Heidegger did a very clever thing when he argued that an appearance, a representation, an impression, or whatever diminutive title we want to give to the brain’s virtual model of the world, existed, and so, being at hand, was a perfect candidate for metaphysical and ontological research. Better situated to our prying scalpels than the atom, or the force, or any lump of matter could ever be, the appearance floats graspably in front of our faces, and contains all of the mysteries of existence as much as any wave function or angel. If we are accustomed to seeing representations as so many partial images, pregnant in illusion in proportion to their partiality, this might seem inadvisable. Surely the being to be extracted from these wraiths is the being of illusion, of contingent and fragmented partiality. But these ghosts, being the only friends of presence we have, deserve their hearing.
This ghostly dance of ‘turning toward’ and ‘turning away’, of hiddenness and unhiddenness, of a spectral life of ‘metaphysical homelessness’, of the ethereal fog of Being in all beings, how could it not end up haunting us, taunting us with an authenticity that is always already lost? Is it philosophy itself that is haunted by a neverending nostalgia for Ancient Greece? Is it this nostalgia that sustains the ‘actuality’ of Heidegger? And, on the other hand, did Heidegger not betray precisely all these ghostly beings, when he ‘incorporated’ them into Germanhood and nazism?
Perhaps, maybe, no, yes? But maybe it all boils down to asking how we can avoid similar fates, while we carry on with our dissatisfaction with the provisional, the half-formed, the dialethic, the in-between, the cyborg and the hybrid. Heidegger is philosophy’s great cautionary tale, of what happens when the philosopher loses their humility before the complexity and becomes numb to the grey rainbows, the spectra of the specters, despite being the one who unearthed and summoned them. As the world disintegrates into myopic sludge around us, we’d do well to trace alternative routes out of these blurry caverns. Is this a will-o’-the-wisp before us? Or maybe is it us who keep glowing, and who keep doing what ghosts do best: persisting.