A couple weeks ago, I posted this quote from Being and Time, claiming that an Agambenian priority of potentiality came more or less directly from Heidegger: “As a modal category of presence-at-hand, possibility signifies what is not yet actual and what is not at any time necessary. It characterizes the merely possible. Ontologically it is on a lower level than actuality and necessity. On the other hand, possibility as an existentiale [i.e., the equivalent of a "category" for Dasein's special way of being] is the most primordial and ultimate positive way in which Dasein is characterized ontologically” (M&R trans., pg. 183, original pp. 143-44).
Last night I worked through the analysis of death, and it strikes me that what is most crucial about death isn’t that it’s the empirical “end” of Dasein’s life (such that all accounts are settled, etc.) — my death is the potentiality that is, for me, only ever potentiality. Once it becomes “actualized,” I am no longer there. Thus death is uniquely suited to the problem of grasping Dasein as a whole, given that potentiality seems to be the obstacle to doing so. (And the problem with the understanding of death perpetuated by the “they” is that it makes death seem like it’s been actualized, when the really anxiety-provoking thing is that it’s always present precisely as a potentiality.)
The “existentialist” reading of this analysis is misleading — the problem isn’t to find personal authenticity, etc., but to isolate a pure and unsurpassable potentiality that can never be actual, i.e., to get a handle on a formal philosophical concept. Nowhere is the orientation of the existential analysis of Dasein toward the question of Being more radical, even if these pages have tended to rivet readers’ attention on the analysis of Dasein as an end in itself.
[Disclaimer: odds are, I'm not saying anything remotely original. I realize this.]