Enframing is a problem because it “conceals a former way of revealing”, “conceals revealing itself”, “blocks the shining forth”, “blocks…the holding sway of truth”, and it also conceals unconcealment itself.Enframing prohibits and conceals the coming forth of Being.
Without the insight into the pure unconcealment of Being, humanity has no access into the truth of Being itself. This is because truth is an event, requiring and depending on the passing and moving of time. Enframing, however, blocks the coming forth of events in such a way that it stills life.
Heidegger says, “Will we see the lightning-flash of Being in the essence of technology? The flash that comes out of stillness, as stillness itself? Stillness stills. What does it still? It stills Being into the coming to presence of world.”
The stillness of enframing stills because enframing can not bring forth the event of truth and because objects are contorted from objects that are and appear as themselves into objects as standing reserve. The stillness of enframing discloses no truth.
Enframing holds the individual within one way of viewing the world. As we will see, this is a problem because it does not allow the individual to see what Heidegger willrefer to as the “earth,” the realm of disclosure. It is precisely this enframing that is the most dangerous to society’s unfolding, since enframing prohibits unfolding. The individual caught up in this enframing is not able to respond properly to much advice given from other. Advice such as, one ought to “walk a mile in another’s shoes”, “get another perspective”, or “see things differently”.
Enframing creates problems for empathy as well, evident in such statement as, “you don’t understand me”, “this isn’t my problem”, “you don’t get me”, or “you just can’t see why I am angry”. In other words, the one caught up in an enframed structure is not able to see the world from any other structure, not able to understand any other worldview, or not able to empathize properly with others.
This is why Heidegger says, “where enframing reigns, there is danger in the highest degree.”Since modern technology is in enframing there is danger in the highest degree.
Enframing gives rise to this standing reserve. Technology gives rise to enframing; enframing both aggressively structures one’s outlook or worldview as well as gives rise to standing reserve. Is modern technology a danger or a problem, something that needs to be overthrown and abandoned or simply carefully watched? What evidence is there that this enframing within modern technology is actually a problem?
After all, enframing is also a kind of revealing and a kind of bringing-forth. As Paul Gomer says, “Technological revealing is not a bringing but a demanding; and this
demanding does not have the character of bringing forth but forcing out. It demands of nature that it supply energy which can be extracted and stored.”Modern technology is a problem for two reasons. One, enframing creates a structure that oppresses the individual and does not allow any kind of removal or getaway from the structure. And, two, the enframing created by modern technology reveals objects not as objects but as “standing reserve.” The first problem in modern technology holds the individual within enframing and does not release its captors.
Enframing cannot release its grasp because it is a stilling, a demanding, and a forcing. Enframing does not leave any room for any other worldview. The second problem in modern technology is the standing reserve that arises from one’s dependence on technology. Standing reserve is a problem because it does not allow the individual to view the object-in-itself but rather as an object-forobserver.
When one views things as standing reserve, “the forest is lumber, the Rhine is hydroelectric power, the land is mineral resources, the worker is labor, and the worth of the product is entirely defined by exchange value.”An individual plagued by standing reserve views things only as they could be helpful to the individual. Evidence is evident in disastrous statements like “why should I care? It doesn’t effect me” or “what’s in it for me.” Standing reserve turns that which ought to be affective into a consideration of the effective.
With the rise of technology comes the end of religious sensibilities. Because western humanity has abandoned its religious sensibilities, technology has taken its place. The word of Nietzsche declares the end of these sensibilities. By the end ofreligious sensibility I mean the end of a suprasensory world’s power over the lives of human beings. The end of this power means that humanity is left to its own devices, that help can come from nowhere but from within society.
Since the power of the suprasensory world is attributed to God, to say that the suprasensory has no power over the lives of human beings is to say that God no longer has power over the lives of human beings. And, to say that God no longer has power over the lives of human beings is to say that God is dead.This is not a simple denial of Christianity nor is it a simple metaphysical conclusion.Nihilism is not a problem where Christianity is simply disowned because the simple negation of a religious structure is still a kind of religious structure. Humanity is nihilistic because there is no exterior or suprasensory place to turn for answers.
Our current situation, then, is bleak. As stated above, nihilism, for Heidegger, is the whole of the modern mindset and society’s retreat from a religious understanding of the world contributes and exacerbates this modern mindset. We are trapped within technology’s enframing. This enframing conceals the unconcealed earth that is necessary for the shining forth of being. The modern individual is not afforded abstraction for justification of their actions. Abstractions such as religion and strictly structured metaphysics are things that sway no more hearts.
The absence of these sources of meaning creates a void. Unfortunately, technology has filled the void.
Technology has complicated the situation because the individual is not afforded access to the one thing that could deliver society from its nihilism, art. Technological enframing restricts the earth and thus restricts truth in such a way as to prevent the individual from experiencing a coming forth of the event of truth. The artist is the one that is able to rescue the individual from the enframing caused by the rise of the technological age and the effluence of religion’s absence.
As Heidegger sees the solution to society’s condition, there is no way simply to correct the problem as a car, robot, or as an appliance is fixed. Unfortunately, though, this problem cannot be thusly fixed. By “correct the problem,” I mean that there is no way to go back to the condition before the problem was created. In reference to the death of God, Nietzsche stated, “Who will wipe this blood of us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent?”
Heidegger agrees; no atonement can be made for such a colossal event. If one makes an attempt to correct the problem, then one must deceive oneself into believing the scientific revolution never happened and society is in a condition that it is not. One would have to close themselves from a great number of things. To attempt to correct the problem one would have to live an inauthentic life apart from or deceived of society. Though Heidegger’s words are grim, the serious problem we face is not without hope. Our hope is the poet. The poet is able to see the serious problem humanity faces and the artist’s art is the only thing that can potentially turn the course of history out of this nihilistic abyss.
It is necessary to make an aesthetic turn in order to solve the problems that the nihilistic age poses. In “What are Poets for?” Heidegger describes the poet’s role in the abyss, or Abgund. As indicated above, the one able to offer victory from nihilism is the poet, our Deiphobus.
However, before I address exactly how the poet counteracts the affects of the nihilistic age, I would like to motivate the need for an aesthetic turn inorder to confront the problem of nihilism by talking about the unique position and perspective of the poet.
Heidegger spoke of this dark time in history as “the world’s night.” At this point in history, humanity is facing the world’s night because humanity is facing an end to the day of the gods. When the gods, Hercules, Dionysius, and Christ, left the world it marked a time when the world began its decent into night time. The world’s night creates the abyss society finds itself in and the one that the poet will pull us through. This world’s night is a destitute time. Heidegger states, “Long is the destitute time of the world’s night.” Nevertheless, Holderlin states,
But where there is danger, there grows
also what saves