I stood on a steeply sloping hillside deep in the Black Forest, panting, bathed in sweat and covered in mud. A group of llamas had stopped grazing nearby to watch me. After disorientation and fatigue, flying, driving, walking, and running, after springing over an electrified fence and sliding down a wooded slope, after losing my phone, my wife, and my bearings, I had at last found Martin Heidegger’s hut.
Martin Heidegger was born in the small town of Messkirch on the edge of the Black Forest in 1889, a few months after Nietzsche rushed across the Piazza Carlo Alberto in Turin, threw his arms around a cab-horse, and never came out of the embrace. This conjuncture was to be an important one for the young Heidegger; he saw a line of continuity in the idea that he came into the world as Nietzsche’s reason left it. Heidegger would go on to compare philosophical communication as speaking from mountain top to mountain top, and Nietzsche, in his Alpine seclusion, was, for him, the nearest peak.
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