Saying goodbye means seeing yourself again, therefore these two phrases in German and Spanish. Although in German God or the phrase Lord, is used to greeting someone, in Spanish you do the same to say goodbye to someone.

Coming and going, two different directions that meet again and again. A repetition of the same, an eternal return, as Nietzsche would express it. In a concrete sense, the word “goodbye” does not exist for us who are alive, because we cannot even say goodbye to the dead, because they will always live on in our memories. I can say goodbye physically, but not mentally. There is no spiritual farewell. Ludwig Wittgenstein already said: “What you can’t talk about, you should be silent about.” Words that mean nothing that lead to nothing should be avoided, not used at all and not pronounced. Only facts should be expressed through language. Farewell is not a fact, for it implies coming back.

A man’s story is nothing more than the sum of the farewells he has experienced.

Sarah Krampl

Basically, not even the body says definitely goodbye when it dies. Even if it is burned, atoms, particles remain in the air. Everything stays here on earth. Farewell in the sense of something, a job, somebody, a person, leaving a place means that you keep the farewell in your mind. To say goodbye means to put something aside, to form a fact that then turns into history. A man’s story is nothing more than the sum of the farewells he has experienced. Without goodbyes, no history.

No goodbye, no language. I have to say goodbye to the letter S, if I want to make a word so that I can, for example, write the phrase Language, I have to say goodbye to the S, then the p, then the r, the a, the c and finally the h so that I can add the e etc. If I want to hold on to the letter S of language, then I can’t go any further and get stuck on the S. Man tends to want to record everything that he has once experienced as good or positive, do not want to say goodbye to some events and experiences. But saying goodbye is only an attempt to meet again. The word “farewell” is a convention owed to courtesy, a social custom. To say goodbye is basically to withdraw from someone or something formally, but there is nothing existential about it. When I leave a place or a person and do not say goodbye, the same thing happens to that person and to me as when I say goodbye. Well, that’s a useless, meaningless word.

In the philosophical-phenomenological context, one sees a direction in the word farewell. I go from a place we say, away, and therefore I say goodbye, to the sea in the sea vacation for example. The sea stays there, and I leave the sea, then I am far away from the sea. The word “farewell” contains a spatial and material distance at the same time. Spiritually, however, the sea remains in my memory, perhaps I experience the sea in my mind much closer than if I were standing in front of it. How often does it happen that you are with a person and only really notice, see and feel him after saying goodbye? Just when spoken, goodbyes are things people no longer take for granted. The farewell is thus a kind of break with the familiar. The habit is a repeat offender. Saying goodbye to addiction, such as smoking, means leaving a pattern.

And this is where the temporal component comes into play – the distance not only in space but also in time. Because I’m just a smoker at the moment when I smoke a cigarette, as soon as I don’t smoke a cigarette, I’m a non-smoker, as Allen Carr beautifully explained in his book “At last non-smokers” on quitting smoking. Thus the word farewell means only one thing: distance in space and time. The one who says goodbye is in the future already in another place, another time.

The word “farewell” thus contains something about future, anticipates the future, and if one continues to spin this thought, the farewell already contains the present of reunion and the past of having seen one another. I only say goodbye when I intend to come back, even if only in thought. Without saying goodbye, it is often more important to say goodbye than to do so consciously. In the consciousness of farewell, it is already implied that one lingers at the place of farewell. Going without a farewell means that you do not think about it and therefore go on as if you had not even seen this place, this person from whom you normally say goodbye. Conscious actions are an attempt to record something for one’s own memory. Because the word “farewell” is a highly familiar, meaningless word, nothing remains but the vague memory of a place or people in mind.

The word goodbye can be easily compared to the word time. Both have an objectively concrete and a subjectively perceived component. For example, my son says goodbye to me for a few weeks because he is going to study in another city. The objective, concrete meaning of his farewell is that he will be physically gone. The subjectively perceived component of this farewell is that of our emotional level, which in turn is related to the mood one is in at the time of parting. Moods are future-oriented feelings because they contain expectations. Am I sad or glad that my son says goodbye to me? I’m sad because I can’t see him anymore, I can’t touch him anymore, I can’t take care of him anymore, I’m happy because I have more time for myself or other children, etc. In principle, however, these feelings are changeable, partly false because they are conceited, somewhat incorrect because I can still worry about him, even if he is gone, for example by doing things for him or going shopping. Thus the subjectively felt feelings of farewell are very deceptive.

A final farewell is, when someone or something is not going to come back is almost the same because that the person, thing or fact remains in the memory, perhaps even more so as if or when the person or event was, when they were there. If we stick to the example of smoking, it means that while I smoke and intend to continue smoking, this activity is normal for me and I do not think about it. Only when I quit, when I say goodbye to smoking so to speak, does smoking become an essential topic for me, which triggers some thoughts and feelings. Thus the word “farewell” triggers both thinking and feeling and everything that has to do with thinking and feeling also has a place in memory and forms a story. It is not for nothing that people say “Auf Wiedersehen” in German and in most languages “See you again” when they leave someone.

To say goodbye is to come back, I go and come again. The great final farewell when I leave and never come back because I am dead or move out or move to another city cannot be regarded as final either, because I was there first and those who know me will remember me. Only the distance increases, but in a way, I stay where I was. Just the subjective sensation pretends that a person, an activity, an object would be gone forever, of course perhaps he/she will forget with time and when the mental distance has grown big enough, and also no longer exists in memory. But if we would never say goodbye to a person or an activity, we would never remember it because it would always be there, eternally with us. Toddlers do not yet know the feeling of saying goodbye. When the reference person walks away from them, they think she’s gone forever. Out of sight, out of mind. Only with time do they learn to assess the distance of the path.

Thus, trust also comes into play when saying goodbye. I trust the parting is only temporary. This goes as far as religious beliefs. When someone dies, you say goodbye to them until you see them again in heaven, such as the belief of Catholics but also of Buddhists, who think you will be born again on earth in another form. Being born and die thus happen in a circle and are being repeated. For other religions, such as Catholicism or Judaism, one is taken only once and dies only once. The resurrection is the thought that one overcomes death and regains life, in whatever form, not far from the Buddhist view and not far from Nietzsche’s eternal return.

Sarah Krampl

Sarah Krampl, born in Latisana on 3.9.1971 and raised in Italy (Sanremo) until the age of 14. After graduating from high school, she studied Italian and Spanish in Graz and Klagenfurt. 2003 Master of Philosophy - Mag. Phil. Since 2005 language trainer in Italian and Spanish for the Adult Education Centre, BIT, language courses for the AMS, children's language courses and adult language courses. Translator for the Pension Insurance Institution since 1998. Translations from Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese for various companies. Two self-published books: "Literarisch-philosophische Rezensionen" and "Fachessays"-Married, three children. Lives in Villach, Austria.
Sarah Krampl

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