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Exegesis of Casey on Heidegger on Place - Step 7

Mark Douglas

This post involves "the clearing" (die Lichtung). The clearing is "an activity that 'makes room' (einraumt) for something more particular to take place. Or, rather, to have place within its free ambience" (Casey, p. 279). The clearing grants clearance amidst the ambiance of the emergence of the event. The clearing creates rumpus room (Zeit-Spiel-Raum) as a being-playful-room. "

The clearing grants leeway to pervasive instance of constitution that comes from our being together as gathered in a place that matters for us as beings-in-the-world. It's not that somebody is in space. Somebody makes space. Somebody clears space. "Clear a path!" "Make way" "Gangway!" But somebody is always already making space in-stantly through standing forth. Somebody makes space by taking up and understanding place. "[T]he primary effect of place is to create room and not to enclose or delimit it. In so doing, place brings about the openness of the Open" (Casey, p. 280).

Its important to emphasize that humans take place and make space but they do NOT create place. Placing as gathering threads of contingency and interactivity is what makes place. Humans share places that gather of their accord. This feature is crucial if we wish to go further after saying that place grants clearance to the clearing. "Dasein can enter the Open, witness it, and even contribute to it (e.g., in art and politics). But human being cannot create the Open, which at once precedes and outlasts any individual Dasein or any collectivity of Daseins" (p. 280). This is the crucial step that must be taken to realize the distinction between place in its readiness-to-hand and place in its existence along with somebody.  

The Open grants clearance to place. Through the Open the wiggle room or rumpus room of place is rooted. The Open understands place. The Open is that on the basis of which place exists.  But the Open is too general to be rigorous and intelligible. Beginning with "The Origin of the Work of Art" Heidegger begins exploring the rift between earth and world. The Open seems to lack a boundary so we need some way to get particular about the character of the Open. As an act of the Open, the work of art demonstrates how the Open is articulated. 

Seemingly dissatisfied with how the work of art stands out as an opportunity articulating the Open, Heidegger takes up "The Thing" and its gathering power. Things become the seat of the fourfold. Things draw the fourfold in nearness and play counter in stride with the Open. Things provide the referentiality that can be interpreted through their significance as making the region. Things assemble as the tokens that evoke place significance. "To be in a place is to be near to whatever else is in that place, and preeminently the things that are co-located there" (Casey, p. 281). The assemblage of things happens in place on the basis of the Open in order to manifest dwelling

The essay "Building, Dwelling, Thinking" relates dwelling in terms of a bridge that is a thing that gathers significance about itself. The bridge emanates nearness and establishes localities in their reference to the bridge-place. The bridge can also be the origin (0,0,0) from which positions are charted in northings, eastings, and elevation. The latter work here means that space emerges on the basis of the gathering about the bridge-place. Nearness consists in this gathering about leeway and rumpus room. 

(Note: this gets me thinking about Harman who maintains that things qua objects are like volcanoes who's real qualities are withdrawn as lava and whose sensual qualities (parametrics) erupt. That is, the eruption is equivalent here to the rumpus room manifested about things. In fact, I believe that nearness itself is the withdrawal space of things in their execution. "Partly because nearness, not being a matter of distance qua interval, is precisely what cannot be measured by space and time taken as objectively parametric in nature" (Casey, p. 281))

With nearness the Open is specified as neighborhood. It is the interplace. It "affords room in the form of locality and location, thereby giving to neighborhood a sustained basis in nearness" (Casey, p. 282). Heidegger's last major work, "Art and Space" gets to the heart of the matter. Rumpus room as clearing space (Raumen) acts to free place. Rumpus room grants clearance to place "by allowing and setting up an Open, lets things appear and human dwelling occur--and in so doing, gives "guarantee" (Gewahrnis) to places" (p. 282). Heidegger then defines place as what "opens a region (Gengend) by every time gathering things into their belonging together" (Art and Space; see Casey's note). It turns out that space emerges from place and place is manifested by things which come to instantiate place. Places are instants among things about and within events. We wrap this around the notion that nearing-hoods, that is, neighborhoods are themselves places as "seats" (Statte). Do not lose the rooted link here between places as in-stants and neighborhoods as Statte. Standing and instantiating are essential aspects of existence and being (at least as I take them). 

So the question of how somebody as Dasein stands in light of wild places is an existential inquiry.