Heidegger & Art: A Translation Attempt

Here, I translate two paragraphs from “The Origin of the Work of Art” here, attempting to convey some of the poetic connotations Heidegger invokes.

This translation privileges the artistic connotations of Riß, a word Heidegger uses to convey both the rift between earth and world and the space for artistic creation.  Riß (contemporary spelling is  Riss) primarily means “tear,” can be merely a “scratch” or a deep “chasm.” However, this also means “outline,” “sketch,” and “blueprint.” I attempt to express this connotation using phonetic and poetic aspects of English, at the risk of etymological anachronism.

Here is my first draft of the translation:

The Origin of Artwork

Translation of paragraph, pg. 50-1.

As a world opens itself up, the earth comes, jutting out. Earth shows itself as the all-carrying, as contained within its law and always self-sealed. World demands its decisiveness and measure, and beings arrive, let into the open of its path. Earth, carrying and jutting out, strives to uphold and entrust all to its law. Strife is not a rift, in the sense of a dark abyss, rather strife intimately brings antagonists together as belonging to one another. The rift scratches out these opponents together from their mutual ground into the source of their original unity. This is the basic scrawl: the rough sketch, drawing a rough blueprint for working out the clearing of of beings. This rift doesn’t let the opponents burst apart, but brings them by measure and boundary into a scribbling an overall outline.

The truth furnishes itself as strife insofar it brings beings forth only to open up the strife in these beings; that is, the being itself is brought into the rift. The rift is the consistent drawing-motion of rough sketch [Aufriß] and basic scrawl [Grundriß], scraping apart [Durchriß] and scribbling an outline [Umriß]. The truth furnishes itself in beings, so much so indeed, that the being itself owns the openness of truth. This ownership, however, can only happen insofar as that which brings forth, the rift, commits itself to sealing-itself and to jutting out in the open. The rift must shelve itself in the gravity of the stone, the mute hardness of the wood, the dark glow of colors. Here, the earth takes back the rift. Here, the rift first produces and thereby places, that is, seriously sets, in the open, that which, sealing-itself and protecting itself, juts out.

Translated from Heidegger, Martin. “Der Ursprung des Kunstwerkes.” Holzwege.Gesamtausgabe, vol. 5. Frankfurt am Main:. Vittorio Klosterman, 1977

Please comment with your thoughts, corrections, or criticisms.

-Colin Bodayle, April 4th, 2016


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