The Evanescent Thing: Heidegger and Ozu

In: KronoScope

A fundamental consequence of Heidegger’s destruktion of classical metaphysics consists in a radical rethinking of the sense of presence. Nowhere is the verbal and processual sense of presence as strongly articulated as in Heidegger’s work. For Heidegger, things are never merely present. Rather, they must be ceaselessly brought into presence. Herein lies Heidegger’s non-onto-theological thinking of continuous creation: the world must be born anew from out of the anonymous event of presence at each moment of time. Such understanding of presence, in turn, opens into a phenomenology of evanescence or transience wherein every entity repeatedly vanishes and is produced again through the es gibt of being. Things can no longer be taken as persisting tenaciously throughout all that happens. Things are nothing but continuous ex nihilo creation; they exist as verbs and never as nouns. What sustains entities in presence is their perpetual passing away and coming to be. The permanence or constancy of things, then, only lies in their impermanence or, better, in their permanent evanescence. In this way, the article argues for a new understanding of transience: transience must be grasped as grounded not only in the inevitable future disintegration of a certain thing but also in the permanent evanescence or withdrawal of this thing in its very presence. In this respect, the article performs a close reading of the vase sequence from Yasujiro Ozu’s 1949 film Late Spring. As this article argues, what is presented in Ozu’s vase sequence is the continuous passing away and renewal of the thing, the affecting image of permanent evanescence.

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