Space for Rent

How do we make up for the solitary feat of finding a place in the world? Heidegger’s idea of Dasein refigures such a being in hyphenated terms – an existence which is tied ontologically to certain ends as death, the world, and so on. It is battle fought for one’s own. And to notice this kind of authentic knot seems to matter for Heidegger insofar as there is the time that limits it: death limits it. For him, space is no longer that relevant, so that wherever you are in the world is nothing against the time – the moment – when you are living it temporally. While Kant speaks of both space and time, with special stress on the former concerning the spatial significance of geometry in his discourse, Heidegger suspends this and diverts a weighty focus on the essence of time in one’s being.

But why does it matter for a person, in ethical terms, to exist only in time without minding necessarily the space he inhabits in the world? The universal quest for finding and staying in a home where one feels one belongs becomes suspect over the charge against its own fancy. In old romanticist formulas, it is seeking the love of one’s life in the limited time one is given. But beyond this unstable and sometimes petty resurgence to home-seeking romanticisms is an existential conditioning that renders the question of being inescapable. And space is unavoidably coalesced in this limitedness, since the space one cohabits is only as good as the time one has. In this merging of an emergence where both are equally sustained and are bound to terminate simultaneously, the ontological relation can only be explained in terms of economical renting. And one has to pay the price of one’s life to regain as much time as one needs to put things in place.

Why one’s life? The space we share as human beings is a zero gravity field, which means that our feet must always be in the ground. This and the ultimate realization that we do not own such field is enough to say that our lives are disposable and this kind of existence shouldn’t make us boast of anything. It rather should keep us grounded – in humilitas. This is the only price we can pay for staying contingently and unworthily (but fortunately!) and we have to make the most out of it. Out of the solitariness amid its universality, to pay this price requires a lot of personal finding and losing: there is really no point in hoarding much space and visualizing dreams of immortality to prolong one’s time. The strange personal search for one’s life only to lose it is part of the natural play of limits, because in no way must we embrace an eternity within an influx of replaceable lives.

In truth, the gospel last Sunday still proves it right: the Son of Man, representing humanity-in-the-world, has no place to lay his head, which is precisely why we have to go on living. A rented space operates almost exactly as a borrowed time and this is in itself a drive to carry on. In a limited space within a limited time where operations are made in a give-and-take, feet-on-the-ground scenario, a further meaning of existing in the world finds rest in a continuous movement, in a life fully lived, in which moments recharge it all the more.

 

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