dynamic, obtrusive, sometimes ridiculous and often forceful; on a page of Heidegger things are typically presented as surging or thrusting, as being forced forward, lit up or broken open. Heidegger admitted that his way of writing produced some ‘akwardness’, but he thought that a small price to pay for overturning the history of philosophy and bringing us back to Being.

Sarah Bakewell, At The Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails

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