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Exegesis of Casey on Heidegger on Place - Step 4

Mark Douglas

In our journey toward understanding and interpreting how the phenomenological geographer, Edward Casey reflects Heidegger's work on place we now arrive in the thinker's middle period following his "turn." The foundation of this time in regard to thinking place is the region. For my thinking, I relate place to the scale of a particular creek's watershed while a region is akin to several creeks and perhaps a section of a river or larger creek. A place seems to be at the scale of a neighborhood or district while a region is more like a city or a county. That's my take, at least.

We get a new place word in step four. das Offene or the Open plays a significant role in "The Origin of the Work of Art." Open has etymological roots grounded in the Greek, hypo, as "from below" with a similar sense as sub-. The Open gets considered in one of Heidegger's less academic works, "Conversation on a Country Path." The conversation happens during a hike taken by a scholar, a scientist, and a teacher. Someone comments about the Open as an element of the horizon and the teacher replies that the Open is "something like a region, an enchanted region where everything belonging there returns to that in which it rests" (1966, p. 65). 

Now we get the familiar move that takes region as Gegend in transformation to its active form as regioning and the older noun Gegnet, that-which-regions. Whereas in Being and Time the region was structured by the network of significance and signal paths within the totality of references among gear, now we come to find region encompassing and involving Dasein as another member of the regional enmeshment. "That-which-regions is an abiding expanse which, gathering all, opens itself, so that in it the Open is halted and held, letting everything merge into its own resting" (1966, p. 66). The key in this statement is that ALL are gathered and EVERYTHING merges. 

But how does somebody relate to the Open through the region? Waiting. "Waiting means: to release oneself into the Open of that-which-regions" (p. 72). Releasement plays a significant role in Heidegger's ontology. When somebody is skillfully dealing with matters at hand that somebody is responding to the resonant solicitations of the matter. Not only is somebody basking in their familiar understanding of the involvement, but somebody is open to the possibilities at play in dealing with whatever is at hand. Granting releasement to the things that somebody is dealing with means carefully being attentive to what's going on without trying to control or manhandle the situation. To release a thing is to grant it free reign in-the-world in a way that is responsive to what the situation calls for. It is a releasement "into a participatory belonging to the open-region of being" (p. 77).