In the Place of Language
Literature and the Architecture of the Referent
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: Fordham University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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Rather than reflecting a conclusion long foregone, the train of thought informing this book and the trilogy of works to which it belongs owes its development in no small measure to its interruption by untoward events. Even more than in writing...
Preface: Marked Change: A Brief Account
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No one who reads it will be more surprised than I that this book, which began as a study of what building is doing in pivotal works by Goethe, turned, step by step, into a theory of the referent. A skeletal chronology...
Introduction: Signs of Place
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1. Referent and Annihilation: ‘‘X’’ Marks the Spot
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There i s a moment in Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah that stands, strangely, alone. Shoah, a cinematic document without equal, by reason of the unthinkable acts and experiences it records, intersperses filmed verbal accounts of events participated...
2. Theory of Appropriation: Rousseau, Schmitt, and Kant
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Complementary to Lanzmann’s need to know where the artificial boundary dividing the life of life from the life of death once lay—a boundary which, necessitated, installed and enforced by a plan to rewrite and erase human history...
3. ‘‘Sovereignty’’ over Language: Of Lice and Men
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In the discursive terms borrowed from Lanzmann’s demonstration of the arbitrary and absolutely decisive nature of the constitution of the referent, ‘‘here’’—in the Introduction to an analysis of its complex literary representation
4. Goethe after Lanzmann: Literature Represents ‘‘X’’
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Lanzmann’s ‘‘ ‘inside’ ’’ and ‘‘ ‘outside the camp’ ’’ refer to non-extant places that separated the living from the dead, and, as much as the eradication of architecture entails the eradication of the referent— not its necessary exclusion...
Part 1: Goethe’s Timelessness
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1. Faust’s Building: Theory as Practice
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With the exception of the remarkable discussion of Faust by Marshall Berman, whose classic, still searing dialectical analysis of modernity as both constitutive and destructive of history, concluding with Robert Moses’ devastation of the Bronx...
2. Faust’s and Heidegger’s Technology: Building as Poiesis
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The impersonality of Faust’s final goal is most adequately described not by Mephisto, whose representation of Faust’s discontent extends only to the latter’s sensuous desires (‘‘No pleasure sates him, no happiness is...
3. In the Place of Language
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For, even in succeeding, such ‘‘new’’ management cannot break even. Once unmoored and moved about, power inevitably gets ‘‘out of hand’’ in the figurative as well as literal sense, transgressing the limit of its separation from earth...
4. ‘‘Time Refound’’
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The recovery of time in the loss of life may seem, from the point of view of individual experience, an oxymoron. From the point of view of literary representation—or rather, from within the long view literature labors...
Part II: Built Time
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1. Building, Story, and Image
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The experience of Wahlverwandtschaften is the eradication of time—of ‘‘something’’ that is, in itself, nothing—and the activity that brings about the occasion for this obliteration is, ironically, the making of something...
2. Benjamin’s and Goethe’s Passagen: Ottilie under Glass
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The story of Wahlverwandtschaften entails, as story, the aesthetic objectification of those relations, the representation of the figural as image. Just as story and imaging take place within the context of architectural activity...
3. Nature in Pieces
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The novel’ s opening architectural activities ultimately end by housing and displaying the appearance of beauty, along with its most ardent viewer, in a visitors’ arcade. In that it ‘‘contains’’ the central experience narrated...
4. ‘‘Superfluous Stones’’
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If the Hauptmann’s equation of nature with ‘‘superfluous stones’’ in the opening of Part One of the novel identifies the world of the novel as building material, from the ground up, the graveyard discussion that opens...
5. ‘‘Stones for Thought’’
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Such an experience of time requires the specification of location: for a grave to be understood as a grave, rather than mere ground, it must be marked; and for a graveyard to be recognized as such its own limits must...
6. Kant’s and Goethe’s Schatzkammer: Buried Time
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The ‘ ‘place’ ’ of the Grundstein/Denkstein unites space with time precisely by sealing that union off from present acts of perception. Space is everywhere perceivable, and its absence from perception, as Kant succinctly concluded...
Afterword: Gravity: Metaphysics of the Referent
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"Grave" is an especially polysemous, formally versatile word in English, whose history of multiple meanings and grammatical functions betrays an unusually dense nexus or set of concepts when compared with the lexical differentiation...
Appendix: Continuation of Notes
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Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2009