The Question Concerning Frogs (vom Heidegger)

I sympathize with those who ask why an account dedicated to strange vintage holiday stuff seems to become a home for retro images of amphibians starting around April each year.

I sympathize, but you have to understand that your question actually answers itself. Or, no, it doesn’t answer itself, but it contains its answer within itself. No, that’s not quite it, either.

This one’s gonna take some drinkin’ and thinkin’…

Or, let me try to clarify. The question of why I post frogs is an important one, and we should take a moment to think about what happens when we ask such a question, or, indeed, any question. Martin Heidegger can help with this:

Questioning builds a way. We would be advised, therefore, above all to pay heed to the way, and not to fix our attention on isolated sentences and topics. The way is one of thinking.

Martin Heidegger (“The Question Concerning Technology” in Basic Writings, Ed. David Farrell Krell, HarperSanFrancisco: 1993 [orig. 1954], p. 311)
I know philosophy, especially Heidegger’s wordy version, makes many people feel like this guy. My apologies, but it’s the only way I can explain this.

Your questioning is not really about frogs. To focus on the frogs is to “fix [your] attention on isolated sentences and topics,” namely those frogs. But it’s not really the frogs you’re asking about, is it? I could post lots of retro images of garters, and you’d still have a similar question, right?

My point is that when you ask me why I post pictures of frogs, the frogs are merely the occasion for your asking why I do something weird. What you’re really asking is why I post that which seems somehow off topic, uncanny, or, to use a good German and Heideggerian word: Unheimlich.

Uncanny enough for ya?

Unheimlich is often translated as “uncanny,” but it literally means un-home-like. In German, the suggestion is that things that are not like home are actually somehow unsettling and possibly even disturbing. That’s why “uncanny” is usually a better translation. But if we think about the actual German word, it starts to seem like a bit of a, well, uncanny way to say uncanny. There are lots of things that aren’t like my home that aren’t “uncanny.” My neighbor’s house is different, but it’s not unsettling to me. My grandmother’s house is different from my home, but it’s even the opposite of unsettling and uncanny. But what I think Unheimlich really suggests is that the “uncanny” designates something in which or with which I could not comfortably live, dwell, or endure. It may be interesting, it may even be fascinating, but I couldn’t endure it for very long.

I try to be hospitable, but these dudes would make my home Unheimlich.

What your question about my frogs seems to say to me, then, is that you cannot really endure my frogs for very long, at least not comfortably. Unless you’re a herpetologist, however, that’s not particularly unusual. Even those with pet frogs don’t want to tarry alongside frogs for a long time. And we haven’t even mentioned yet the anthropomorphized frogs, the ones wearing clothes, the ones sword fighting, playing instruments, selling beard lotion, etc.

This is what Heidegger meant when he talked about the grounders of the abyss. Fight me over it; I’ll win!

To ask about my frogs, then, is really you pointing out the questionable nature of your feelings. You question me, but it is actually your own feeling of uncanniness, of being unable to dwell long in my company, that is questioning and questionable. This is not a bad thing. Rather, the worst thing would be not to be able to find anything questionable at all, not least yourself. Heidegger, again, points out how this is a very widespread modern problem:

We are used to calling the era of ‘civilization’ the one that has dispelled all bewitchery, and this dispelling seems more probably — indeed uniquely — connected to complete unquestionableness. Yes it is just the reverse.

Heidegger (_Contributions to Philosophy (of the Event)_, trans. Daniela Vallega-Neu and Richard Rojcewicz, Indiana UP: 2012 [orig. 1936-8), “59.Bewitchery and the era of complete unquestionableness”, p. 98)
Is this frog civilized? Can frogs be civilized? Do I even know what I’m saying any more? Is anyone still reading this?

We think that civilization occurs when all things are answered and all questionableness and uncanniness has been eradicated. That seems to be the nature of science, of rationality, indeed of overall good sense. But if that were true, what about civilization would be shining and worth striving for? If all things were unquestionable and clear, would civilization have a point? What would its worth be if it eliminated all strangeness, got rid of everything uncanny and questionable? Would anyone want to live in such a civilization?
I think not.

So your questionable questioning of my frogs is in many ways both a foundational moment of giving meaning to civilization while at the same time the fruit of questionableness itself continuing to become questionable. By questioning my frogs, you are engaging in the re-be-witching, in the best sense, of the world. You are taking what seems uncanny and questionable and making it resonate as questionable in its becoming and remaining questionable.

I wonder if Heidegger ever dressed up like a Bavarian frog and danced with Mrs. Heidegger in his Black Forest hut like this. I can’t imagine it, but I can also totally imagine it.

The frogs are not weird. It is your questioning the weirdness of the frogs that produces both the weirdness and their questionableness in a kind of self-grounding moment in which the uncanny provides its own effects to its source. The question concerning my frogs is the question that keeps me weird.

I am Weird Christmas because you question my frogs. And I thank you.

Beyng essentially occurs as the appropriation of the gods and humans to their en-counter. In the clearing of the concealment of the ‘between,’ a ‘between’ which arises out of, and with, the en-countering appropriation, there arises the strife of world and earth. It is only within the temporal-spatial playing field of this strife that the appropriation comes to be preserved and lost and that so-called beings step into the open realm of this clearing.

If you’re feeling generous, check out my Patreon page here where you can get all kinds of bonuses throughout the year. You can also buy me a “coffee” ($3 gifts) at

Or PLEASE LEAVE A WEIRD REVIEW ON APPLE PODCASTS OR YOUR FAVORITE PODCAST APP! Send me a note that you did (, and I’ll send you a sticker!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s