“Into this world we’re thrown /
Like a dog without a bone”.
“Riders on the Storm” (1971)
after a slow gathering
sensations & molecules
suddenly we arrive
choiceless & unprepared
but with the implicit imperative
*Geworfenheit – ‘throwness’ is a German neologism coined by the philosopher Martin Heidegger to describe the situation of our arrival in the world. We are thrown into life. This experience does not require our ego’s will power. Life is thrust upon us. So much of what we are and who we are is provided by where and when we are. Each one of us is located in time and space. We are placed, situated within a family, people, a culture. We are formed by that time/place. Overwhelmed by the pressure of time and place, we conform. We speak the given language, eat the given cuisine, acquire the given world-view, practice the given religion, customs, politics, economics, usually without a thought. The work of a mature individual is to-stand-out of what they were ‘thrown into’ – their life-context to appraise the cultural norms they have been given. The positive creative values they may choose to conform to and the negative destructive values they may choose to change. In the context of 1930’s Germany and the rise of the Nazis, Heidegger failed to follow his own insight.
In 1963 Jim Morrison, founder of The Doors heard a lecture on Heidegger’s existential philosophy at Florida State University in Tallahassee. The quotation preceding this poem came from that experience.