Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Heidegger's Hut

Call me a dull old rationalist if you like, but I perenially find myself thinking that Heidegger's Hut, source of inspiration for Being Dwelling Thinking (and much besides) might have been a bit damp. It seems cut so sharply in to the Swabian hillside as to have it's rear gutter almost touching the meadow. And it sits alongside a spring, so one wonders without technological wonders (none allowed) how condusive to thinking thoughts of the devine it would actually be. To my mind as I lie in my hut, to all intents and purposes our bed four floors up above London, contemplating my being at 5am and staring at a poster of Lake Tahoe, Martin might have given much thought about the weather but little as to it's consequences.
We all need our huts and they take many guises. Le Corbusier placed his chair next to a large box containing the lift machinery for the apartments below in Rue Nungesser et Coli. I imagine him sitting there smoking his pipe and scanning the newspaper enjoying the clunk and whine of the machinery, just as I do when I'm waiting for the lift at work. When he decamped south, he had his timber shack, the cabanon, usefully attached to a restaurant. My friend Andrew Lane has a terrific cottage out in the hills above Cork, and it's as Heideggarian an experience as I've ever had, until you run out of booze and have to traipse miles and miles to the local village. I long for such a thing myself, equipped with solitude, estuary, sky and Julie, but also amenities, and probably on stilts.
Out in the wilds of the Black Forrest there would have been no such distractions, and Heidegger's thinking was undoubtedly serious, not so serious as to stop him joining the Nazi party, but certainly cosmic. A student of mine guffawed the other day that Heidegger thought so hard that every time he hit a wall he made up a new name for it. As a language of course, German is like that. But how could he have thought the Nazi's were a good idea? The answer of course is that such political and materialist concerns were insufficiently mysterious for the serious thinker, even if that sounds wrong in almost every conceivable way.
One thing we can be sure about, Martin Heidegger doesn't come over as a practical man. His wife bought the land, employed the carpenter and all that, and it's hard to imagine him fitting in to a farming community of practical people, despite his abiding respect for them. This might, in a round about way, explain why Oxford University doesn't have an architecture department, my own at Bristol was closed in '84 and the one at Cambridge follows a strong Heideggarian line.
Make of that what you will.

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