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A Building that Recalls: Memory, Housing, and Politics of Living On

Trevor Hoag

“What shall I say about that universal treasure-house, the memory?”

-- Cicero, On the Ideal Orator (61)

 “What we have to live in is our scars . . . Not with our scars, but in them”

-- Victor Vitanza, “‘Design as Dasein’: Scar” (5)

The story is a memorable one. Simonides the orator is having dinner at the home of his patron, Scopas, when suddenly Simonides receives a message instructing him to go outside. No sooner has Simonides stepped out into the night air than the roof of Scopas’ house collapses, killing everyone inside. Afterwards, “it was reportedly Simonides who, from his recollection of the placewhere each of [the guests had] been reclining at table, identified every one of them for burial” (Cicero 219). How, though, is Simonides able to accomplish this impressive feat? Cicero tells his readers that Simonides “concluded that those who would like to employ [and improve their faculties of remembering] should choose localities, then form mental images of the things they wanted to store in their memory, and place these in the localities” (219). Thus to improve one’s powers of remembering, Simonides says, one must recollect or imagine places (loci), often architectural housings, and then fill those places or dwellings with striking images (topoi).[i]

            But why is there this classical rhetorical link between memory and places, or more specifically, between memory and images of housing? Here an intriguing response is provided by Jacques Derrida,[ii] who points out that:

the meaning of ‘archive,’ its only meaning, comes to it from the Greek arkheion: initially a house, a domicile, an address, the residence of the superior magistrates, the archons, those who commanded. . . . On account of their publicly recognized authority, it is at their home, in that place which is their house (private house, family house, or employee’s house), that official documents are filed. (2)

As Derrida explains, the link between memory and housing derives from the fact that, historically, the magistrates of the Greekpolis held documents at their houses or dwellings, and these documents were the source of a public memory. The memory of thepolis was therefore associated with a home, and when citizens looked upon that home they were reminded of their shared memory.

Given the classical bond between memory and images of housing, the next question becomes whether this conceptual-rhetorical connection is still in operation. In response, I contend that the Simonidian links between memory and home, wounding and survival (living on), are alive and well, and that by analyzing Martin Heidegger’s mountain Hütte, Michel Foucault’s Panopticon, Victor Vitanza’s recent discussion of scars, and the designs of conceptual architect Lebbeus Woods, that this point is reinforced three-fold, and has a vast, multifaceted ethical and mnemonic significance.


Heidegger’s Hütte at Todtnauberg

            In the summer of 1922, Martin Heidegger moved into a small cabin high in the hills of Germany’s Black Forest region. This brightly-colored building still stands today and occasionally attracts visitors. Due to its unimposing size, Heidegger referred to it simply as “the hut” (die Hütte). He wrote many of his famous and groundbreaking philosophical works at Todtnauberg and had an intimate relationship with both the little house as well as the surrounding area. What I will contend in this section is that one can understand Heidegger’s hut-life as intimately linked to his disastrous political entanglements and the wounds they inflicted, but also to his penetrating philosophy and the implicit lessons it contains about living on in the face of fascism.

Here is an image of Heidegger’s Hut, a small cottage with lightly-colored outer walls and roof with windows painted bright green and blue. It sits nestled against a hillside, between trees with an open field below and a forest in the distance.

            With regard to how one might read the rhetoric(s) of Heidegger’s hut, Adam Sharr provides an excellent overview when he writes:

It is possible to follow many interpretations of Heidegger’s hut: as the site of a heroic confrontation between philosopher and existence, as the petit bourgeois escape of a misguided romantic, as a place with fascist overtones that remains suspicious, or as an unremarkable little building. (6)

Although each of these descriptions is significant, here I will highlight two: that one can view Heidegger’s hut as indicative of his reflective philosophy as well as his fascist politics and that, like the home of Simonides’ patron, the hut is both a place of wounding and living on in the wake of trauma. It is also crucial to note that these two aspects of Heidegger’s life and thought are inseparable—Heidegger was both a philosopher and a member of the National Socialist Party.[iii] Heidegger himself points up this inseparability when in “Why Do I Stay in the Provinces?” he writes that:

On a deep winter’s night when a wild, pounding snowstorm rages around the cabin and veils and covers everything, that is the perfect time for philosophy. . . . And this philosophical work does not take its course like the aloof studies of some eccentric. It belongs right in the midst of the peasant’s work. . . . [M]y whole work is sustained and guided by the world of these mountains and their people. (Sharr 64)

Provided Heidegger’s comments on the connection between his philosophy and “these mountains and their people,” one finds an opening to begin an analysis of his hut as a site for recalling provincialism, the wounding force of Nazi politics linked to the “authentic” German Volk. Certainly, the remote little building in the heart of “peasant country” can remind onlookers of National Socialist arguments valorizing soil, work, and aversions to technology.[iv] Moreover, it is apparent that with Heidegger’s hut “Heimat (dedication to home), region, nation, and language have . . . been distinctly aligned” (Sharr 6). This is the case because Heidegger’s rural home as well as his dedication to it does not merely involve care for “home” in the sense of an architectural structure. One can also read “home” (Heimat) as the Fatherland itself, connecting one to the idea that when one tends to one’s own little home, one tends to the soil of the Fatherland by proxy—especially (and with horrible irony) if one overcomes this boundary, as Heidegger did, by holding a Nazi youth summer camp at his home (Sharr 57).

Throughout certain portions of Heidegger’s work, there is also a disavowal of freedom in relation to Being and language. Placing freedom in question takes many forms, but if one aligns it with political determinism, then a dangerous line of thought can follow, and “Heidegger’s sustained abdication of agency and valorization of mountain existence are striking” (Sharr 75). So although it is important not to reduce Heidegger’s philosophical positions to excuses for quietism, it is possible to see how Heidegger and his life at the hut symbolized a “giving over of himself” to Being, and perhaps to the political forces of the Führer as well. Granted, through these observations, I do not wish to engage in ressentiment and bludgeon Heidegger any further (nor excuse him) for his political involvements. Rather, following Foucault, I want to suggest that the hut reminds viewers that everyone has the capacity for fascist thought and the power to wound others, that there is “fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us” (Deleuze and Guattari xiii). Along these lines, then, one can consider Heidegger’s hut as belonging in any handbook for the “non-fascist life.”

However, once the trace of fascism is detected within oneself, the will to dominate and be dominated, what is one to do? How is one to combat this “illness?” Paradoxically, Heidegger’s hut offers an answer, a potential guide to living on, but to find it one must turn to the hut’s philosophical significance, for as Andrew Benjamin contends, “Heidegger’s actual hut at Todtnauberg is as much a philosophical event as it is an architectural one” (Sharr xv).

As an entrée into this contention, consider Heidegger’s ruminations in Being and Time regarding how the meaning of objects in lived experience manifest only when one actively engages with them (91-141). For example, Heidegger points out how a hammer has the meaning and function that it does based upon the use to which an observer wishes to put it. When one applies these observations to the mountain hut, it becomes clearer how “Heidegger’s rhetoric of hut life locate[s] him in rigorous contact with existence . . . [as] the hut appears to stand for the philosophy of the engaged observer” (Being and Time 103-104). This insight is significant because it allows one to understand Heidegger’s “hut life” not merely as connected to a problematic politics of peasantry and soil, but to a theory of activity. Moreover, because a philosophy of the “engaged observer” is a far cry from political quietism or gross determinism, it offers an opposing reading to fascistic interpretations of the hut.

Another significant effect of the hut is its ability to make concrete Heidegger’s call to slow down and live a quiet, more reflective life. In Heidegger’s Discourse on Thinking, readers are presented with the distinction between “calculative” and “meditative” thought, and the hut certainly expresses an argument in favor of the latter.[v] Whereas calculative “city-life” moves at paces too fast for reflection, “hut-life” moves slower, more carefully: it involves a thinking that recalls as opposed to one that consumes.[vi] These associations are significant, of course, because they offer a response to the consuming, conquering desire for power that can dwell within one’s existence. For whereas fascism calls one to rapid calculation and conquest (corporatism), the meditative thoughts engaged in through a thinking that recalls remind one to slow down, to contemplate, to cease consumption. Heidegger’s hut is therefore profoundly ambivalent as it functions both as a “fascist machine,” that is, as a site for giving oneself over to power, and alternatively, as a machine that “kills” fascists, by helping one to reflect and to relinquish the desire to violently consume. Like Simonides’ encounter with the collapsed house, one who encounters Heidegger’s hut has the possibility of being wounded, but also of remembering and living on.


Return to the Foucauldian Panopticon

            The Janus-faced rhetoric(s) that Heidegger’s hut presents, especially the way that it functions as a reminder of the politics of violence and consumption, links up to another problematic architectural effect. Foucault’s now-classic (and infamous) analysis of the Panopticon reveals a building or housing that produces subjectivities through a painful “burning in” of memory, an operation that results in the formation of psychic wounds or scars. Before engaging with this line of thought regarding the wound and the scar, though, I want to investigate Foucault’s exploration of the processes of psychical inscription, as well as how Heidegger’s and Foucault’s images of architectural housing profoundly connect when considering the rhetorical “framing” of experience, a framing that suggests a strategy for living on.

            To begin, Foucault employs the “housing” of the Panopticon as an image of power’s workings in society, but this “image” is not reducible to a mere metaphor because Foucault suggests that society is “literally” panoptic. Regarding this architectural image of power, readers are told to envision an “annular building [surrounding] a tower,” where “this tower is pierced with wide windows that open onto the inner side of [a] ring” (Foucault 200). Furthermore, the building surrounding the tower is divided into cells with windows facing toward the central tower (Foucault 200). As readers of Foucault know, Jeremy Bentham’s purpose for the panoptic structure was to house prisoners (“madmen,” murderers, workers, students, and so on), and to do so in a manner where the occupier of each cell is made to feel as though they are being watched. This sense of surveillance is never ultimately confirmed nor denied, however, due to the architectural housing itself. Foucault writes therefore that the panoptic occupant “is seen, but he [or she] does not see; he [or she] is the object of information, [but] never a subject in communication” (200).

Here is a hand-drawn sketch of the Panopticon as envisioned by Jeremy Bentham. On the left-hand side, one sees a round building, multiple stories tall with many windows. On the right-hand side, one sees the inside of the building filled with numerous individual prison cells.

            In sum, the purpose of the infamous panoptic housing is not to watch the occupiers of the structure from without, but to constantly remind them to watch themselves. The Panopticon is therefore a building (social structure) that persuades those who dwell within to become the principle enforcers of their own subjection (Foucault 203) via the memory of constant surveillance. Its goal is:

to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power . . . that the perfection of power should tend to render its actual exercise unnecessary; that this architectural apparatus should be a machine for creating and sustaining a power relation independent of the person who exercises it. (Foucault 201)

Following Foucault’s remarks, then, one can see how the Panopticon implies the following argument: First premise: You are being watched. Second premise: Engaging in deviant behavior will result in punishment. Conclusion: Remember to regulate your behavior so that no illegal activity is ever observed. Furthermore, since no one knows whether he or she is being watched, one must incessantly regulate and make predictable all activity. The “house” at issue is therefore rather horrifying, and ultimately linked to hellish reminders of National Socialist atrocities, as a structure that involves draconian surveillance and “legal” enforcement measures, demanding that docile bodies produce their products according to a specific logic of work.

            But what is it precisely that the Panopticon does, and what is this operation’s relation to memory? Foucault implies that through the (socio-normative) panoptic gaze “it is not that the beautiful totality of the individual is amputated, repressed, altered by our social order, it is rather that the individual is carefully fabricated in it, according to a whole technique of forces and bodies” (217). Foucault contends, rather infamously, that no “individual” exists prior to the workings of social power, that there is no authentic person, soul, self, ego, I, or even body before its iteration by power. Or as Deleuze puts it, “[t]here’s no subject, but a production of subjectivity: subjectivity has to be produced, when its time arrives, precisely because there is no subject” (Negotiations 114). The Panopticon, therefore, is an inscription-device, a machine for manufacturing subjectivities, as well as a “forger” of memories, especially provided that “memory,” for Foucault, is the name given to the archive of subjectivity production itself.[vii]

            The process that the architectural panoptic image helps to visualize, then, is that of bringing subjects (“memory”) into existence, a process brought about by mutual social surveillance and the enforcement of norms (for example, gender or racial coding). It is, as Diane Davis explains, a process that “operates . . . in the service of those particular memories ‘burned’ into one’s head by society’s ‘mnemotechnics’ of pain” (202). So as with Simonides and the trauma of the collapsed house, the panoptic “house” serves as a mechanism for the painful production of memory. This particular point is crucial, so a turn to Friedrich Nietzsche, Davis’ influence on this matter, is worthwhile. Along these lines, Nietzsche laments:

Perhaps indeed there was nothing more fearful and uncanny in the whole prehistory of man than his mnemotechnics. ‘If something is to stay in the memory it must be burned in: only that which never ceases to hurt stays in the memory’—this is the main clause of the oldest (unhappily also the most enduring) psychology on earth. (61)

Here Nietzsche points up two other images linked to the Panopticon: the burn and the scar. For as he suggests, social norms and practices take the form of psychical scars as each is branded into one’s memory, constituting its surface (and what else is there?). Throughout social life, subjects are commanded to dress a particular way, to produce at a particular rate, told who, what, and how to desire. If one deviates from the courses of action prescribed by these norms, one is often reprimanded, sometimes severely.[viii] Through a series of “No’s!” one is made into a productive and upright citizen. In this regard, subjects are their own worst critics and tormentors, but (unfortunately) without “the aid of such images and procedures [whereby] one finally remembers five or six ‘I will not’s,’ . . . [one forsakes] one’s promise so as to [be allowed] to participate in the advantages of society” (Nietzsche 62, emphasis mine).

            For Foucault, therefore, at least in his earlier work, society is a vast prison-house that succeeds in its functioning through the production of memories—an insight that throws one back to Heidegger. For whereas Heidegger envisions “human” (that is, Dasein’s) existence as unfolding within the house of Being, meaning that lived experience is articulated and produced via language, Foucault asks readers to imagine something similar, namely, inhabiting a “cruel, ingenuous cage [of discourse]” (203). Foucault posits that the house of Being, language, is a “prison-house,” in the sense that one cannot experience a world beyond one’s discursive mappings; therefore, even without the explicitly fascist desire to be dominated by others, one is (in a sense) always, already subject to dominating powers as an occupant of the panoptic space.

One must not stop here, however, at this convergence of Heidegger and Foucault, for one must pass beyond the wounding effects of the Panopticon to lessons regarding the possibility for living on. For although one is inescapably subjectivated by the panoptic structure, this does not mean that one’s existence is entirely determined by it. For although the norms “burned into” one’s memory are constantly reinforced through the processes of social power, as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri note, there still exists “the power of life to resist and determine an alternative production of subjectivity” (57). Davis hints at this possibility for healing one’s “burn-marks” and living on as well (in alternative fashion) when she writes that “[o]nce we have managed to forget (in tiny bits) the burned-in memor[ies produced by the panoptic structure], we will have been capable of re-con-figuring (re-membering differently) the past and our relation to it” (201). Here Davis argues that one can overcome the norms burned into memory by “forgetting” them, by attempting to diminish their influence and making room for “counter-memories.”[ix] However, this type of “affirmative forgetting” and concomitant counter-remembering is not about becoming oblivious to one’s past, far from it. Rather, as Bradford Vivian explains,

forgetting is an exercise of self-discipline rather than delusion, a form of judgment in which we overcome our own invented or received perceptions of former times, people, and events as a mechanism for overcoming whatever self-defining flaws we have inherited from them. (54)

In the sense at issue here, forgetting involves an overcoming of the past by making selections as to what portions of one’s memory one will draw from in order to serve life. Forgetting in this manner is not as simple as flipping a light-switch, though, especially given the un-masterable opacity of the unconscious, yet it still can constitute a plateau to strive for nonetheless. In doing so, one engages in the process of living on and building new (affirmative) memories, just as one does when coming to terms with one’s scars.


The Scabs and Scars of Vitanza and Woods

            In a recent presentation at the University of Texas at Austin, Victor Vitanza previewed a forthcoming book by discussing the relation between the scarring of human bodies and architectural housing, exposing a critical link between healing and reconstruction.[x]

            Vitanza thus provides a third (Sophistic) link in this project’s conceptual chain, for whereas Heidegger’s hut signifies a violent politics (and a way to counter such a politics), and Foucault’s Panopticon reveals a housing structure with the violent power to “burn in” memories as well as affirmatively forget them, Vitanza’s discussion of architecture reveals how buildings can function as models for healing and living on in the wake of violence, much like Simonides and the collapsed house of his patron.

One of Vitanza’s first remarks in his presentation on scarring and healing is striking, and returns one to the classical link between housing and memory as depicted in the story of Simonides. He explains that “Eschara, which in early Greek is the sign forHearth, [also means] burn and scab” (4). This observation links one back to memory not only because the hearth has stood as a rhetorical figure of the home and memories of home, but because the scab is a site of recollection.[xi] This etymological series of relations also gives added significance to Vitanza’s statement that “[w]hat we have to live in is our scars. . . . Not with our scars, but in them” (5). For while many inhabit an Eschara (as hearth), some must also learn to live “in” an Eschara (as scab); homes or houses can themselves become scarred, and the scab can (through affirmation) become a home.

            An architect that Vitanza sees as putting into practice this affirmative[xii] conception of the scar (as something that one must learn to “live in”) is Lebbeus Woods.[xiii] According to Vitanza, Woods, as a

punceptual architect[,] takes on the common desire to reconstruct what has been damaged and lost in war times. His prime example is Sarajevo. Lebbeus argues that State architects generally consider reconstruction to be restoration, which Lebbeus says, serves ‘the past social order that ended in war’. (19, emphasis in original)

Vitanza continues:

Lebbeus argues for a radical reconstruction in terms of the post-war scabs and scars in the buildings . . . [, that f]or Lebbeus, building (or remaking) should exhibit the appropriation of these scabs and scars, adding to the integrity of the architecture as history. (19, emphasis in original)

Woods, therefore, rather than advocate for destroying war-ravaged buildings in order to make room for new ones, or for restoring buildings back to their pre-war condition, calls for an architecture of “scarring” and “scabbing,” a covering-over of a building’s war wound(s) so as not to efface the events (physical and political) that initially damaged it. Like Simonides’ invention of “the method of loci” after the collapse of his patron’s house, Woods’ theoretical buildings operate as sites of memory in the wake of disaster.

            Consider, for example, Woods’ take on the Electrical Management (Elektroprivreda) Building in Sarajevo, Bosnia. In photos taken in 1992-1993, one can see a rectangular building that looks like an inverted flight of stairs. These images also show a smoldering edifice, its windows shattered, walls burned, and the front of the structure torn by shelling. Although in 2005 the building was completely restored using large single panes of blue glass (which might lead an outsider to conclude that nothing had ever happened to the building), Woods suggests a different approach. Through his drawings, Woods shows how one might redesign the building by covering over the damaged sections with large sheets of overlapping metal. These overlapping sheets form a tapestry of sorts, a kind of metallic scab/scar that serves as a reminder of the building’s as well as the country’s violent history. Woods’ metallic designs make the building(s) appear alive, as though it is healing itself. By envisioning wires reaching out like veins and capillaries, as well as misshapen and imperfect structures, temporarily non-functional spaces, and so on, the building (like a survivor who might inhabit it) lives on to see another Bosnian sunrise.

Here is Lebbeus Wood’s artistic-architectural vision for the Electrical Management Building in Sarajevo, Bosnia. It is a long, gray building with many light-blue windows on multiple floors. An intricate patchwork of metal sheets and geometrical forms cover the front of the building that was damaged by shelling.

The conceptual outcome of Woods’ designs is therefore at once both a gesture of memory-forgetting and healing, as building design and bodily processes are shown to parallel. The buildings bear the marks of war whilst overcoming them, reminding the citizens of Sarajevo (or any country) not only of what events took place, but also of the problematic politics that created the conditions for such violence. So it is Woods’ hope that from these designs, “a heterarchical community can be formed, one that precludes the hierarchical basis for organized violence and war” (16).[xiv] In other words, architectural forgetting and remembering become bases for living on.

            At this point, I wish to discuss Woods’ Sarajevo project in a bit more detail than Vitanza has time for in his brief presentation. I specifically want to highlight the arguments that Woods understands his designs as making (and what arguments he contends that the “original” buildings were making as well). With regard to the war-related destruction of urban Sarajevo, Woods laments that:

[t]he steel and glass monuments to enlightened progress in an age of industrial society . . . are [now] gutted hulks, and with them the ideologies and values they embodied. . . . The burning towers of Sarajevo are markers at the end of an age of reasons, if not of reason itself, beyond which lies a domain of almost incomprehensible darkness. (17)[xv]

Here Woods argues that one victim of violence and war in Sarajevo is what various buildings symbolized—that each was, in a sense, an argument in favor of argument itself, in favor of “reason” and the giving of reasons. Although one may remain skeptical as to whether one should lament the “death” of reason, the death of and “living on” of reasoners is another story, for they must find a way to heal as well as flourish.

According to Woods, the process of receiving treatment, scabbing, and scarring are crucial to the processes of recuperation, and so he argues that “the proposed ‘injection,’ ‘scab,’ ‘scar,’ and ‘new tissue’ concepts of reconstruction are based on the principle of building on the existential remnants of war as a way to transform and transcend violent change” (18). Thus, not only do Woods’ designs put forward an argument concerning the affirmation and acceptance of scars and the healing process, but the motif of “injection” reminds viewers of the possibility of political alternatives to war and unfettered destruction.

With regard to “injection” specifically, Woods conceives of metallic structures jutting from a building’s torn edifice, calling on viewers to penetrate[xvi] disheveled political institutions with new ideas and programs, giving established power-structures a political shot in the arm. This “political injection” is probably also what Woods is concerned with accomplishing when he writes that:

[these] new structures contain freespaces, the forms of which do not invite occupation with the old paraphernalia of living, the old ways of living and thinking. They are, in fact, difficult to occupy, and require inventiveness in order to become habitable. (16)

Through his designs, Woods attempts to overcome various outmoded (political) strictures as well as “preestablished ideologies” (16), and although these new ideas and buildings are difficult to live with (in) at first, learning to occupy them and accepting the traumatic encounter of such an occupation is necessary for the processes of socio-political healing and transformation. Moreover, given that recent events in America and around the world have revealed the transformative power of occupying, perhaps this strategy is not surprising.

            Woods’ wish to move beyond violent political ideologies toward the possibility of a new world is certainly inspiring, and through linking discussions of Woods’ and Vitanza’s projects to earlier ruminations on Heidegger and Foucault, I hope to have carried this strategy forward by revealing housing as a potential site of resistance, wounding, healing, and living on. Whether one recalls a simple hut toward the goal of detecting fascism or uncovering a mode of thinking that might prevent such fascism, whether one attempts to “live in” one’s psychic burn-marks or attempts to overcome them through an act of affirmative forgetting, whether one uses architectural design as a model for coming to terms with the violence of war, one can use the house or home (scar)[xvii] in which one dwells in order to live on. This living on does not require the “unproblematic” forgetting of an event, or the undergoing of amnesia, but the letting go of a burdensome past and its concomitant affects. Navigating this tension between memory and forgetting thus implies an ethics, one to which I call rhetoricians, theoreticians, and others to attune. For the memories that accompany the most common (of) places can have an uncanny power to transform those who would recall them.


[i] Regarding the story of Simonides, W.J.T. Mitchell writes “the classical memory technique is

a way of reconstructing temporal orders by mapping them onto spatial configurations (most

notably architectural structures, with various ‘loci’ and ‘topoi’ or ‘memory places’ inhabited by

striking images and sometimes even words) . . . Memory, in short, is an imagetext” (192).

Derrida has some interesting things to say about the images of “housing” and “home”

wherein these concepts are linked to an ethics of hospitality. See especially his essay “A Word

of Welcome” in Adieu to Emmanuel Levinas.

[iii] For more on Heidegger’s involvement with National Socialist politics, see Hugo Ott’s

Martin Heidegger: A Political Life.

[iv] Simon Sadler reminds readers that “Heidegger’s work and the hut in which it took place

(and which is written into the work) have become figured as a point of resistance to

modernization” (qtd. in Sharr xi).

[v] For more on calculative and meditative thinking, see Robert Solomon’s Existentialism,

pages 151-152.

[vi] One should not forget the supposedly “called” thoughts that Heidegger related to his

readers. He writes, “thinking is, insofar as it is, the recollection of Being and nothing else”

(“Letter” 298). Thus, the hut reminds viewers of Heidegger’s attempt to think Being, to hold the

“Question of Being” open. Not only that, but he contends that thinking takes place within

language, and thus: “Language is the house of Being. In its home man dwells. Whoever thinks

or creates in words is a guardian of this dwelling” (271). Here the image of the house appears

again, this time as a place for thinking Being, for “holding” Being. So the hut presents a set of

intriguing parallels and associations: the hut reminds viewers of Heidegger by being his house,

Heidegger reminds readers of Being as the philosopher of Being, Being is housed by

language, and like language, the Hütte functions as a place of dwelling.

[vii] According to Deleuze, Foucault understands the discursive or archival production of subjectivity as memory. As Deleuze explains, for Foucault, “[t]ime as subject, or rather subjectivation, is called memory. Not that brief memory that comes afterwards and is the opposite of forgetting, but the ‘absolute memory’ which doubles the present and the outside and is one with forgetting, since it is itself endlessly forgotten and reconstituted: its fold, in fact, merges with the unfolding, because the latter remains present within the former as the thing is folded” (Foucault 107).

[viii] Nietzsche presages Foucault by suggesting a generalized definition of punishment as

“the making of a memory” (80).

[ix] Although there is no subjectivity independent of the discourses that produce it, constituting

discourses play off one another to combine in novel ways (keeping in mind that there is no

separate ego or self that adjudicates between these discourses—each is an active force

competing against the others).

A video of Vitanza’s talk as well as a digital copy of his paper are available online through

the University of Texas at Austin’s Digital Writing and Research Lab (DWRL) website:


[xi] Vitanza cites Petra Kruppers as arguing that the scar is a “[m]eeting place between inside

and outside, a locus of memory, of bodily change” (7).

[xii] Concern for affirmation is why Vitanza sees it as problematic when “the scar is seen

negatively finite as the sign of death instead of the affirmative conditions for the possibility of

living another life, yet another life, and still yet other lives” (10). His project is thus not merely

about “negating death, [or] forgetting death” (10), but about an affirmative process of wounding,

scarring, and healing as it reveals itself through architectural forms.

[xiii] Regarding affirmation, Woods says that “[t]o accept the scar is to accept existence”

(Vitanza 16).

[xiv] Woods contends that “[t]he reconstruction of these buildings, when it comes, cannot

simply restore the former bureaucratic forms, either of space or of governance” (18).

[xv] It is intriguing in light of Foucault’s comments about the “certainty” of panoptic control that

Woods argues that one effect of Sarajevo’s destruction was making the buildings there

“useless, except as monuments to the death not only of certainty, but of [certainty’s]

enforcement through the promulgation of large-scale plans” (18).

[xvi] Although I will not pursue this line of thought here, I think that Woods’ “injection” motif is

an easy target for a feminist critique (along the lines of phallocentrism).

 [xvii] I want to thank Victor Vitanza for inspiring me to begin thinking about architecture in an

affirmative manner—for example, through his call to live on after “[b]eing cut and then becoming

scarred … living irresolutely in the facelessness of mortality. Itself” (Vitanza 23).

Works Cited

Cicero. On the Ideal Orator. Trans. James M. May and Jakob Wisse. New York: Oxford UP,

      2001. Print.

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