On reading (and not understanding?) Heidegger

This morning’s Observer column.

If you write about technology, then sooner or later you’re going to meet a smartarse who asks whether you’ve read Heidegger’s The Question Concerning Technology. Having encountered a number of such smartarses in recent years, I finally decided to do something about it, and obtained a copy of the English translation, published in 1977 by Harper & Row. Having done so, I settled down with a glass of sustaining liquor and embarked upon the pursuit of enlightenment.

Big mistake. “To read Heidegger,” writes his translator, William Lovitt, “is to set out on an adventure.” It is. Actually, it’s like embarking on one of those nightmares in which you’re wading through quicksand and every time you grasp a rope or a rock it comes apart in your hand. And it turns out that Heidegger’s fiendish technique is actually to lure you into said quicksand.