Heidegger's Body Parts  
    James Sallis

This, he said, is Heidegger's arm.

Or perhaps not. An extreme close-up, shoulder to wrist, hand out of frame (as friends who write scripts might say): how is one to know? But let us give him benefit of doubt.

He appears to be reaching for something (our speaker continues). Perhaps a book of Hegel's or Holderlin's lurking there (we may as well say it) just offscreen, or a cup of that bitter, dark Viennese coffee he prefers.

This is Heidegger's hand. Note the grooved callous on the second digit, into which the pen fits like a ladle into a gravy-boat, note how the cuticle pushes away from the nail, how the nail itself is deformed from the frequent protracted pressure of the pen.

Heidegger's face. On the planes of which considerations live like squatters and homesteaders in Westerns.

Here (you think) is a man who would understand that black bread cannot be hurried, understand the time it takes to train bears properly, a man who would always select as best the sourest cheese.

And, finally, this (our speaker says, shutting off the slide projector) is the space around Heidegger.

We sit blinking in the sudden light.

James Sallis has produced an impressive body of work. Among his recent books are a translation of Queneau's SAINT GLINGLIN and a collection of essays, GENTLY INTO THE LAND OF THE MEATEATERS; forthcoming books include a major biography of Chester Himes, a two-volume Collected Stories, a collection of longer poems, and a Selected Poems.


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