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the ocean of forgetting

June 25, 2010

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When a prolonged silence reigned in the room after a difficult question had been addressed to the participants, Heidegger would turn his head in Dragomir’s direction and say: “Na! Was sagen die Lateiner?” (“Well, what do the Latins say?”) And “Dragomir the Latin” loved to provoke Heidegger, and, whenever he got the chance, to contradict him. When, for example, the master affirmed, along the lines of the paragraphs on “readiness-to-hand” in Being and Time, that there are no such things as pure objects, but only objects given significance in a context of use – a chair, for example, is “something for sitting on” – Dragomir retorted: “How can you explain then, Herr Professor, that there are chairs in the museum with the inscription ‘Please do not sit here’?”

I often wondered, in his late years when I knew him, why Dragomir almost never felt the need to return, in a commemorative sense, to his Freiburg period, and to tell us stories of “back then”. He was probably afraid that the almost mythical proportions of the moment that had constituted his life might fix him, in the eyes of others, in that single determination of the beginning. He did not want to remain “the one who was lucky enough to be in Heidegger’s proximity for a while”. And yet, how had he felt then, caught in the ray of the personality of a thinker like Heidegger? Once only, he told us with a laugh: “At the start of one lecture, Heidegger said to us: ‘To think means compromising yourself.’ That put me at ease: right, I said to myself, I can manage that, sir!” (read)

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