9714016-jl-nancy-the-ground-of-the-image


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36.AllenScult,
BeingJewish/ReadingHeidegger:AnOntologicalEncounter.
37.RichardKearney,
DebatesinContinentalPhilosophy:Conversationswith
ContemporaryThinkers.
SERI10-25-0515:11:09PS
14.MarkC.Taylor,
JourneystoSelfhood:HegelandKierkegaard.
15.DominiqueJanicaud,Jean-Franc
oisCourtine,Jean-LouisChre
ien,MichelHenry,Jean-LucMarion,andPaulRicœur,
Phenomenologyand
the‘‘TheologicalTurn’’:TheFrenchDebate.
16.KarlJaspers,
TheQuestionofGermanGuilt.
IntroductionbyJoseph
W.Koterski,S.J.
17.Jean-LucMarion,
TheIdolandDistance:FiveStudies.
Translatedwith
anintroductionbyThomasA.Carlson.
18.JeffreyDudiak,
SERI10-25-0515:11:08PS
Perspectivesin
ContinentalPhilosophySeries
ohnD.Caputo,serieseditor
1.JohnD.Caputo,ed.,
DeconstructioninaNutshell:AConversationwith
JacquesDerrida.
2.MichaelStrawser,
Both/And:ReadingKierkegaard—FromIronytoEdi-
3.MichaelD.Barber,
SERI10-25-0515:11:06PS
NotestoPages130–38
NOTE10-25-0515:11:17PS
arewordsfoundinthestudybyDamischcitedinn.18,
22.Itmightevenobligeustoapproacheveryotherpainting,suchas
Chinesepainting,onthebasisofChristianpainting;butthatisaquestion
foranotherwork.
23.[TheFrenchexpressionusedheredoesnotreferspecicallytothe
heart,buttothe
,thebreastor‘‘bosom.’’—Trans.]
NOTE10-25-0515:11:16PS
15.SeeNigro,
16.[AmoreliteraltranslationoftheItaliantitle;thepaintingisreferred
tointhesetermsinFrench:
Viergedel’enfantement
.—Trans.]
17.AftervisitingthisMadonna,Chagallpainted
PregnantWoman
Amsterdam,StedelijkMuseum),inwhichthegurepointstoherwomb,
whereasmallmanisshownwithinanovalspace(inconformitywiththe
easterntraditionofthe‘‘Visitations’’mentionedabove).(SeeIngeborgWal-
PierodellaFrancesca:Madonnadelparto
[Frankfurt:FischerTaschenbuch,
1992]).ItisintriguingalsotonoticeafewfeaturesthatitshareswithPont-
NotestoPages118–21
NOTE10-25-0515:11:15PS
thesimplereasonthatitispreciselyart,andnotreligion.Iaddhereare-
markafterthefact:IseethatinhisbriefcommentaryonRaphael’sSistine
Madonna,Heideggerassimilatestranssubstantiationtothepictorialgura-
tionofdivineincarnation(eventhough,inthiscase,thepaintinggiveshim
noexplicitgroundfordoingso,sinceitcontainsnoallusiontocommunion).
Itwouldbenecessarytoanalyzehispreciseaims:ishesubstitutingpainting
forreligiousworship,orishereferringeachonetotheotherinthenameof
atruthwithahigheressence,or...?IleaveittoPhilippeLacoue-La-
barthe,whoisworkingonthistext,todisentanglethequestionsitraises.
14.TherewouldalsobemuchtosayaboutPontormo’s
Nolimetangere
inwhichChrist,havingemergedfromthetombandforbiddingMaryMag-
dalenetotouchhim,touches(barely...)thewoman’schestinthevery
gesturebywhichhepushesheraway.WemightalsoaddthatoneofDu
er’switcheswearsatressofhairdownhernakedback.
PAGE155
NotestoPages113–17
NOTE10-25-0515:11:15PS
2.Atthesametime,itwouldalsobenecessarytolookat
symbolicintention,inthepaintingsofthe‘‘Visitation’’thatadoptthemodel
oftheembrace,ratherthanthatofhandsgraspingatadistanceorofEliza-
NotestoPages109–13
NOTE10-25-0515:11:14PS
20.Descartes,inordertoseewhatseeingis,lookedthroughtheeyeof
adissectedox,andFlemishperspectivewasusedtoproduce‘‘viewsofvi-
NOTE10-25-0515:11:13PS
NotestoPages88–93
NOTE10-25-0515:11:13PS
3.SeeClaudeLe
RegarderEcouterLire
(Paris:Plon,1993),p.
4.[ThelasttworeferencesaretoCaravaggio’s
BeheadingofSt.John
FeastoftheGods
NOTE10-25-0515:11:12PS
4.UncannyLandscape
Paysageavecde
:thisessayplaysagreatdealontheterms
(‘‘country,land,orhome’’)and
(‘‘countrysideorlandscape,’’
alsointhepictorialsense).
NotestoPages59–67
NOTE10-25-0515:11:11PS
quotationmarksisacitationofthelatterpartoftheoriginalGermantitle.—
Trans.]
48.Ibid.,pp.16–17.
49.Ibid.,pp.18–19.
50.Ibid.,p.20.
51.Ibid.,pp.35–36.ThesereectionsmakeonethinkofSade(whois
referredtoontheprecedingpage)andjustifyareassessmentbothofthe
importanceofthespectacleandofthemise-en-sce
neforSade,aswellasof
hisplacewithinthehistoryofrepresentation.
52.PrimoLevisaysitthiswayin
IfThisIsaMan
(pub.with
TheTruce
trans.StuartWoolf(London:Abacus,2001),p.96.Markingthepassageto
thelimitofrepresentation,healsowrites,‘‘ananonymousmass,continually
renewedandalwaysidentical,ofnon-menwhomarchandlabourinsilence,
thedivinesparkdeadwithinthem,alreadytooemptytoreallysuffer.One
hesitatestocallthemliving:onehesitatestocalltheirdeathdeath,inthe
faceofwhichtheyhavenofear,astheyaretootiredtounderstand.’’
53.PrimoLevi,
TheDrownedandtheSaved
,trans.RaymondRosenthal
(NewYork:RandomHouse,1989).GiorgioAgamben’sanalysisoftheim-
possibletestimonyofthe‘‘Muslim’’in
RemnantsofAuschwitz:Witnessandthe
,trans.DanielHeller-Roazen(NewYork:ZoneBooks,1999),some-
whatdifferentfromtheonebeingpursuedhere,wouldwarrantaseparate
54.HermannLangbein,
MenscheninAuschwitz
(Vienna:Europa,1995),
p.288.
55.CitedinMarioKramer,‘‘JosephBeuy’s‘AuschwitzDemonstration,’
1956–1964,’’in
Lame
moired’Auschwitzdansl’artcontemporain
,Proceedingsof
theInternationalColloquium,Brussels,December11–13,1997(Brussels:
Centred’e
afterAuschwitzin
sCoup
61.SalvatoreQuasimodo,‘‘MyCountryIsItaly,’’
NOTE10-25-0515:11:11PS
36.Ibid.p.647.
37.SeeWolfgangSofsky,
TheOrderofTerror:TheConcentrationCamp
NotestoPages41–44
NOTE10-25-0515:11:10PS
Kosky(Stanford:StanfordUniversityPress,2002),forthestrongthinking
ofthe‘‘idol’’andofthe‘‘icon’’inwhichMarion’sworkhaslongbeen
25.Thismotifhasverycloseconnectionstothemotifof
(‘‘super-man’’)alsoalludestothemoregeneralexpansionofitsusewithin
theperiod(
...).Ofcourse,wemustalsorecallBa-
taille’stextonthisprex...(See‘‘The‘OldMole’andthePrex
theWords
(Superman)and
VisionsofExcess:Selected
Writings,1927–1939
,trans.AllanStoekl[Minneapolis:UniversityofMinne-
sotaPress,1985],pp.32–44).
31.Hitler,
MeinKampf
,p.254.
32.[Thedifcultyoftranslating
lepartage
arisesfromthefactthat,in
English,ithastwopracticallyopposingmeanings:itsigniesboth‘‘sharing’’
and‘‘division.’’Theideaoftranslating
lepartage
as‘‘takingapart’’/‘‘taking
NOTE10-25-0515:11:09PS
16.IborrowthesetermsfromLevinas,beforehavinghadtheopportu-
nitytoevokehisthoughtconcerningthesubjectofimages.
17.Levinas’sthoroughlybiblicalexpression,whichSylvieCourtine-De-
namycitesin‘‘L’artpoursauverleMonde’’(
LesouciduMonde
[Paris:Vrin,
1999]).Courtine-Denamy’sworkbringsthethoughtofLevinas,Jonas,and
thegreatestmythsorganizingthoughtconcerningtheimage;asforthe
‘‘takenaback’’[
],itisenoughtorecallJean-LucMarion’suse
ofthetermtotranscribeHeidegger’s
derAngesprochene
(moreliterally,the
‘‘interpellated’’orthe‘‘called’’),thattowhichacall,whichonecouldqualify
asthecallof
oras
,addressesitself.SeeJ.-L.Marion,
tionandGivenness:InvestigationsofHusserl,Heidegger,andPhenomenology
,trans.
ThomasA.Carlson.Evanston:NorthwesternUniversityPress,1998),as
wellas
BeingGiven:TowardaPhenomenologyofGivenness
,trans.JeffreyL.
PAGE146
NotestoPages31–38
NOTE10-25-0515:11:08PS
9.Seee.g.,Isaiah90:20,44:10–20.
10.InExodus20:4,thewordis
anddesignatesasculpture,but
thereareothertermsaswell.Icannotpausetodiscussthem,notleastbe-
causeIamnotascholarofHebrew,thoughalsobecauseitwouldrstbe
necessarytodoaspecialstudyofthisquestionofterminology.Iwill,how-
ever,notethismuch(thankstosuggestionsmadebyDanielLemlerand
PatrickDesbois,aswellastothosecontainedin
NOTE10-25-0515:11:06PS
3.ForbiddenRepresentation
[Thetranslationof‘‘Larepre
sentationinterdite’’intoEnglishas
‘‘ForbiddenRepresentation’’entailsacertainlossinthedensityoftheex-
inFrenchdoesnotonlysignifythatwhichisprohibitedor
forbiddenbylaw;
treinterdit
alsomeans‘‘tobetakenaback,’’‘‘surprised,’’
‘‘disconcerted,’’or‘‘dumbfounded.’’Asallofthesemeaningsarerelevantto
Nancy’sthinking,thetranslationof
as‘‘forbidden’’or‘‘forbidding’’
shouldbereadbothasaprohibitionoraforbiddingintheusualEnglish
senseofthewordandintermsoftheconfusion,disorientation,evenfear
thatonestillhearsintheadjective
(todescribethatwhichstartles,
NotestoPages27–30
NOTE10-25-0515:11:04PS
law)wherenounityisevergiven.Everythingalwaysamountstosubmitting
toatranscendentalunity,justasreasonis‘‘anappointedjudgewhocompels
thewitnessestoanswer’’(ibid.,Bxiii,p.20).TheentireKantianenterprise,
initsinnitelypacifyingappearance,proceedsfromafundamentalviolence
thatis‘‘legitimated’’bythecritique,butthislegitimation,likeanyother,
mustrstallowthatwhichclaimsitsrightstoviolentlycomeforth.Thatis
NOTE10-25-0515:11:04PS
NotestoPages19–23
NOTE10-25-0515:11:03PS
15.Whatissimplythere,‘‘presentathand’’or‘‘available,’’accordingto
Heidegger’sterminologyin
BeingandTime
,notinthesenseofthe‘‘being-
there’’of
,which,asitsnamedoesnotindicate,ispreciselynotthere
butalwayselsewhere,intheopen:Wouldtheimagethereforehavesome-
thingof
aboutit...?
16.[Here
(‘‘wise’’)implieswell-behaved,restrained,calm,or‘‘good’’
(asin‘‘beagoodboy’’).AroughEnglishequivalentwouldbe‘‘goodas
gold.’’—Trans.]
NOTE10-25-0515:11:03PS
desartsdeNancy/EditionsVoix,1999).Butintheseconddirection,sacri-
cedeconstructsitself,alongwithallmonotheism.Theimage—andwithit,
artingeneral—isattheheartofthisdeconstruction.In
Image,Icon,Economy:
TheByzantineOriginsoftheContemporaryImaginary
,trans.RicoFranses
(Stanford:StanfordUniversityPress,2005),Marie-Jose
Mondzainhas
providedaremarkableanalysisoftheByzantineelaborationsthat,atthe
heartofourtradition,haveharbored‘‘aconceptoftheimagethatdemands
avoidattheheartofitsvisibility.’’Herapproachesandherintentionsare
differentfrommyown,buttheyintersect,andthisintersectionnodoubt
revealsacertainexigency:thereignof‘‘full’’imagesencounterstheresis-
tanceofaspeechthatwantstoallowthegroundoftheimageresonateas
Foucault,whichhasmuchincommonwithwhatfollowshere.See
ThisIs
NotaPipe
,trans.JamesHarkness(Berkeley:UniversityofCaliforniaPress,
PAGE140
NotestoPages3–8
NOTE10-25-0515:11:02PS
1.TheImage—theDistinct
1.[TheFrenchwordthatNancyuseshere,
,sharesitsLatinroot
with‘‘religion.’’—Trans.]
2.[Nancyoftenusestheword
todescribethekindofmarkingoff
inquestionhere.InFrench,
canmeanbotha‘‘mark’’or‘‘line’’thatis
drawnanda‘‘trait,’’asinafeature.Iwillleantowardtheliteralrendering
inordertomaintainitsresonancewiththeotherwordsthatNancyputs
intoplayinwhatfollows(wordsbuiltaround
);itsrelationto
NOTE10-25-0515:11:02PS
Glorywouldbemineifthequeenhadlived,
butnowtheRomanswillsay:Hesayshehasvanquished.
Totriumph‘‘inpainting’’andnot‘‘ineffect’’—thusthevictorloses,
nothisdominationoftheworld,butthestrikingandbrilliantmani-
festationofhisvictory.Inaparadoxicalway,this‘‘inpainting,’’
whichpointstoappearances,nottosaysimulacra,alsoevokesatri-
umphthatwouldbedullandatandwithouttruegrandeur.He
wouldbelackingnotvictorybutitsrepresentation,andthusitstrue
illustration,inthestrongestandmostluminous—darewesay
?—senseoftheword.
Butthroughaplayonwordsthatisalsoamoreprofoundplay
ontheshiftingtrajectoryinquestionhere,wemightopposetothis
ordinary,pejorativesenseof
,thisbanaldebasementofrepre-
sentation,thesovereignsplendorthatshinesinpaintingwhen,with
Artemisiaandmanyothers,itbeginstoeludethedominationexerted
overtheworldbykingsandpriests(bythepowerful),andthusbe-
ginstoremovefromthisdominationthepowerlessbutbrilliantand
shatteringomnipotenceofwhatwecall‘‘art.’’And,indeed,wecallit
‘‘art’’withouteverknowingwhatthiswordnames,ifnotpreciselya
TheGroundoftheImage
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escapesfromservitude.InShakespeare,ironyandempathyare
thatAntiquitycreatedtheoxymoronofthesovereignwomaninlove.
TheModernsunderstoodthisperfectly:neithersovereigntynorlove
owesanythingtoanyoneortoanythingotherthanitself,andthis
unparalleledsufciencyisalsotheirextraordinaryfragility.They
are,eachofthem,whattheyareonlyinasmuchastheyrenounce
theirowngroundandthereforearecapable,ultimately,ofrenounc-
ingthemselves.
Butpainting,too—andwithitallthatgoesintoinventing
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able,oftheinnitedistancingandthenolessinterminableimmi-
nenceofpresence,ratherthanacoveringandacoloringofwhatis
alreadyimmutablypresent.Inthisdelicateandpotentesh,glorious
andwounded—afadingofferingofCleopatra—paintingismade
picturacarofactaest
Paintingmadeeshisnolongeranestablishedmarkerorsignpost
thatwouldpointthewaytoanunseeingadorationofthegod:paint-
ingmusthenceforthbenotadoredbutadmired,thatis,lookedat
withagazethatminglesinitslightandthatdesiresitsskin.Thisis
thedirectionthatartbegantotakebeginningwithGiotto—butit
happensalso,already,intheGreeksandRomans:nottheinvention
ofresemblance,buttheincarnationofmystery.Allthesensualitythis
artmanagestocommunicatecorrespondstothisincarnation,by
which,inevitably,whatbecomesembodiedisnotaspiritualidentity
withitsplaceinadogma,butamystery.Here‘‘mystery’’means:
asuicide,andifthissuicideisaliberation,thenitalsobringsanenig-
maticjoy.OneofShakespeare’scharacterssaysofCleopatra:‘‘Ido
TheGroundoftheImage
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$CH910-25-0515:13:18PS
nowbecomeequivalenttothenon-powerful,anabandonmentof
mantohisownforces,forwhichdivinegracecannotbeagreater
forcebut,onthecontrary,onlyanotherdesertion.(Thenotionthat
TheGroundoftheImage
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couldcall,inmodernterms,‘‘theessenceofmanifestation’’and,in
ancientterms,theepiphanyofmysteryanditssacredpower.
thusbecomesthenameofatripleagencyandatriplepo-
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holdsourgazeevenasitissubmergedindarkness(g.5).Thislumi-
nousesh,drawnbythegazeandthehandofthepainterfromthe
shadowsthatencloseit,exertsuponusthethreefoldpowerofase-
5.ArtemisiaGentileschi,
,FondazioneCavallini-Sgarbi,Ferrara.
PAGE132
TheGroundoftheImage
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woman.ArtemisiahadcertainlyreadPlutarch,butshemayalsohave
read—orseenperformed—GiambattistaGiraldiCintio’s
writtensomeftyyearsbeforeherpaintings,andwecouldeven
imagine,howeverunlikelyitmaybe,thatshecouldhavereadShake-
speare’splay,whichwasmorerecent(butnottranslatedinItaly),or
perhapsthoseofFranc
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Helen,then,gurestherstmomentinthislongrupture.Sheissov-
ereignonlythroughherbeauty(butthisbeautyiswhatshakesup
theorderoftheEast),evenassheiswithdrawnandconcealedfrom
representation,asisattestedbythehistoryofpainting,whichhas
onlyrarelyattemptedtoconfrontherbrilliantappearance.Indeed,
Helenalsoinauguratestheinterminablehauntingofarealitythat
eludestheimage,sinceinonewidespreadversionofherlegend—as
thoughinordertoeffacethescandalousadulteryoftheHomericver-
sion—itwasnotherbutherimage,her
,thatPariscarried
TheGroundoftheImage
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Antiquityrecognizesitself,justaswerecognizeourselvesasitsdisin-
heritedmodernheirs.
Thesethreewomenmarkthreemomentsinthedisplacementand,
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ingforitselfandthatlacksmodelsandguresalreadychargedwith
meaningandpresence.
Thistriplemotif—ormotive,orsubject,statement,orgesture—
doesnotformasedimentedtriplicity,however,butratheratrinity,
theunityandidentityofatriplegure:thegureofthelastsovereign
queenofEgypt,thatofArtemisia,andthatofthepaintingthatwill
laterbecalled‘‘gurative.’’
ThisunitybecomesuniedinitselfbywayoftheunityofCleopa-
tra,theeponymoussubjectofthecanvas.Thename
esasceneinwhich,remarkably,weseenoneofthesignsthat
usuallyidentifythescene(Egyptianmarkers,indicationsofsover-
TheGroundoftheImage
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attesttothefactthatitwasalreadyandoriginallypreoccupiedwith
itsownantiquity.Thegoldenage,theageoftheTitans,Atlantis—
thesewerealreadyguredasitsownlostandexemplaryancientness.
AswasthatEgyptwhosetremendousancientness,displayedinits
colossalforms,gavePlatosuchanimpressionofdesirableauthentic-
ity,perhapslostforever.
WhenRenaissanceartdiscoversorrediscoverstheguresofAn-
tiquity,itthusdiscoversorrediscoversthismovementbywhichan
antiquityofguresisnecessaryforself-recognition.Whendivine
majestyandcompassionhavedisappeared,suchthatonecanno
longerentrustoneselftotheiricons,itbecomesnecessary(and
timely)tondtheimagesofanancientnesswhoseimmemorialchar-
acterisconvertedintoanactualityandintoaresource—thatis,into
ananxiousconcern—foridentication.
Itisnodoubtevennecessarytothinkthatthe
,asweunder-
standitorperceiveit,correspondsquiteproperlytoarelationtoan-
cientness.Theabsenceoutofwhichtheimagedrawsasingular
presence,ostensiblydistancedinitsproximity,isrsttheabsenceof
apastthatrisesintothepresentwithalltheweightandallthereso-
nanceofitsabolition.Whatcomestothesurfaceandintothelightof
theimageisalwaysanantiquity.
WhenArtemisiaGentileschipainted
—justaswhenshe
andinrelationtoadozenothers)—shepaintednotonlyalegendary
gureandamodelofidentication(onecouldsay,aself-portraitin
advance),butalsothemovementofanartthatisdeliberatelysearch-
PAGE127
TheSovereignWomaninPainting
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TheSovereignWomaninPainting
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whichhaveallconsistedinimposingthe‘‘there’’onthebeyondin-
steadofinscribingthebeyondasthe‘‘there.’’)
Thisattemptandeffortofthought,thiscommoneffortofapraxis
ofsensethatrenounces
astheimpositionofanobject,implies
anessentialrecoursetotheimage:becausetheimage,asithasbeen
$CH810-25-0515:13:21PS
nounceableandtheinvisible;theMuslimgod,incommensuratewith
anypresence.Whatiscommonisthealliance.Itisthereforealways
TheGroundoftheImage
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doesnotappear,thenon-appearingandthesuspenseofallphenome-
nology,paintingas
:literally,bearingforth.
Nothinglessisindicatedhere,intruth,thanwhatisatstakeinChris-
tianityinsofarasitdeconstructsitself,thatis,insofarasitcomesun-
donefromreligion,fromitslegendanditsbelief,inordertobethe
agitationofanimmemoryofpresence:thegodshavewithdrawn,
withdrawingwiththempresenceitself.Thetruthofmonotheismis
theatheismofthiswithdrawal.‘‘Realpresence’’becomesthepres-
encethatisparexcellencenotpresent:theonethatisnot
.The
onewhosebeing-thereisabeing[
](whichheremeans:adoing,
amanner,atouch,aash,aline,oratrait)exposedtotheelsewhere
ofthisveryplace,inthisplaceitselfthoughwithoutanyvisibleor
invisibleelsewhere,selfsamewiththecanvas,hereasinitsswollen
wombofpainting.Thispaintingproffersa
thisismybody
:thisisthe
exposureoftheskinortheveilbeneathwhichnopresenceishidden
andnogodiswaitingexcepttheplaceitself,here,andthesingular
touchofourownexposure:
andsufferingofbeinginthe
world,preciselythereandnowhereelse.
Inthissense,Christianpaintingmustbethought—thatis,looked
at,appreciated,orjudged—ontheonehand,insofarasitengages
thetotalityofWesternpaintingonthebasisofChristianmotifs:
‘‘profane’’paintingandeverymodeofpaintingandvisualorplastic
artingeneralpropagatesandsharesout,relaunchesandproblema-
tizesthis
hocestcorpusmeum
.Eachoneofthesewordsbecomespreg-
nantwithexpectations,aporias,certaintiesanddisappointments,
joysandsorrowsofa‘‘realpresence’’thatisanythingbut‘‘real’’or
‘‘present,’’asempiricalself-assurance
religiousbeliefmighthave
imaginedtheseintheworldofthepast.Butpainting—art—hasal-
waysconsistedinabandoningthispastworld,onthespot.(Was
thereeveranysuch‘‘pastworld’’ofna
veandimaginarybelief?Is
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visible;itmakesitinvisibleinlight,itbearsitandbearsitaway,in-
visible,inthepigmentsandfoldsofitsillumination.Butitisthus
thatitbearsthetruthofrepresentation:forthelatterisa‘‘reproduc-
tion’’onlyinasmuchasitisrst,bothinitsessentialmovementand
intheprimarysenseoftheword
,placedintopresence,
theintensityofapresentationinthedesiretobringintodaylightthe
presenceprecedingtheday.
Ifthis
beenaquestionofthis:butithasbeennomoreandnolessaquestion
ofthis(intermsofwhatisatbottomessential,ifnotintermsofthe
quantityofpictures)thanofeveryothermythologicalorheroico-po-
liticallegend.Andtotheextentthatitisaquestionofthis,anykind
ofillustrationcandothejob,inthemannerofpiousimagesthatare
lessartistic,asageneralrule,themorepioustheyare.Christian
paintingisnotarepresentationofaChristiansubject.Rather,and
TheGroundoftheImage
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interminableliftingupofapresencealwaysalreadypresentinthe
ground,apresenceofthegrounditself,openedontoitselfdownto
themostprofounddepth:being,intruth,nothingotherthanthissep-
aratingandspreadingapart.
hasdescribedhowheproducedthiscanvasbyfoldingand
knottingitbeforeapplyinganypaint;attheendoftheprocess,‘‘the
knotsareremovedandunfolded,thecapitonissplitopeninevery
direction.’’Thecanvasthussimultaneouslytakestheform—buton
thesameplane—ofthedoublysplitdressandthequiltedapseofthe
tent.Incomingtothesurface,everythinghaspassedthroughthe
ground.AsinPieroandinPontormo—butperhapsinallpainting—
theenfoldedintimacyofthepainting’ssubject(theenigmaticpres-
ence,theenigmaofarealpresence)isunfoldedandlaidoutinthe
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3.PierodellaFrancesca,
MadonnadelParto,
Monterchi,Arezzo.Scala/Art
Resource,NewYork.
4.SimonHanta
...delParto
,Muse
ed’artmodernedelavilledeParis.
PAGE120
TheGroundoftheImage
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PierodellaFrancesca’s
MadonnadelParto
PregnantVirgin
)isa
well-knownworkfromaboutsixtyyearspriortoPontormo’s(one
whichhethereforemusthaveknown).Itdoesnottreatthesamesub-
ject:itisnotaVisitation,butneitherisitanAnnunciationoraBirth
(althoughitwasgiventhetitle
VirginofChildbirth
andwasthusven-
eratedasaprotectionforwomengivingbirth).Itisascenewithout
anystatusinthereligiouslegend(likeasceneofpurepainting...):
theVirginisstanding,facingforward,beneatharoundtentopened
bytwoangels,whoholdaparttheheavyclothcurtains.Mary’sleft
handisproppedonherhip,whileherrighthandrestsonherlarge
roundbelly,whereherbluedress,unlacedatthemidriff(nodoubt
forthemother’scomfort),showsawhitechemisethroughitsopen-
ing.Thehandplacedontheedgeofthislongslitisheldinanambig-
pregnancy—showsnotthewhiteofanundergarmentbutthesame
tintasthequiltedbackground.)
Idonotwanttodiscussthispaintinganyfurtherforthemoment.
Iwouldliketomovedirectlytoone,muchclosertous,thatisasort
ofmemorialtoit:acanvasinSimonHanta
Tabula
seriesfrom1975
thatbearsthetitle
...delParto.
ThereisnolongeranyHolyVirginhere:hergurehasdisap-
peared,aswellashername(atleastinthetitle;Hanta
’sownbrief
commentaryendswith:‘‘Tothe
MadonnadelParto
).Itisapainting
dedicatedtopainting,butlesstoanymemoryofitshistory(aswe
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theborderseparatingherolivegreendressfromthepinkoneofher
Already,lookingatthehairontheheadsofthesetwoMarys,we
seethatitescapesfromtheirheadscarvesinunrulywaves,particu-
larlyinalengthofhairthatfallsontotheVirgin’sshoulder;incon-
trasttotheveiledheadsoftheothertwo,theirhairthuspointsnot
onlytoyouthbut,withinthisyouth,toasensualitythatmayindeed
defyreligiousconvention.IndnootherVirginbyPontormowith
hairsofreeandquivering(anotherformof‘‘leaping’’?),whereasI
donditonawoman’sbackinhis
—awomanwhofor
thatveryreasonmustbeMaryMagdalene—orelseintheportraitof
FrancescaCapponi,alsodepictedasMaryMagdalene.Butthelat-
ter,asweknow,isagureofsin...
Thishairhangingverylowhere,whoseappearance(whoseresur-
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Butifthisgazeisindeedimmediatelyturnedtowardusbytheirser-
vants,thepaintingthusplungesintousandintoourvisionalook
thatmakesusthesubstanceorthesubjectofthepainting,orthat
placesinus,throughthepaintedsubstance,therealpresenceofits
subject(atoncemanandgod,painterandspectator,representation
andpresence).Inagesturethatwoulddemonstratearareaudacity
towardthereligionwhoseresourcesitismanipulating,Pontormo
seemstobewithdrawingbreadandwineintotheshadows,abread
andwinethatwouldherebecomethecipherofapresenceatonce
hiddenandexposed—hiddeninitsexposure—whoseonlyreality
wouldbe,intheend,nothingotherthanpainting.Thiswouldconsti-
tutearemarkablegestureofturningawayfromthereligious.
TheGroundoftheImage
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(thatistosay,theholyappearancesoftheincarnatedgod).Butthe
modeofthispresencewasdividedbytheReform:theChurchesof
RomeandByzantiumconfesstheeffectivepresenceoftheEucharis-
ticsubstanceintheappearancesofbreadandwine,whereasLuther
keepsthesubstanceoftheselatter,inwhichaspiritualpresenceis
Nowithappensthatthis‘‘Visitation’’canbereadasapolitico-
religiousallegoryinrelationtothereformmovementsoftheChurch.
ItbelongstotheperiodwhenFlorence,havingjustrestoreditsRe-
public,underwentassaultbythePope’sally,CharlesV(afterthe
sackofRome).Duringthisperiod,theFlorentineartistsgenerally
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abruptlyxesus:whohasalwaysalreadyxedusasthoughfrom
outoftheverygroundofthescene,fromoutofthisbackgroundof
darkskythatisoutlinedbythelineofthewall,whoseperspectival
anglepassespreciselythroughthetopofherveiledhead.
(Onethingthatisatstakeinthispaintingisitsattempttodisorga-
nizeperspectivalspace—anditsorientedgaze—toturnitsideways,
tomakeitcirclebackonitself,ortosmearitaround,sotospeak...
Itisnolongeraquestionofaimingthegaze,butratherofattening
andspreadingoutvision.)
Atthesametime,therhythmisshiftedagain:thegazeturnedto
usisdoubledinturnbythatofMary’sservant.Thetwoservants,
eachofwhomisclearlyhomologoustohermistressintermsofage,
headdress,andcolors,transfertous,inafrontalgazethatismani-
festlythatofthepaintingitself,thesortofintimate,innite,andpoi-
gnantgazethroughwhichthetwomothersvisitoneanother.The
xityoftheservants’gazes(allthemoreremarkableinthat,inone
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Paintinggoesstraighttotheheartofthematter,thatis,ofthe
mystery.Itdoesnotremoveorresolvethismystery,nordoesitmake
itanobjectofbelief;ratheritimplantsitselfwithinit,sotospeak.
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2.Pontormo,
,ParishChurchofCarmignano,Tuscany.
twoabsentpresences,twolivesinastateofwithdrawalfromexis-
tence,asimmemorialastheyareunexpectedandimprobable,inthe
closedwombofasterilewomanandavirgin.Inonesense,itisa
purechallengeforpainting,atleastifpaintingisnotinfactalways
destinedtoposeachallengetothevisible.Wemightsaythatwith
thissubject,theinvisiblemustleapoutatus.
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thissideoftheselfandofwhatcanbesubjectivized:thehereafteror
theotherworld(death,inthatsense),notoutsidetheworldbutpres-
entrighthere.
Agurationofpre-birth—beforeanybirth,
,asonesaysin
theRomanChurch,orindeedbirthofbirth,birthtobirthitself—is
presentedintheChristianlegendinthescenecalledthe‘‘Visitation’’
(ascenewhoseoriginisitselfmostcertainlyimmemorial).Painters
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OfChristianPainting
Artnevercommemorates.Itisnotmadetopreserveamemory,and
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thequeinwhosedepthstherestalks—likeaMinotaur—themonster,
themonstration,andtheprodigiousimageofourstrangeness.The
encounterisalwaysmonstrous,ormonstrating,ostensiveandthreat-
ening,invasiveandevasiveinthesamemoment,strayinginitscap-
ture,releasedinbeinggrasped.Thisisnotadialectic,orelseitisthe
point—theseedorgrain—ofmadnessthatvibratesattheheartof
everydialectic,thelabyrinththatdisturbsitsprogressandthrowsit
offcourse.
Thisgrain,orthislabyrinth,iscalledabody.Aphotographisa
rubbingorrubbingawayofabody.Weothers,asothers,arebodies.
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whoseintimateentwiningisplayedoutinthegraspingorgripping
ofhesitation.Becausethisknotcannotbeundone—onlysomewhat
TheGroundoftheImage
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oneanother,onebytheother(asinadesignationofthissort:
JoycebyGise
leFreund
,aviewofoneofthem[Joyce]intheeyesof
theother,andoneofthemlooking[Freund]intotheeyesofthe
other).Itistheidentityofthephotographitself,openlynon-identical
toitselfandthusstrangelyidenticaltothesuperimpositionofthetwo
othersinit,theviewnderandtheviewedsurprisingoneanother—
over-seeing[
]oneanotherandsuddenly‘‘comingupon’’
orhappening[
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FrenchexpressionforwhichIhopethereisanequivalentinSpan-
Nousautres
heredesignatesthetotalityofhumansinthefragil-
ityoftheirnitude.Theonlystableandevidentalteritysharedout
to‘‘usall’’(tousasall,andotherthanalltherestofnature),isthe
alterityofthehumanityinus,insofarasithasnostabilityandissunk
intheobscurityofanoriginarycollapse.
Itis
whoare
thanotherbeings,butthis
nousautres
neouslydistinguishesusandprecipitatesus—veryfarfromgather-
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identication.InGermanorinEnglish,languagesinwhich‘‘nous
autres’’isnotapossibleconstruction,thecontextcanmakeitim-
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other,atthismoment,justas
writeitalone,inthisotherpresent
momentinwhich
mostcertainlycannotconjoinourtwopres-
ences).Yousee,then,thatyouareindeedaloneinreading,andthis
istrueevenifyouarewithsomeoneelse,‘‘readingfromthesame
book,yourforeheadstouchingsidebyside,’’asVictorHugowrote
Iamwriting,youarereading.Butallofus,
nousautres
,‘‘weoth-
ers’’whoarereadersandwritersoftextsrelatingtophotography,or
perhapstoartingeneral(ifItrytoimaginewhomightreadthis
text),ifwewanttoidentify
,weneedtoconstructanidentity
thatisnotatallgivenwiththissimple‘‘we.’’Everytime,then,some-
onesays‘‘we’’—andwhocouldsay‘‘we’’ifnotsome
,asingleper-
son?whocansayitifnot
?—heformulatesarequestfor
identication.Forthisrequest,heproposesorsuggeststraits,indi-
ces,lineaments,whereas,however,hecannotconrmintheirimme-
diateandinsomewaysintangiblepositions,whichthe
,onthe
contrary,doesconrmthem.
isdistinguishedwithoutremainder,likeeveryother.
laysthe
sameclaim,butwiththeexplicitcharacterofasolicitation,ade-
mand,adesire,orawilltodistinction.
mustconstructitsalterity,
whichiswhollyotheronlyinatendentialmanner.Thatiswhywe
accompany‘‘we’’withtheelementsofitsrequest:‘‘weFrench,’’‘‘we
inthisfamily,’’‘‘wephotographers.’’Bythesametoken,therequest
thusformulatedconfessesitsfragilityoritsdifculty.Indeed,
the‘‘French,’’
is‘‘myfamily,’’
arethe‘‘photographers’’...?
Ineachcase,itisnecessaryeithertoconstructaconceptortofall
backonaformalandextrinsicidentication(identitycard,civilre-
cords,professionallicense).
Thatiswhywesay
nousautres
,‘‘weothers’’—orrather,certainlan-
guagessayit,othersimplyit.PerhapsSpanishisthelanguagein
whichtheusageismostcommon.ASpanishspeakercansay,‘‘No-
sotros(espan
oles),decimosfrequentamente‘nosotros’’’—whichis,
veryliterally,‘‘We-others(weSpanish),wefrequentlysay‘we-oth-
ers.’’’Themostordinarycontextisenoughtoindicateimplicitlythe
identityofthegroupthusdistinguished(forexample,thosewho
havealreadyseentheexhibition):anidentityatoncepreciseand
weak,andinsofarasitisweak,assumptive.InFrench,onthecon-
trary,‘‘nousautresvisiteursdel’exposition’’(‘‘weothers,visitorsof
TheGroundoftheImage
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placeorthevertiginouschasmfromwhichthissyllable
canemerge,
likethe
ofaclapperboardduringalmshoot,orthe
ofa
Orlikethesnapofacamerashutter:bypressingdown,thenger
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NousAutres
Someonewhosays‘‘I,’’insayingit,distinguisheshimself.Indeed,he
$CH710-25-0515:12:32PS
And,nally,toend:thephotograph
,asadeathmask,the
instantaneousandalwaysrebegunimageasthecastingofpresence
incontactwithlight,thecastingofapresenceeeingintoabsence,
whichoneneithercapturesnorrepresents,butwhich,paradoxically,
onethuscontemplates(onecomesintoits
,thetimeofits
framing).Contemporarycontemplationoftheeclipseofthegazein
thegroundoftheimaginationitself:schemaofthesameinitsother.
PAGE99
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able.Dead,free,andcreative:thiswouldbethesamething,this
wouldbeitssamething,itshiddenart.
‘‘Light,invisibletomyeyes...’’
Curiously—orrather,ifyouprefer,notsurprisingly—Inowndmy-
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symbolizingbeyond-the-schema.Inthegroundofeveryimage,there
isanunimaginableimagining:thereisdyingasamovementofself-
presenting(onceagain,giventhedismissalofthepurely-present-
being,presenttoandinitself,the
intuitusoriginarius
,whichwouldbe
withoutimagebecauseitwouldinadvanceabsorbeveryimageinits
pureandsimpleprimordialUnity).
Atthefarendofallimagination,thereisaccesswithoutaccessto
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mandthatwillbeaccountedforinadifferentwaybythereection
onart,forwhichtheanalysisoftheschematism(infactneverreacti-
vatedinanysubsequentwork)wouldhaveopenedtheway.
Bythisorsomeothermeans,whatHeideggergains,inamoreorless
visiblemanner,wouldtakethefollowingform:theimagegoesfrom
deathtodeath,asitwouldhavegonefromthe
oftheancestors
tothedisappearanceoftheKantianimaginationinthesublime—
whichistosay,itsdisappearanceinthepresentationofthesubject
withoutanobjectivizingschema,orratherinwhatonecouldcalla
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guishedfrom‘‘demise’’(
),sodoesthe
,theactualized
aspectofthedeadface,formthepossibilityoftheschemaanddistin-
guishitselffromitsmerelypresentaspectathand,whichformsonly
ofthedeadman’straits.Buttheungraspableandownmost
oftheproper)passesthrough
;likewise,
properlyspeakingpassesthrough(andescapes)the
,the
mask,andthe
,thephotographofthemask.
Itpasses
throughanditescapesasa
ofthedeadman,aface,alook,a
blindseeing—this
thatbearsinitselfthemarkofbeing-past
sinceitpresentstheaspectinrelationtothelookthatithasand/or
inrelationtothelookthatithad,andwhichitthereforenolonger
has,suchthatthelookthatithasisthelookofnolongerlookingas
itdid...
:thesingularproximityofan‘‘Idie(myself)
je(me)meurs
]’’andan‘‘Iimage(myself)[
je(m’)image
Thereremains,then,asapointofcontactwiththisunimaginable
becauseunimagining
,theoneconceptthatHeideggerdoes
notdiscussagainafterthebeginningofsection20:the
Vorbild
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muchlessordinary(itisverylikelythatHeideggerneversawadeath
maskbeforeopeningthisbookin1926)andmorearchaicbothfrom
ahistoricalpointofviewandfromalogicalpointofview,sinceit
impliestheimmediatecontactofthecastandtheface.
Wecannote—withoutgoinganyfurtherintotheirdifferences—
that,inthetextofHeidegger’scoursefromwhichthe
laterdrawn,
therearetwomomentswhentheimplicitreferenceto
Benkard’sbookcomesintofocus.Inthecourse,anexampleofaspe-
cicmaskisgiven:‘‘forexample,thatofPascal,’’whichinfactdoes
appearinBenkard’sbook.Ontheotherhand,whenintroducingthe
deathmaskingeneral,thecourseremarksinaparenthesis:‘‘(weare
notconcernedherewiththepresentativephenomenon[
],whichthedeathmaskconstitutesingeneral).’’Thedeath
maskassuchtherebyndsitselfevenmoreclearlyandexplicitlydis-
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terofblindnessorofnegation—intheFreudiansense—makeslittle
$CH610-25-0515:12:23PS
precededbythepre-givennessofitsgivability,identicaltoitsreceiv-
Vor-stellung
ofits
,pre-positingofabeing-posited.The
imaginationisthereforetime,sincetimeisthenon-present,thenon-
instantaneous,ofalookthatdoesnotseeitsownunity(itsconcept)
directly,butonlyinandasthe
(formation)oftheunityofthe
manifold,aunitythat,consequently,isitselfmanifold,many-folded
(ifyouwill)intoitselfandfromoutofitselfinordertoimageitself.
Theself-imagingunityistheunityunifyingitselfasasensibleunity,
whileinthissamechiasmusoftheschema,thesensibleimagesitself
bysensibilizingitselfas
athing
thatissensed.
TheDeathMask
ButwhatabouttheexamplechosenbyHeidegger,thedeathmask
andthephotographofit?Hesaysnothingmoreaboutthem.Once
ismentioned,wepasstoanotherexample:thelookofa
house,the‘‘distinguishing[
]ofthewhole’’ofthe‘‘howof
theappearingofahouseingeneral.’’Butthisexampledoesnothave
thesamestatus:itisturnedtowardtheproductionofalook(thatof
ahouse),whereastheexampleofthemaskproposesalookofthe
productionofanimage(thehow-a-dead-man-shows-himself).In
bothcasesitis,ofcourse,aquestionofgoingbacktowhatisbefore
anyempiricalimage.Alltheexamplesexemplifysuchamovement
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delineatingthisux,enablingittopresentitselfwithout,forallthat,
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tizeregardingthePlatonicIdeaasa‘‘yoke’’imposedon
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the‘‘himself’’(or‘‘itself’’)isthesameastheimageinsofarasitshows
atbottom
.Orelse,atbottom,theimageisan
:itistheipseity
ofandintheactofashowing-itself.(Wewillseelaterwhich
atthefoundationofthetextofthe
Thisisalsotrueifonereproducesthereproduction,thusproduc-
inga
(pictureorphotograph)ofan
‘‘ofadeathmask,forexample,’’asHeideggersays.Thisphotoshows
usitselfandthemask,andwhatthemaskshows,namely,‘‘thedead
person,asheappears—
—showshimselforshowedhimself
bzw.aussah
].’’But‘‘anindividualcorpseitselfcanalsoshowthis,’’
thatis,‘‘wiedasGesichteinestotenMenschenaussieht,’’‘‘howthe
faceofadeadmanseems/looks-outward’’—totranscribeliterallyand
accordingtotheindicationgivenabovebyHeidegger.Thisindica-
tionstated:‘‘gleichalsblickesieunsan’’—justasifitwerelooking
atus.‘‘Asif,’’
gleichals
,impliesthatitisthesameas,thatitfaithfully
resembles:thereisthushere,inthegroundofthe
,an
itselfasashowing-itselfthatshowsitselfasagazedirected
atus.Theprimaryimageshowsitselfasagazeturnedtowardus.
Theimagemakesanimagebyresemblingagaze.ItisasifHeidegger
hadsaid:theprimaryimageisalwaysanimage(resemblance)ofan
image(monstration).Thereishere,
atbottom
,achiasmusoragenera-
tiveenfolding:theimagegivesitselftobeseenbyresemblinga
seeing;thevisiblepresentsitselfbyseeing.Theprimaryimageisal-
waysalso
likeagaze
;itisthereforeimagebybeingatthesametime
whatop-posesitselftothegazeandwhatopensitselfasgaze.(And
perhaps,inaddition,itis‘‘sagecommeunimage’’
inseveralsenses:
calm,immobile,impassive,andovercomingallpathos,possessedof
anassurance,aknowledge,andaprofoundart,thatofseeingby
beingseen,thatofmakingactivityoutofpassivityitself.)
TheImage,theIdea,andTime
Heideggerdoesnotexplainthis‘‘likeanimage’’
Iamdoing—but
hedoesexplainitbygoingbacktowhatisshownbyallthesecon-
joinedordislocatedim
,imagesofimagesthatalwaysshowagen-
,a‘‘seeming-and-outward-looking,’’whichthetext
relates,inparentheses(andinGreek
),to‘‘
,idea.’’The
theshowing-itself,thecarrying-itself-outwardlyingeneralofevery
possibleparticular
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look—thatoftheschematism—mustbeenvisaged(quiteliterally)
withregardtoitsnativeconstitution.
Infact,theelucidationproceedsfromhererstbydiscussingthe
threesenses.First,itissaidthattheordinarymodeofthe
isem-
piricalintuition,whichisalwaysthatofa‘‘this-here[
].’’Such
a‘‘this’’canitselfembraceamultiplicity,forexample,‘‘thisparticular
totalityofthislandscape.’’Heideggerthusrecallsintuitioningeneral
asaregimeofgraspingpresence(whichistheKantiandenition),a
presencethatissingularorpluralbutalwaysinsomeway
,pre-
ciselybecauseitisgrasped-in-presence.Heexplainsthatbycalling
it‘‘look,’’
,onespeaksofthelandscape‘‘asifitwerelookingat
us’’(‘‘alsblickesieunsan’’;inLatin,
canhavetheactiveorthe
passivesenseof‘‘look,’’ascan
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enteringintothelogicofwhatcanbecalled,forthesakeofconve-
nienceandinordertoprovideanimage,the
ofthe
IwouldliketoexaminetheoperationbywhichHeideggerat-
temptstodothis,and,inparticular,thewayinwhichthisoperation
imagesself-imagining
forus,thewayinwhichitexempliesorpro-
videsamodelfor‘‘makinganimage.’’Iwouldliketodothisbycom-
mentingonsection20ofthe
entitled‘‘Imageand
ThereHeideggerwrites:‘‘Firstofall,image[
]canmean:the
look[
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theopeningtoaviewingeneral.Theschemathusfore-seesandpre-
opensthevisionoftheunion(orastheunion)oftheconcept(
things...)andsensiblematerial(pro-
liferatingmultitude,magmaorplasmathatisnotanything).The
schemais‘‘thenon-sensibleimage,’’asKantsays,whichistosaythat
ithastheunityofamanifoldwithoutanymanifoldbeinggiven,but
alsowithoutthepureandemptyunityoftheonethatisnothingbut
one.Theschemafore-seesinthatitformsapureimage
theimage
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carriesitselfbeyondimages(idols)towardtheveryoriginofillumi-
nationand,consequently,towardtheobscurepointofadivineimagi-
nation.IfLeibniz’sGodcalculates,Kant’sGod,totheextentthat
onecanspeakofhim,imagines:heimaginesthemoralworldandhe
imagineshimselfasthelightofthisworld.ForthisGodisnothing
other(andinthissenseheisanheirtoSpinoza’sGod)thanthe
tusoriginarius
,whichinturnisnothingotherthantheimagination
thatcreatestheworld.Thislatter(whoseobjectiverealitycannotbe
posited)iswhatmustregulatethethoughtofthe
intuitusderivatus
thatis,theimaginationthatproducesourrepresentations.This
movementtowardthesource,bothunconditionalandasymptotic
withrespecttoanoriginaryimagination,willhavemanagedtopass
throughtheverydeathofGod,andperhapsithadtodoso;wewill
comebacktothis.
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chaoticux(withoutthissingularimagebeingsimplyoneanduni-
ed:whatitdoes,simply,ispresentitself).
Insofarasitisormakestime,theschemagivestheimageasnite:
inplaceofauni-totalizingintuitionthatwouldbethedivinevision
ofaOnein-itselfinitsowninniteact(theMonadofmonadsin
Leibniz),thereismerelytheone
thatsucceedsitself
bygivingitselfor
byopeningapossibilityofimages,ofthevisionofanobject.Thisone
isasortof
adhoc
formationoftheimagealwaysrenewedbutnever
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sensecanonlybederivedfromKant(sinceitistohimthatthese
remarksrefer,asyouhavenodoubtguessed).
TheKantianimaginationisindeedtherstmoderngure(ifIdare
tospeakofagurehere
...butthisisdeliberate,asyoucanwell
imagine)ofafacultyofimagesthatisnotrepresentative(atleastnot
inthecurrentsenseoftheword)butpresentative,appresentative,or
apperceptive(thatis,perceivingforitself,perceiving
adsubjectum
constitutiveorproductiveofitsobject—orofitselfasanobject—and
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MaskedImagination
TheKantianSchema
theGreeksandChristianity,thethirddecisivemomentintheWest.
FortheGreeks,therewaslight,andasightthatlooksintothelight
(followinganocturnalworldpopulatedbyforces,notforms).For
theChristians,therewasaneclipseofthevisibleandaninsistence
onspeech:call,exhortation,asayingwhoseforceisnotinthesaid,
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congures,Textdisgures.Whatthelatterenvisages,theformer
facesdown[
].Whatonepaints,theotherdepicts.Butpre-
ciselythat,theircommoncauseandtheircommonthing[
],oscil-
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ofsense,orthatitaloneisabletoenunciatetruthorliesconcerningthesubject
ofwhichitspeaks.Everythingdependsonyournotionsof‘‘truth’’and‘‘sense.’’
Iftruthiswhatlendsitselftoverication,thentheimageisunveriableunless
itiscomparedwithanoriginal,whichoneassumesitmustresemble.Butthis
assumptionisadiscoursethatyouwillhaveintroduced,towhichtheimage
byitselfgivesnolegitimacy.Iftruthiswhatisrevealedormanifestedfrom
itself,itisnotonlytheimagethatisalwaystrue,itistruththatis,ofitself,
alwaysimage(beinginadditionandsimultaneouslyimageofitself).Asfor
‘‘sense,’’ifitconsistsinareferencemovingfromsigniertosignied,itbe-
longsonlytotext—where,inaddition,itturnsouttobeindissociablefrom
thereferenceofsigniertosignierandfromtheentireweaveofalanguage.
Inthisrespect,animagehasnosense:itispuretruth.Butifsenseisvalidity
forasubject,thentheimagemakessenseoutofthefactthatitshowsitself:
itisinsofarasithasatleastthesenseofitsarrivalincomingupagainst
andcounteringthegaze.Intheend,asyoucansee,whatis‘‘image’’andwhat
is‘‘text’’dependsonwhoisthuscounteredandwhatcomestobeencountered.
Theencounterinvolvesrecognitionandexchange,acommerceofsignsandof
mutualtrustormistrust.Thatwhichcounterspresentsanobstacleandsus-
pendstheforwardstep.SoitisatthebeginningofDante’spath,whenapan-
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TheGroundoftheImage
$CH510-25-0515:12:21PS
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embeddedintothematerialofthescreen,itisnotplaceduponitas
incinema,norisitphysicallyjoinedwithacanvasasinpainting.In
asense,wemustnotevenspeakanylongerofascreen:videoisnot
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH510-25-0515:12:19PS
spreadbeforeyou,resuscitatedaspainting.Bloodofsensethatows
Anotheratheologywillsay:imageandtextarethetwoholy
speciesofasinglewithdrawnpresence.Thetwoaspects,thetwo
sidesorfacespresentedtotheeyeofthebodyandtotheeyeofthe
mindforanabsenceofsurface,foranabsentsensethathasnofacial
$CH510-25-0515:12:17PS
color;theyareimagesintheimage,insistingontheirabsentsense,
givingrisetotheunheardandtheunintelligible,distinctfromallre-
ceivedsense.In‘‘Caravaggio’’wehear‘‘ravage,’’andthenamere-
soundswithbloodandwounding,deathandthedeathofsense,sense
enteringintodeath,knittingdeathwithitsneedle,awithdrawn,se-
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH510-25-0515:12:15PS
$CH510-25-0515:12:14PS
zonoftheimageisthetext,withwhichitopensanindenitepower
toimagine,beforewhichtheimageisonlyaclosure,aclosedcon-
tour.Butthehorizonofthetextistheimage,withwhichitopensan
indenitepowertoimagine,beforewhichthetextisonlyanimpo-
tency,apermanentpostponementofimages.
Butintheend,orinthebeginning,everyhorizonrecedesin-
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH510-25-0515:12:14PS
timethatGreuze’sinstantaneouscinemawouldcompressinhispaint-
$CH510-25-0515:12:13PS
representthisabsence,itdoesnotevokeit,itdoesnotsymbolizeit,
eventhoughallthisistheretoo.But,essentially,itpresentsabsence.
Theabsentarenotthere,arenot‘‘inimages.’’Buttheyareimaged:
theirabsenceiswovenintoourpresence.Theemptyplaceoftheab-
sentasaplacethatisnotempty:thatistheimage.Aplacethatisnot
emptydoesnotmeanaplacethathasbeenlled:itmeanstheplace
oftheimage,thatis,intheend,theimageasplace,andasingular
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH510-25-0515:12:12PS
itsparcelofsilkyberswhilealsospinningoutitssenseoritsin-
Notice,however,thatbydrawingsenseoutofabsence,by
,theimagedoesnotdoawaywiththeimpal-
pablenatureofabsence.Onthecontrary,itisoccupiedsolelywith
thisim-material,andthatiswhatit
:allowmetousethisverb
inasensethatisneither‘‘toillustrate’’nor‘‘toimagine.’’‘‘Toimage’’
mustbeheardasatransitiveverbwhoseaction,however,cannotact
iswithoutconnotation,ifyoulike.Connotationbordersondenota-
tion,andembroidersitsborders.Itistherethattheimagerises.
Theword
designatedtheefgyoftheabsent,thedead,
and,moreprecisely,theancestors:thedeadfromwhomwecome,
thelinksofthelineageinwhicheachofusisastitch.The
hooksintothecloth.Itdoesnotrepairtheripoftheirdeath:itdoes
lessandmorethanthat.Itweaves,itimagesabsence.Itdoesnot
PAGE67
DistinctOscillation
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thediscourseandoftheaction,theintentions,feelings,andagitated
representationsofthecharacters.
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH510-25-0515:12:11PS
passingglimpseoftheinsideofthemouth,ofthetongueandthe
$CH510-25-0515:12:11PS
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH510-25-0515:12:10PS
DistinctOscillation
WhenIhavepaintedabeautifulpicture,Ihavenotwrittendowna
thought.That’swhattheysay.Howsimple-minded!Theyrobpaint-
ingofallitsadvantages.Thewriterhastosayalmosteverythingtobe
$CH510-25-0515:12:08PS
ingtowhichaworldcanbelaidout.Thewalkerstops,andhisstep
becomesthatofacompass,theangleandamplitudeofadisposition
ofspace,onwhosestep—atwhosethreshold,atwhosepointofac-
cess—agazepresentsitselfasagaze.
Thisgazedoesnotdiscoverpresenceswithinanalreadyformed
andgivenorder,likethatofreligion,whichpopulatestheforestsand
theelds.Itdiscoverstheplacewithoutgod,theplacethatisonlya
placeoftakingplaceandatakingplaceforwhichnothingisgiven,
nothingisplayedoutinadvance:nocountry,then,isgiven,and
everypossiblepeasanthastoinventeverythinginhisoccupation,as
wellasinthemannerandtheintentionbywhichhiscultureismost
suitablyinvented.Hereuncanninessisoriginary.
Whatiscontemplatedisa
:atemple,thatis,fortheRo-
mans,asacredspacecutoutoftheskybythewandofanaugur.
Whenitissacred,thetempledenesaplaceforpresences:suchas
thebirdsthatwillpassthroughit,orclouds,orlightningashes.
Whenitisthetempleofthelandscape(Baudelaire,onceagain:‘‘na-
tureisatemple’’),itcutsoutaplaceforthewithdrawalofpresence,
forthethoughtofpresenceaswithdrawnfromitself:estrangedand
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH410-25-0515:12:02PS
alityofitslineasatonceaclosureofspace,aightintoinnity,and
anarabesquelaidoutandmultipliedinthelinesoftrees,clouds,hills
andpaths,branchesandvaults,loopsandangles,somanyfractalsof
asinglehorizon,whichneverstopsdrawingbackandrenewingthe
partitionofitselements.
Theseelementsaregiveneachforitself—thepeaceofthecloud
andtheorderoftheoak,theuncultivatedearthonwhichthedeer
passes—andnothingelseispresentedorhidden,nothingbutthe
withdrawalofthepresencesthat,inanotherworld,wouldhavepop-
ulatedthelandscape.Thislandscapeisdepopulatedofits‘‘blessed
spirits.’’Depopulated,thelandscapeestranges,itrendersuncanny
lepaysagede
]:thereisnomorecommunity,nomoreciviclife,
butitisnotsimply‘‘nature.’’Itisthelandofthosewhohavenoland,
whoareuncannyandestranged[
lepaysdesde
],whoarenota
people,whoareatoncethosewhohavelosttheirwayandthosewho
contemplatetheinnite—perhapstheirinniteestrangement.
IftheBlessedhavedepartedfromthisland,itisnot,forallthat,
strickenwithsorrow:neitherblessednorsorrowful,itisheldinsus-
pense.Uncannyestrangementoccursinthesuspensionofpresence:
theimminenceofadepartureoranarrival,neithergoodnorevil,
onlyawidespace[
]andagenerosity[
]thatallowthis
suspensiontobethoughtandtopass.
Forthissuspensionisalwaysaquestionofapassageorapassing
on.Alandscapeisalwaysalandscapeoftime,anddoublyso:itisa
timeofyear(aseason)andatimeofday(morning,noon,oreve-
ning),aswellasakindofweather[
untemps
],rainorsnow,sunor
mist.Inthepresentationofthistime,whichunfoldswithevery
image,thepresentofrepresentationcandonothingotherthanren-
$CH410-25-0515:12:02PS
thefeelingofatheism,notasapositiveafrmationofaworldconsist-
ingofnothingbutitself—preciselybecausehere,inthis‘‘here’’ofthe
landscape,itdoesnotconsistofitselfbutofitsopening—butrather
asanafrmationthatthedivine,ifitpresentsitselfinsomeway,
certainlydoesnotpresentitselfasapresenceorasarepresentation,
norasanabsencehiddenbehindorwithinthedepthsofnature(an-
otherformofpresence),butasthewithdrawalofthedivineitself.
TheGroundoftheImage
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theologicalnorpolitical,neithereconomicnormoral.Itappearsin
history,inaveryprecisemanner,atthemomentwhenthesedifferent
registersofmeaningarechanging,tothepointofoverturningthe
entireorderoflandmarksintheEuropeanworld—andthisisper-
hapsalsotheverybirthofEurope.
Inhisownway,Chateaubriand
clearlygraspedwhatwasatstake:in
TheGeniusofChristianity
heex-
plainsthatthelandscapebelongsspecicallytoChristianityinart.
Indeed,Christianitydrivesthepagangodsoutofnature‘‘inorderto
givethecavestheirsilenceandthewoodstheirrevery.’’Thus‘‘the
$CH410-25-0515:12:01PS
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH410-25-0515:12:00PS
wereapossiblechoiceinrelationtootherreligionswithonlyonegod
orevenwithoutanygods.Thereare,infact,onlytwopossibilities:
eitherthedivineispresent,anditissoimmediatelyinacrowdof
godswhopopulatetheland;orthedivineisabsent,andthereisonly
onegodwithdrawnintoanelsewhere—orelsenogod,which,inthe
end,amountstothesame.Beingapagan,thepeasantisoccupied
withthegodsasmuchaswiththesowingofbarley,thebulls,orthe
thunder.Inallthings,ineveryrespect,eachtimedistinctandsingu-
lar,thereisapresencethatacts,thatlurksorgivessigns,thatoccu-
piestheplace,theplant,ortheanimalthatencounters(and
$CH410-25-0515:12:00PS
withanimmobileland,andthisextensionoftheconceptthatIam
proposingisonlyacceptableifwe‘‘immobilize’’themachineorthe
computer:ifwemakeofthemasortofgroundorregion[
]that
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH410-25-0515:11:59PS
anappropriationofthesingular‘‘So-and-so[
]’’(akindof‘‘your
namehere’’)onthebasisofthecountry,thelanguage,andsoon.
Henceweseethateverythingisconcentratedinanexemplaryway
inwhatmakesup‘‘myname’’:inwhatcomposes,destines,appro-
priates,declaresanameinsuchawaythatIhavethetask,forthe
sakeofhistory,adventureorlegend,ofmakingit‘‘eachtimemy
own,’’eachdayofmylife,knowingthatIwillneverhavedonewith
thisappropriation.(Asforthis
whowillneverhavedone,itispre-
ciselyneither‘‘me’’noranother;itisnothingbuttheonewhocan
say,‘‘Iamfromthisorthatcountry,language,people,’’astatement
inwhichthe‘‘I’’iseachtimealsoemptyandidenticaltothemere
$CH410-25-0515:11:58PS
highmountains.Whenoneistakenoutofone’scountry,onefeels
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH410-25-0515:11:58PS
asaself-assurancewithrespecttowhatisoffinthedistance.You
$CH410-25-0515:11:57PS
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH410-25-0515:11:56PS
UncannyLandscape
Pays,paysan,paysage
(country,peasant,landscape):thisislikethede-
clensionofawordor,rather,ofasemantemethatwouldnotbeany
ofthesethreewords,eachofwhichwouldbeoneofitscases.There
wouldthusbethecaseoflocation(
),thecaseofoccupation
),andthecaseofrepresentation(
).Thelocation,oc-
cupation,andrepresentationofasinglereality.Thisrealitywouldbe
nothingotherthanwhatisindicatedbytheLatinoriginoftheword
,thecanton,thatis,again—andthistimeincon-
formitywiththeword
itself—a‘‘corner’’ofland.Thecountry
isrstofallthespaceofalandconsideredfromacertaincorneror
angle,acornerdelimitedbysomenaturalorculturalfeature(asone
sayswhenonethinksonecantellthedifference):arowoftreesora
road,ariveroraridge,apass,aglacialconstriction,aformationof
alluvialdeposits,apassingherdoranarmedhorde,anencampment.
$CH410-25-0515:11:56PS
Buchenwaldisthere,thegentlebeechwood,
withitsfoulovens;Stalingrad
andMinskonitsmarchesandrottingsnow.
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH310-25-0515:11:50PS
Benigni’slm).Itseemstome,however,thatonecoulddoananaly-
sisofitsthematizationoftheunrepresentabilitythatisproducedby
thedevastationofrepresentationand/orthereductionofrepresenta-
tiontomockery.
Inanycase,onewouldhavetodoacase-by-case
analysisforwhatineachworkpermitsorpreventsthedeciphering
ofaresistanceto‘‘represent’’(and,therefore,alsoofaresistanceto
deliverthenalordenitivework).Ofcourse,itwouldneverbe
$CH310-25-0515:11:50PS
).Thegurationthattakesplaceintheseandothercasesseems
tobemodeledupondisguration.Thecomplacency,however,isnot
somehowlessenedifonebelievesoneselfcapableofevokingthe
TheGroundoftheImage
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canberepresented,becausethecampsthemselvesweretheexecu-
tionofrepresentation.Its
inbothsensesoftheword,that
$CH310-25-0515:11:49PS
causeitseffectwouldbetoshowallthereistoseeandknowof
Auschwitz:itsrealobliteration.
Thereis‘‘image,’’however,preciselybecausethereisnorealoblit-
eration,andthereisnorealobliterationbecausetheworldthatcre-
atedAuschwitzisstillourworld.Itremainstheterminalhistory,
perhapsinterminable,oftheWest.Thereisimage,therefore,ofa
haunting,andwithitcomestheknowledgethatnothingofthecamps
PAGE46
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gamethatwasnotonlyworthlessandanimpermissibleluxurybut
alsomockingandevil.’’
And,alittlefurtheron:‘‘Iwouldliketocite
thewordsthatKarlKrauspronouncedintherstyearsoftheThird
Reich:‘Thewordfellintoasleep,whenthatworldawoke.’’’
Theexterminatedishewho,beforedyingandinordertodieas
theexterminator’srepresentationwouldhaveit,ishimselfemptied
ofthepossibilitytorepresent—or,nally,ofthepossibilityofmean-
$CH310-25-0515:11:47PS
hereliesinthequestionofhowtoconfrontdeathafterthe‘‘deathof
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH310-25-0515:11:47PS
andbythemillions,fordeathispreciselywhatisnotseenor(re)pre-
sented.ButtheSSrequiresthedeadbodyinordertoplayoutthe
spectacleofitsownabilitytocommanddeathandtoplungeitsown
gazeintoit.
(Toavoidanymisunderstandings,Ishouldperhapsemphasize
thattheconsiderationsbeingpursuedherearenottobetakenas
somedramaticvariationonthehorrorofthecamps,avariationthat
wouldperhapsevenembellishthathorror,nally,bygivingusall
theshivers.Onthecontrary,wemustholdrmtoourconviction
thattheseconsiderationsarestrictlyandutterlynecessary,foritis
trulyaquestionofnothingotherthanthesestakesofdeath.At
Auschwitz,theWesttouchedthewilltopresenttoitselfthatwhichis
outsidepresence.Hence,italsotouchedthewilltoarepresentation
withoutremainder,withouthollowing-outorwithdrawal,withouta
lineofight.Tothatextent,itisexactlytheoppositeofmonotheism,
aswellasofphilosophyandart.Thismeansthatitwasrightinthe
midstofourWesternhistory—onceagain,withoutonehavingto
poseitasadestinedormechanicalnecessity—thatthis‘‘exactoppo-
site,’’thiscontortedandrevoltingcontraction,suddenlyappeared
andunleasheditsfury.And(ifthismustbeadded)
alonesufces
$CH310-25-0515:11:46PS
formedandhardenedenough)—comestotakeontheglareofthe
death’s-headinsigniawornbythe
SS-Totenkopfverba
?In
fact,itreceivesitsblindingglarerighthere,intheself-imagethat
Himmlerissharingwithhisadministrativestaff.Accordingtothis
representation,onemustproveoneselfcapableofabrandofheroism
whosesign—butalsowhoserealstakes—isaspectaclethatmust
closetheeyesandraisetheheart.
WhattheSSmustsee,inother
words,isthesteelinessoftheirowngaze.
(Theentireorganization
ofthecampworkstowardthisrepresentationoftheselftoothers
andtooneself:theentiredramaturgy
ofthearrivalontheramp,the
selection,therollcalls,theuniformsandthespeeches,thesloganson
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH310-25-0515:11:46PS
terthesuper-representativeorder.(Innowaydoesthisrenderother
campsandothergenocidesofsecondaryimportance;rather,itopens
todiscernmentthatwhichinvokesanidenticalorcomparablelogic
$CH310-25-0515:11:45PS
andprocessesofNazisuper-representation(thoughlesssothanone
usuallythinks):theNaziorder,itsFu
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH310-25-0515:11:44PS
thatisitselfa(re)presentative,notofafunctionlikethehammerand
sickle,butofanatureoranessence(theAryanbody).Itisinthis
bodythatthepresenceofaself-creatinghumanitywouldtrulycon-
sist(ahumanitythatis,inthissense,divine,butwithnoseparation
ofthedivine,thatis,withno‘‘sanctity’’).TheAryanbodyisanidea
identicaltoapresence,oritisthepresenceofanideawithoutre-
mainder:preciselywhattheWesthas,forcenturies,thoughtofasthe
idol.InthetermsemployedbyHitler,moreover,itiscalled‘‘ideal-
ism’’:theidealismofthefounderofcivilization(
whosesupremevirtueisthathegiveshimselfovertotheserviceof
thecommunityuponwhichhehasbestowed‘‘thecivilizingspirit.’’
‘‘TheAryanalonecanbeconsideredastherepresentative[
$CH310-25-0515:11:44PS
couldtightenup—andrepresent—theentirematterinthisway:a
doublenon-face,atonceJewishandGreek,whoseportraitwillbe
drawnbyitsRomandestiny.
If,therefore,whatisessentialtorepresentationistherelationto
anabsenceandtoan
uponwhichallpresencesustainsitself—
thatis,uponwhichitexhaustsitself,hollowsitselfout,radiates,and
comestopresence—onwhatgroundscouldtherepresentationof
anythingatallbesubjecttocondemnation?Bythesametoken,how-
ever,howisitthatnotallrepresentationisforbidden[
],in
thesenseofsurprised,takenaback,struckdumb[
founded,ordisconcertedbythisforbiddinghollownessattheheart
ofpresence?
TheGroundoftheImage
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Ofcourse,tobeevenmorepreciseonewouldneedtoanalyzehow
pureimmediacyisitselfathought—arepresentation—producedby
thegeneralsystemofrepresentation,thatis,bytheWest’soriginary
‘‘monologotheism.’’Outsideofthismonologotheism(ortheologo-
$CH310-25-0515:11:40PS
sentation(highlightedinthedirectionofitslineand/orinitsaddress:
destinedforaspecicgaze).Thewordalsotakesonitsrstmeaning
fromitsuseinthetheater(whereithasnothingtodowiththenum-
berofperformances[
]andwhereitisclearlydistin-
guishedfrom‘‘rehearsal’’[
])andfromitsuseintheancient
judiciary—theproductionofapaperoradocument—or,aswell,
fromthesenseof‘‘tomakeobservable,toexposewithinsistence.’’
TheLatinwordtranslatestheGreek
,whichdesignatesa
TheGroundoftheImage
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Aswillhavealreadybecomeclear,thetaskinvolvesthinking‘‘rep-
resentation’’notonlyasaparticularoperationalortechnicalregime
butalsoasageneralnamefortheeventandcongurationordinarily
called‘‘theWest’’—whichisalsotosay,forthecongurationwhose
$CH310-25-0515:11:39PS
astheyexpresstheirownpowerlessnesstorepresent,theirartistic
becomeclearbypassingthroughtheanalysisoftheconditionsfora
‘‘representationoftheShoah’’).TheShoahis,then,anultimatecrisis
ofrepresentation.(Sayingthisdoesnotimplyanyabstractionorcold
conceptualconversionhere.)
Iwill,therefore,moveawayfromtheperspectiveofthecampsfora
shorttimeinordertoconsiderthequestionofrepresentationinitself.
PAGE34
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theoppositeofamakingofidolsandexactlytheoppositeofanim-
poverishmentofthesensory:notathickandtautologicalpresence
beforewhichoneprostratesoneselfbutratherthepresentationofan
openabsencewithinthegivenitself—withinitssensorypresenta-
tion—oftheso-calledworkof‘‘art.’’Thispresentationiscalled
inFrench.
Representationisnotasimulacrum;itisnotthe
replacementoftheoriginalthing—infact,ithasnothingtodowith
.Itisthepresentationofwhatdoesnotamounttoapresence,
$CH310-25-0515:11:38PS
cle,’’aswellasacertainself-satisedcritiqueofthe‘‘civilizationof
images’’—totheextentthat,
acontrario
,evenallattemptsatadefense
oratacharacterizationoftheartsandalloftheirphenomenologies
arealsoitsresult.
Inordertounderstandtheproblemknownas‘‘representation,’’one
mustthereforebeattentivetothisalliance,whichisconstitutiveof
ourhistory.Onemustalsobeattentivetowhatsimultaneouslycre-
atesconnectionsanddisconnectionswithinit,thatis,towhatjoins
thetwomotifs,butalsotowhatdisjoinsthemandtowhatprovokes
Ifwearenotmistakeneitherregardingthebiblicalprohibitionor
theGreekproblematic,thisdoublemotifinvolves,ontheonehand,
themotifofaGodwhoinnowaychallengestheimagebutwhogives
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH310-25-0515:11:37PS
being-there:theidoldoesnotmove,doesnotsee,doesnotspeak,
$CH310-25-0515:11:36PS
Althoughiconoclasm(orthesimpleabstentionfromimages,whichI
includehereunderthisterm)wasandinsomewaysstillisoneofthe
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH310-25-0515:11:36PS
womanwho,afternarrowlyescapingaring-squadexecution,nds
herselfstillaliveontopofpilesofcorpsesinamassgrave—whatever
theordealofreadingitmightbe.
(Inaslightlydifferentbuthighly
suggestiveregister,wecould,Ithink,alsosaythis:thequestionlies
inwhateverdistinguishesthenever-contestedpossibilityofthe
countlessrepresentationsofthedeadanddyinginthemonumentsof
WorldWarIespecially,butalsointhoseofWorldWarII—
includingthosededicatedtoresistance-ghters—fromthesudden
emergenceofproblemsanddebatesregardingthecamps,which,-
nally,havenothingwhatsoevertodowithwar.
If,alternatively,itisaquestionofillegitimacy,onecanonlybe
referringtoareligiousprohibitionthatonehastakenoutofcontext
withnojusticationforhavingdoneso.Theresultisaslippageofthe
prohibition,wherebyitsjurisdiction—usuallyrestrictedtoimagesof
God—isextendedtoincludeimagesofexterminatedJews,then
thoseofothervictims.Thisslippageoughttobeinterrogated,not
necessarilybecauseitisillegitimate,butratherbecauseadisplace-
mentfromGodtothecreatureandthenfromthebelievertothenon-
believercanonlybejustiedthroughananalysisofwhatismeantby
‘‘forbidden’’aswellaswhatismeantby‘‘representation.’’
Aclaricationisthereforenecessaryinordertobeabletothinkrig-
orouslythequestionsooftenexpressedasthe‘‘representationofthe
$CH310-25-0515:11:35PS
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH310-25-0515:11:34PS
ForbiddenRepresentation
EinMann,denmanchefu
rweise
hielten,erkla
rte,nachAuschwitz
rekeinGedichtmehrmo
DerweiseMannscheint
keinehoheMeinung
vonGedichtengehabtzuhaben—
alswa
renesSeelentro
rempndsameBuchhalter
oderbemalteButzenscheiben,
durchdiemandieWeltsieht.
Wirglauben,dassGedichte
$CH310-25-0515:11:34PS
tainviolenceandinacertainimage(orrather
aviolenceandan
image).Inasense,then,itisunity‘‘itself’’thatwemustbeableto
traverseinordertodiscerntheopeningontogroundlessness[
]fromtheblowdeliveredoutofanenclosedground.Unity‘‘it-
self’’—thethingoritspresence,therealoritstruth—isconstitutively
thatwhichassemblesandgathersitselfintoitselfbygoingbeyond
thewholeorderofsigns;itisthatwhichisnolongerderivedfrom
rstinstance,thanasatransgressionandabeingcarriedawaybe-
yondsigns.Inthisview,artdoubtless‘‘givesasign’’(inthesenseof
theGerman
:towink,warn,signal),butitisnotthesignof
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH210-25-0515:11:26PS
tinessofthedepths,but,onthecontrary,byllinghiseyeswithred
(by‘‘seeingred’’)andwiththeclotsinwhichlifesuffersanddies.
Perhapseveryimagebordersoncruelty.Theartgalleriesofthe
Westarefullofimagesofbloodshed,especiallyimagesofthegod
whoshedhisbloodtosavemankindandimagesofhismartyrs,
thoughnowadaystherearealsoimagesof‘‘bodyart’’artists,who
spilltheirownbloodandcruellymutilatethemselves.
Inaworld
orderedandorganizedbysacrice,bloodshedquenchesthethirstof
thegodsorirrigatestheirelds;itscoagulationsealsthepassagebe-
yonddeath.Butoncethisworldhasbeentakenapart,oncesacrice
isimpossible,crueltyisnomorethantheextremeviolencethatcloses
itselfinuponitsowncoagulation;andthatcoagulationdoesnotseal
anypassagebeyonddeath,butsealsonlytheviolentstupiditythat
believesithasproduceddeathimmediatelybeforeitseyesinalittle
puddleofmatter.
Everyimagebordersonsuchapuddle.Theambiguityofthe
imageandofviolence—oftheviolenceatwork[
]inthe
imageandoftheimageopeningitselfinviolence—istheambiguity
ofthe
oftheground,ofitsmonstrosityorits
Theimagecannotbuthavetheduplicityofthemonster:thatwhich
presentspresencecanjustaswellholditback,immobileanddense,
obstructedandstuffedintothegroundofitsunity,asitcanproject
presenceaheadofitself,apresencealwaystoosingulartobemerely
Theviolenceofartdiffersfromthatofblows,notbecauseartis
semblance,but,onthecontrary,becausearttouchesthereal—which
isgroundlessandbottomless—whiletheblowisinitselfandinthe
momentitsownground.Knowinghowtodiscernagroundlessimage
fromanimagethatisnothingbutablowisanentireartinitself(
toutunart
,asonesaysinFrench);waybeforeorwaybeyondany
$CH210-25-0515:11:25PS
foritself.Onecanunderstandhowtimeis,inmanyrespects,violence
itself...
Unityforms(
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH210-25-0515:11:24PS
fromnature,sothatitremains‘‘anartconcealedinthedepthsofthe
$CH210-25-0515:11:24PS
Theimageisoftheorderofthemonster;the
isapro-
digioussign,whichwarns(
)ofadivinethreat.The
Germanwordfortheimage,
—whichdesignatestheimageinits
formorfabrication—comesfromaroot(
)thatdesignatesaprodi-
giousforceoramiraculoussign.Itisinthissensethatthereisa
monstrosityoftheimage.Theimageisoutsidethecommonsphere
ofpresencebecauseitisthedisplayofpresence.Itisthemanifesta-
tionofpresence,notasappearance,butasexhibiting,asbringingto
possibilitythatviolencemightsurface.Theimagenotonlyexceeds
theform,theaspect,thecalmsurfaceofrepresentation,butinorder
todosoitmustdrawuponaground—oragroundlessness—ofex-
cessivepower.Theimagemustbe
;thatistosay,itmust
extractfromitsabsencetheunityofforcethatthethingmerelyat
handdoesnotpresent.Imaginationisnotthefacultyofrepresenting
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH210-25-0515:11:23PS
plaguesofEgypt.Thetorturer’sviolenceistheexhibition—atleast
forhisowneyes—ofthewoundsofthevictim.Theviolenceofthe
lawmustmakeitsmarkintheexemplarycharacterofthepunish-
ment.Inonewayoranother,whereforceissimplyexecutive,where
authorityissimplyimperative,wheretheforceoflawis(inprinciple)
$CH210-25-0515:11:22PS
withtheireconomicandinstinctualdrives.Thelististrulyendless.
Wearesurroundednowbyamassive,generalquestionofviolence
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH210-25-0515:11:21PS
Ontheonehand:theintractablecanbethemarkoftruth’sbeing
$CH210-25-0515:11:21PS
ifmo-
dernityasawholeisdenedbyaneffacementofsimpleoppositions
andatransgressionofboundaries.Centraltothistransgression
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH210-25-0515:11:19PS
piditythatcomesfromalackofintelligence,butmuchworse:itis
thestupidityofthestupidtwat[
].Itisthecalculatedabsenceof
thoughtwilledbyarigidintelligence.(Iamdeliberatelyusingthe
,whichisdoublyviolent:itisviolentasslang,butalsobe-
causeoftheobsceneandinvasiveimagethatitevokes.)
Violencedoesnotplaythegameofforces.Itdoesnotplayatall.
Violencehatesgames,allgames;ithatestheintervals,thearticula-
tions,thetempo,therulesgovernedbynothingbutthepurerelations
amongthemselves.Justasviolencesplitsopenanddestroystheplay
whatmightbecalled,dareIsay,thetruetruth[
lave
ritableve
violentinitsownway.Itcannotirruptwithouttearingapartanes-
PAGE17
ImageandViolence
$CH210-25-0515:11:16PS
doubledualitiesorredoubledduplicitiesinthehistoryofthemodern
Tobroachthisquestion,Iwillnotstartwiththepair‘‘imageand
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH210-25-0515:11:15PS
ImageandViolence
Twoassertionsaboutimageshavebecomeveryfamiliartous.The
rstisthatimagesareviolent:weoftenspeakofbeing‘‘bombarded
byadvertising,’’andadvertisingevokes,intherstplace,astreamof
images.Thesecondisthatimagesofviolence,oftheceaselessvio-
lencebreakingoutallovertheworld,areomnipresentand,simulta-
neouslyorbyturns,indecent,shocking,necessary,heartrending.
lencethatpervades,inaparallelandthereforeremarkableway,our
$CH210-25-0515:11:14PS
upheavalsinthishistory:becauseartcannotbeareligiousobser-
vance(notofitselforanythingelse),andbecauseitisalwaystaken
backupintothedistinctionofwhatremainsseparateandirreconcil-
able,inthetirelessexposureofanalwaysunboundintimacy.Itsun-
binding[
],itsendlessourish[
arewhattheprecision
PAGE14
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH110-25-0515:12:23PS
tingout,bythemarkofdistinction.Thesuperabundanceofimages
inthemultiplicityandinthehistoryoftheartscorrespondstothis
inexhaustibledistinction.Buteachtime,andatthesametime,itis
ofmeaning,thejoltandthetasteofitstension:alittle
senseinapurestate,innitelyopenedorinnitelylost(howeverone
wishestosayit).
$CH110-25-0515:11:32PS
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH110-25-0515:11:32PS
andofmeaning—ofmeaningasacourseorcurrentofsense(mean-
ingindiscourse,meaningthatiscurrentandvalid):butitafrmsall
themorea
(thereforean‘‘insensible’’)thatis
withwhat
itgivestobesensed(thatis,itself).Intheimage,which,however,
iswithoutan‘‘inside,’’thereisasensethatisnonsignifyingbutnot
insignicant,asensethatisascertainasitsforce(itsform).
Onecouldsaythattheimage—neitherworldnorlanguage—isa
‘‘realpresence,’’ifwerecalltheChristian
useofthisexpression:
the‘‘realpresence’’ispreciselynottheordinarypresenceofthereal
referredtohere:itisnotthegodpresentintheworldasndinghim-
selfthere.Thispresenceisasacredintimacythatafragmentofmat-
tergivestobetakeninandabsorbed.Itisarealpresencebecauseit
isacontagiouspresence,participatingandparticipated,communi-
catingandcommunicatedinthedistinctionofitsintimacy.
ThatisinfactwhytheChristianGod,andparticularlytheCatho-
licGod,willhavebeenthegodofthedeathofGod,thegodwho
withdrawsfromallreligion(fromeverybondwithadivinepresence)
andwhodepartsintohisownabsence,sinceheisnolongeranything
butthepassionoftheintimateandtheintimacyofsuffering[
dupa
oroffeelingandsensation:whateverythinggivestobesensedinso-
farasitiswhatitis,thethingitselfdistinguishedinitssameness.
Soitisaswell,accordingtoanotherexemplarity,withwhatis
$CH110-25-0515:11:30PS
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH110-25-0515:11:29PS
entsitselfonlyinasmuchasitresemblesitselfandsays(mutely)of
itself:Iamthisthing.Theimageisthenonlinguisticsayingorthe
showingofthethinginitssameness:butthissamenessisnotonly
notsaid,or‘‘said’’otherwise,itisan
othersameness
thanthatoflan-
guageandtheconcept,asamenessthatdoesnotbelongtoidentica-
tionorsignication(thatof‘‘apipe,’’forexample),butthatis
supportedonlybyitselfintheimageandasanimage.
Thething
imageisthusdistinctfromitsbeing-thereinthesense
ofthe
Vorhanden
itssimplepresenceinthehomogeneityofthe
$CH110-25-0515:11:29PS
1.HansvonAachen,
JokingCouple
(infact,thepainterandhiswife;ca.
1596),Vienna,KunsthistorischesMuseum.
thatthegroundexertsonthesurface—thatis,underthisforce,in
thisimpalpablenon-placethatisnotmerelythe‘‘support’’butthe
orthe
oftheimage.Thelatterisnotan‘‘othersideof
thecoin’’(anothersurface,andadisappointingone),buttheinsensi-
ble(intelligible)sensethat
issensedassuch
,self-samewiththeimage.
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH110-25-0515:11:28PS
andpushesontheimage;orrathertheimageisthispressure,this
animationandemotion.Itdoesnotgivethesignicationofthispres-
sure:inthatsense,theimagehasnoobject(or‘‘subject,’’asone
speaksofthesubjectofapainting),andthusitisdevoidofintention.
Itisthereforenotarepresentation:itisanimprintoftheintimacyof
itspassion(ofitsmotion,itsagitation,itstension,itspassivity).Itis
$CH110-25-0515:11:13PS
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH110-25-0515:11:12PS
skyprovidesthewide,‘‘transparent,’’andunlimitedframeinwhich
$CH110-25-0515:11:12PS
justatthedistanceofthetouch,thatis,barelytouchingtheskin,
eurdepeau
Itapproachesacrossadistance,butwhatitbringsinto
suchcloseproximityisdistance.(The
isthenest,mostsubtle
part,theverysurface,whichremainsbeforeoneandwhichone
merelybrushesagainst[
]:everyimageis
,orisaower.)
Thisiswhatallportraitsdo,inanexemplarymanner.Portraits
aretheimageoftheimageingeneral.Aportraittouches,orelseitis
onlyanidenticationphoto,adescriptiverecord,notanimage.What
later.Forthemoment,Iwillgiveonlyoneexampleofaliterary
image,whosevisualresourcesareevident,butwhichremainsnoless
amatterofwriting:
AgirlcameoutoflawyerRoyall’shouse,attheendoftheone
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH110-25-0515:11:11PS
tionofgraspinghowtheimageisnotaformandisnotformal).Itis
whatdoesnotshowitselfbutrathergathersitselfintoitself,thetaut
forceonthissideofformsorbeyondthem,butnotasanotherob-
scureform:ratherastheotherofforms.Itistheintimateandits
passion,distinctfromallrepresentation.Itisamatter,then,ofgrasp-
ingthepassionoftheimage,thepowerofitsstigmaorofitsdistrac-
tion(hence,nodoubt,alltheambiguityandambivalencethatwe
attachtoimages,whichthroughoutourculture,andnotonlyinits
religions,aresaidtobebothfrivolousandholy).
Thedistinctionofthedistinctisthereforeitsseparation:itstension
$CH110-25-0515:11:11PS
where,onthecontrary,distinctionandthepreservationofadistance
anda‘‘sacred’’distinctionbegin.Itisthere,perhaps,thatarthasal-
TheGroundoftheImage
$CH110-25-0515:11:10PS
TheImage—theDistinct
Theimageisalwayssacred—ifweinsistonusingthisterm,which
givesrisetosomuchconfusion(butwhichIwilluseinitially,and
$CH110-25-0515:11:10PS
PAGExiv
HFTL10-25-0515:10:58PS
TheGroundoftheImage
PAGExiii
HFTL10-25-0515:10:57PS
turelles,’’directorJacquesDefert,Arles,July2002(panelchaired
byPhilippeLacoue-Labarthe).
AllthesetextswereassembledinFrenchinbookformas
Aufond
desimages
,byJean-LucNancy(Paris:Galile
e,2003).
NousAutres
’’wasrstpublishedinaSpanishtranslationinthe
catalogueofanexhibitionofphotographsentitled
NosOtros:Identidad
yalteridad
(thePhotoSpanafestival,heldinMadridin2003).
‘‘Visitation:OfChristianPainting’’waspublishedinFrenchas
Visitation(delapeinturechre
)(Paris:Galile
e,2001).
‘‘TheSovereignWomaninPainting’’waspublishedinFrenchas
‘‘Souveraineenpeinture,’’inthecatalogueoftheexhibition‘‘Cle
trea
traversl’historiedelapeinture,’’Muse
NoteontheTexts
TEXT10-25-0515:10:55PS
NoteontheTexts
‘‘TheImage—theDistinct’’wasrstpublishedas‘‘L’image—ledis-
tinct’’in
,exhibitioncatalogue,Kunsthalle,Du
sseldorf/Tate
TEXT10-25-0515:10:54PS
1.HansvonAachen,
JokingCouple
(infact,thepainterand
hiswife;ca.1596),Vienna,KunsthistorischesMuseum.
2.Pontormo,
,ParishChurchofCarmignano,Tuscany.
Scala/ArtResource,NewYork.
3.PierodellaFrancesca,
MadonnadelParto
,Monterchi,Arezzo.
Scala/ArtResource,NewYork.
4.SimonHanta
...delParto
,Muse
ed’artmodernedelaville
deParis.
5.ArtemisiaGentileschi,
,FondazioneCavallini-Sgarbi,
PAGEx
ILLU10-25-0515:10:50PS
Illustrationsx
NoteontheTextsxi
TheImage—theDistinct
ImageandViolence
ForbiddenRepresentation
UncannyLandscape
DistinctOscillation
MaskedImagination
NousAutres100
Visitation:OfChristianPainting
TheSovereignWomaninPainting
Notes139
PAGEix
CNTS10-25-0515:10:48PS
PAGEviii
$$FM10-25-0515:10:44PS
Thecloserhecametothisdeceptiveimageoftheisland’sshore,
themorethisimagereceded;itcontinuedtoeefromhim,and
heknewnotwhattothinkofthisight.
AdventuresofTelemachus
Inthedepthsoftheforestyourimagefollowsme.
PAGEvii
$$FM10-25-0515:10:44PS
2005FordhamUniversityPress
Allrightsreserved.Nopartofthispublicationmaybereproduced,storedina
$$FM10-25-0515:10:43PS
JEAN-LUCNANCY
TheGroundoftheImage
RANSLATEDBY
ORDHAM
NIVERSITY
RESS
NewYork
PAGEv
$$FM10-25-0515:10:43PS
PAGEiv
$$FM10-25-0515:10:43PS
JohnD.Caputo,
serieseditor
ERSPECTIVESIN
ONTINENTAL
HILOSOPHY
PAGEiii
$$FM10-25-0515:10:43PS
SeriesBoard
JamesBernauer
DrucillaCornell
ThomasR.Flynn
KevinHart
Jean-LucMarion
AdriaanPeperzak
RichardKearney
ThomasSheehan
HentdeVries
MeroldWestphal
EdithWyschogrod
MichaelZimmerman
PAGEii
$$FM10-25-0515:10:42PS
TheGroundoftheImage
PAGEi
$$FM10-25-0515:10:41PS

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