or Otherwise than Being
For Heidegger there was a subtle
metaphoric difference between the "House of Being"
and "dwelling". The difference was made through
the introduction of innocence, by descending from the highs
of metaphysics to something that is closer to us: the dwelling
is conceived as "being closer to something". The
anecdote about Heraklit from "The Letter of Humanism"
presents the un-readiness of man to accept such closeness,
familiarity (namely, the visitors
of Heraklit were disappointed that they had not found him
in a deep philosophical contemplation but they saw him as
he was warming up next to his stove).
According to Heidegger, the innocence of dwelling is in contrast
to the pompousness of philosophy. The description of the dwelling
as "concern", "care", "expectation
of divinity" attributes an ethical tone to its interpretation.
"The House of Being" is a metaphor that is used
in order to bring us closer to the Being: with something familiar
and known as the house we get closer to something so strange
and alien, unknown and abstract as Being.
The 'House of Being' is the language itself. I live, I dwell
means the same as I am.The dwelling consists of the four basic
dimensions: earth, sky, divine and mortal. The house is what
is known, familiar, and what can become a dwelling in any
moment; a representation of what is invisible with what is
invisible and unknown. The association between building, being
and dwelling brings us to the thesis that the being can happen
only within something that is closed, sheltered and fenced
in. Such genealogical ideas about the space for living as
a space that enables the "constitution of the subject"
can also be found in Foucault's writing, and entails a space
that is connected with an event and time.
According to Heidegger, the first trouble in life is not just
the lack of a home but the continuous quest for the meaning
of dwelling. Homelessness does not mean misery but a call
for dwelling, building, during which the process of thinking
becomes inevitable. Therefore, the house should not only be
a shelter for the necessary dwelling but also for thinking
while exempted from danger: acquirement of free space for
reification of the essence of being; building/brackets in
which framework the human being has the freedom to be just
Obviously, the exile from home and homeland sounds as it is,
in an inevitable opposition to the condition of safeness under
your own roof. Nevertheless, it questions the possibility
of the concept of home and safeness as well as the concept
of "House of Being". Taking into account the tragic
circumstances of the acceptance and perverting of the whole
Heideggerian philosophic system in Nazi Germany that indirectly
lead to building the concentration camps as the most tragic
form of dwelling ever known, and by the same token reminding
that Levinas had written some of his most famous lines about
the 'face of the Other' under such circumstances,
we cannot but think the concept of dwelling as unpredictable
and paradoxical. The "House of Being" is "otherwise"
than Being and under no circumstances should be equalized
that does not mean that it is not more comfortable to think
and write besides your stove. Humans do not deserve homes
only to be privileged and highly intellectual. That was exactly
the hidden absurd of the Heideggerian concept: the desire
to bring something incomprehensible 'down to earth', to put
closer the abstract concept of Being to the 'ordinary' man
by something that is familiar - the concept of dwelling hides
the underestimation of the simple dwelling, so necessary and
essential for living. It was not accident that such pretentious
conceptualisation gave way to the biggest 'philosophic travesty'
in the history. No doubt that the latest displacements of
peoples and individuals in the Balkans brought light to the
problems of unusual forms of dwelling: refugee camps, endless
movements from one house to another, changing places, languages,
No doubt hardly any of all these people
have had the time and will to write Levinasian or Heideggerian
disputes about God and Being. The question that is raised
will not be 'isn't their need of the warmth of home more urgent
than the 'eternal quest of the meaning of dwelling'?
No matter how populist I will sound by saying this, I would
like to argue that the quest for dwelling necessarily brings
the meaning of dwelling rather than other way around. Philosophy
and dwelling should go along to each other, not to contrast
to each other.
Hereby I do not mean that the denying of the need of quest
for meaning of dwelling will therefore improve the situation
of the 'moved out'. It is just the excuse paradoxically derived
from the Heideggerian thinking that should be erased from
any vocabulary: the so often heard thesis that people in exile
think better and more sharply once that they were brought
into dangerous and unpleasant conditions.