In seeking to "overcome" metaphysics, Heidegger increasingly felt the inadequacy of the word "being" (Sein). (The first letter is usually capitalized in English translations but in German, as we all know, all nouns begin with a capital letter.) So he begins to write in its old German, Seyn. The old English equivalent is "beyng." Still not satisfied, he finally crosses out the word Sein and states that "the cross-like sign" brings forth "the four regions of the quadrant, their coming-together at the location where the cross operates" (Question of Being (QB), 83; as quoted in Jean-François Mattéi (co-authored with Dominique Janicaud and translated by Michael Gendre), Heidegger: From Metaphysics to Thought, (Albany: SUNY, 1995), 95). As Mattéi argues persuasively that the structure of the cross is not only evident in Heidegger's well known fourfold: the sky, gods, the earth, and mortals but also in many of his crucial statements that are delivered in chiasmus such as:
But the question into the house (Wesen, essence) of Being crumbles if it does not renounce the language of metaphysics, because metaphysical representation prevents thinking the question into the house (Wesen, essence) of Being (QB, 73).
Or, more simply but enigmatically put:
Being and Reason [Grund]: the same. Being: the abyss [Ab-ground] (Principle of Reason, 51).
The chiasmus structure becomes visible if we put the four words on each corner of an imaginary square as follows: sky and gods on the upper corners and earth and mortals on the lower corners; or, for another example, in the same way: being and reason on the upper corner and being and abyss on the lower (with the word "same" at the center).
Heidegger's point, as Mattéi explains, is that the four are in a relationship to each other in both "tearing-apart" [écartellement] and in "the unity of being" with the center that is crossed out (if you draw the imaginary oblique lines from corner to corner). Mattéi writes:
The four tearings disjoin the unity of Being into a fourfold tearing [déchirure], without ever allowing a resorption of the chorismos. However the unity of Being emerges reinforced from this tearing-apart, so that, as Plato said, 'Being... encircle, must itself be transformed into a circle surrounding and founding the totality of beings" (Cratylus, 204; as quoted in Heidegger: From Metaphysics to Thought, 96).
Being gets crossed out. Being is at the center of the tearing apart and pulling together of the fourfold that constitutes the non- or beyond-metaphysical structure of "being-in-the-world" (to use the language of Being and Time) in relationship to the heaven and the earth in concert with mortals, as Heidegger describes (in a gallant effort to use non-metaphysic language) in "The Thing," Poetry, Language, and Thought. Mortals come from earth and return to earth (in death), after having inhabited the dwelling granted by the generous gift of being, which in its giving withdraws itself into the abyss of being, into nothingness, into Ab-grund. The oblique cross expresses the grounding of all beings by being that in itself is Ab-grund (abyss). This is Heidegger in essence exhibited in the figure of chiasmus. Being gives under the erasure of the oblique cross at the center of chiasmus.
"By revealing itself in the being [Seiende, tó ōn, the totality of beings], being [Sein] withdraws."
Heidegger repeats this chiasmus twice in "Anaximander Saying," each in a paragraph all by itself. (Pathmarks, 253, 254).