Sitting in my office just now, The Question Concerning Technology caught my eye. I pulled it from the shelf and started paging through it, flush with the conviction that today might be the perfect day to clamber over my Heidegger hurdle. But then I started getting bogged down in the near-randomness of the translator's decisions, which no quantity of explanatory footnotes can compensate for. So I walked over to the shelf on which I presently have several volumes in his complete works that I not-so-recently checked out of the library and began looking through them, on the assumption that my mood might be sustained in the absence of English. One after another I coursed through the books, my frustration mounting. While better in German than in English, the aspects of Heidegger's prose that annoy me most are still readily apparent in the original. And then there are the antiquated spellings with which he makes Heu, such as Seyn for Sein: they bother me almost as much as English coinings like "enframing."
Ten minutes later, then, I'm sitting here composing this entry, my momentary enthusiasm for Mr. Schwarzwald once more extinguished. I'm starting to wonder, despite my fondness for some of his devotees, especially Giorgio Agamben, and the parallels I've been discerning between the sensibility of Tanizaki's The Makioka Sisters and the nostalgia for rustic German life that informs Heidegger's writings on modern technology, whether I will ever experience that, "A-ha!," moment in which I finally feel -- rather than contemplate -- what makes so many thinkers think highly of him. Indeed, I have a sneaking suspicion that I could achieve the same insights I derive from dabbling in his work by going over to the Goodwill on First and poring over the overpriced Hummels they have for sale in the display case by the cash register. If I'm lucky, I might even see one that continues to lip honey after being sliced in half.