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Amphora (Extracts)

Author(s): Werner Hamacher and Dana Hollander

Source: Assemblage, No. 20, Violence, Space (Apr., 1993), pp. 40-41
Published by: The MIT Press
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:: The two canonical determinations of space-that
it is extended and that it is divisible-are erroneous:
space is extending and dividing.
:: Propositions about space give off the appearance
of being independent of it, as of something foreign
which can be said to have or lack properties without
itself being involved, as if its play were not thereby
affected. But every proposition is a proposition inor at-a space; and every proposition opens a space
(or closes it).
:: The concept of extension gives rise to misunderstandings: space presupposes no interior which
could then, by extending it or spreading it apart be
progressivelymade into an exterior. The notion of
extension sets out from a compact origo and then
from an ego which supposedly relates to an 'outside
world' and experiences this relation as its expansion.
But extension thus understood as an expansion of
an interior never attains space as something without
interior and without an opposite. It remains merely
an externalized center of cogitation or perception.
:: Freud's remarkabout spatiality participates in this
misunderstanding:"Spatialitymay be the projection
of the extension of the psychic apparatus.No other
derivation likely. Instead of Kant's a prioriconditions
of our psychic apparatus.Psyche is extended, knows
nothing of it." (GW XVII, 152) The concept of projection, one of the most problematic in psychoanalytic theory, suggests a genealogical and spatial
distance between the 'extension' of the psyche and
the spatiality of our perceptions-a distance that is
traversedby projection and which supposedly permits the psyche to regardthe image it has layed out,
or the form of the image that is drawn from itself, as
the outside world. Only, the distance traversedby
projection is alreadyspatial, an extension that cannot
be qualitatively distinct from the one which is supposed to characterizepsyche itself. Thus, projection
cannot traversethis distance; rather it must first
project it itself. 'Projection projects spatiality'would
then mean: projection is the psychic mechanism that
first opens up spaces-both intrapsychic spaces and
those between the psyche and the outside world. If
the psyche is extended, it is because projection is the
process of its extension, the psyche of psyche, a spacing in the sense of a topical differentiation which
first opens up a place for psyche itself and for its correlates. Since we must abandon the notions of a genealogical succession or of a derivative distinction
between psychic space and external space, we may
also not speak of a projection. It is a jection, a throw
which extends and, without origo or orientation,
spaces. (There is no throwerwhich is not itself already thrown and in the throw.)
:: Space must be thought as spacing; as grantingspace and thus as an allowance of a space and as
clearing-out, and thus as allowing the emptiness of
:: Space is not simply extended; it is not the asunder
of discrete parts of a space or a place. To be in any
way asunder would at the very least include the possibility of an interior, a contraction, or a condensation which is no longer extended: yet any interiorwhether it be called ideality, cogito or psyche-is in
its turn spatial. Hegel's formulation that space is die
Au/erlichkeit an ihm selbst corrects the massive and
wholly unfounded privilege given to the exterior by
way of its seemingly inconspicuous an: space is-and
thus is not-not exteriority, but atteriority,laterality
(and, non-geocentrically, aterrality.)


:: The Thing an itself (Ding an sich). Space.

:: Space is not an object, it is not a being among or
beside other beings. If one can only say of a being
that it is, then space cannot be. (Hence the controversy over the 'reality'of space and of the outside
world, as they are discussed in philosophical texts
since Plato at the latest.) Space lies by and beside itself, differentiated from itself, near itself. (It distances and dis-stances (itself).)
:: Space: the opportunity (Gelegenheit) of all that is.
:: Space means: without origo and without orientation.
:: Space is not extension, but tension, tensions,
elongations, separations, accents. (Ictus, diaeresis,
syncope, colon, trema, circumflex, grave, lenis, H,
etc. according to Democritic rhythm.)
:: Space is not divisible, does not consist of parts,
and is itself not a part of a whole-so much so that
the formula partes extra partes, by which every discrete space may relate itself to others as closed totalities, is unsuited to the task of its definition. The
concept of the whole is formed through that of the
organic, the functional body. It is incompatible with
that of space. And thus also with that of the part
and the parts.
:: Space is not an object.
:: It has no boundary to isolate it from another
space or from non-space.
:: If space had a boundary, this boundary would be
drawn in or against a space, which in its turn would
have to have such a boundary, which would also
have to run in a space, and so on. Space has no
boundary-if it had one, that boundary would a
limine be one against non-space, one that would determine space and determine it as non-space-it allows its boundary to be drawn. Space allowing the
boundary to be drawn means that it doesn't draw
that boundary itself; that it doesn't hold to the
boundary;that it lets it draw and withdraw itself;
and that it, by allowing this, withdraws from the
drawing and the withdrawal of its own determination. In this sense there is no definition of space
that does not include its infinition. (To continue to
draw the boundary around space, its 'and-so-on,' is
not a being-at-a-loss (Verlegenheit) that impedes
the attempt to think space 'from the outside'; it belongs to space as much as to the thinking of space.)
:: Space is the being-at-a-loss of thinking, its
spatialization. Thinking means to be at a loss in
:: It is not finite, it finites itself. It is nothing but its
infinite finitization.
:: "Le silence eternel de ces espaces infinis
m'effraie"-this is how someone must speak who
wants to reserve finitude for himself.
:: Space is without dimensions. There would be
spatial dimensions only if there were an origo of its
measurements which would itself be spatial.
(Aristotle distinguishes two ways of counting the dimensions of things: six in relation to the spectator-up, down, right and left, front and back-three
without relation to the spectator-height, length,
and breadth. While the center point of the construction is in the first case the human figure in
geocentric space, in the other case it is the geophysi-

calorigoof falling,climbing,andexpansion;in both

casesthe constructionof dimensionsis orientedtowardone pointwhich,as pointandthusas non-dimensional,canbelongneitherto thingsnorto
place.The transitionfrompointto line, fromline to
spacewouldbe a transitionfromout of
thus spacewoulditselfbe puretransispacelessness;
tion into space:it wouldbe-Hegel recognizedthis
the spaceof the concept.)DimenUnsinnlichkeit),
sionalspace,the kindconstructedfroma geometricalcenterpoint,a non-spatialpoint,is therefore
spaceparexcellence,the spaceof a point.
:: The treatiseon "place"(topos,khora)in
the "essence"(ousia)of place:it is neitherthe form
northe matterof a thing,noris it the spacebetweentwothings.In the firstcaseit wouldbe in the
sameplaceas the thingandthustwoplaceswould
be in one andthe sameplace,andtherewouldhave
to be a placeof place;in the firstandsecondcasesit
wouldbe affixedto the thing,but whileeachthing
is capableof motion,place-as longas it is the
placeof the thing-must remainconstant;the
thirdcaseconfusesthe spatialintervalbetweentwo
boundarieswithair:airis a bodylikeanyotherand
thus,definedby formandmatter,cannotbe the
placeof the thing.If placeis then not form,not
matter,andnot the spatialintervalor distancebetweentwolimits,it mustbe a fourththing,that is,
whatis in eachcasethe nearestsurrounding
matter,anddistancewithoutitselfbeingone of
themandwithoutbeing,likethem,capableof mowouldbe
tion.This fourththing,the surrounding,
placeandwouldas an externalboundaryprovideall
thingsandpartsof thingswiththeirplace.Thus,
placeis not the boundaryof things-that wouldbe
its eidos-but the boundaryof thatboundary.
Placeis the horizonof bodies.Not theirconcept,
not theirappearance
andnot the surrounding
otherbodies,in relationto whichtheylocalize
themselves,but whatis outermostin theseother
bodies,the outermostsurroundings,
(21la30). As surrounding,
placeis a
vessel,a vase,a jug,an amphora(209b25;210a30,
blO,b15);but the amphorais considerednot as a
body,andnot evensimplyas a boundary,but as the
outermostboundaryof the innerwallof a container
is equalto that of the thingit
contains,whichis tied to it andyet detachedfrom
it. Thus,everythingandeverypartof a thingis conat its place,as in an amtainedin its surrounding,
phora.Placethuslies at the outermostboundaryof
things,whereit touchesthe outermostboundaryof
the thingsthat surroundit-and the expression
"outermostor firstboundary"
(perasproton)indicatesthat eachof theseboundariesis thoughtby
line but someAristotleto be not a mathematical
withinitself...If the
thingthatis differentiated
andthe surrounded
boundariesof the surrounding
weremerelyseparatedfromone another,then they
wouldconstituteonlythe formof discretethings;
but if theywereone boundary,theywouldbe the
formalboundariesof a singlething-and in either
of the place
casetheywouldnot be determinations
of things.Placecancoincideneitherwiththe form
of a thing,norwiththatof its surrounding;
by the
sametoken,it cannotbe simplydistinguishedfrom
eitherof them-:it mustthereforebe the 'boundary'


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thatwhichboth dividesandbindsthem.Detached
fromeachotherandstilllinkedto eachother
e kaihaptomenon,
21la30), the two
boundaries-thatof the surrounding
andthat of
the surrounded--cohere
one is, detachedfromthe other,alsoin it
de en ekeino,21la35);theyareeven
both in the Same(en tauto);yet, theyaretwo
boundariesnot of the Same(amphoperata,all'ou
touautou,21lblO).The contactbetweentwo
boundariesanda 'boundary'
whichis detachedfromitplaceis the 'boundary'
self,split,andcoheringonlyin its split-and it
holdstogethernot at a place,but holdsitselftogetherin its divisionas this place.Placeis the holding-togethernot onlyof whatis different,it is the
of its differenceandof its indifferholding-together
ence andthus the eventof carrying-apart
ForAristotle,placeis markedby two traits(detopos
ampho,212al):by the factthat it is separatefrom
the thing,andby the factthat it is its surrounding;
i.e. by the factthat it participatesin a boundary
withit, andby the factthat it partsthisboundary.
Placeis thusthe im-parting(Mit-Teilung)
of the
boundaryof thingsandin this sensethe mediumof
thingsthemselves.It is the With (hama)of the
Eti hamato pragmatio topos.hamagarto
ta perata(212a25-30)-"Theplaceis
withthe thing,the boundaryis withthe bounded."
It is not onlythe structureof time which,as Derrida
has shown,dependson this With, hama;it is also
the structureof placewhichdependson it. Butthis
With is not a localizedone:it is the placingof
place,andthe grantingof space,forit is onlyby virtue of thisWith, the mediumboth of discretion
andof cohesion,that a placeis given.The boundary
lies withthe boundary-andthiswithwhichmarks
the differencebetween,andthe unityof, both
boundaries,opensup the place.Withis thusnot a
determinationof place,a possibleanswerto the
questionof wheresomethingis;it is the grantingof
place,andit does not positit at or togetherwitha
place,but openup the placeas withandas at. The
Together-Withof thingsis a Together-Withof
Placeis the With of the With with
the Without,the With withoutWith of allbodies-and thuswhatrelatesthem to eachotherand
them andbringsthem apartandtogether,a double
carrierof the doubleboundary,an amphora.
:: Placeis the jointure(Fuge)of things.(TheGermanwordFugeis itselfa Fuge,a place:it meansa
cleftanda juncture,andjoinsanddividesjuncture
andcleft.) It is theiraura,as Benjamindetermines
aura:"aremotenessno matterhownear,"their
:: Here:is a jointureof places.
:: The Aristotelianframingof placeis dictatedby at
leasttwo requirements:
firstthat placebe located
onlywithbodies,andwithbodiesin the senseof
matterformedinto an appearance(eidos);andsecond,thatemptinessbe excluded.As a resultof the
firstrestriction,Aristotlemuston the one hand
makethe boundary,andthusappearance
andphenomenon,into the criterionof the placenessof
place;but on the otherhand,must,withoutadmitting it, giveup justthis criterionof phenomenality
in the definitionof place:andwiththe eidoshe
mustalsogiveup the ousia.The secondassump-

tion, that there is no emptiness, is likewise dictated

by the premisethatallbeingsarecompactedinto
fulfilledformswhichpresentthemselvesto theoretical contemplation.This physicalistassumption,too,
is disavowedbyAristotle'sanalysisof the placeas
the site of an irreducible
ambiguityof the boundary.
Forplacecannotdo withoutthe implicationof
emptiness,so longas it is understoodas the complexionof twoboundarieswhichmustbe together
andstilldividedandmustthereforeleavea free
place,an emptygap,an opening.This opening'in'
the boundarycan,accordingto the premisesof the
Aristoteliananalysis,itselfbe neitherbody,nor
form,norformedmatter,nora spatialinterval,and
thus not the objectof a theory.
:: Aristotle'streatisedoes not explainwhyit is not a
closedvessel,but an openone-aggeion,
amphoreus-whichhasbeenchosenas the metaphorforplace.Butthe openingis inscribedinto the
verystructureof place:placeis openbecauseit
mustkeepapartthe twoboundariesat the same
time as it holdsthemtogether,that is, it mustgive
wayto an emptinesswhichis neithera thingnoran
interval.Byvirtueof its amphoric,doublestructure,
the vessel-place-is open.Andit is onlyby being
openthat placegiveswayto boundariesin their
Its emptinessis the movement
of the discretionby whichtheseboundariesdetach
themselvesfromeachother.Placeis thusthe giving-wayof boundariesandthusof bodies.With this
placethe boundariespartfromone anotherandimpartthemselvesto one another.Thisim-parting,
place,is the givingof things.
:: In his 1950lecture"DasDing"Heidegger
claimedemptinessforhis jug.Withoutmentioning
Aristotleandwithoutjustifyinghis choiceof the jug
as the thingparexcellence(he citesAristotle'sdiscussionof placeonlyin 1969in "DieKunstundder
Raum"),Heideggerrejectsthe Aristotelianexclusionof emptinessas an act of physico-technical
violenceandinsiststhat one mustallowthe emptiness
of the jugits emptiness.Onlyby this emptinessis
the jugableto gatherthe "fourfold"
"earthandsky,divinitiesandmortals,"to reserve
somethingandto poursomethingout, to give.
(Onlyby virtueof its emptinessis the jugablenot
onlyto givebut, as Heideggerinsists,to holdback
withgivingitself,to reserveit foritself,whiledischargingits gift. "Thereis, it gives[esgibt] space,"
understoodas "it,emptiness,gives,"meansthe givthe
ing of emptiness.Thisgivingis granting-space,
to space.Becauseit holdsbackwithgivgiving-way
ing andthuswithwhatis given,thisgranting-space
can impartits emptinessto placesandspaceswithout lettingit disappear.
This is the retention,the
discretionof emptiness:that it remainsemptiness
no matterhowmuchit expendsitself. (Allspaces
areheld in the emptinessof theirgiving.))
:: Placeis not onlysomethingdiscrete,it is discretion itself.
': (Theyall speakof the openingof place,of the
discretionof its givingandthe indiscretionof its
caskets,the crates,suitcases,
tins in Goethe,the jarsof Kleist,of Simmel,Bloch,
cineraireamphore,E. T. A.
Hoffmann'sgoldenpot andHenryJames'golden
bowl,casket(andcastration)in Freud,geodesand
jarsin RilkeandCelan,la valiseandla cruchein
Ponge,Kafka'ssuitcase,Beckett'sashbins,la vasein
Lacan,el cantarorotoof OctavioPaz,Alladin's

lamp.Likewiseall archives,books,libraries.(Andall
bracketsandparentheses.)Theyarethe toposof literature,I'espacelitteraire,andthatof graphicart,of
Andof music.In
them the spacesof ourlanguagespresentthemselves.)
:: There:is a jointureof places.A flightof stairs,of
:: If placestoucheachother,then theybecomeone
in theirpointof contact(entauto,Aristotlemight
write).Theybecomeindiscrete,but neverthelessremaindivorcedfromone another,discrete.It is only
this doublemovement-discretion:in-discretionthat makesthem into places.
:: If spaceis a jointureof places,then thereis no
spacecontinuum;but thereis a spacecontiguum.
(Spaceis a metonymicseriesof places.)
:: Thereis no closedspace(justas thereis no privatelanguage);therearespacesthatopeneach
:: Spaceis a jointureof anacolutha.
:: In the jointureof placesandspacesemptinesses
:: To the extentthat spacesdrawinto eachother,
theywithdrawfromone another.
:: Spacesconsumeone another.Theycleareach
otherout. Theyde-spaceeachother.
:: Spacesandplacesarefinite.Becausetheyare
viospaces,theyfade.Independentof all "external"
lenceandevenbeforetheirruin,theyarein decay
by the violenceof theirsheeradjacence.
::Mach denOrtaus.MachsWortaus.
meansto determinesomethingby measuring,to determinea placeor a site;andit means
to extinguishsomething,a fire,a light,a phenomenon.If to determinea place,to measureit, or
"makeit out,"is at the sametime to put it out,
then the placeis eradicated,then measuringis at
the sametime the loss of measure,andthe word
thatdictatesthis measuring,that positsthe measure-and that is thusitselfthe measureof measure-becomes "de-worded"
throughits own
ambiguity,throughits amphiboly,andthusthrough
its implicitspatiality.Of place(Ort)andof word
(Wort),of the spatialandof the linguistictopos
thereremainonlythe remainsof a fire,extinAschen-Elle
the poem
guishedash. (Aschen-Helle,
continues,andit is Antschel,Celan'sname,which
herein its transposition
shinesandmeasures,is extinguishedandlosesits measure.)De-placingand
de-wordingarenot happeningsthatassaultplace
andwordfromthe outside;theygo togetherwith
the grantingof placesandwiththe apparitionof
words.Celan-Antschel-continues in "Deine
Augenim Arm":
:: Whoeverspeaks,whoevermakesandputshimselfout, whoeverdetermineshis name,place,or
word-(is) entwo


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