CHORA Jacques Derrida

Translated from the French by Ian McCloud

"Thus myth puts in playa form of logic which could be called - in contrast to the logic of non-contradiction of the philosophers - a logic of the ambiguous, of the equivocal, of polarity. How call one formulate, or even formalize, these see-sa.'.' operations, which flip time any term into its opposite whilst at the same time keeping them both apart. from another point of view? The mythologist was left with drawing up, in conclusion, this statement of deficit, and to turn to the linguists, logicians, mathemati-

cians, that they might supply him with the tool he structural model of a logic which would not be In at of binarity, o~

the yes or no, a ~ogic other than the logic of the logos, rre Vernant, Raisons du my the in Myth and Society in Ancien:

Greece, 1974, p 250, It is : what Plato in designates by the name of chora seems to defy that "logic 01

non-contradiction of the ph .' that logic "of binarity, of the yes or no." Hence it might perhaps derive from that "logic

other than the logic of the " The cham, which is neither "sensible" nor "intelligible," belongs to a "third genus" (triton

genas, 48e, 52a), One cannot even say of it that it is neither this nor that or that it is both this and that. The di!ficulty declared by Timaeus is shown in a different way: at times the chora appears to be neither this nor that, at times both this and that, but this alternation between the logic of exclusion and that of participation - we _ return to this at length - stems perhaps only from a provisional appearance and from the constraints of rhetoric, The chora'seems!O be alien to the order of the "paradigm,"

that intelliqibte and immutable modeL And yet, "invisible" sensible form, it "participates" in the intelliqible in a very

troublesome and indeed aporetic (aporotata, 51b), At shall not be lying, adds Timaeus, at least we shall not be

saying wha1 is false (or rudence of this negative formulation gives reason to ponder. Not

lying, not saying what is false: is arily telling the truth? leI us recall once more, under the heading of our preliminary

approach, that the discourse on the chore, as it is presented, does not proceed from the natural or legitimate logos, but rather from a hybrid, bastard, or even corrupted reasoning (Iogis moi nothoi). It comes "as in a dream" (52b), which could just as wel1 deprive it of lucidifv as confer upon it a power of divination, Does such a discourse derive, then, from myth? Shall we ga'n access to the thought of the chora by continuing to place our trust in the alternative logos/mylhos? And what if this thought

called also for a third genus of discourse? And what if, perhaps only the moment of a detour in order to signal towards a geme

gorical opposinons. which in the first allow it to be app

i the case of the chore, this appeal to the third genre was genre? Beyond categories, and above atl beyond catesaid? As a token of gratitude and admiration, here then

is homage in the form of a question Pierre Vernant to the one who taught us so much and gave us so much pause for

thought about the opposition certainly, but also about the unceasing inversion of poles; to the author of Raisons

du my the and of Ambigulte et renversement: how are we :0 think that which, while going outside of the regurarity of the .10905, its law, its natura! and legitimate genealogy, nevertheless does not belong, stricto sensu, to mythos? Beyond the retarded or johnny-come-Iate!y opposition of logos and mythos, how is one to think the necessity 01 that which, while giving place to that opposition as to so many others, seems sometimes to be itself no longer subject to the law,.e very thing which it situates? What of this place? Is there something to think there, as I have. ify said, and to, rr according to necessity? The

oscillation of which we have just spoken is not an oscillation between two types of oscillation: Ihe double exclusion (neither/nor)

ers, an oscillation between two poles, It oscillates participation (both this and that), But have we the




right to transport the logic, the para-logic or the meta-logiC of this super-oscillation from one set to Ihe other? It concerned first of all types of existent thing (sensible/intelligible, visible/invisible, form/formless, icon or mimeme/paradigm), and we have displaced it towards types of discourse (mythos/logos) or of relation to what is or is not in general, No doubt such a displacement is not self-evident. It depends on a sort of metonymy: from types 01 being to types of discourse, But on the one hand it is always difficult, particularly in Plato, to separate the two problarnatics: the quality of lhe discourse depends primarily on ~he quality cf


._ .... _·.::. .. ~~ .. ;,-·r - .. ~,.-= .... _ ...

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the being of which it speaks. The discourse, Itke the relation to what which is in general, js qualified or disqualified by what it relates to. On the other hand, the metonymy is authorized by a passing through genre, from one genre to the other, from the question of the genres/types of being to the question of the types of discourse. Now the discourse Or! the chora is also a discourse on genre/type (Qenos) and on different types of type. Later we will get on to genre as gens or people (genos, etrmos). a theme which appears at the opening of the Timaeus. In the narrow context on which we are dwelling at present, that of the sequence on the chore, we shall encounter two further genres of genre or types of type, The chora is a triton genos in the view of the two types of being {immutable and intelligible/corruptible, in process of becomi ng and sensible), but it seems to be equally determined with regard to the sexual type Tirnaeus speaks of "r<i;0tper" and "nurse" in regard to this subject. He does this in a mode which we shall not be in a hurry to name. Almost all the ill" ~eters of Ihe Timaeus gamble here on the resources of rhetoric without ever wondering about these, They speak tranqu iliK .rt metaphors, imageslJ·' -s.: They ask themselves no questions about this tradition of rhetoric which places at Iheir disposal a reserve of concep .h are very useful but which are all built upon this distinc1ion between the sensibla and the intelligible which is precisely what the thought of the chore can no longer get along with - a distinction. indeed, of which Plato unambiguously lets it be known that this thought has the greatest difficulty getting along with it. This problem of rhetoric is, here, no mere side issue: Nor is its importance limited to some pedaqooicy-iltustrative. or instrumental dime, B-1 (those who speak of metaphor with regard to the chota often add: didactlc metaphor). We shall be content for the mornerit with indicating it and Situating it but it is already clear that. just like the cnore and with just as muc~ necessity. it.cannot easily be situated,~. -,d to a residence: it is more situating than situated, an opposmon which must In Its turn be shielded from some grammat-Cr,. ontological alternative between the active and the passive, We shall not speak of metaphor, but not in order to hear, for example, that the chore is"" rlya mother, a nurse, a receptacle, a bearer at imprints or of gold. It is perhaps because its scope goes beyond or falll Jrt of the polarity of metaphorical sense versus proper sense that the thought of the chore exceeds the polarity, no doubt analogous, of the mythos and the logos. Such at least wouJd be the question which we should like here to put to the test of a reading The consequence which we envisage would be the following: with these two polarities, the thought of the chore would trouble the very order of polarity, of polarity in general, whether dialectical or not. Giving place to oppositions, lt would itself not submit to any reversal. And this, another consequence, would no' be because " would lnaltel.!.b~e itself but because in carrying beyond the polarity 01 sense

(metaphorical or proper), jt would no longer belong to t .zon of sense, nor to that of meaning as the meaning of beinq

After these precautions and these negative hypotheses, _,_II understand why it JJi' ''''"t we Jeft the word chore sheltered from

any translation. A translation, admittedly, seems to be always at work, both in the Gr nguage and from the Greek language ·Into some other. Let us riot regard any of them as sure. Thinking and translating he LI averse the same experience. If it must

be attempted, such an experiment is not only out of concern for a word or an atom of meaning but also for a whole tropological texture, let us not yet call it a system, and for ways of approaching, in order to name lhem, the elements of this "tropology." Whether they concern the word chora itself ("place," "location," "site.' '''region,'' "country") or what tradition calls the figures proposed by Timaeus hirnsell ("mc'~"'r," "n urse." "receptacle," "imprint-bearer"), the translations remain caught in networks of interpretation. They a<e led astray «"_",OSP8Cll", p,oiei' whose anarchronisrn can always be suspected Th;s anachronisrn is

not necessarily, not always, and not only a weaknes . which a vigilant and rigorous interpretation would be able to escape

entirely. We shall try to show that no one escapes 1. Even Heidegger, who is nonetheless one of the only ones never to

speak of 'metaphor," seems to us to yield to this teleological retrospection- against which, elsewhere, he so rightly puts us on our guard. And this gesture seems highly significant for the whole ot his questioning and his relationship to the "history-of-philosophy_- What has just been said of rhetoric. of translation or of teleological anachronism, could give rise to a misunderstanding. We must dispel it without delay, We will never claim to propose the mot juste for cbore. nor to name it, itself, over and above all the turns and detours of rhetoric, nor finally to approach it, itself, for what it will have been, outside of any point of view, out-


side of any enacbronistlc/anacbro is that it's the structure which rnak visional moments. It is this structu the interpretations of the Timeeu«. of essence no longer has any rru anachrony within being, or better: just said. We will never exhaust th w~th it herein its entirety, And abox in some ordered apprehension, WI

· is that the presumption of anachronism of which we

is not something, and wh no

· pretations come, in short, to give f

however can offer itself only by ren

· exposed. But what we are putting

· of a form given or received, about .. the text itself says about the chore forward, for example, for the sake

• back, with all its schernas, Platcl which I have just made use of the)

· inform it Thus there are interpreta imprint and by depositing on it U-

even say that it furn ishes them types cannot inform, they canrn 51a) and still virgin, with a v

'wn,,,r.""" of the eidos which come tl genera of being. It is not -',rnl~ir- schemas of the verb 10 re

which would give place by fee tial significance as a recepti not yet thought through what Perhaps it is from cnore that v.

ired, the chore, or again, as w,

of a thing, the existent chord noun does not desiqnate any I discourse, i.e. by the ontotoq

qualified or disqualified by what it n one genre to the other, from the .course on the chore is also a diss gens or people (genos, ethnos). He dweWng at present, that of the

chore is a triton genos in the view sensible), but il seems to be equarard to this subject. He does this in ; gamb'e here on the resources of

1.'-3.1 They ask themselves no . ;h are very useful but which whatthe thought of the chore can wn that this thought has the great-

is its importance limited to some j to the chore o1ten add: didactic eady clear that, just like the chore e Situating than situated, an oppotween the active and the passive. f rlya rnothar, a nurse, a recepta-

gt of the polarity of metaphorical JOus, of the mythos and the logos. ["he consequence which we envishe very order of polarity, of polarit to any reversal. And this, anothing beyond the polarity of sense leaning as the meaning of being. left the word chora sheJtered from age and from the Greek langLlage ;e the same experience. If it must rig but also for a whole tropologi" the elements of this "tropoloqy." vhat tradition calls the figures proemain caught in networks of inters suspected. This anachronism is .retation would be able to escape ,ss one of the only ones never to sewhere, he so rightly puts us on relationship to the "history-of-phi,uld give rise to a misunderstand. to name it, ilself. over and above

outside of any point of view, out-


side of any anachronlstic/anacbroncus perspective. Tropoloqy and anachronism are inevitable. And all we would I~ke to show is that it's the structure which makes them thus inevitable, makes of them something other than accidents, weaknesses or provisional moments. It is this structural law which seems to me never to have been approached as such by the whole history of the interpretations of the Timaeus. It would be a matter 01 a structure and not of some essence of the chore. since the question of essence no longer has any meaning with regard to it. The chore. we shall say. is anachronistic!anachronous, it "is" the anachrony within being, or better: the anachrony of being. It anachronises beinp, The whole history of interpretations, we have just said. We will never exhaust the immense literature devoted to the Timaeus since Antiquity. It is out of Ihe question to deal

with it herein its entirety. And above all to presuppose or homogeneity of this whole, the very possibility of totalizing it

in some ordered apprehension. What we shall presu the other hand, and one could still carr it a "working hypothesis,"

is that the presumption of order (grouping, lity organized by a telos) has an essential link with the structural

anachronism of which we s moment ago. It would be the inevitable etiect produced by something like the chora - which

is not something, and whic not like nothing, not even like what it would be, itself. Rich, numerous, inexhaustible, the inter-

pretations come. in short, to give form to the meaning of chore. They always consist in giving it form by determining it, it which however can offer itself only by removing itself from any determination, from all the marks or impressions to which we said it was· exposed. But what we are putting forward here of the interpretation of the ch~ of Plato's text Orf the chora - by speaking of a form given or received, about mark or impression, about knowledge as in~mation, etc-. all of that already draws on what the text itself says about the cnore. draws on its neutic apparatus. tn other words, what we have just put "chore" in the text of Plato, reproduces or simply brings

back, with all its schemas, PI chore. And this is true even down to this vefy sentence in

which I have just made use 01 th mas. The schemata are the cut-out figures imprinted into the chore, the forms which

inform it. Thus there are interpretations which would come to give form to "cnors' by leaving on it the schematic mark of their imprint and by depositing on it the sediment of their contribution. And yet, "chore" seems never to let itself be reached or touched, much less broached, and above all not exhausted by these types of tropcloqica: or interpretative translation. One cannot even say that it furnishes them with the support of a stable substratum or substance. Chora is not a subject. The herrneneu-

tic types cannot inform, they cannot give form to chore except to phon, 51a) and still virgin, with a virginrty that is radically re and give place to them. But if I an essence, the stable being of images of the eidos which come to i

extent that, inaccessible, impassive, 'amorphous" (amort anthropomorphism, it seems to receive these types ) or place {chora), these names do not destqnate

ce chore FS neither of the order of the eidos nor at the order of mirnernes, i.e., of selves in it - which thus is nor and does not belong to the two known or rec-

ognized genera of being. II is not and this non-being cannot but be declared, i.e., be caught or conceived, via the anthropomorphic schemas of the verb to receive and the verb to give. Chore is not, is above all not, is anything but a support or a subject which would give place by receiving or by conceiving. or indeed by leuing itself be conceived. How could one deny it this essential significance as a receptacle, given that this very name is given to it by Plato? It i ..... fficult indeed. but perhaps we have not yel thought through what is meant by to receive, the recei receptacle, wh_ said by oecnomei, dechome-

non. Perhaps it is lrom ctiore that we are beginning to learn it - to

to receive from it what its name calls up. To receive

n, if not to comprehend it, to conceive it. You will already have n now say chora and not, as conventlon has always required, the chore, or again, as we might have done for the sake 01 caution, the word, the concept, the significance or the value of "chora." This is for several reasons, most of which are no doubt already obvious. The definite article presupposes the existence of a thing, the existent chora to which. via a common name, it would be easy 10 refer. But what is said about chora is that this noun does not desiqnate any of the known or recognized or, if you like, received types of existent, received by philosophical discourse, i.e., by the ontological logos which lays down the law in the Timaeus: chora is neither sensible nor intelliqible.


Jacques Derrida

There is chore. one can even ponder over us physis and its dynamis. or at teast ponder these in a preliminary way, but what is there is not; and we will come back later to what this there is can g~ve us to think, this there is which by the way gives nothing in giving place or in giving to think; whereby jt will be risky to see in it the eq uivalsnt of an es giN I nstead of the cbore. shall we be content to say prudently: the word, the common name, the concept, the signification Of the value of chora? These precautions would not suffice, they presuppose distinctions (word/concept/value, etc.) which themselves imply the possibility, at least. of a de/ermined existent, distinct from another, and acts which aim at it, at it or its meaning, via acts of language, designations or sign pcstinqs. AI[ at these acts appeaJ to generali!jes, to an order of multiplicities genus. species, individual, type. schema, etc Now what we can read, it seems of chore in the Tim¥!~J.S.c is that "something" wluch is not a Ihirog. puts in question these presuppositions and these distin~ttOns: "somethjn~" is rIl:. :(ling an.d .escapes from this orde~ of multiplicities. But if I say cham and riot the chore, I am stnl making a noun out of It. A ~- noun, Jt IS true, but all~Just like any common noun, a word distinct from the thing or the concept. Besides, the proper noun appears, as always, ··Htributed to a person, in this case to a woman. Perhaps to a woman. rather to a woman. Doesn't that aggravate the risks of aritmopornorphisrn against which we wanted to protect ourselves? Aren't these risks run by Plato himself when he seems to "compare," as they say, chora to a mother or a nurse? Isn't the value of receptacle also associated. like passive and virgin matter, with the feminine element, and precisely in Greek culture? These Objections~inot without value. However, if chora indeed presents certain attributes of the word as proper nOW1, isn't it only via its apparent reference to some (amount of} uniqueness (and in the Ttmeeus, more rigorously in a certain passage of the Timaeus which we will apprjf'---\ater, there is only one chore), the referent of this reference does not exist. It does not have the characteristics of an exis;llo;Y which we mean an ~nt that would be receivable in the ontologie. i.e., those at an intelligible or sensible existent. There IS chora but the choralr mot exist. The effacement of the article should for the moment suspend the determination, within invisibts quote marks". i.e a saying of Plato's in a certain passage of the Timaeus, without knowing yet what it means and how to determine it) and the reference to something which is not a thing but which insists, in its so enigmatic uniqueness, lets itself be called or causes itself to be named without answering, without giving itseJf to be seen, conceived, determined. Deprived of a real referent, that which in fact resembles a proper name finds itself also called an x which has as its property (as its physis and as its dynamis, Plato's text will say), that it has nothing as its own and that it remains unformed, formless (amorphon). This very sinqutar impropriety, which precisely is nothing, is just what chore must, if you like, keep, it is just Whli"'-~;t be kept for it. To that end, it is necessary not to confuse it in a generality by properly attributing to it properties which ~nill be those of a det[te~te existent, one of the existents which

it/she "receives" or whose image it/she receives: for example an existent of the fe nnder - and that is why the femininity

of the mother or the nurse will never be attributed to it/her as a property, sornethin sr own. Which does no! mean, howev-

er - we shall return to this - that it is a case here of mere figures of rhetoric. Chora must not receive for her own sake, so she must not receive, merely let herself be lent the properties (of that) Which she receives. She must not receive, the must receive not that which she receives. To avoid all these conrusions, it is convenient, paradoxically, to formalize our approach (to 'It/her) and always to use the same lar.·<:Jljage about it/her ('tauton au len prasrheteon*, 5Gb). Not so much to "give her always the same name," as it is often translateL~t to speak of it/hef''1Q,rj_tO call itfher in the same manner. Is this "manner" unique or typical? Does it have the singularity of an idiomatic event arll ~\glJlated generality of a schema? In other words, does this regularity find, in Plato's text. or rather in a particular passag~e Timeous. its unique and best formulation or rather one 01 its examples, however privileged? ln what regard, in what sense, wil~ it be said of the Timaeus that is exemplary? And if it's important that the appellation should stay the same, rather than tlie name> will we be able to replace, relay, translate chore by other names, striving only to preserve the regularity 01 the appellation. namely of a discourse? This question cannot but resound when we know that we are caught in such a scene of reading, included in advance in the immense history of interpretations and reappropriations which in the course of the centuries come to buzz and hum around chore, taking charge of 'I/her or overloading


it/her with inscriptions and relief deposit in it/her other sediments Timaeus, would happen not with about this x which must not havI have any identity ot its/her own, I interpretations of chora were writ Timaeus "on the subject" 01 chor writings and reprintings, this hist anticipation. Is a prescribed, pre within itself this teleologica

. hence forth all the inte chore, and hence what I am sayir the hermeneutics and the iflstitu' about that. Chora receives, so as own She possesses them as pro ess of what has just been in:

the subject or the present s, Iy this excess is nothfng, nc1 into absent support or into 1 01 a philosophical type, or let

the very thing that appears to that if there is place Of, accor ",",.,,,",,,O>nT of a place. The express

up Vernant's saying when of myth exists flO doubt, b 01 non-contradiction of the is regulated according to it consider the manner in wh of this dialectic that it is a way, it sublates mythiC

we are also thinking after Ipath 01 logic: that is, ane al !ogrc comes to its SI in a simple unvellinr mytheme wilf have been rior resembles the time it3 while defending his . 1810-1812. The mythok

;e in a preliminary way, but what is is which by the way gives nothing es gibt. Instead of the chore. shalJ

or the value of chora? These prehemselves imply the possibility, at 'lning, via acts of language, desig.: genus, species, individual, type, which is not a thing, puis in ques}m this order of multipticltles. But if

~·."~just like any common noun, .lttributed to a person, in this fan opomorphism against which compare." as they say, chora to a ter, with the feminine element, and j presents certain attributes of the s (and in the Timaeus, more rigorlOra), the referent of this reference ent that would be receivable in the ~ -not exist The effacement of the j.e a saying of Plato's in a certain e reference to something which is tself to be named without answer. which in fact resembles a proper is, Plato's text will say). that it has propriety, which precisely is nothis necessary not to confuse it in a «istent, one of the existents which H _ and that is why the femininity Nfl. Whicll does not mean, howe vlt receive for her own sake, so she nust not receive, the must receive

formalize our approach (to it/her) nuch to "give her always the same s this "manner" unique or typical? l other words, does this regurarity nulation or rather one 01 its exams exemplary? And if it's important e, relay, translate chore by other ~uestion cannot but resound when ustory of interpretations and reap- 19 charge of it/her or overloading

... ~ .. -~.


it/her with inscriptions and reliefs, giving it/her form, imprinting it/her with types, in order to produce in it/her new objects or to deposit in it/her other sediments. This interminable theory of exegeses seems to reproduce what, fotlowinq tile discourse of Timseus, would happen not with Plato's text but with chora herself/itself, With chora itself/herself, if one could at all speak thus about this x which must not have any proper determination, sensible or intelligible, material or formal, and therefore must not have any identity of itsJher own, must not be identical with herself/itself Everything happens as if the yet-to-come history of the interpretations of cnore were written or even prescribed in advance, in advance reproduced and reflected in a few pages of the Timaeus "on the subject" of chora "herself" ("itself"). With its ceaseless re-Iaunchings, its failures, its superimpositions, its over-

writings and reprintings, ttus history wipes itself out in since it programs itself, reproduces itself, and reflects itsel! by

anticipation. Is a prescribed, programmed, reprod ive history still a history? Unless the concept of history bears

within itself this teleologica which annu constitutinq it. In saying, in short, "this is how one can glimpse

chore - in a difficult, and as if in a dream _" someone {Timaeus, Plato, etc.) would have said: this is what

hence forth al~ the , tor all eternity, of what I say here, will look like. They will resemble what I am saying about

cnors: and hence what I am saying about chore gives a commentary, in advance, and describes tile law of lhe whole history of the hermeneutics and the institutions which will be constructed on this subject, over this subject There is nothing tortuitous ' about that. Chara receives, so as to give place 10 them all the determinations _he/it does riot possess any of them as her/its own. She possesses them as properties, she does not possess anything as her own. She "is" nothing other than the sum or the process of what has just been mscribed "on" her, on the s her, on her subject. rlght up against her subject. but she is

not the subject or the present Simply this excess is nothing, n

of all these interp may be and be

even though, nevertheless, she is not reducible to them. ontologically. This absence of support, which cannot be trans-

lated into absent support or into as support, provokes and resists any binary or dialectical determination, any inspection of a ph ilosophical type, or let us say more rigorously of ontoiogical type. This type finds itselt both defied and re-launched by the very thing that appears to give it place, Even then we shall have to recall later, insisting on it in a more analytical manner, that if there is place or, according to our idiom, place given, to give place here does not come to the same thif1g as to make a present of a place, The expression to give place does not refer to the gesture 01 a donor-subject, support or origin of some-

thing which would come to be given to someone. Despite their ti preliminary character, these remarks permit us perhaps

to glimpse the silhouette of a "logic" which seems virtually im formalize. Will this "loqic' still be logic. "a form of logic"

(to take up Vernant's saying when he a logic of myth exists no doubt, but "logic of non-contradiction of the phil

of a "form of togi which must be "forrnulated, or even formalized"? Such

stion returns: does the thought of chora, which obviously does not derive from the ," belong lor that matter to the space of mythic thought? Is tile "bastard" logos

which is regulated according to it (ie., according to mythic thought - fO - still a mythos? Let us take the time for a long detour. Let us consider the manner in which Hegel's speculatlve dialectic inscribes mythic thought in a teleological perspective. One can say of this dialectic that it is and that il is not a rogic of non-contraction. It integrates and sublates contradiction as such. ln the same way, it sublates mythic discourse as such into the philosopheme According to Hg" philosophy becomes serious

- and we are also thinkrng alter Hegel and according to him, foil thought - only fr~e moment when it enters into

the sure path of logic: that is, after having abandoned, Of let us sublated, its mythic farm _ after Plato, with Plato.

Philosophical logic comes to its senses when the concept wakes

mythological slumber, Sleep and waking, for the

event consists in a simple unveilinq: the making explicit and taking cognizance of a philosopherne enveloped in its virtual potency. The my theme will have been only a pre-philospherne offered and promised to a dialectical Aufhebung. This teleological future anterior resembles the time ot a story but it is a story of the going outside of story. outside of narrative fiction. Hegel explains it3 while delending his "friend Creuzer" and his book, Symbolik und Mythalagie oei etten Volker besonoers der Griechen, 1810--1812. The mythological logos can emit the pretension of bejng a species ot "philosophizing" (p.108), There are



Jacques Derrida

philosophers who have used myths in order to bring phitosophernes closer to the imagination (Phantasie). But "the content of myth is thought" (ibid}, The mythic dimension remains formal and exterior. If Plato's myths are "beautiful," one would be wrong to think that myths are more "eminent" vottrettucner) than Ih€ "abstract mode of axprsssion." In truth Plato has recourse to myth only to the extent of his "impotence" Unvermogen) to "express himself in the pure modality 01 thought." But it is also in part because he does so only in the introduction to lhe dialogues - and an introduction is never purely philosophical: you know what Hegel thinks of introductions and prefaces in general. When he gets on to the thing itself, to the principal subject, Plato expresses himself quite otherwise. Let us think of the Parmenides, for example: the simple determinations of thought do without image and myth. Hegel's dialectical schema here just as mur.it.&ppcerns the mythic, the figurative or the symbolic. The Parmenides is "serious," the recourse to myth is not entirely so. Iii: P(lorm in which, still today, it dominates so many evaluations, and not only in so-called Anglo-Saxon thought, the oppositi~-Neen the serious and i7-~Jl-serlous overlaps here With that of philosophy as such and of its ludico-mythological drift (derive), The value of philosoplt ,liought, that is to say also its seriousness, is measured by the non-mythic character of its terms. Hegel here emphasizes the value, the seriousness, the value of seriousness, and Aristotle is his guarantor or after havjng declared that "the value of Plato, however, does not reside in myths" (Der wert Platons iiegt aber nicht in den My th en , p,109), Hegel quotes and translates Aristotle. It is appropriate to dwell on this. We know, let us recall t~is irt passing betore4lrfoaChing this problem directly, how great a weight the Aristotelian interpreta-. non of the Timeeus carnes In the history of the Interpretations, Hegel translates then, or paraphrases, the MetaphYSICS: "pert men Ion mytikos sophizomenon ouk axion meta spoudes SkO~" . "'---:Von oenen. welche mythisch philosophieren, ist es rtictn der Mohe wert, ernstiiich zu handefn: those who philosophize wi purse to myth are not~orth treating seriously. Hegel seems to oscillate betwe€n two interpretations, ln a philosophical text, e function of myth isrPres a sign of philosophical impotence, th€ incapacity to accede to the concept as such and to keep to it, at other timllJ' index 01 dialectic and above all didactic potency, the pedagogic mastery 01 the serious phi~osopher in furl possession of the philosopherne: Simultaneous!y or successively, Hegel seems to recognize in Plato both this impotence and this mastery, These two evaluations are only apparently contradictory or are so only up to a certain paint. They have this in common: the subordination of myth, as a discursive iorm, to the content 01 the signified concept, whatever may be its formal presentation - philosophical or mythic ~ always remains tne force of the law, the mastery or the dynasty ot_discourse. Here one can see the thread of our question passing by: if chore has no rneaninq or essence, if she Js not Phdosoif",~ and if, nevertheless, she is neither Ihe object nor the form of a fabJe of a mythic type, where can she be situated in this ~\a? Apparently contra~y, but in fact profoundly coherent, this toqico-phfosophical evaluation is not applied to Plato. Jt derives already from a celJ ~~ratonism" Hegel does not read Plato through Aristotle and unknown to Plato, as if he (HegeJ) were decipherlng a practice~e rneaninq would have remained inaccessible to the author of the Timeeus A certain program of this evaluation seems already legible in this work, as we shall verify. But perhaps with one reservation, and this supplementary reservation could lodge, shelter, and thereby exceed the said program. First, the program, The cosmogony of the Tirnaeus runs through the cycle ot knowledge on all things. Its encyclopedic end must mark the term of a /oV'-O)'i. on the subject of everything that is: "kai de kai telos peri tou pantos nun ede ton logon hemin phomen echein (92c}," This e~~lopedic logos is a-J'1.Af)gral ontology, treating of all the types 01 being, it includes a tnecloqy, a cosmoloqy, a physiology, a psychology, a zoolog-.M'J -ral or immortal, human and divine. visible and invisible thirtgs are situated there, By reca~ling it in conclusion, one picks~ distinction between the visible living thing, for example the sensible god, and the intelligible god of which it is the image), The cosmos is the heavens (ouranos) as a fiving visible thing and sensible gad. It is unique and alone at its race, "monogenic," And yet. halfway through the cycle, won't the discourse on chore have opened, between the sensible and the intelligible, belonging neither to one nor to the other, hence neither to the cosmos as sensible god nor to the intelliqible god, an apparently empty space? Didn't it name a gaping openirrg, an abyss or a chasm? Isn't starting out from this chasm, "in" it. that the Cleavage between the sensible and the intelliqible can have place and take place?


be too hasty about bringi hurling into it the anthr

bkI~~}jcIJ-encyclopedic cone rs over, closing the gal the sensible and the intell

even be their oth

or to say this and to be reflected (for

_,~ .... ",rt by the consideration I discourse? Mise en abym, of an overprinting. cultivators and the artisal is torrnai and external: thl neither gold nor silver The} not even the gold whict This question can be asl contestable. One can say

for the same activities 01 chore with the mother a in the sense of the subjective

way is no more their owner perhaps already in a site iie of marriages. It manifests, "riddles" or sieves seiomena (5 with a certain chance. Nov intended to brirtg about in

on (Phantasie). But "the content of .re "baautiful," one would be wrong

In truth Plato has recourse to myth y ot thought" But it is also in part ler purely philosophical: you know .self, to the principal subject, Plato determinations of thought do withthe figurative or the symbolic. The day, it dominates so many evalua-

~f1-serious overlaps here with nouqht, that is 10 say also its 1 e, the seriousness, the value however, does not reside in myths" e. It is appropriate to ewell on this. l. weight the Aristotelian intsrpretaIraphrases, the Metaphysics: "peri set. philosophieren, is! es nicht der th treating serious~y. Hegel seems rll3s a sign of phitosoptucat irnpol:' index of dialectic and above all ! philosopheme. Simultaneously or ;e two evaluations are only apparlrdination of myth, asa discursive ohilosophjcal Of mythic - always thread of our question passino by: leitiler the object nor the form ot a ut in fact profoundly coherent, this onisrn." Hegel does not read Plato eaning would have remained inacJible in this work, as we shall veri-

and thereby exceed the said proge on all things. Its encyclopedic u pantos nun ede ton logon hemin .s of being, it includes a theology, vislble and invisible things are sit- 19 !hing, for exarnpls the sensible 3.& a livirtg visible thing and sansivon't the discourse on chore have nce neither to the cosmos as sensninq, an abyss or a chasm? Isn't ~ can have place and take place?

_- ._ ... _.;,~:;,;:-:::-.- .. '


Let us not be too hasty about bringing this chasm named chora close to that chaos which also opens the yawning gulf or abyss. Let us avoid hurling into it the anthropomorphic form and the pathos of fright. Not in order to install ill its place the security of a foundation, the "exact counterpart of what Gaia represents for any creature, since her appearance, at the origin of the world; a stabte foundation, sure for all eternity, opposed to the gaping and bottomless opening or Chaos. '·4 We shall later encounter a brief allusion of Heidegger's to chore, not to the one in the Timaeus but, outside of al~ quotation and all precise reference, the one in which Plato would designate the place Urt between the existent and being.5 the "difference" of place between the two. The ontologico-encyclopedic conclusion of the Timaeus seems to cover over the open chasm in the middle of the book. What

it thus covers over, closing the gaping mouth ol the anned discourse on chore, would perhaps not only be the abyss

between the sensible and the intelligible. between nothingness, between being and the lesser being. nor even per-

haps between being and , nor yet betwee and mythos but between all these couples and another which

would not even be their oth re is indeed a chasm in the middle of the book. a sort of abyss" in" which there is an attempt

to think or to say this abys chasm which woufd be chore, the opening 01 a place "in" which everything would come both to

lake place and to be reflected (tor these are images which are inscribed there), is it significar1t that a mise en abyme regulates a certain order of composition of the discourse? And that it goes so far as to~ulate even this mode of thinking_ or.of saying, which must be similar without be~ng identical 10 the one which is practiced ar. Ihe edges of the chasm? Is It siqruflcant that this mise en abyme affects Ille forms of a discourse on places (places), notably political places, a politics of places entirely

commanded by the consideration of sites (lieu of jobs in t , region, territory. country}, as places assigned to types or

forms of discourse? Mise en ab the discourse on (lieu of politics, politics of places /ieux, such would be, then,

the structure of an overprinting a base. At the open! g of the Timaeus, there are considerations on the guardians of the

city, the cultivators and the division of labor and education. Let us note in passing, although it is an anaLogy whose

structure is formal and external: those who are raised as guardians of the city will not have anything that is properly tneir own (idion) neither gold nor silver. They "wil~ receive the salary of their rank from those they protect" (18b). To have nothing that is one's own, not even the gold which is the only thing comparable to it (Sua), isn't this also the situation of the site, the condition of chora? This question can be asked. even if one does not wish to take it seriously; however formal it may be, the analogy is scarcely contestable. One can say the same thing about the h follows immediately (18c) and touches on the edu-

cation of women, on marriage and above all, with the most

insistence. on the community of chuoren. All possible

measures must be taken in order to d). In procreation (paidopoiial. any If one bears in mind the fact that a m

no one can kn nize.as his own idia the children who are born (18c-

01 natural Of ~egitimate property must be excluded by the very milieu of the city. ago the text had prescribed a similar education for men and for women who must

be prepared for the same activities and for the same functions, one can still follow the thread of a formal analogy: the said "comparison" of cnore with the mother and, a supplementary sign of exproprlation, with the nurse, does not assure itJher of any property, in the sense of the subjective genitive or in the sense of the objective genitive: neither the properties of a genilrix (she engeflders nothinq and besides possesses no property at ail), nor the ownership of childre~ose images or their father who

by the way is no more their owner than is the mother. This is enou about the impro_y of the said comparison. But

we are perhaps already in a site lieu where the low of the proper no has any meanlnq. Let us consider even the politicat

strateqy of marriages. It manifests a retation ot abyssal and ivity with what will be said later about chore, about

the "riddles" or sieves seiomene (52e, 53a) shaken in order to sort or select the "grain" and the "seed"; the law of the better is crossed with a certain chance. Now from the first pages of the Timeeus, in a purely political discourse, are described the apparatuses intended to br[ng about in secret the arranging of marriages in order that the children will be born with the best possible naturalness. And this does not happen without some drawing of lots kleros (18d·e). Let us explain It at once. These formal analogies or these mises en abyme. refined, subtle (!00 subtle, some will think), are not considered here, in the first place en


Jacques Derrjda

premier lieu, as artifices, boldness, or secrets or formal composition: the art of Plato the writer! This art interests us and ought to do so more still, but what is important in this very place ici marne, and first of ail, independently of the supposed intentions of a composer, are the constraints which produce these analogies. Shall we say that they constitute a program? A logic whose authority was imposed on Plato? Yes, up to a paint only, and this limit appears in the abyss itself: the beinq-proqrarn of the program, its structure of pre-inscription and of typographic prescription forms the explicit theme of the discourse en abyme on chora. The latter figures the place 01 inscription of ali that is marked on the world. likewise the being-logical of logic, its essential logos, whether it be true, probable or mythic, forms the explicit theme of the Timaeus, as we shall yet have occasion to explain. Thus one cannot calmly, with no further ado, call by the n3"1.~Pfogram or logic the form which dictates to Plato the law of such a composition: program arid logic are apprehended in it,1f_ ~'~h, though it be irt dreams, and put en ebyme. Having taken this precaution with regard to analogies which might seem i~en:, let us recall the ll-~-~~neraJ trait which both gathers and authorizes these displacements, from one place to the other "in" the "same" place (Ii .1'1s obvious, too obvious even to be noticed, and its generality has so to speak no other limit than itself: it is precisely that of the genos, of the genus in all genders and genera, of sexual difference, of the generation of children, of the kinds of being and of that triton genos which chore is (neither sensible nor intelligible, "like" 8 mother or a nurse, etc.). We have just alluded to all these genres of genres, but we have not yet spoken of the genos as race,61l..iIlie, group, community, aHinity of birth, nation, etc. Now we're there. Still al the opening of the Timeeus, there is recalled an earlier conversation, a discourse (logos) of Socrates on the pori/eia and on its better government. Socrates sums it up, and these are the thert~:----'--',l,rWhiCh we have just spoken. In passing, he uses the word chora (1ga) to desiqnate the place assigned to children: you ,lear the "children of tP.P::9pod," transport the others in secret to another country, con~~nue to keep them under Observ~tion an - carry out a fu.rt~er siffp--;&eration in attributing to each his place {choran). After this reminder, Socrates declares himself Incapable of prwslng thlJ{__j.'and Its men. In this he feels himself to be comparable to the poets and imitators. And here is Ihe genos or ethonos. Socrates claims to have nothing against the people or the race, the tribe of the poets (poletikon genos). But allowirlg for the place and the conditions of birth as wel~ as the education, the nation or race of imitators (mimetikon ethnos) will have difficulty in imitating what it has remained alien to, name!y, that which happen? in actions arid words (ergois, logois) rather than in spectacles or simulacra. There is also the genre 01 the tribe ot the sophists (ton sophiston genos). Socrates nrivireges here again the situation, the relation to place: the genus of sophists is, ch~racterized by the a~se~ce of a proper PI~~;~ economy, a fixed domicile; these peopJe have no domesticity, no house Inat IS proper to them (orkesis Ideas). They wall.J!tom place to place, fF~wn to tOWIl, incapable of understanding these men who, being philosophers and politicians, have (a) place, that is, act II ~:ans of gesture and speech, in the city

. or at war. Poletikon genos, rnirnetikon ethnos, ton sophiston genos, after this enll~ion what remains? Well, then, you, to whom I am speaking now, you who are also a genos [We), and who belong to the genre of those who have (8) place, who take place, by nature and by education. You are thus both philosophers and politicians. Socrates' strategy itself operates from a sort of non-place, and that is what makes it very disconcerting, not to say alarming. In starting by declaring that he is, a little like the poets, the imitators, and the si!u;1iists, incapable of describinq the philosopher-politicians, Socrates pretends 10 rank himsell among those who leign. He afk to belong to the cl"ZQ.?"of those whose genos consists in affecting: in simuJating the belonging to a place and to a community, tor example, to!~ :"OS of true citizens, philosophers and pollticians. to "yours." Socrates thus pretends to belong to the genus of those who ~ to belong to the gellus of those who have (a) place, a place and an economy that are their own. But in say,ng this, Socrates denounces this genos to which he pretends to belonq. He claims to speak the truth on the subject of it: in truth, these people have no place, they are wanderers. Therefore I. who resemble them, I have no place But this truth, namely that they and l, if we seem to belong to the same genos, are without a place of our own, is enunciated by me, since it is a truth, from your place, you who are on the side of the true logos, of philosophy and politics, I address you from your place in orcler to say to you that I have no place since I am like those who make their trade out of resem-


blance - the poets, the imitators, both the ptace and the non-place sian, the simulacrum of this withdn this belonging to place authorizes efficiency, which Socrates regular

lace and of the sirnulacrorn I from the city, like pharmakkoi; t

room for them in the pol (1ge), the question posed as such, it gest includes the sense of po ": place occupied by some in fact, chore will always al re:

........ n ... 'n" that takes place in it. II

on the other hand, the discou, on this marked place. pro. , in any case from a spac", to include himself amen] les them. Hence he holds

. Only a discourse of the it as an identity, isn't it 1

n into account, this coun

one wh ich will later order th those of the men of i mag of their word, philosophe . 9 himself, he situates h be inscribed. He decla

kosmos and .endechomeno • (20e). Once more the ( in the form of "what doe:

riter! This art interests us and ought sndently of the supposed intentions .onstitute a progranR A logic whose itself: the being-program of the proeme of the discourse en abyme on the being-logical of logic, its essen>, as we shall yet have occasion to form which dictates to Plato the law dreams, and put en abyme. Having , .• -~~~nera.1 trait which both gathII~'S ObVIOUS, too obvious even )f the genos, of the genus in all genmd of that triton genos which chora ) all these genres of genres, but we on, etc. Now we're there. Still at the :rates on the pOliteia and on its bet)ken. In passing, he uses the word load," transport the others in secret 'rieration in attribuling to each his .,.t'and its men. In this he feels him; claims to have nothing against Ihe he conditions of birth as well as the /hat it has remained alien to, namemulacra. There is also the geme of , the relation to place: the genus ot

these people have no domesticity, 1 to town, incapable of understands ot gesture and speech, in the city

what remains? Well, then, you, to .hose who have (a) place, who take , strategy itself operates from a sort t declaring that he is, a little like the

Socrates pretends to rank himself affecting: in simulating the belongmd politicians, to "yours." Socrates vho have (a) place, a place and an ~ pretends to belong. He claims to s. Therefore I, who resemble them, 10$, are without a place of our own, logos, of philosophy and politics, I who make their trade out of resem-


blanca - the poets, the imitators, and the sophists, the genus o! those who have no place. You alone have place and can say both the place and the non-place in truth, and III a! is why I am going to give you back the word, The duplicity of this self-exclusion, Ihe simulacrum of this withdrawai, plays on the belonging to the proper place, as a pol itical place and as a habitation. Only this belonging to place authorizes the truth of the logos, that is, also its politicai effectivity, its pragmatic and praxical (praxique} efficiency, which Socrates regularly associates willi the logos to a proper place which guarantees the truth of its logos (effective relation of the discourse to the thing itself, to the matter, pragma) and of its action {praxis, ergon}. The specialists of the non-place and of the simulacrum (among whom Socrates for a moment affects to rank himself do not even have to be excluci-

ed from the city, like pharmakkoi; they exclude th themselves, as does Socrates here in giving back the word. They

exclude themselves by themselves, or pretend to do because they quite simply have no room (pas de place). There is

no room for them in the po ace (lieu) where poken of and dealt with, the agora. Although the word was already

uttered (1ge), the que as a general place of total receptacle (pandeches) is of course not yet posed. But il it is

not posed as such, it g and points already. The note is given. For on the one hand the ordered polysemy of the word

always includes the sense of political place or more generally of invested piace, by opposition to abstract space. Chore "means": place occupied by someone, country, inhabited place, marked place, rank, post, assigned position, territory or region .' And in fact, ctuxe will always already be occupied, invested, even as a ge.Place, and even when it is distinquished from everything that takes place in it. Whence the difficulty -we shall come to it - of treating it as an empty or geometriC space,

or evan, and this is what Heidegger will say of it, as that

es" the Cartesian space, the extensio of the res enensa. ic discourse, the discourse o! Socrates in this precise place from errancy (depuis terrance), from a mobile or non-marked

and on this marked place,

place, in any case from a sp ion which happens to be, into the bargain, neutralized. Why neutralized? If Socrates pretends to include himself among those whose genus is to have no place, he does not assimilate himself to them, he says he resembles them. Hence he holds himself in a third genus, in a way, neither that of the sophists, poets and other imitators [of whom he speaks}, nor that of the philosopher-polittcians (10 whom he speaks proposing only to listen to them). In a third genus and in the neutral space of a place without place, a place where everything is marked but which would be "in itself" unmarked.

Doesn't it already resemble what others, later, those very ones to rn he gives the word, will call choral A mere resemblance,

no doubt Only a discourse of the sophists' type would be so as to misuse it. But to misuse a resemblance. isn't that

to present it as an identity, isn't it to jlate? One can also the reasons for resemblance as such. We are in the pre-

amble, our preamble on the e Timaeus. There is no serious philosophy in introductions, only mythology at most,

said Hegel. In these preambles, it is uestion of chore, at least not of the one that gives place 10 the measure of the cos-

mos. However, in a singular mode, the very place of the preamble gives place, on the threshold, to a treatment of place, to an assigning of their place to interlocutors who will be brought to treat of it later. And this assignation ot ptaces obeys a criterion: that of the place of the genos with regard to the proper place. Now such a stagi ng (mise en scene}, which has never, it seems, been taken into account, this count, distributes the marked places and the. unmarked place1.ii,cordinQ to a schema analogous to the one which will later order the discourse on chore. Socrates himself, effaces ~self all the types, all the gen-

era, both those of the men of image and simulacrum whom he p and men 01 their word, philosophers and politicians to whom he

a moment to resemble and that of the men of action S himself while effacing himself before them. But in

thus effacing himself, he situates himself or institutes himself as a receptive addressee, let us say as a receptacle of aifthat will henceforth be inscribed. He declares himself to be ready and all set for that, disposed to receive everything he's offered. The words kosmos and ,endechomenon are not far away: "pareirni te oun de kekosmemenos ep'auta kai panton hetoirnotatos on dechestal" (20c). Once more the question returns: what does receive mean? What does dechomai mean? It is not so much a question in the form of "what does x mean?" it is not so much a question of meditating on the meaning of s~ch and such an


,Jacques Derrida

expression, as of remarking the fold of an immense difficulty: the relationship, so ancient, so traditional, so determinant, between the question of sense and the sensible and thai of receptivity in generaL The Kantian moment has some privilege here but even before the intuitus derivativus or pure sensibility have been determined as receptivity, the intuitive or perceptive relation to intelligible meaning has always include, in finite being in general, an irred ucible receptivity. It is true a iortiori tor sensory intuition or perception. Oechomai, which will determine the relation of chore to everything which is not herself and which she receives (it/she is pandeches, 51a), plays on a whole gamut of senses and connotations: to receive or accept (a deposit. a salary, a present), to welcome, to gather, or even to expect, for example the gift of hospitality, to be its addressee, as is here the case for Socrates, in a scene of gift and counter-gift or the hospitality of,ftj;j,@1.discourses. Socrates says he is ready to receive in exchange the discourses of which he becomes the welcoming, re~ {.~, grateful addressee (20b-c). We are still in a system of gift and debt, When we get on to chore as pandeches, beyon~throPOmo{phy we s~~aps glimpse a beyond of the debt. Socrates ls not cnore but he would look a lot like it/her if it/she were someone or SOf-'!l-:t)g. In any case he puts himselt in its/her place, which is not just a place among others, but perhaps place itsel~ the irreplaceable. Irreplaceable and unplaceable place from which he receives the word(s) of those before whom he effaces himself but who receive them from him for he it is who makes them talk like this. Socrates does not occupy this undiscoverable place but it is the one from which, in Ihe Timaeus and elsewhere, he answers to hj~ .. ne. For as chora he must be caJled in the same way And as it is not certain that Socrates hirnselt, this one here, is someone or something, the play 01 the proper names becomes more abyssal than ever: what is place? To what and 10 whom does it give place? What{!;2'-~,,)lace under these names .. ? T .. he permutations, substitutions, displacements don't only affect names. The staging unfolds _iiing to a setting 01 di~ses of a narrative type, reported or not, O.f which the origin or the first enunciation appears to be a ys relayed. Their mltrij:mension is sometimes exposed as such. and the mise en abyme, the putting en abyme is there given to be reflected wi~1mit. We no longer know whence comes at times tile feeling of dizziness, on what edges, up against the inside face of what wall: chaos, chasms, en-o-re. When they explicitly affect myth, the propositions of the Timeeus aj! seem ordered by a double motif. I n its very d upl.city, it would constitute the pnilosopherne of the my theme such as we saw it being installed, from Plato to Hegel, 1, On the one hand, myth derives from play. Hence it will not be taken seriously" Thus Plato warns Aristotle. he gets in ahead of the serious objection of Aristotle and makes the same use ot the opposition play/seriousness (paidia/spolJde), in the name of philosophical seriousness. 2. But on the other hand, in the order of becoming when~;;,nnot lay claim to a firm and stable logos, when one must make do with the probable, then myth is the done thing (de n~·: it is rigor. These twti[;t!Js are necessarily interwoven, which

pives the game its seriousness and the seriousness its play, It's not forbidden and n r.1:>ult to discourse (dialogis8sthai, S9c)

.on the subject of bodies when one seeks only probability. One carr then make .. i the form (idean) of probable myths

(Ionelkoto"myrhon). In these moments of recreation, one abandons reasonings on the subject of eternal beings, one seeks what is probable on the subject of becoming. One can then take pleasure there (hedonen) without remorse, one can moderately arid reasonably enjoy the game (paidia, S9d). The Timaeus multiplies propositions of this type. The mythic discourse plays with the probable image because the s~.9ry world is itself (an) image. The sensory becoming is an image, a semblance, the myth is an image 01 this image. The dkjrge formed the cor..mQ.$_ in rhe image of the eternal paradigm which he contemplates. The logos which relates to these images, to these iconic bll"l must be of the same nature: merely probable (2gb-d). We are ob'iged to accept in this domain the "probable myth" (to~ mython) and not to seek any further (29d, see also 44d, 48d, 57d, 72d-e). jj the cosmic-orrtologic encyclopedia 01 the Timseus presents itself as a "probable myth, ,. a tale ordered by the hierarchized OPPOSition of the sensible and the intellioible, of the image in the course of becoming and of the eternal being, how can one inscribe therein or situate therein the discourse on choral It is indeed inscribed there for a moment but it also has a bearing on a place of inscription of which it is clearly said that it exceeds or precedes, in an order that is moreover a logical and achronic, anachronistic too, the constitutive oppositions of myth-logiC as such, 01 the mythic discourse and of the discourse on


On the one hand, by resernb , of an open abyss in lhe gen

being nor to intelligible being, is neither true nor probable and a s myth to its philosophical te its name, right in the midc of this abyss were an no un

mises en abyme: a series of rr the outset, what Marx calls tt p

as it reaches us, born a (sornethinq) forward in a way like children for you have no WI (paanta gegrammena) sine Greeks. You don't know whE without having been capable ( genealogies to "childish myth

paradoxes. Like the myth ot1l other, to the secretariat of ani of salvation, of saving a memo of another place, which i ians is none the jess subordir

of qualities, as befits the scior are here by writlng (gegramrr. e, or even by another culture appears highly significant hen at least. its admiration, its del

Second occurrence, So Critia of the mythological Found, he had already told the nigh great-grandfather, a conversati had heard from Solon the ace ained to him in short why an th writing, destined them to psrpet

ch those who are subject to it e) y, why they are doomed to oral selves but thanks to the medic

raditional, so determinant, between 1t has some privilege here but even uitive or perceptive relation to intel:; true a fortiori for sensory intuition 101 herse-f and which she receives - accept (a deposit, a salary, a preaddressee, as is here lhe case for es says he is ready to receive ln ,e (20b-c). We are still in a system ;~~- ~aps glimpse a beyond of ) .l;g. In any case he puts him- 3 irrep ace able. lrteplaceable and self but who receive them from him Ice but it is the one from which, in same way. And as it is not certain becomes more abyssal than ever: s? The permutations, substitutions, .irses of a narrative type, reported

,--- '. '.

rsrnension FS sometimes exposed

ol~mft We no longer know whence an: chaos, chasms, en-o-re. When ( In its very duplicity, it would conHegel. 1. On the one hand, myth

ahead of the serious objection of 'arne of philosophjcsj seriousness. .table logos, when one must make are necessarily interwoven, which . to discourse (dialogisasthai, 59c) :l form (ide an) of probable myths 01 etemal beings, one seeks what remorse, one can moderatejy and .e rnythic discourse plays with the

image, a semblance, the myth is Jigm which he contempJates. The Iy probable {2gb-d). We are obligher (29d, see also 44d, 48d, 57d, yth," a tale ordered by the hierarand of the eternal being, how can

a moment but it also has a bearler thai is moreover a logical and Jiscourse and of the discourse on


myth. On the one hand, by resembling an oneiric and bastard reasoning, this discourse reminds us of a sort 01 myth within the myth, of an open abyss in the general myth. But on the other hand, in giving to be thought that which belongs nei:her to sensory being nor to intelligible being, nelther to becomi ng nor to eternity, the discourse on cnore is no longer a discourse 00 being, it is neither true nor probable and appears thus to be heterogeneous to myth, at least to my tho-logic, to this philosopheme wllich orders mylh to its philosophical Ie/os. The abyss does not open an at once, at the moment when the general theme of chora receives i1S name, right in the middle of the book, it all seems to happen just as if - and the as if is important to us here - the fracture of this abyss were announced in a muted and subterranean way. preparing and propagating in advance its simulacra

and raises en abyme: a series of mythic fictions set m in each olher. Let us consider first, in the staging of the Timeeus,

from the outset, what Marx calls the "Egyptian model. motifs, which we would call typomorphic, anticipate there the

sequence on the int-bearer, this mready to receive the imprint, or else on the imprint and the seal

themselves the imprinted . - these are so many tricks lor approaching the enigma of crete. First occurrence.

Such as it reaches us, b a series of fictional relays which we shall analyze later, the speech of the old Egyptian pries!

puts (something) forward in a way prior to all writing. He opposes it to myth, quite simply. You Greeks, he says to Solon, you are like children for you have no written tradition. After a cataclysm you have to rei nvent everything. Here in Egypt everything is' written (paanta gegrammena) since the most ancient times (ek pa/aiou) {23~d so too is even your own history, the history of you Greeks. You don't know where your present city comes from, for these 1!:' survive the frequent catastrophes die in their

turn without havlng been capable of expressing thems ing (23c). Deprived of written archives, you have recourse in

your genealogies to "childish 3b). Since you iling, you need myth. This exchange is not without some for-

mal paradoxes. Like the myth in, the memory of a seen 10 be entrusted not only to a writing but to the writing of

the other, to the secretariat of . It must thus be made other twice over in order to be saved, and it is indeed a ques-

tion of salvation, of saving a memory (23a) by writing on the walls of temples, The living memory must be exiled to the graphic vestiges of another place, which is also another city and another political space. But the techno-graphic superiority 0; the Egyptians is none the less subordinated for all Ihat to the service of the Greek logos: you Greeks, "you surpassed all men in ali sorts of qualities, as befits the scions and the pupils of the gods. Numerous and great were your exploits and those of your city;

they are here by writing (gegrammena) and are admired" (24d). memory of a people inspected, appropriated by another

people, or even by another culture: a well known phenomena history of cultures as the history of colonization. But the

fact appears highly significant here: mory is deposited, to a depot on the shores 01 a people which declares,

here at least, its admiration, its its subordination. The Egyptian is supposed to have appropriated the culture 01

the Greek masters who now depend hypomnesia, on this secretariat's writing, on these monuments: Thor or Hermes,

whichever you prefer. For this discourse of the priest - or Egyptian interpreter - is uUered here and interpreted in Greek, for the Greeks. Will we ever know who is holding this discourse on the dialectic 01 the master and Ihe slave and on the two memories Second occurrence. So Critlas reports a tale of Solon who himself reports the tale which an Egyptian pries! told him on the subject of the mylhological Foundation, precisely, in the memory of the A. thenians. Still mo_recisely: Critias repeats a tale

which he had already told the night before arid in the course 01 reported a conve~n between Solon and Crltias,

his great-grandfather, a conversation which had been recounted n he was a child by his ancestor Critias who him-

self had heard from Solon the account of the talk which the latter in Egypt with tne old priest, the same one who

explained to him in short why all the Greeks are at the mercy of oral tale-telling, or the oral tradition which, by depriving them of writing, destined them to perpetual childhood! So here is a tale-teltinq about oral lale-tellings, a chain of oral traditions by which those who are subject to it explain to themselves show someone else. com\ng from a country of writing, explains to them, orally, why they are doomed to orality. So many Greek children, then, ancestors, children and grandchildren, re:lecting amongst themselves but thanks to the mediation of someone other, at once toreigneristranger and accomplice, superior and interior, the


mythopoetics of oral tale-telling. But once again, this will not make us target (since it IS writtenl) that all this is written in that plac€ which receives everything. In this case, namely !h€ Timaeus, and is therein addressed to the one who, as we do, and before US, receives everything, in this theory of receptions - Socrates. At the end of these tales of tales, after these recountings that are mutually inscribed in each other to the point where one often wonders who is after all holding this discourse, who is taking up speech and who is receiving it, the young Critias recounts how he remembers all this. A tale about the possibility of the tale, a proposition about origin, memory and writing. As I most often do, I quote a current translation (here that of Rivaud, in the Bude edition), modifying it or rnentioninq the Greek word only where OUT context requires it: "This is why, as hermocrates said yesterday, on going out from here, I recounted to them what 1~mbered, then, on teaving then, on i€aving them, thinking about it all r1ight. all the rest of it came back to me too How trut ~.~ as they say (to legomenon), that the thinqs we learned in childhood (ta paidon mathemata) remain in memory in a surpri~y (thaumaston eChel:;.~eiOn), For myself, inde€d, I don't know if j shall be able to recall an I heard yesterday: but as for what I heard long ag .:;~~d be very surprised (lhaumasaim) if anything of it escaped me. I had then so much pleasure, so much childish joy in hean 9 it, and the old man taught me so kindly, whiJe I never ceased to question him, that this story has remained in me, as if painted with indelible letters (hoste hoion enkaumata enekpiytou graphes emmon._a moi gegonen),(26b-c). In the space of so-called natural. spontaneous, living memory, the originary is thus said to be bettet ;,~"'Served. Childhood is supposed to be more durably inscribed in this way than the intervening times. Effacement would be the1lgure for the middle (milieu): Oerrida plays on this word with its suggestion of half-way place "sornethinq that Is only half place mi-lieu - ,.C-rDC 'pace and tor lime. It would aftect only second or ,econdary impressions. averane or mediated. The ocigln2CY Imp ;.h would be Ineffacel!:.nce it has been enqravad In the

virgin wax, Now what is represented by a virgin was, which is stt ·rgin, absolutely prec riEiny possible impression, always

older, because atemporal, than everything that seems to affect it in order to take form in rreceives them, and which is nev-

ertheless and for th€ same reason always younger, infant even, achronic and anachronistic, so indeterminate that it does not even justify the name and the form of wax? Let us leave this question suspended until the moment when there will be grounds (ou il ya lieu de) for renaming chore. But it was already necessary to show the homology of this schema with the very content of the tales. In truth" each narrative content - fabulous, fictive, leqendary or mythic, il doesn't matter for the moment - becomes in its turn the content of a different tale. Each J;e is. thus the receptacle of another. There is nothing but receptacles

of narrative receptacles, or narrative receotectes ot tee ;."~s. Let us not forget that receptacle, place of reception or har-

bonnglfodg,ng (hypodoche), is the most Insistent deter p" (let u, not say .. esr·· lac reasons which must already be

obvious) of chora. But if Cnore is a receptacle, if it/she gives place to all the stone r>~logic or mythic, that can be recount-

ed on the subject of what she receives and even of what she resembles but which I t takes place in her, chora herself, so

to speak, does not become the object of any tale, whether true or tabled. Tbouqh it IS not a true logos, no more is the word on chore a probable myth either, a story that is reported and in which another story wifl take place in its tum. let us take it up again from farther back. In that fiction which is the written ensemble of the dialogue entitled Timseus, someone speaks at first of a dialogue which is said to have~k.en place "last flight" (chth[:s. 17a). This second fiction (F2J has a content, the fictive model of an ideal city (17c) which is "'-~crfbed in a narrat.:· de. A structure of inclusion makes of the included fiction in a sense

the theme of :he prior fiction which is its including f '.)S capable container, let us say its receptacle. Socrates who, as we

have noted, figures as a generar addressee, capa nderstanding everything and therefore of receiving everything (nke

ourselves, even here). affects to interrupt Ihere this mythopoelic Siring 01 events. But this is only in order to re-launch it even more forcefully: Well, let me tetl you now furthermore, regarding this State (politeia) which we have described, what sort of feeling I felt about it. , .. This impression is like the one which one would feel on seeing somewhere some beautiful living things (zoia kala), either represented in palnling hypographes, or even really alive, but holding themselves at rest: one would feel the desire to see them start moving by themselves and carry out in reality some of the exercises for which their bodies seem to be


. That is what I feel, too, wi!

itself worthy of the trainin of the other States" (19b-(

representation of the polite: painting, a State's movern: . The latter was more dead

etnnos, of the genos I inasmuch as it is measi

of this ethonos or of tt. his mythomimetico-graptl be capable of praisinj astonishing about that.

as between the succi the scenes interlock a Id be attributed calmly to

scene, to regard as resolv """·':"""''''''''d what it means to of Plato, of the ant so speaking, merely an inE extracted by artifice, mist

which it will come to co' nor illegitimate since one text of Plato, It works an

dorninatinq, according te for example those which historical situation, eve

jt is writtenJ) that all this is written in that ddressed to the one who, as we do, and I these tales of tales, after these recounttho is after aJI holding this discourse, who -nbers all this. A tale about the possibility

a current translation (here that of Rivaud, t requires it: "This is why, as hermocrates l, on leaving then, on reaving them, thinkto legomenon), that the things we learned C~eion). For myself, indeed, mg ag .[;~Id be very surprised itheuI joy in hear! g it, and the old man taught , as il painted with indelible letters (haste of so-called natural, spontaneous, living e more durably inscribed in this way than plays on this word with its suggestion of

time. It would atlecl only second or sec-

:.ea.I:;OOo it h" been enqraved in 'he

ec ((clny possible impression, always

'n. . receives them, and which is nev-

onistic, 50 indeterminate Ihat il does not I the moment when there will be grounds ogyof this schema with Ihe very content lie, it doesn't matter for the moment _ mother. There is nothing but receptacfes ar receptacle, place of reception or tier~" for reasons which must already be r ~Iogic or mythic, that can be recount~t takes place in her, chora herself, so not a true logos, no more is the word on ;e place in its turn. Let us take it up agarn j Timaeus, someone speaks at frrst of a Jon (F2) has a content, the fictive model makes of the included fiction in a sense say its receptacts. Socrates who as we id therefore 01 receiving everything (like this is only in order to re-Iaunch it even ich we have described, what sort of feelsomewhere some beautiful living things Ig themselves at rest: one would feel the rcises for which their bodies seem to be


suited. That is what I feel, too, with regard to the State whose plan we have run through: I would like to hear it laid that these struggles which a Stale keeps up, are also set against other States. That it marches, as it should, to battle, that during the wm it shows itself worthy of the training and education given to its citizens, ei\ner in its operations or in its negotiations with reg arc to each of the other States" (19b-c), Desire of Socrates, of the one who receives everything, once again: to give life, to see life and movement glven to a graphe, to see a zoography become animated, ln other words a pictural representation. the descrip tion of the dead inscription of the living. This desire is also political. How would one set in motion, i.e., set walkingfmarching, <: dead representation of the po/iteal? By showing the city in relation with other cities, One will thus describe by words. by dis

cursive painting, a State's movement ot going outside . Thanks to a second graphic fiction; one will go outside of the firs

graphe. The latter was more dead, less living than th d one to Ihe extent that it describes the city in itself, internal itselt

at peace with its own in its domestic econ possibility of was makes the graphic image - the deseri ption -

of tlle ideal city go out: n the living and mobile real but into a better image, a living image of this living and rnobi«

real, while yet showing a ctioning that is internal to the test: war, In all the senses of the word, it is an exposition/expo

sure/exhibition of the city.8 At the moment when he asks that one should at last get out of this graphic hallucination to see ths image of the things themselves in movement, Socrates points at, without naming them, poets and sophists: by definition the~ are incapable of getting out of the simulacrum or the mimetic hallucination .der to describe political reality. Paradoxically it's to the extent thai toey are always outside, without a place of their own anrwith no fixed abode, that these members of the

memetikon ethnos, of the genos ton sophiston or of Ihe p genos remain powerless, incapable of speaking of the politi

cal reality inasmuch as it is meas the test of war. At the same time, affecting to rank himself or

the side of this ethonos or of Socrates confe he too is incapable of going outside, by himself and of him

self, of his mythomim in order to give life and movement to the city, (I know myself well enough 10 know tha

I will never be capable of praising as one should these men and tneir city (in war, in negotiation, in movement). For me, then is nothing astonishing about that. But I have formed the same opinion on the subject of the poets. ~ ,"(19d)) A supplementar irony: Socrates is not content to side for a moment with the men of the zoographic simulacrum, he declares that he does nc despise their genos or their etbnos. This confers on the play between the text and the theme, between what is done and wt;a is declared, as between t1"1e successive inclusion of the "receptacl a structure without an indivisible origin. In this theater c

without bottom, how can one isolate a thesis or a them! be to misrecognize or violently deny the structure of th'

irony where the scenes interlock a series ot receptacles with

that could be attributed calmly to ophy-ot-Plato"? Th

textual scene, to regard as resolved one understood wnat it means to

questions of topology in general, inc1uding that of the topot of rhetoric. and to thin " to understand, It's a little early. Should one henceforth forbid oneself to speak c

the philosophy of Plato, of the ontology of Plato, or even of Platonism? Not at all, and there would probably be no error of prir ciple in 50 speaking, merely an inevitable abstraction. Platonism would mean, in these conditions, the thesis or the theme whic one has extracted by artifice, misprison and abstraction from the text torn out of the written fiction of "Plato." Once this abstrac lion has been supercharged and deployed, it will be extended over all the folds of the text, oJ.ii ruses, overdetermina1~ons, an'

reserves which it will come to cover up and dissimulate. This will Platonism or p-'ophy of Plato, which IS 'IelthE

arbitrary nor illegitimate since one can be recommended to do so in ~orce of thelic abstraction at work in the heterc

geneous text of Plato. It works and presents itself precisely under of philosophy. If it is not illegitimate and arbitrar

to call it as it's called, that's because its arbitrary violence, its abstraction, consists in making the law. up to a point and tor while, in domlnating, according to a mode which is precisely all of philosophy, other motifs of t!lought which are also at work i the text: for example those which interest us here in a privileged way, and starting from another situation - let us say for brev ty another historical situation, even though history depends most often in its concept on this philosophical heritage. "Platonisrr is thus certainly one of the effects of the text signed by Plato, for a long time t!'1e dominant effect and for necessary reasons, bl


Jacques DelTida

this effect is always turned back against 1he text. It must be possible to analyze this violent reversion, Not that we have at our disposal at a given moment a greater lucidity or new instruments. Prior to this technology or this methodology, a new situation, a new experience, a different relation must be possible. I leave these three words (sltuation, experience, relation) without complernent in order not to determine them too quickly and in order to announce new questions through this raadlnq of cham. To say, for example, situation or topology of being, experience of being or relation to being, would perhaps be to set oneself up too quickly in the space opened up by the question of the meaning of being in its Heideggerian type. Now il will appear later, a propos of the Heideggerian interpretation of criore. that our questions are also addressed to certain decisions of Heidegger and to ttleir very horizon. 10 what forms the horizon of the question" meaning of being and of its epochs. The violent reversion ot which we have just spoken is always interested and interest~~s naturally at work in this ensemble without limit which I here call the text. In constructing itself, in being posed in Its domll;o,,,ormat a given momenr-=': thaI 01 the Pratonic thesis, pbilosophy or ontology), the latter is neutralized in it, numbed, self-destructed or c;iiSSjmlllate~~luaIIY, parba~ly, provisionalIy. The forces that are thus inhibited continue to maintain a certain disorder, some potential inc7>herence and some heterogeneity in the orpanization of the theses, They introduce parasitism into it, and clandestinity, ventriloquism and above all a general tone of denial which one can learn to perceive by exercising one's ear or one's eye on it. "Platonism" is not only an example of this movement, the tirst "in" the whole ~~.:y of philosophy. It commands it. it commands this whole history: As such, a philosophy would henceforth always be "Platonl(;~" Hence the necessity to continue to try to think what takes place in P!ato, with Plato, what is shown there, what is hidden, so as to win there -r: .. '.',e there. Let us return to. the Tirneeus. At the point we have now reached, how can we recognize the present of Ille tale? ~~ oresenteo there? WhEoidS the discourse there? To whom is the speech addressed? Still to Socrates: we have already in~i'sterYon this singular dissy r~ry; but that remains still too inoeterminate, by definition. At this point, then, three instances of textual fiction are mutuall)" ... ·~r~ded in one another, the one as content given form in the receptacle of the other: the Timaeus itself, a unit(y) that is already difficult to cut up, the conversation of the evening before (The Republic, Polilsia? Th is debate is well known.), its present resume the description of the ideal po/itsie. But this is merely to begin. 10 front of the dead picture (tableau mort, a pun on tableau viven: . ir), Socrates thus demands that one pass on to life, to movement and to reality, in order to speak at last o! philosophy and politics, those things that the mimetikon etnnoe, lhe po,,"ikongenos, and the 10 SOPhisl7:!~OS are, somewhat like Socrale s, incapable of. He addre,sses his interlocutors as a different genos and thiS apostrophe wil i them speak while according to them the necessary right and competence for that. tn effacing himself and in rendering .. ,:~~~ word, Socrates se~. J~o to induce and to program the discourse of his addressees, whose listener and receiver he affects to become, Tnrou r-~Io. mouths lIer1ceforth, who will speak? Will it be they, Socrates' addressees? Or Socrates, their addressee? In genos of thos 'J...~o by nature and by education participate in the two orders, philosophy and potincs (hama amphoteron physei kai trophei metachon 20a), sees itself thus being assigned the word by tlle one who exc1udes himself from their genos and pretends to belong to the genos of the simulators, So Ihe young Critias accepts to recount a tale whic!! he had already toid the night before, on the road, according to old oral traditions (ek palaias akoes, 20d), l?;tRr course of this tale which, the night before, already repeated an old and ill-determined tradition, the youn~ Oritias recour:")n~lher tale WhiChC· 'Ii,obd Orltias, his ancest~r, h,ad himself told of ,a conversation which he (said he} had with Solon, a conversation In the cours .ich the latter relates In hls turn a conversation which he had with an


Egyptian priest and in the course of which the latterl"'~~'s in his turn the origin of Athens: according to Egyptiaf1 scriptures.

Now ~t is in this last tale (the first one in the series of narrative events, the last one to be reported in this telling of tellings) that the reference to Egyptian writing returns. In the course of this first-1ast tale, the most mythic in its form, it's a matter of reminding tile Greeks, who have remained cilildren, of what the childhood of Athens was, Now Athens is a figuration of a city which, though it did not have the correct usage of writing, nonetheless served as a model to the Egypban city from which the priest came ~ hence as an exemplary paradigm in Ihe place from which in short he advances this tale, That place, which seems to


or produce the tale, thus h,

ln the fiction, itself writt€1 in writing, to an origin older tr the appearance is that we thlnl confined in the space of th,

Anselm. unless it That's well said, repli work (ergon} which was riot re but as a high tact reall) then, to speak at last of a fae

HJC1"';:'~"J Hesiod or Homer. After this IS a further excess ofl . tension between the th with him - contents of ident drift (derive) which takes

, purled back, entrusted to a r to the next, the author gets Orphan or bastard, it is disti for it and about it This fc if we can still say this, and as it were the nurs

thus derives from that tertium ~ r suitable "comparison" is pn . the paradigm to a father, and tl figure and atthough it no lon~ words, with the paradigma , so that which the intelligit The "mother" is supposedly ap:

she is not more of a molt it is a unique individual, S spaclnq which keeps a dissyrr a couple with her. In the cou: r be considered as an origin, 01 a present that is past. B

t reversion" Not that we have at our r this melhodology, a new situation, , experience, relation) without cams through this reading of chore, To vould perhaps be to set oneself up erian type. Now it will appear later, j to certain decisions of Heidegger and of its epochs. The violent reverin this ensemble without limit which

en~': that of the Platonic thesis, ~~~~UallY, partially, provisionaltial inC'Clherence and some hetero-

ventriloquism and above all a genit. "Platonism" is not only an examlands this whole history. As such, a think what takes place in Plato, with :) the Timaeus. At the point we have iolds the discourse there? To whom ~

nary; but thai remains still too inde-

tff9ded in one another, the one as di!iicult to cut up, the conversation 1e the description of the ideal po/itvivant - if), Socrates thus demands I and politics, those things that the tes, incapable of. He addresses his 19 to them the necessary right and ) to induce and to program the dis- 1I0uths henceforth, who will speak? by nature and by education partietachon 20a), sees itself thus bejng g to the genos of Ihe simulators, So )e mad, according to old oral tradisated an old and JI!-determined traself told of a conversation which he

conversation which he had with an : according to Egyptian scriptures. oorted in this telling of tetlinqs) that ; in ils form, it's a matter of remindhens is a figuration of a city which, Egyptian city from which the priest lis tale, That place, which seems to


inspire or produce the tare, thus has another place, Athens, as its modeL So it's Athens or its people who, as the apparent addressees or receptacles of the tale, would thus be, according to the priest himself, its utterers, producers or inspirers, rts intormers, In the fiction, itself written, let us never forget that, there is developed thus a theory or a procession of writing referring, in writing, to an origin older than itself, In the center. between F3 and F4, is a sort of reversal, an apparent catastrophe; and the appearance is that we think we're passinq then at last into reality, exitir-tg from the sirnutacrum, In truth, everything stltl remains confined in the space of the zoographic fiction, We can gauge the ironic ingenuity that Socrates needs in order to congratulate himself here on passing over to serious things and going beyond the inanimate painting to get on to real events at last.

He applauds, indeed, when Oritias announced to h' is getting ready to recount what his grandfather told him Solon

had told him on the subject of what an Egyptian pri fided to him about "the marvelous exploits accomplished by this

city", one of these exploits of Saint Anselm, unless it

de hen megistan), therefore, I would say, mimicking the argument Gaunilon, an event which must have been real, or else it would not have been the greatest

of all, That's well said, repli rates in his enthusiasm, au legeis. And goes on to ask at once what is this exploit, this effective work {ergon) which was not reported only as a fiction, a tale, something said, something one is content to talk about (ou legomenon) but as a high fact really accomplished (antos) by the city, in olden days, and about which Solon thus heard tell. We' ought, then, to speak at last of a fact (ergon) veritably, really accomplished. ~hat happens? Let us note first that U"1€ essential would come to us from Solon's mouth, himself quoted by two generations~ritiases. Now who is Solon? He is hastily pre-

sented as a poet of genius. If the urgent call of politics

m the leisure to devote himself to his genius, he would have poets, after the "realist" tum which the text pretended :0 more the firmness of the theses and themes, It accentuates the

take, this is a further excess

ich destabilizes

dynamic tension between the and the textual fiction, between the "philosophy" or the "pclitics" which is here associated with him - contents of identifiable and transmissible meanings like the identity of a knowledge ~ and on the other hand a textual drift (derive) which takes the form of a myth, in any case or a "saying" (legomenon) whose origin appears stilt undefined, pulled back, entrusted to a responsibility that is forever adjourned, without a fixed and determinable subject. From one telling to the next. the author gets farther and farther away_ So the mythic saying resembles a discourse without a leg~timate father. Orphan or bastard, it is distinguished from the philosophical which, as is said in the Phaedrus, must have a father

'receptacle and as it were the nur

to answer for it and about it. This familial schema by which a

of situating, if we can still say this, (lieu) of any site

s a discourse will be round again at work at the moment ely ctiore. On the one hand, the latter would be the

birth" (pases eine! geneseos hypodochen etnet: boior: titttene», 49a), As a nurse,

she thus derives from that tertium logic commands all that is attributed to it. On the other hand, a little further on. another suitable "comparison" is proposed to us: "And it is convenient 10 compare (proseikasai prepet; the receptacle to a mother, the paradigm to a father, and the intermediary nature between the two to a child (ekgonon)" (Sud). And yet, to follow thts other figure and although it no longer has the place of the nurse but that of the mother, chore does not pair off with the father, in other words, with_the par_adrgm_atic model. She is a t~ird gender/genus, she does not ~e •.. to an oppositional couple, for

example, so that which the intelligible paradigm forms With the se Ing and whic . _her looks like a tather/son cou-

ple. The "mother" is supposedly apart. And since it's only a figure, a , therefore one of these oeterrninations which chore

receives, she is not more of a mother than a nurse, is no more th n, This tritor. germs is not a genos, and first of atl

because it is a unique individual. She does not belong to the "race of women" (genos gynaikon).9 Chore marks a place apart, the spacing which keeps a dissymmetrical relation with all that which, "iff herself," beside Or in addition to herself, seems to make a couple with her, In the couple outside of the couple, this strange mother wilo gives place without engendering, can no longer be considered as an origin, Pre-originary, before and outside of all generation, she no longer even has the meaning or a past, of a present that is past Before signifies no temporal anteriorily, The relation of independence, the non-relation !OO~s


Jacques Cenida

more like that of the interval or the spacing of the viewpoint of what is lodged in it to be received in it And yet the discourse on chore, conducted by a bastard reasoning that is without a regitimate lather (logismoi tini rotboi. 52b), is inaugurated by a new return to the origin: a new raising of the stakes in the analytic {egreSSion, The whole of the Timaeus thus scans to the rhythm of steps backwards Jts proper time is articulated by movements which resume from even farther back the things already dealt with farther back. Thus: According to that, if you want 10 say really (onlos) how !t1e World was born, you have to introduce into the tale the species of the wandering cause (kai to tes planomenes eidos aitias) and the nature of its proper movement Hence you must again. immediately (palin), go backwards, take up again, for tbese same phenomena, an appropriate new beginning (prosekousan heleran ercnerii and, as we have done in what we hl;IUdied hitherto, beqin again at the beginning, for these facts yet again (nun outo peri toulon palin arkteon ap'arches, 48a fiia will not begin again at the beginning_ We wjll not go back, as is stated imm_ediately after, to first principles or el~ments. ~~ ing~ (stoicheia touP~[; __ We must go lur_th~r onw~rd, take up again everything that we were able to consider hitherto as the Origin, go back behi "J1 elementary principles, I.e" behind the opposition of the paradigm and its copy. And when, in order to do this, it is announc that recourse will be made only to probable affirmations (ten toneikotonlogondynamin, or again to ton eikoton dogma, 48d-e), it is in order 10 propose also to "divide turther" the principle (48e): "Now let us divide this new beginning more amply than our first beginning, At that time we had distingu,shed two forms (duo eide) of f;!!t~g, Now, we must discover a third kind (triton allo genos hemin deloteon). Let us take things up again from farther back, whicfl' can be translated thus: Jet us go back behind the assured discourse 01 philosophy which proceeds by oppositions of principle and coun~e origin as on a normal couple, We must go back towards a pre-origin which deprives us of this assurance and requiresj:l'j same time an imP7i:UhiJOSOPhical discourse, threatened,

bastard, hybrid, These traits are not negative, They do no! discreit a discourse which "<)Simply be inferior to philosophy,

For if it is admittedly not true, merely probable, it nonetheless for ailihat tens what is ne " aon the subject of necessity. The

strange difficulty of this whole text lies indeed in the distinction between these two modalities: the true and the necessary. The bold stroke consists here in going back behind the origin, or also the birth, towards a necessity which is neither generative nor engendered and which carries philosophy, "precedes" (prior to time that passes or eternal time) and "receives" the effect, here the image of oppositions {interligibre and sensible), The discourse on chora thus p!ays tor philosophy a role analogous to that which chora "herself" plays for that which philosophy speaks 01, namely, the cosmos formed or given form according to the paradigm. It's out of t~iS c~smos that will be drawn hencef0:lJ;, ,'~i 'proper - but necessarily inadequate - figures for deseri bing cnore: receptacle, imprint-bearer. mother or nurse. We s _ .. ,~,~ why these fJgUreS~BVerF true figures, Philosophy cannot

speak directly about that which they approach, in the mode of vigilance or of truth {t rilLprobable), The dream is between the

'two, neither one nor the other, Phjlosophy cannot speak philosophically of that .<Ooks like its "mother," its "nurse," its

"receptacle." or its "imprint-bearer." As such, it speaks only of the father and the son, as if the father engendered it all on his own. Once again, a homology or analogy that is al least formal: in order to think cnore, it is necessary to go back to a beginning that is older than the beginning, namely the birth of the cosmos, just as the origin 01 the Athenians must be recalled to them from beyond their own memorywu that which is formal about it, precisely, the ana!ogy js declared: a concern for architectural, textual {histological) and even ~9!i.nic compos, jtion_£;i , :ented, as suc~ a litHe furth_er on, It recalls the organ,icist motif of the

Phaedrus: a well-composed logos must look like a II 1'1f,dy, Timaaus: 'Thus now, like the builders (tektosin). we have, ready

to work on, our materials (hyJe: material, woad, raw ~ ~al, a word that Plato never used to qualify chora, let that be said in

passing to announce the problem posed by the Aristotelian interpretation of chora as matter - JO): these are the species of cause (necessary cause, divine cause - JD)_ With them, we must complete the knotting of the web (sunyphanthena~ of reasoning (logos) which remains for us to do, Let us go back, then. once more, briefly, to the beginning (palin ep'archen) and let us return rapidly to the very paint from where we arrived here, And let us try to give as an end (teleuten) 10 our story (lOi myfhol) a head (kephalen) which agrees with the beginning in order to crown with it that which comes before (69a), 1, We shall go back


of the interpretatior for the moment only tha

and in particular of a and metaphors whc

ontologique au Timee de of metaphor and propr

one of them bearing on S8 course, it is not a questil reasons which we shall t

it seems, where the releva and cease to be merely ope basis of "Platonic" opposltio Itiplicity of metaphors {or als: intelligible via these detou

mean: that which separates and "makes space" for it (PIt; d for us by this text and its con vr!I,rn",r""'tet),3 Vorlesungen rJber (

rke 18, Suhrkamp, p. 103. 4, M,

recognizes the greater antiquity of 1 located as if on deposit in Egypt {23 cheioo," siqnlties the yawning (as: "chaos" in close connection with ar

in it. And yet the discourse on 52b}, is inaugurated by a new ,us thus scans to the rhythm of

back Ihe things already dealt am, you have to introduce into )f its proper movement. Hence an appropriate new beginning lain at the beqinninq, for these I the beginning. We will not go tr: must go further onward, , #r elementary principles, i.e., ~ that recourse will be made J), it is in order to propose also -ur first beginning. At that time '110 genos hemin detoteon). let

the assured discourse of phipie. We must go back towards ophica! discourse, threatened, mply be inferior to philosophy. n the subject 01 necessity. The .e true and the necessary. The vhich is neither generative nor and "receives" the effect, here sophy a role analogous to that ven form according to the parwate ~ figures for describtng rue figures. Philosophy cannot )Ie). The dream is between the ;e its "mother," its "nurse," its father engendered it all on his .assary to go back to a beqmlians must be recalled to them -d a concern for architectural, iette the orqanlclst motif of the lers (lektosin), we have, ready Ja~ily chore. let that be sa Ed in

J D): these are the species of web (sunyphanthenal) of reaInirtg (palin ep'srcbert; and let leuten) to au r story (to! mythol) ore (69a). 1. We shall go back


this point, one of the most sensitive ones of our problematic, often and at length, in particular when we sketch a history a typology of the interpretations 01 chora or rather when we try to describe the law of their paradoxes or of their aporias. us note for the moment only that in these two works which, in the French language and separated by an interval of 70 years, a synoptic table and conclude by a gerteral interpretation of all the past tntsrpretauons, the rretaltnquistic or meta-interrecourse to these values of metaphor, of comparison or of image is never questioned for what it is. No question on ive rhetoric is posed, in particular in what ~t necessarily borrows from a certain Platonic tradition (metaphor is a S€rtSOfor acceding to an intelligible meanirtg), which would render it little suited to provide a metalanguage for the lnterpreages of the Tim8eus on cham. Rivaud speaks thus of a "crowd

ns and metaphors whose variety is 296), of "metaphors" and of "images" brought back to an "idea,"

of the "in what" (p. if, against Zeller, he to "see only metaphors in Plato's formulations .... "(p. 308). ("The

logy of the Timeeus,' in Le probleme du devenir et la notion de matiere, Ch. V. 1905}. Luc

in turn speaks of elaphor of the dream used by Plato to illustrate his description" (Le meme et i'autre dans fa

onto!ogique du Timee de P/aton, 1974, p. 197, cf also pp 206, 207). He even systematizes the operatory recourse to concept of metaphor and proposes to classify all the said metaphors at the moment of deterrnininq what he calls <the ontoical nature of the spatial milieu" (we shall come back later to this title artd6e project it describes): ... This (determlning 'ontological nature' of the 'spatta' milieu') poses a considerable problem, 1rrlato only speaks of tt1e spatial milieu by using

totally metaphorical language which escapes any tech . images one of them bearing on 222). Of course, il is not a que . and tor reasons which we shall

uality. That is why we shall first analyze two sequences of artisanal activity ... (p. 208, cf. also pp. 211. 212, 214, 217,

of criticizing the e words metaphor, comparison, or image. It is often inevitable,

I here. It will sometimes happen that we will have recourse to them too. But there is

a point, it seems, where the relevance of this rhetorical code meets a limit and must be questioned as such, must become a theme and cease to be merely operatory. It is precisely the point where the concepts of this rhetoric appear to be constructed on the basis of "Platonic" cppositions (intelliqible/sensibte, being as eidos/irriage, etc.) from which chora escapes The apparent multiplicity of metaphors (or also of my themes In general) signifies in Inese places not only that tne proper meanino can only

become intelligible via these detours, but that the opposition n the proper and the ligurahve loses its value. 2. He does

this in particular in a brief passage, in fact a parenthesis if) his to MetaphysiCS. Lei us do no more than quote here

the translation, and we shall come at length in the last this work: (The reference to this passage of the Timaeus

(SOd-e} is not only destined to onnectedness of the "paremphainon" and of the "on," of the co-appearance (des

Milerschefnens) and of being as sta it must at the same time indicate t!'la! on the basis of PlatoniC philosophv, i.e., in

the interpretation at being as "idea," is prepared {vorbereilet) the transformation by which, for the scarcely suspected essence of the place (Orles) ("tapos"), and of the "chore," is substituted "space" (Raum) defined by extension (Ausdehnung). Might not "cbors: mean: that which separates, deviates from any particular thinq, that which is effaced, that which thus admits sornethinq other and "makes space" for il (Platzmacht)?, pp. SL-S1, French translation by G. Kahn, p~. -77). Among all the questions posed for us by this text anc its context, the most serious wilt no r upon all the dec.s implied by this "is prepared"

(vorbereitel).3. Vorlesungen uber die Geschichte der Philosophie. Werke 18, Suhrkarnp, p. 103. 4. Marcel Detienne and Jean-Pierre

, B. 2b, Verhaltnis der Philosophie zur Religion, , , Les ruses de l'inlelfigence, la matis des Grecs, p.

66. Gaia is evoked by the Egyptian priest 01 the Timeeus, in a discourse to which we shall return, It is at the moment when he recognizes the greater antiquity of the city at Athens whlch, however, has only a mythic memory, the written archive of which is located as if on deposit in Egypt (23d-e). Ct. also Heidegger, Nietzsche, vol. 1, p. 350, French translation p. 274. Chaos, "chaos. cremo." signifies the yawning (das Gahnen), the gaping, that which is split in two (Auseinanderkfaffende}. We understand "chaos" in close connection witt< an original interpretation of the essence of the "aletheia" in as much as it is the abyss which


Jacques uernca

opens (cf. Hesiod, iheogony) The representation of Chaos, in Nietzsche, has the function of preventing a 'hurnaruzation' (Vermenschung) of existence in its totality. The 'humanization' includes as much the moral explanation of the world on the basis of the resolution 01 a Creator, as its technical explanation, on the basis of the activity of a great artisan (Handwerker) (the Demiurgej_ 5. ~t is P~ato who gives the determinant interpretation (massgebende Deutung) for Western thought. He says that between existence and being there is {bestehe) the "cnorismoe. Ihe chore" signifies the place (Ort). Plato means that the existent and being are in different places. The existent and being are differently placed (sind verschefden geortet)_ Thus if Plato considers the "cnorismos" the djHerence of place between being and the existent, he then poses the question of the entirely other place (nach dem ganz anderen Ort) of Being, by comparisoEith that of the existent." (Was heisst Denken?, pp, 174-75, French translation A. Becker and G. G ranel, p. 261)_ Later we sh .N ia rrn at length to this passage and its context. 6_ This is One of the motifs wh ich link this essay to the one which I wrote o· ~: ir;hlecht in Heidegger'af' .. ,~ '.} introduction to that essay, "Gesctitectn. difference sexuelte: difference ontoloqique." in Heideggerc Cahiers de l'Herne .i;~ e. 7. Capital, Fourth Section, XIV, V. In another context, that of a seminar held at the Ecole Normale Superieure in 1970 ("The ry of philosophical discourse: the conditions at inscription of the text of political philosophy ~ the example of materiatlsm.) These reflections on the Timaeus inlersected with other questions which here remain in the background and to which I shall return elsewhere. Other texts were studied, in particular those of Marx and Hegi_,:;gt the question 01 their relation to the politics of Plato in general, or 01 the division of labor, or of myth, or of rhetoric, or of matfer, etc. 8. The possibility of war breaks into the idealiiy, in the ideal description of the ideal city, in the very space of this fiction or of this re~p.; arion. The vein of this.p.rOblematic, which we cannot f0110w here, seems to be among the richest. It might lead us in parti _ ::0::,' Sowards an original feO .. ?! .fiction which is Du Comret sociei According to Rousseau, the state of war between States canno dive rise to any pure la 1f"<\Slrjs purely civil, like the one which must feign inside the State. Even if it has its original law, the law of the people (genos,'~ o}eople, ethnic group), war makes us come back to a sort of specific savagery. It brings the social contract out at itself. By this suspension, war also shows the limits of the social contract; it throws a certain light on the frontiers of the social contract itself and 01 the theoretical or tabulous discourse which describes it. Thus it is at the end of the book of this ideal tict.on that Rousseau in a tew Jines gets on to the problems which he is not going to deal with. We would have to analyze closely this conclusion and these considerations on war, the singular relation which they maintain with the Inside of the social contract at the moment where !Iley open onto its outside It is a thematic relation but also a forrnal relation, aprobll1r.." .. I'pI:;Ompositiort: Rousseau seems to rub his eyes so as to perceive the outside of the fabte or of the ideal genesiS. He ope4~ "lyes but he closes t: "Chap. X, Conclusion. After having set down_the true principles ot POliticallawand.tried 10 found the State on this basi I#~prnains to support it by its external relations; which would mclude the law of nations. commerce, the law of war and c Qst. public law, leagues, negotiations, treaties, etc. But all that forms a new object too vast for my short sight: I should have fixed it ever closer to me." 9_ Cf. Nicole Loraux, "On the race of women ." in Les enfants d'Athena (1981, p, 75 et seq). III the context which we are here delimiting, see also, in the preceding chapter, "Autochlhony an Athenian topics," that which concerns ill particular Athens "both nurse (trophos), fatherland and mot~ (Panegyric of Isocrates) and the "rival and complementary poles, logos and mythos" which "share the theatrical stage, in@n!ual confrontation !aISO ill complicity" (pp. 67-72). As for the race of men (genos anthropan), the Egyptian priest of the Timaeu$ assigns "pi ,-rdyo it these are the places propitious for memory, for the conservation of archives, for wriflng and for tradition, these temp .. __ al~ones which provide protection from destruction by excesses of heat and cold (22e-23a).


now have the transcript of [ we should sit down and desi I suggest we do is write an and J ul iet project In this done the project without ths

's, which is not ; mine will be a text a Derrida opens the circle, c ·S. Let's see. Tschumi is to plus Derrida. Then a third wi

..... 1thin',.., there, a level of corresr Derrida's Plato with Tsc can only be the imprint' Jt will become a recepta~ d on our site or sites. I tee

showing a writing that app that is so much a part ( through a registering a reading is Derrida's text, whic

se purpose and text is not ce the structure I find .. Tschumi and Eisenman -

to use this interpretation of Eisenman will not represent Tschumi and so forth. T of the La Vi1lette text and its s leads to a third site, chora, _ It will be the analogic stru

a drawing ~ I have brought' to your work on chora: to the


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