Heidegger's "The Lack of the Holy Name"

        I was reminded the other week of this little piece called "Der Fehl des Heiligen Namen"[The Lack of the Holy Name] by Heidegger.  I had seen it a number of times and never read it, although I was always intrigued by its title. I finally decided to delve in--but since there seemed to be no translation of it available online or in the library (perhaps I haven't looked hard enough), I thought I'd do the work myself. It's a rough translation, no doubt, as my German hasn't really left its infancy yet, but I hope it is sufficient to facilitate a thoughtful and genuine reading.

       By way of a preview, this work stands as another encounter, though a brief one this time, of Heidegger with Hölderlin, thinker and poet.  The title is taken from the sixth stanza of Hölderlin's poem "Homecoming."  In this work, Heidegger wants to learn what this poetically envisioned "lack" of a holy name means, which requires a way of thinking the lack through its self-concealing origin.  



                             The Lack of the Holy Name

              
In the penultimate strophe of his ode “The Calling of the Poet,” Hölderlin confesses:

“A poet gladly betrays himself to others
            in order to help them understand.”

Who are these “others”?  Are they other poets? Are they those who are on a different path than the poets in their saying? Are they, perhaps, those who think? Poets should “help them understand.” What is meant here by understanding?  How can help be brought about here? Above all else—what is given here to be understood?  Hölderlin’s word, or even that which, always and in advance, relentlessly compels the poet in his saying?  
Clarity first comes by asking questions thoughtfully about Hölderlin’s word, which sees things from far in advance, concerning the rule and powers of the Titans:

                                The Titans

“But it is not time.
They are still unbound. 
The god does not tread indifferently.”

That which compels [nötigt] the poet in the saying is a need [Not].  It conceals itself in the staying away of the presence of the godly.  In the last strophe of his elegy “Homecoming, ” this staying away is reached in the simple, all clearing and yet fully mysterious word:

“It lacks holy names,”

That guarantee which could greatly aid an understanding of the need, would be insight into what is most proper to this“lack” through the experience of its origin [Herkunft,]   
which presumably conceals itself in a withholding of the holy and prevents an appropriate designation and clearing name in accordance with it itself.
If the technological world-age were able to experience the power of the enframing which determines it, and indeed in such a way that reveals to itself how—namely in a disguised way—the “lack” prevails in it, then the region of that which saves would be apportioned to the existence of human beings as open to participation. 
But are we familiar already with the path afield to such experiencing? Do we know in a sufficient manner the thing most proper to the path, which a rightly concerned thinking as experiencing must take? This seems to be the case. 
For at the beginning of modern thinking there stands, in order of rank, treatises concerning method prior to all discussion of the matter of thinking: Descartes’ “Discours de la Méthode” and the “Regulae ad direction ingenii”.  And in the epoch of the completion of this thinking—in the final part of Hegel’s “Science of Logic”—the method of thinking and its matter even become explicitly identical.   
Taken alone—are method and the path of thinking the same?  Has the moment come in the age of the technological world-age to recollect what is unique to the path in distinction to method?  In fact, it means that this comportment towards the matter is to tested.  It allows itself to be named most clearly in the Greek language, although the following sentence is itself found nowhere in the thinking of the Greeks: ή όδός -- μήποτε μέθοδος, the path [Weg] (is) at no time a procedure [Verfahren.]  
Procedure—that means the establishing of a thinking which proceeds against…, the going-after of a matter as an object, which it follows as a matter of course, lying in wait for it, in order to make it accessible to the clutch [Zugriff] of a concept [Begriff]. Such a way is foreign to the path. 


The way is a way in being underway
Which leads and clears,
It brings because it poetizes.

Poetizing means here: to allow itself to say the pure call of presencing as such, this being only and directly a presencing of withdrawal and of withholding. 
  
The way knows no procedure
No proofs, no mediation.

Only a thinking which has in itself the character of a pathway can prepare the experience of the lack. Thus can “understanding be helped” for the poet, who has to say the need of the lack.  Understanding here does not mean: making intelligible. Rather, it means making the need stand out, namely that beginning out of which the need of the lack of a “holy name” arises: forgetfulness of Being, that is, the self-concealing (λήθη) of the ownmost unique character of Being as presence. 
In its proximal appearance, “forgetfulness of Being” designates an error, an omission. In truth the word is the name of the destiny of the clearing of Being, in so far as presencing only becomes manifest and can determine all beings if the clearing of Being, άλήθεια, holds in itself, withholding from thinking, that which happens in the beginning of Western thinking and which ever since characterizes the epochs of the history of Being up to the current technological world age, which the forgetfulness of Being without knowing of it, as it were follows as its principle. 
However, the withholding of the clearing of presence as such prohibits experiencing the lack of the “holy name” specifically as a lack. We are indeed today far removed from the possibility of bringing this matter of concern to knowledge, and of allowing it to prevail as something known. For we remain without insight and access into the pathway character of thinking, which first can vouchsafe an experience of the forgetfulness of Being, that is, of the origin of the “lack.” Indeed—the glimpse of the pathway character of thinking falls prey to the habit of representing which prevails heavily today. For the pathway character of thinking is all too simple and for this reason inaccessible for the prevailing “thinking,” which is stricken with a multiplicity of methods. Already by itself the domination of Dialectic of any type covers up the way to the essence of the pathway. 
But so long as the view of the pathway has been denied to us for seeing that and how a proper manner of presencing also prevails in withdrawal and withholding, so long as we remain blind and disengaged from distressful presencing, which belongs to the lack that holds in itself the name of the holy, then this and the lack with it is concealed. 
Only a stay [Aufenthalt] in the open region, out of which the lack presences, secures the possibility of insight into that which today i s, into that which it lacks. 

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