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Gerhard Richter
Kugel III, 1992
Machines

Penser
edited by
Dieter Roelstraete
Machines

Penser
Con il progetto “Machines à penser”
Fondazione Prada indaga la relazione
we’re translating it and sending you che esiste tra il pensiero e lo spazio nel
tomorrow quale si sviluppano le idee, dalla grotta
di San Gerolamo allo studiolo rinasci-
mentale, ai soggiorni di Nietsche in
Engadina fino ai casi emblematici di
esilio, ritiro e fuga di tre grandi filosofi
del XX secolo – Theodor Adorno,
Martin Heidegger e Ludwig Wittgen-
stein – i cui luoghi per pensare sono
diventati oggetto di fascinazione e
studio per gli artisti di oggi, nonché
esempi di come nella distanza dagli altri
e nella solitudine possano nascere
grandi idee.
L’inevitabile intimità del riflettere e
la necessità di comunicare il pensiero,
nonché nutrirlo del confronto con gli
altri, disegnano, infatti, un territorio
ampio in cui il tempo e lo spazio nel
quale pensare segnano un confine tra
noi e gli altri ed evidenziano per
ognuno di noi l’esistenza di un equili-
bro che definisce le condizioni ideali
per meditare.

6
“Machines à penser” svela così la
crescente difficoltà di trovare spazio
oggi per il pensiero complesso, non
organizzato, non finalizzato al consumo
della società, e riconosce nel confronto
con la natura e con i suoi ritmi un
potente motore di sviluppo intellettuale
ed una risorsa per ridefinire la società
che sta nascendo dalla rivoluzione
digitale.

Miuccia Prada

7
NOTE TO THE READER
This publication accompanies
the exhibition “Machines
à penser,” conceived and
curated by Dieter Roelstraete
in Fondazione Prada, Venice,
which recounts the architec-
tural typology of the hut as
“machines for thinking,”
made for or named after
the three German philosophers
Theodor Adorno, Martin Heide-
gger and Ludwig Wittgenstein.
In addition to the lead
essay written by the curator,
the volume contains two
essays and a poem written
by scholars and theorists.
Also included are a selection
of excerpts related to the theme
of dwelling by Adorno, Heideg-
ger, Wittgenstein, and Saint
Jerome, and three exchanges
with artists who have been
commissioned works for the
project: Leonor Antunes,
Alexander Kluge, Goshka
Macuga. The publication
features a Bibliography, the Ital- cut? (now it’s in the
ian translations of the texts,
and the List of exhibited works contents page)
and illustrations.
All the images in the book,
beside the cover cards, appear
with a short caption featuring
the name of the artist or maker,
title of the work, and execution
date. Complete captions for the
illustrations can be found in the
List of exhibited works and
illustrations. Key images are
accompanied by an extended
caption (in italic) written by the
curator.
CONTENTS

Dieter Roelstraete Trois Machines à Penser 19


Ludwig Wittgenstein Culture and Value 179
Shumon Basar The Eternal Return 195
of the Primitive Hut
Theodor Adorno Refuge for the Homeless 251
Alec Finlay HUTOPIA 257
Martin Heidegger Why Do I Stay in the Provinces? 323

}
Goschka Macuga
Leonor Antunes Conversations 339, 355, 367

Alexander Kluge
Mark Riley Thinking Place: 403
Imagining Heidegger at Todtnauberg
and Wittgenstein at Skjolden

Saint Jerome Letter XLIII to Marcella: 443


The Country Life
Bibliography 4xx
Italian Translations 4xx
List of exhibited works 4xx
11
12
13
14
15
remove
black
background

16
17
18
Dieter Roelstraete

Trois Machines

Penser
When men were scattered over
the earth, finding their shelter
in dugouts or some fissured rock
or hollow tree, philosophy
taught them to raise up roofs.
1
Seneca

Previous pages:
Bartolomeo Montagna
Saint Jerome in Bethlehem,
1505–10 11
Hendrick van Steenwyck the
Younger
Saint Jerome in His Study,
1630 12
Vincenzo Catena
Saint Jerome in his Study,
c. 1510 14
Albrecht Dürer
Saint Jerome in His Study,
1514 16
Dieter Roelstraete
Remains of Wittgenstein’s hut,
Skjölden, October 2017 17
Bartolomeo Montagna
Saint Jerome in the Desert, n.d.,
15th century 18
German philosophy as a whole
[…] is the most fundamental
form of romanticism and home-
sickness that has ever been. […]
One is no longer at home anywhere.
2
Friedrich Nietzsche

1 Quoted in Joseph Rykwert,


On Adam’s House in Paradise:
The Idea of the Primitive Hut in
Architectural History (Cambridge,
MA: The MIT Press, 1981; second
edition), p. 110.

2 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to


Power, trans. Walter Kaufmann
and Reginald J. Hoollingdale
(New York: Random House,
1968), p. 225.

21
0. Corner
Theodor Adorno (born 1903 in
Frankfurt am Main), Martin Heidegger
(born 1889 in Messkirch) and Ludwig
Wittgenstein (born 1889 in Vienna)
occupy the opposing corners of the pro­-
verbial Bermuda triangle that constitutes
20th-century German-language philos-
ophy, while simultaneously bridging
the gap between the so-called “conti-
nental” and “Anglo-Saxon” traditions‌
—‌the central drama, one could say,
of 20th-century philosophy proper‌—
‌between them. Curiously, all three have
also had huts named after them, or have
seen their names associated with certain
modest dwellings, from the well-known,
widely photographed and thoroughly
documented to the obscurantist and
rarely seen: Wittgenstein’s hut,
Heidegger’s hut, Adorno’s hut. Of
these three, Heidegger’s hut is far and
away the best known: built in the early
1920s, it still stands today outside the
Black Forest village of Todtnauberg,

22
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

Stones attracting a steady stream of phenome-


nological pilgrims and philosophical
tourists, all of whom are greeted by the
same emphatic road sign identifying
the mythical hut as inaccessible private
property, still in the hands of the
Heidegger family. Wittgenstein’s hut
is a slightly more specialist‌—a‌ nd there-
fore more enigmatic and alluring‌—‌
affair, its footprint remains much
harder to reach and find in the remote
mountainous folds at the far end of
Norway’s Sognefjord. Not entirely un­-
surprisingly, however, this hut too‌—
‌or rather, the shadow cast by its memory:
Wittgenstein’s hut has not stood at
its original location in the village of
Skjolden for many years now‌—‌has
become something of a tourist destina-
tion. “Adorno’s Hut,” finally, I trust
very few people have ever heard of:
it comes bracketed in the quotation
‌marks of a title—‌that of a faintly
hut-like artwork by the late Scottish
poet and sculptor Ian Hamilton Finlay,
who surely knew only too well that

23
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

Theodor Adorno, of all people, could


never have chosen to live in a hut on
the edge of the known world, much less
have built one himself. Finlay himself,
however, was a hut-builder of sorts‌—
‌and a hermit for sure: Adorno’s hut
is really Finlay’s hut; the philosopher’s
exile akin to the poet’s escape. Adorno
was certainly indebted to the hermetic,
world-denying tradition in philosophy,
yet there is little in his thought, so an-
xious to root out any trace of the un-
reflectively romantic, that could be
considered less Adornian than hut-
dwelling. Still, “Adorno’s Hut”
stands out as a powerful summation,
in the wood and steel of Finlay’s
chosen treatment, of modern
philosophy’s enduring infatuation
with fantasies of flight and
the architecture of retreat.
As a philosophy student in the early
1990s, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Martin
Heidegger each made a deep and lasting
impression on me, though I do not
remember ever being made aware of

24
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

the fact, back then, that these philoso-


phers, with their curiously mirroring
biographies‌—‌both were born in 1889,
and although their intellectual trajecto-
ries took them in starkly differing phil-
osophical directions, they kept quietly
respectful track of each other’s work
throughout their lives‌—s‌ hared the
habit of hut-dwelling, and that the
landmarks that would come to define
their respective philosophical legacies
were both conceived, in large part, in
simple wooden cabins built for this very
purpose in the same seven-year span.
The significance of this particular con-
gruence is something I only grasped
later on, while leafing through a lavishly
illustrated tome on postmodern art and
architecture (the title of which, like so
much postmodernism, I’ve long since
forgotten) and coming across a single
‌photograph of an artwork‌—‌assemblage,
‌installation, sculpture‌—by
‌ Ian Hamilton
Finlay titled Adorno’s Hut. The writings
of Theodor Adorno had by then
become another cornerstone of my

25
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

philosophical and art-theoretical


formation, and it was the encounter
with this curiously titled (and decidedly
odd-looking!) work of art that planted
the seed for the present curatorial
thought experiment‌—t‌ he ultimate
aim of which it is to recast, to some
extent, the often troubled relationships
between these three key thinkers, whose
lives and thoughts have done so much
to enrich our own reflections on the
subjects of building and dwelling,
exile and retreat, rootlessness and
belonging, homeliness and homeless-
3 The title of this essay, “Trois ness, as seen through the allegorical
Machines à Penser,” alludes
to Le Corbusier’s famous
prism of the hut, or the hut as both
characterization of the house
as a “machine-à-habiter.”
a figure of and home for thought:
It is of course worth noting Wittgenstein’s, Heidegger’s, Adorno’s
that Le Corbusier likewise had
a hut (called “le cabanon”) “machines for thinking” are machines
built for his private living use
in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin
for rethinking philosophy’s very own
on the French Riviera. edifice complex.3

26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

Though they themselves would doubt-


lessly, and predictably, have objected
to the reductionist risks and facile lure
of biographical anecdote, the respective
Previous pages:
life stories of Heidegger and Wittgen-
Patrick Lakey stein hold important clues to a deeper
Hegel: Collegium, Jena,
Germany, 2004 27 appreciation of their philosophies.4
Schopenhauer: Schöne Aussicht, It can be insightful and rewarding,
Frankfurt, Germany, I,
2004 28
for the philosophically challenged,
Marx: Reading Room, Great to see for themselves, for instance,
Hall, British Museum, London, I,
2004 30
where a certain philosopher was born,
Nietzsche: Lake Silvaplana, grew up, lived and worked, or lies
Surlej, Switzerland, IV, 2004
(2018) 32
buried‌—‌where he or she thought,
Heidegger: (Hut) Todtnauberg,
that is, or what they considered a
Black Forest, Germany, I, suitable home for thinking. I, for one,
2004 34
Patrick Lakey’s German Photo-
have long enjoyed visiting philoso-
graphs (1724–2005) series docu- phers’ birthplaces, graves and hide-
ments the places where German-­
speaking philosophers—from outs, and two telling anecdotes related
Immanuel Kant to Theodor
Adorno—lived and worked,
to my early passion for Heidegger
recorded with the clinical precision (since considerably toned down)
of a certain idea of “German”
photography. Traveling through and Wittgenstein (since cautiously
Germany, England, Switzerland,
and ending up in his adopted
rekindled) are worth recounting
hometown of Los Angeles, Lakey in this regard.
photographed the places where
these thinkers wrote, thought, In the fall of 2002, I visited Vienna
lived, and in some cases, died.
[see also ills. on pp. 245-252,
for the first time in my life. Armed
333-340 ] with the intoxicating recent memory

35
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

4 Heidegger’s well-known of reading Allan Janik and Stephen


distaste for biography is best
remembered in an anecdote
Toulmin’s Wittgenstein’s Vienna,
connected to his 1924 course
on the Fundamental Concepts of
I set about trying to locate the house
Aristotelian Philosophy, which where Ludwig Wittgenstein was born
he famously introduced, on
May 1, with the observation in 1889, which I mistakenly, but
that “the personality of the
philosopher is of interest only
no less doggedly, remembered to have
to this extent: he was born at stood somewhere in a certain Kund-
such and such a time, he
worked, and died.” It is worth manngasse in the city’s third Bezirk.
noting, however, that this
should be read in part as “a
I vividly remember finding, and walk-
rhetorical flourish, for Heideg- ing up and down this street in the vain
ger referred his audience in
the same breath to Werner hope of encountering something like
Jaeger’s path-breaking
Aristoteles: Grundlegung seiner
a “Palais Wittgenstein”‌—‌which I knew
Entwickelung, dedicated to have been built in the great era of
precisely to the exploration
of the link between Aristotle’s Gründerzeit pomp‌—‌or at least a memo-
biography and his thought.”
Hans Sluga, “Introduction:
rial plaque in its honor (I wasn’t entirely
Ludwig Wittgenstein: The sure, at the time, whether the building
Man, the Life, and the Work,”
in Hans Sluga & David Stern had survived the war): nothing of the
(eds.), The Cambridge Companion
to Wittgenstein: Second Edition
kind, and after an hour or so I finally
(Cambridge, UK: Cambridge gave up. Only later that evening, back
University Press, 2017), p. 4.
A recent study comparing in my hotel, did I realize that the Kund-
the philosophies of Heidegger
and Wittgenstein—one of a
manngasse was not the address of the
number such investigations
devoted to two thirds of our
grandiose Palais Wittgenstein‌—w ‌ hich
curatorial equation; a compar- was indeed demolished, in the course
ative study devoted to all three
has yet to be written—starts
of the 1950s, to make place for a nonde-
out with an intent to “first,
get the obligatory biographical
‌script housing block5—‌but of the
parallels out of the way. much better known, quasi-mythical
Martin Heidegger and

36
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

Ludwig Wittgenstein were Haus Wittgenstein: the austere arch-


both born in 1889 in adjacent
German-speaking countries
modernist house Ludwig Wittgenstein
(Germany and Austria, respec-
tively). After flirting with other
designed together with one Paul
occupations (priesthood and Engelmann for his sister Margaret
engineering), they both came
to study under leading philoso- Stonborough-Wittgenstein in 1928,
phers of the day (Edmund
Husserl and Bertrand Russell),
which I had somehow, miraculously
each of whom recognized it now seems, managed to miss on my
in his pupil not only an heir
apparent but the saviour of three or four traipses up and down said
philosophy as a whole. Both
published a first book in the
street. (Oh well.) I have been back
1920s (Being and Time and to Vienna many times since, but have
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus)
which employs their mentors’ yet to visit this Tractatus turned into
methods (phenomenology and
logical analysis) while criticiz-
stone, now famously functioning as
ing their mentors’ conception the cultural center of the Bulgarian
of it. Full of enigmatic claims
written in a cryptic style embassy in Austria. (I may choose
(hyphenated neologisms and
diamond-dense numbered
never to do so.) The remains of
statements, respectively), Wittgenstein’s hut in Norway,
each book established its
author as preeminent within however, I have had a chance
a branch of philosophy.”
Lee Braver, Groundless Grounds:
to see in the meantime.
A Study of Wittgenstein and
Heidegger (Cambridge, MA:
The MIT Press, 2014), p. 1. Ten years later, in the summer of 2012,
5 The Palais Wittgenstein
I set out on a similar journey when I de-
originally stood in the Allee-
gasse, behind the Karlskirche;
cided to break up my trip from Basel to
the street was renamed Argen- Berlin with a detour via Todtnauberg in
tinierstrasse after the war.
search of Heidegger’s fabled Black
Forest cabin, about which I knew quite
a bit already at the time‌—e‌ xcept,

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TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

crucially, the hut’s exact address.


(I don’t think it ever had one.)
The weather wasn’t great that day in
June, rainy and surprisingly cold, and
although the village of Todtnauberg
features many a road sign pointing
to the so-called Heidegger Rundweg
snaking around the hills above, I searched
fruitlessly for a trace of the hut for about
an hour before returning to Freiburg,
frustrated and empty-handed‌—‌and
decided to go seek out Heidegger’s
much more prosaic urban residence
instead, a nondescript villa built in 1928
in the leafy Freiburg suburb of Zähringen.
(The building of this house, which is
today occupied by Heidegger’s grand-
daughter Gertrud, was prompted by
his appointment to a chair in philosophy
at the city’s centuries-old university,
following in the footsteps of his erst-
while mentor Edmund Husserl.) This
house, sited on the Rötebuckweg 47,
was much more easily found, which
I took to be not only philosophically
significant, in some vague way or other,

38
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

but also a measure of revenge on the


part of the much-maligned figure
of urban (though really suburban)
living in Heidegger’s rustic, obsessively
rooted thought. “Fuck the hut!,”
I remember thinking to myself back
then‌—a‌ s anyone who chooses to
expose him- or herself to extended
doses of Heidegger reading must in-
evitably be tempted to think at some
6 Heidegger’s hut is the
subject of a compelling
point or other in the process (“fuck
architectural study by Adam the hut” being shorthand for a more
Sharr published in 2006.
In a foreword, Simon Sadler
fundamental dismissal of Heidegger
rhetorically asks, “Is the hut
described in this text the
as a whole, of course): consider the hut
smallest residence ever to a corny, overthought and in some ways
merit a monograph?” Sharr
wisely spends some time in even overproduced vessel of an impossi-
his book discussing Heideg-
ger’s Freiburg villa, but a
ble, positively suspect idea of authenticity
monograph titled Heidegger’s thankfully canceled out by the refresh-
House does not seem forth­
coming. Adam Sharr, ing banality of a villa that Heidegger
Heidegger’s Hut (Cambridge,
MA: The MIT Press, 2006),
carefully sought to dissociate from his
p. ix. thinking for most of his public life.6
I have since managed to locate the
actual hut, and have seen it in vivo.
It is, thankfully, also rather banal
in appearance‌—a‌ nd as such,
an inspiring disappointment.

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TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

Heidegger in Todtnauberg, Wittgen-


stein in Skjolden: there evidently exist
many more examples of such exact
structures. (As for Adorno’s hut:
besides the Finlay sculpture, perhaps
his wartime Hollywood home will do?
But we shall be returning to this matter
in due time.) There exists a long history
of thinkers’ abodes built on the literal
and /or metaphorical outskirts of
civilization and /or society‌—f‌ or that
is of course precisely where much
7 This is a reference to
Caspar David Friedrich’s
philosophy has either long been, or,
iconic 1818 painting Wanderer
Above a Sea of Mists, one of
more pointedly, imagined itself to be
the most widely used images most productive, from ancient times
in the visual history of philoso-
phy. We shall be returning to the present day: in the desert, among
to the implied association
of retreat with elevation—
the mountaintops‌—‌above the sea of
to rise above—shortly. ‌mist or line of trees7—‌in the wilder-
ness, “away” and outside. Et in Arcadia
ego, and there I shall build myself a
house for thinking‌—‌or writing, or
composing. (A parallel history of
purpose-built composers’ and writers’
retreats would have to include Gustav
Mahler’s cottage built in the 1890s in
Steinbach am Attersee, east of

40
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

Salzburg, as well as Edvard Grieg’s


cabin in the western Norwegian village
of Lofthus; Dylan Thomas’s writing
shed or “word-splashed hut” in the
Welsh village of Laugharne; Malcolm
Lowry’s squatter’s shack in the Dollar-
ton mudflats north of Vancouver, where
he wrote Under the Volcano; Virginia
Woolf ’s “Monk’s House” cottage in East
Sussex and Roald Dahl’s Buckingham-
shire writing hut dubbed “The Gipsy
House”; George Bernard Shaw’s shed
called “London” but located in rural St.
Albans; and, most famous of all, Henry
David Thoreau’s programmatic house
in Walden Pond in Concord, Massachu-
setts. Should such a history also high-
light the travails of Antonio Gramsci
and Antonio Negri in their prison cells?
What about Ted Kaczynski’s notorious
Unabomber cabin?) Might we say that
the history of this powerful fantasy
begins with Saint Jerome’s sojourn
in the desert, years spent inside a cave
during which time the Church Father
translated the Septuagint into Latin,

41
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

thereby giving the world the Vulgate


Bible for which he is best remembered
today? In the present philosophical
exercise, Saint Jerome plays the role
of a patron saint of sorts: the first
philosopher whose thinking practice
was predicated on a housing strategy.
As one scholar confirms concerning
8 Eugene F. Rice, Jr., Saint the historical Jerome: “Although
Jerome in the Renaissance
(Baltimore: The Johns Hop­-
Jerome probably did live in a natural
kins University Press, 1985),
p. 10. Jerome became a
cave, it must have been a spacious one,
hermit in the Syrian Desert, because he tells us himself that he
somewhere in the neighbor-
hood of Chalcis, between brought his considerable library into
Antioch and Palmyra,
living in the wilderness
the desert with him. Nor was he always
from 372 to 374. alone.”8 In many Renaissance depic-
tions of Saint Jerome, we see the origi-
nary cave transformed into something
more akin to a study, a writer’s retreat
of sorts‌—‌a machine for thinking,
prefiguring the outlines of a long
history of lived-out philosophical
fantasies of escape and retreat:
Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s cabin in
the forest of Ermenonville, where
the philosopher spent the last years
of his life, leaving behind, upon his

42
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

9 A programmatic text, in death in 1778, his incomplete Reveries


this regard, is Heidegger’s
1951 lecture “… dichterisch
of a Solitary Walker; Alexander Pope’s
wohnet der Mensch …”
(translated as “… Poetically
grotto and Voltaire’s garden; Friedrich
Man Dwells… ”), based on Hölderlin’s tower on the Neckar in
a phrase taken from a late
Hölderlin poem. In it, Heideg- Tübingen, the poet’s home for thirty-
ger noted that “Poetry builds
up the very nature of dwelling.
six years after being diagnosed an in-
Poetry and dwelling not only curable hypochondriac in 1805 (Hölder-
do not exclude each other;
on the contrary, poetry and lin, of course, was Heidegger’s very
dwelling belong together,
each calling for the other.”
own guiding light and patron saint‌—
In Martin Heidegger, Poetry, ‌the Saint Jerome of Todtnauberg9);
Language, Thought, trans.
Albert Hofstadter (New York: the rooms occupied by Friedrich
Harper & Row, 1971), p. 225.
Incidentally, Hölderlin also
Nietzsche in the so-called Nietzsche-
figured prominently in Haus in Sils Maria, where, in the
Adorno’s intellectual cosmos,
and in the postwar years summer of 1883, much of Also
Adorno, who, as one Heideg-
ger’s most vocal philosophical
Sprach Zarathustra was composed;
antagonists, became a and finally, a well-known recent in-
member of the Hölderlin
Society in June 1963, was carnation: Arne Naess’s Tvergastein
even “concerned to snatch
[Hölderlin’s poetry] from
hut high up in the Hallingskarvet
the jaws of Heidegger’s mountains in southern Norway,
fundamental ontology,”
in the words of one of his the probable site of conception of
biographers. Stefan Müller-
Doohm, Adorno: A Biography
his hugely influential concept of
(Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2005),
p. 361.
“deep ecology.” Building,
dwelling, thinking: dwellings
built for thinking, all.

43
Interlude:
of Space
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

In 1958, the French philosopher


Gaston Bachelard published his
perennially popular La poétique
de l’espace, translated as The Poetics
of Space in 1964. Its opening chapter
is titled “The House: From Cellar to
Garret. The Significance of the Hut.”
In it, Bachelard muses:

[The hut] appears to be the taproot


of the function of inhabiting. It is the
simplest of human plants, the one that
needs no ramifications in order to exist.
Indeed, it is so simple that it no longer
belongs to our memories‌—‌which at
times are too full of imagery‌—‌but to
legend; it is a center of legend. When
we are lost in darkness and see a distant
glimmer of light, who does not dream
of a thatched cottage or, to go more
deeply still into legend, of a hermit’s hut?

47
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

A hermit’s hut. What a subject for


an engraving! Indeed real images are
engravings, for it is the imagination
that engraves them on our memories.
They deepen the recollections we have
experienced, which they replace, thus
becoming imagined recollections. The
hermit’s hut is a theme which needs no
variations, for at the simplest mention
of it, “phenomenological reverberation”
obliterates all mediocre resonances.
The hermit’s hut is an engraving that
would suffer from any exaggeration
of picturesqueness. Its truth must derive
from the intensity of its essence, which
is the essence of the verb “to inhabit.”
The hut immediately becomes central-
ized solitude, for in the land of legend,
there exists no adjoining hut. And
although geographers may bring back
photographs of hut villages from their
travels in distant lands, our legendary
past transcends everything that has
been seen, everything that we have
experienced personally. The image
leads us on towards extreme solitude.

48
The hermit is alone before God. His hut,
therefore, is just the opposite of the
monastery. And there radiates about
this centralized solitude a universe
of meditation and prayer, a universe
outside the universe. The hut can receive
none of the riches “of this world.”
It possesses the felicity of intense
10 Gaston Bachelard, The poverty; indeed, it is one of the glories
Poetics of Space, trans. Maria of poverty; as destitution increases
Jolas (Boston, MA: Beacon 10
Press, 1964), pp. 32–33. it gives us access to absolute refuge.

Let us now turn to the inhabitants,


their poverty and vows.

49
The Facts:
51
52
53
54
55
56
have added/
stretched left
and right
sides of this
image. please
remake (less
stretched,
more cloned
and
re-import)

57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
1. L.W.
Writing about Mark Manders’ a droning voiceover recites frag-
sculptural work in the early 2000s ments from Thomas Bernhard’s
occasioned the author’s first in-depth hypnotic 1985 novel Alte Meister
engagement with the philosophy (Old Masters), a pitiless take-
of Martin Heidegger, specifically down, in part, of Heidegger’s
with regards to the enigma of thing- petty pastoralism.
ness so central to Manders’ world—
a universe in which many familiar Guy Moreton’s photographs of
everyday objects are regularly ren- the landscape surrounding Ludwig
dered on a disorienting 88% scale. Wittgenstein’s cabin in Skjolden
It is partly in honor of the inspira- were made in response to an invita-
tion derived from Manders’ art that tion from the artist and poet Alec
Previous pages the replicas of both Heidegger and Finlay to collaborate on a project
Sophie Nys Wittgenstein’s huts at the heart of seeking to shed light on the thinker’s
Multiple, 2009 51 this exhibition have been reimagined lifelong (and ultimately fruitless)
on the same 88% scale. Concerning search for his place in the world,
Guy Moreton
the sculpture shown here, the artist philosophical or otherwise. They
LW 109, Skjolden Norway,
has said, “For this work, I ended first appeared in the collaborative
2002 / 2005 52
up giving the femur a small, raised project There Where You Are
Mark Manders bump so that the cup and the bone Not, published in 2005 alongside
A Place Where My Thoughts Are could hold a sugar cube. It looks like Alec Finlay’s poetry and a
Frozen Together, 2002 54 something has grown out from inside biographical sketch compiled by
the bone in a way comparable to the Michael Nedo, director of the
Unknown
relatively slow process during which Wittgenstein Archive in
Scholar’s rock, n.d. 55
the handle of the coffee cup evolved. Cambridge—the very place Witt-
Sophie Nys I think it is beautiful how both of genstein sought to escape when he
Die Hütte, 2007 56, 58 them, powerless and armless, hold first sailed to Norway in 1913.
the sugar cube.” The quasi-natural
Goshka Macuga
evolutionary process which the artist Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Head of
Wittgenstein, 2018 57
discerns in the phenomenology a Girl is the only sculpture the
Jan Bontjes van Beek of the cup invokes the spirit of Austro-British philosopher is known
Bowl, 1960–66 59 Martin Heidegger’s widely- to have made. It dates back to
publicized fascination with ceramic the late 1920s, i.e. around the time
Gerhard Richter
forms: cups, jars, jugs, pots— Wittgenstein was working on
Jan 92, 1992 60
vessels of a platonic thingness. the design of an arch-modernist
Guy Moreton Viennese townhouse for his sister
LW 205, Skjolden Norway, Sophie Nys’ 16mm film Die Margarethe—in whose private
2002 / 2005 62 Hütte was shot during a visit collection the sculpture ended up
to Heidegger’s Black Forest retreat surviving. Both projects, architecture
Guy Moreton
in the summer of 2007. The artist’s and sculpture, belong to a ten-year
LW 204, Skjolden Norway,
camera-eye methodically scans the gap between philosophical chapters
2002 / 2005 64
hut’s humdrum environs (which commonly referred to as “Wittgen-
Ludwig Wittgenstein yielded the discovery of a wooden stein I” and “Wittgenstein II.”
Head of a Girl, 1925–28 66 toilet seat in the process) while

68
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

11 Paul Wittgenstein also Ludwig Wittgenstein was born on April


commissioned single-hand
piano compositions by Paul
26, 1889 in Vienna into one of the weal-
Hindemith, Erich von Korngold
and Sergey Prokofiev. Interest-
thi­est families in the Austro-Hungarian
ingly enough, Ludwig’s musi- Empire, whose home was frequented by
cal tastes were of a much
more conservative bent: he the likes of Johannes Brahms, Gustav
had no interest whatsoever
in any music composed
Klimt, Arnold Schoenberg and Richard
post-Brahms (whose clarinet Strauss. As the youngest child in a family
sonatas and quintet were
debuted at the Palais Wittgen- of talented and tormented musicians
stein in the Alleegasse,
which may well have inspired
and music lovers ‌—h‌ is brother Paul
the philosopher to take up would become famous after losing an
the clarinet himself later in life,
as part of his teacher-training arm in World War I combat, as the
in the 1920s), and was espe-
cially devoted to the music
petulant dedicatee of Maurice Ravel’s
of the little known, blind Piano Concerto for the Left Hand 11‌
Romantic composer Josef
Labor. The posthumous —‌Ludwig did not initially appear espe-
anthology of non-philoso­-
phical writings Culture and
cially gifted. In 1903, he was sent to the
Value ­contains a four-measure Realschule in Linz, possibly crossing
composition believed to be
the philosopher’s own, which paths with Adolf Hitler, six days his
one commentator has
suggested “the amateur clari-
senior.12 Once again, his school marks
netist probably wrote down showed little promise for someone who
as an accompaniment to a
recurring phrase of self- later came to embody the very idea of
doubt.” The strongest musical
memory associated with
tortured genius; remarkably, he only
Wittgenstein, however,
concerns his virtuoso whistling
received top marks for religious train-
skills, which the villagers of ing. (Raised in the family’s adopted
Skjolden were apparently
especially impressed with.
Catholic faith, Wittgenstein’s Jewish
12 Kimberley Cornish’ contro-
ancestry would go on to exert a decisive
versial suggestion, made in influence on his later intellectual
his 1998 book The Jew of Linz,

69
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

that Hitler’s juvenile antipathy development, and religious reflection


towards the well-educated
scion of a Viennese aristocratic
was to preoccupy him throughout his
family with Jewish roots
played a decisive role in
life: he was a particularly keen reader
planting the seed of a virulent of Augustine, especially his Confessions,
antisemitism that would lead
to Mein Kampf, World War II, and repeatedly toyed with fantasies of
and ultimately even the
Holocaust, has been widely
monkhood 13.) In 1906, following in the
debunked as detective footsteps of his father—steel tycoon
fiction at best.
and prominent arts patron Karl Witt-
13 The closest Wittgenstein
ever came to life in a religious
genstein—he moved to Berlin to study
order was as a gardener in a engineering, followed in 1908 by a move
monastery in Hütteldorf, just
outside Vienna, in the spring to Manchester, to study aeronautics.
of 1926, during which time he
is said to have lived in a tool
Around this time Ludwig began to culti-
shed. Years before, during vate an obsession with logic and the
World War I, it had been the
experience of reading Leo philosophical foundations of mathemat-
Tolstoy’s The Gospel in Brief
while stationed at the eastern
ics, leading to his arrival at Cambridge
front in Galicia that had sharp- University’s Trinity College in 1911,
ened Wittgenstein’s resolve
to give away his vast personal where he met, and entranced, Bertrand
fortune once the war was over
(upon his father’s death in 1913,
Russell, the presiding doyen of philo-
Ludwig briefly became the rich­- sophical logic. Russell quickly recog-
est man in Austria). To conclude
this brief theo­logico-philoso­ nized Wittgenstein’s genius‌—‌before
phical excursion: when Witt-
genstein finally returned—for
long the teacher-student relationship
good—to Cambridge on Janu-
ary 18, 1929, he was greeted
was reversed14. Life in Cambridge
at the station by John Maynard would soon prove intolerable for the
Keynes, who later that day
reminisced in a letter to a friend
ascetic, depression-prone and exces-
that “God has arrived. I met
him on the 5:15 train.” Ray Monk,
sively self-doubting Austrian, who,
Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty by 1912 was entertaining fantasies of
of Genius (Harmondsworth:
Penguin Books, 1991), p. 255.
70
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

14 Just three months into escape from the constraints of academic


his acquaintance with Wittgen-
stein, Russell wrote in a letter
life and polite society: somewhere “away”
to his lover Lady Ottoline
Morrell: “I love him & feel
and “outside”that could become a more
he will solve the problems productive home for his developing
I am too old to solve [Russell
was 40 years old at the time, brand of thinking‌—‌a philosophical
ed.] … He is the young man
one hopes for.” Monk,
revolution in the making.
op. cit., 41.
Wittgenstein first visited Norway in
1913, in late summer in the company of
friend and fellow Cambridge student
David Pinsent; and a second time in late
October, when—boarding a steam ship
in Bergen and sailing east—he first set
foot in the village of Skjolden at the far
end of the Sognefjord. (Skjolden had
been suggested to him by the Austro-­
Hungarian consul in Bergen, Jacob
Kroepelien.) Wittgenstein had evidently
come to Norway in search of the peace
and quiet deemed necessary to prepare
for his definitive statement on the logical
foundations of language and thought,
the Logisch-Philosophische Abhandlung
or Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (the
German publication of 1921 was dedi-
cated to Pinsent, who had died in a

71
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

piloting accident towards the end of the


World War I; the English translation,
prefaced by Bertrand Russell, was
published in 1922).
Present-day visitors to Skjolden,
especially outside of the tourist season,
may feel they have reached the end of
the world. This was certainly not the
case in Wittgenstein’s time, when the
Lustrafjord, the Sognefjord’s northern-
most arm, was frequently abuzz with
aquatic trade, also of the tourist variety.
(Planning this trip with Pinsent, Witt-
genstein was adamant they avoid the
tourist trail; oddly, they opted for west-
ern Norway’s well-mapped, thoroughly
travelled fjords: prior to World War I,
for instance, the German emperor
Wilhelm II had visted the fjords for
twenty-five consecutive summers.)
In any case, during this first stay in
Skjolden, while fine-tuning quasi-
mystical musings on logic that would
culminate, seven years and a world war
later, in the Tractatus, and hardened in
his conviction that he could only do real

72
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

15 In letters to his friends in philosophical work in exile, so to speak,


worldly, jovial Cambridge,
Wittgenstein would cease-
Wittgenstein decided to build a little
lessly repeat his need for
absolute solitude, continually
house overlooking a body of water
expressing his gratitude for called Eidsvatnet, just outside the
“hardly meeting a soul in this
place.” This is not exactly true: village proper: a cabin, cottage or hut
Wittgenstein made enough
friends in the village of
custom-built on the edge of a mountain
Skjolden to become quite for the most demanding of thoughts.
fluent in Norwegian over time.
As Ray Monk puts it in his (Even the village center had been too
authoritative biography:
“[Wittgenstein] was not
lively and loud to Ludwig’s liking‌—
entirely divorced from human ‌a nearby steam-powered lemonade
contact. But he was—and
perhaps this is most import- factory in particular would challenge
ant—away from society, free
from the kind of obligations
long stretches of concentrated work,
and expectations imposed by come berry-picking season. One day,
bourgeois life, whether that
of Cambridge or that of scouting for a potential construction
Vienna.” Monk, op. cit., p. 93.
It is this hatred of bourgeois
site, one particularly appealing option
society, which evidently also was rejected out of hand when he dis­
led him to take up a job as an
elementary school teacher in covered footprints other than his own
a string of Austrian villages
in the mid-1920s, that is to say,
in the snow.15) Only in his Norwegian
“after philosophy.” sanctuary, Wittgenstein declared to
16 In the prologue to his a puzzled Russell upon returning to
Tractatus, Wittgenstein
famously claimed that “the
Cambridge in October 1913, would
truth of the thoughts communi-
cated here seems to me unas-
it be possible to solve the problems
sailable and definitive. I am, of logic once and for all.16
therefore, of the opinion that
the problem [of philosophy]
have in essentials been finally
solved.” Ludwig Wittgenstein,
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus,
trans. Charles Kay Ogden

73
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

(London: Routledge & Kegan Construction began—at the agreed-


Paul Ltd, 1922), p. 29. In this
essay, I will refrain by and
upon site thirty meters above the water
large from discussing the
content of Wittgenstein’s
surface‌; only reachable by a long-wind-
(or Heidegger’s, or Adorno’s) ing rocky mountain-path, or by boat
philosophical thought. In the
aforementioned introduction, across Lake Eidsvatnet, which froze
Wittgenstein helpfully
suggests that his book’s
into a walkable surface during winter‌—‌
“whole meaning could be under the supervision of Halvard
summed up somewhat as
follows: What can be said Draegni, the lemonade factory owner,
at all can be said clearly;
and whereof one cannot speak
in 1914, and building proceeded largely
thereof one must be silent.” in the philosopher’s absence. The cabin
He had in mind the clarity
of the villagers’ talk and the measured seven meters by eight; its
silence of his hut, no doubt.
dimensions and simple layout (a living
room, kitchen, and bedroom) corre-
sponded with that of the area’s typical
tenant’s farm, though the unconven-
tional positioning and gabled roof were
somewhat exotic for the befuddled
locals, who took to calling the land on
which the hut was built “Austria.” Even
today, maps of the Skjolden area still
contain the bizarre marker “Østerrike.”
No building plans of the house survive;
most likely, none ever existed, making
it difficult to ascertain Wittgenstein’s
involvement in its design. (It is hard
to imagine the co-author of the afore-

74
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

mentioned ultra-modernist
Stonborough-Wittgenstein villa,
the genesis of which is mired in myriad
anecdotes concerning his obsessive,
near-fanatical attention to detail, having
had no hand in the conception of his
Norwegian machine à penser. Briefly,
in the late 1920s, the former logician
was so enamored of the building trade
that he styled himself “Ludwig Witt-
genstein, architect.”) The house was
finally finished in the fall of 1914,
months after the outbreak of World
War I, during which time Wittgenstein
volunteered as a gunner in the Austrian
army. Another eventful seven years
would pass before he finally clapped eyes
on his prize; he only returned to Skjolden
in 1921, a dramatically changed man:
not only had he finished the philoso­
phical work begun in Norway in 1913
and come to the conclusion that his
career in philosophy had come to a
logical, ethically sanctioned end, he
had in the meantime also become an
ascetic of necessity rather than choice.

75
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

Visiting Skjolden in 1913, he was a


fabulously rich man; in 1921, free from
the shackles of his family fortune‌—
‌much of which had been dispersed
among luminaries of the Austro-­
German avant-garde such as Oskar
Kokoschka, Adolf Loos, Rainer Maria
Rilke, and George Trakl‌—‌his was truly
a hand-to-mouth existence, kept afloat
by work in Draegni’s lemonade factory
and odd jobs in a carpentry workshop.
Repeated visits to Skjolden and
the hut followed in 1931, 1936, 1937‌—
‌during which time he was preoccupied
primarily with the “philosophical
investigations” of everyday language,
to be published posthumously, as
Philosophische Untersuchungen‌—‌
and, accompanied by a former medicine
student named Ben Richards, in 1950.
(Only three pictures exist of Wittgen-
stein’s hut; one of them was taken by
Richards while rowing across the lake.)
Plans to visit Skjolden again the year
after were cut short by his worsening
medical condition, and on April 29,

76
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

1951, Wittgenstein died in Cambridge,


three days after his 62nd birthday.
Years earlier Wittgenstein had left
the house to Arne Bolstad; his family
now took possession of it, and in 1958
the cabin was dismantled, brought
down the cliff using the same pulley
system installed there in 1921, and reas-
sembled in the village center, where it
stood, unrecognizable in its coarse clad-
ding of asbestos and minus the original
balcony, for around fifty years. Those
who visit “Østerrike” today see little
more than the (by now quasi-famous)
stone base on which the hut once stood,
the breath-taking view of Eidsvatnet,
Skjolden, and the pit of the Sognefjord
beyond it. Attempts to rebuild the
house‌—‌whose wooden components
I was able to see stored away, like a
jigsaw, in Skjolden in October 2017‌—
‌on its original site may bear fruit.

77
2. M.H.
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

Martin Heidegger was born on September


26, 1889 in the small town of Messkirch
in the Upper Danube and Swabian Alps
region, to the village sexton and his far­-
mer wife. At an early age Martin and his
younger brother Fritz were enlisted to
help their father out with running the
village church, the most fondly remem-
bered task being the ringing of the church
bells. Neither rich nor poor but solidly
lower middle class, the Heidegger family
was encouraged by the parish priest to
send their gifted elder son to the Catholic
seminary in nearby Constance, and later
to the archiepiscopal convent in Freiburg:
his was ostensibly going to be a clerical
career. In 1909, Heidegger enrolled in
the university of nearby Freiburg to
study philosophy and theology, where he
was first exposed to the work of Edmund
Husserl, the founding father of modern
phenomenology and eventual dedicatee
of his magnum opus Sein und Zeit,
published in 1927. (This was followed,
in 1928, by Heidegger taking over
Husserl’s position at his alma mater.)

79
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

Although he abandoned his plans to


be­come a priest shortly after entering the
university, a decisive break with the
“system of Catholicism” only occurred
in 1919, after he had spent the war years
working in the censorship office. In 1923,
Heidegger took up an academic post in
Marburg‌—‌the first time he left his beloved
Black Forest region behind for a longer
period‌—w ‌ here he met and famously fell
in love with his student Hannah Arendt,
who would much later, with unwarranted
generosity, describe her former men­tor’s
17 Ursula Ludz (ed.), Hannah philosophy as a “gale” blowing in from
Arendt & Martin Heidegger:
Letters 1925-1975 (New York:
times immemorial, primordial‌—“not of
Harcourt, 2003), pp. 148–162. our century.”17 At this point in time, Hei-
degger had already been married for a
number of years and fathered two sons,
and it appears to have been his wife Elfride
who was a driving, guiding force behind
the philosopher’s decision, made sometime
around the moment of his appointment to
the chair in Marburg‌—‌indeed, because
of his impending appointment to a chair
in Marburg‌—‌to build a hut for himself in
the Black Forest village of Todtnauberg.

80
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

(She was certainly the one “organizing


and supervising” con­struction, which
Heidegger does not appear to have been
involved with much. For a philosopher
so singularly devoted to thinking, build-
ing, equipment, the present-at-hand and
ready-to-hand, he seems to have been
18 This text, originally written
as a radio address explaining
rather hands-off here.) The region was
his reasons for rejecting an of course well-known to the proudly
offer to join the university in
Berlin and stay in his beloved
parochial Heidegger‌—‌the author, in
Freiburg instead, is reproduced later years, of a tract defiantly titled
in this volume on pp. 325–332.
‌ “Why Do I Stay in the Provinces?”18—‌
and a photograph taken of the young
philosopher in confident conversation
with Edmund Husserl in the summer of
1921 just outside of Todtnauberg confirms
19 Adam Sharr, Heidegger’s
Hut (Cambridge, MA: The
that a philosophical context, so to speak,
MIT Press, 2006), p. 54. Much was already in place. (“Also, more prac-
of what follows is based on
Sharr’s comprehensive study tically for a commuting academic, the
of the building, the dwelling,
and the thinking.
locality has the only railway in the Black
Forest highlands.”19) In any case, the hut,
which was finished and taken into use in
the summer of 1922, would provide an
all-important refuge for thinking now
that Heidegger was fully embarked on
‌a career in academic philosophy—‌

81
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

a home for philosophizing away from


the bureaucratic toil of the German
20 Heidegger’s oft-quoted
Professoriat in Marburg and later Freiburg.
(but probably much less widely
read) contribution to architec-
Indeed, it is here, among the gently roll-
tural theory and the philoso- ing hills of the Schwarzwald, among its
phy of the built environment,
Building Dwelling Thinking, is peasants and farming families, that much
a typical example: published
in 1954 as “Bauen Wohnen
of the groundwork was laid for his most
Denken,” it was based on a famous and influential work, Being and
lecture given in Darmstadt in
1951 as part of a colloquium Time, for instance‌—a‌ nd from then on,
dedicated to thinking “Man
and Space.” The text contains
Heidegger’s life would unfurl almost
references to Schwarzwald exclusively between the symbolic oppo-
building traditions, singles
out homelessness as a quint- sites of Freiburg and Todtnauberg,
essentially modern affliction
in both philosophical terms
a mere forty kilometers apart‌—w ‌ ith
and the acute sense of post- the nadir of his Nazi affiliation as the
war Germany, and asserts
that “dwelling is the basic university’s short-lived rector doubt-
character of Being in keeping
with which mortals exist”—
lessly counting as Freiburg’s darkest
etcetera. Another locally hour: “city” and “country,” inside(r)
flavored sample sentence
or two: “Only if we are capable and outside(r), but also, just as impor-
of dwelling, only then can
we build. Let us think for a
tantly, “lowlands” and “mountains”
while of a farmhouse in the of course. (Kultur versus Zivilization?
Black Forest, which was built
some two hundred years ago Gemeinschaft versus Gesellschaft?)
by the dwelling of peasants.
Here the self-sufficiency of the
The even more enigmatic, gnomic
power to let earth and heaven, philosophical utterances that together
divinities and mortals enter
in simple oneness into things, constitute “late,” i.e. postwar Heideg-
ordered the house.” See
Martin Heidegger, Poetry,
ger, could scarcely have dreamt of a
Language, Thought, trans.
Albert Hofstadter (New York:
more fitting place of conception: not just
Harper & Row, 1971), p. 158. out there, but also, notably, up there.20
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

90
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

Heidegger’s hut was not just meant to


be erected outside the stifling circle of
polite, academic philosophical society,
Previous pages:
so to speak, but also above the prover-
Digne Meller Marcovicz bial treeline of urban convention and
Martin Heidegger in his
hut in Todtnauberg, 1968 83
lowlander pragmatism. (Wittgenstein
Martin Heidegger in his
had his cabin likewise built on a perch.)
hut in Todtnauberg; in the
background, his wife Elfride,
Here too, the sage of Todtnauberg
1968 84 tapped into a well-established imaginary
Martin Heidegger’s desk tradition of opposing the virtues of
in his hut in Todtnauberg,
1968 86 mountain air to the corrupting miasma
Martin Heidegger with his of harbors and low-lying metropolises
wife Elfride in Todtnauberg,
1968 88 with their roving populations of root-
Martin Heidegger in his less cosmopolitans of all stripes. The
hut in Todtnauberg, 1968
90
single most powerful summation of this
complex, so clearly rooted in Nietzsche’s
Digne Meller Marcovicz
famously visited Martin and Zarathustra and other tropes of 19th-­
Elfride Heidegger in their Freiburg
villa and Schwarzwald mountain century romanticism, can be found in
home in the fall of 1966 and
summer of 1968 for an extensive
Thomas Mann’s magisterial Bildungs-
photo shoot organized in conjunction roman The Magic Mountain, first
with Heidegger’s notorious
Der Spiegel interview—a conver- published in 1924, at the height of our
sation so candid, in the eyes of the
philosopher, that it could only be
philosophical protagonists’ intellectual
publ­ished after his death in May notoriety. (Wittgenstein was already a
1976. Heidegger evidently appears
to have enjoyed posing for village schoolteacher in the mountains
Marcovicz’ camera, playing the
rustic hermit with at times unchar-
south of Vienna at the time.) Mann
acteristically jocular levity. famously set his Nobel-Prize-winning

91
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

21 This fascinating encounter novel in the Swiss mountain resort of


is the subject of an entire book,
Peter E. Gordon’s aptly titled
Davos, the setting of a widely reported
Continental Divide: Heidegger,
Cassirer, Davos (Cambridge,
confrontation, in 1929, between Ernst
MA: Harvard University Press, Cassirer and Martin Heidegger, an
2012). Cassirer was trained
as a philosopher in the Neo-­ urbane Jew representing the sobriety
Kantian bastion of Marburg,
where, years later, “Heidegger
and economic achievement of
cut a striking figure […] in his Hamburg and other cities like it versus
personal appearance. On
winter days he could be seen the diminutive prophet of philosophical
walking out of the town with
his skis shouldered. Occasion-
mountain-scaling.21 Huts belong to
ally he would turn up for his mountains like cities to the plains.
lectures in his skiing outfit.”
In Rüdiger Safranski,
Heidegger: Between Good and Evil
(Cambridge MA: Harvard
Heidegger made a number of journeys
University Press, 1998), p. 131. abroad in the postwar period (most
The only photograph docu-
menting the aforementioned notably to Greece, the long longed-for
meeting shows both thinkers
posing in front of a wall full of
spiritual home22), and frequent lectures in
skis. For more on Heidegger’s Bremen, Munich and elsewhere, but
relationship to skiing, see
note 29. overall his was indeed a life defiantly,
22 In a discussion of Heideg-
almost theatrically, lived in the prov-
ger’s wish to reorient himself inces, away from both the traditional
after the disappointments of
the post-1933 political scene centers of power and hubs of forward-
and the fiasco of his Nazi
Rektorat in particular—raising looking cultural production, and when
the question, not so much
of what, but rather of where to
he died, aged 86, on May 26, 1976, it
think next—Rüdiger Safranski surprised no one that his last wishes had
observes “the places of his
thinking can be quite accu-
included a traditional Catholic funeral
rately determined: an imagi-
nary and a real place—ancient
and interment in the village cemetery
Greece of his philosophy and of Messkirch.
his province, more accurately

92
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

Todtnauberg”—which Heidegger’s hut, which its primary


Safranski accurately calls the
“snail’s house of his philoso-
exegete Adam Sharr has accurately
phy.” Rüdiger Safranski, op.
cit., pp. 277–279. Let us return,
termed “a philosophical event as much
also, to Nietzsche’s quote with as an architectural one,” still stands
which this essay begins.
“German philosophy as a today on the edge of a forest about
whole […] is the most funda-
mental form of romanticism
a kilometer outside of the village
and homesickness that has of Todtnauberg proper, at an elevation
ever been. […] One is no
longer at home anywhere.” of around twelve hundred meters.
It continues: “at last one longs
back for that place in which
Its location can hardly be called remote‌
alone one can be at home, —‌so much for the philosophical drama
because it is the only place in
which one would want to be of retreat, one might be tempted to
at home: the Greek world!”
think‌—‌yet the hut itself is surprisingly
23 A door handle. Was the hard to find. A loosely circling network
photographer of this image
aware of the iconic stature of of Heidegger paths and Heidegger
the door handles in Wittgen-
stein’s modernist Viennese
walking routes is draped across the
villa? Perhaps not. In an essay valley, yet there are no actual signs
titled “Wittgenstein’s
Handles,” Christopher Benfey pointing the way towards the hut‌—
pointedly asks: “What was it
about handles—door-handles,
‌only a single board (adorned with a
axe-handles, the handles of photograph of a door handle, of all
pitchers and vases—that trans-
fixed thinkers in Vienna and things23) that hints at its presence some-
Berlin during the early decades
of the 20th century, echoing
where behind this clump of trees or
earlier considerations of
handles in America and
that, reminding the eager pilgrim that
ancient Greece?” Indeed, the hut itself is sited on private prop-
Benfey points out, “to details
like the door-handles, in partic-
erty: the hut is not a museum, but still
ular, Wittgenstein accorded
what [Ray] Monk calls “an
in the hands of the Heidegger family,
almost fanatical exactitude,” and clearly still in holidaying use.
driving locksmiths and

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engineers to tears as they “No trespassing.” (The best way to see


sought to meet his seemingly
impossible standards. The
the hut is from a trail running along
unpainted tubular door-handle
that Wittgenstein designed for
the opposite side of the valley; this
Gretl’s house remains the view captures something of the original
prototype for all such
door-handles, still popular in sense of the hut’s isolation.) The hut
the 21st century.” See www.
nybooks.com/daily/2016/05/24/
measures approximately six meters
wittgensteins-handles. I by seven and is made of timber, framed
personally first got to see said
door handle photographed on and clad with timber shingles under-
the cover of an early Dutch
translation of the Tractatus, my
neath a distinctive roof that is almost
introduction to Wittgenstein’s as high as the walls; “the building
world.  
surveys the landscape, sheltered and
framed by trees.”24 When I visited the
24 Sharr, op. cit., p. 22.
hut in November 2017, a mere week
after visiting the site of Wittgenstein’s
erstwhile hut in Norway‌—t‌ wo very
different ideas of retreat indeed‌—‌
the doors and window panes seemed
newly painted in the same deep-bright
blue familiar to us from the color
photographs made by Digne Meller
Marcovicz in the late 1960s, when the
German-Jewish photographer and
daughter of the Bauhaus-trained cera-
mist Jan Bontjes van Beek was sent
to portray the aging Heidegger couple
in their Todtnauberg mountain home

94
95
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for a series of photographs meant


to accompany a lengthy interview
with German weekly Der Spiegel.
(I am mentioning the fact of Meller
Previous page:
Jan Bontjes van Beek
Marcovicz’ ceramist-father in recogni-
Bowl, 1953–69 95 tion of Heidegger’s well-publicized
Jan Bontjes van Beek was a obsession with the philosophical
leading modernist ceramist and
the father, through his marriage imagery of ceramics, and of crockery
to German-­Jewish interior architect
Rahel-Maria Weisbach, of photog-
in particular: it is tempting to imagine
rapher Digne Meller Marcovicz. some of Bontjes van Beek’s jars and
(A daughter from an earlier
marriage, Cato Bontjes van Beek, jugs and vases and bowls aligned on
was executed by the Nazis in
Berlin-Plötzensee prison in 1943
the Heidegger family’s dining table.)
for her antifascist activities.) These photographs now constitute
Attentive pottery enthusiasts will
doubtlessly notice the strategically the most extensive record to date of life
placed crockery in many of the
photographs Marcovicz made of
in Heidegger’s hut. The Spiegel inter-
Heidegger in his hut. Though view took place on September 23, 1966,
Bontjes van Beek’s stoneware
would probably have struck the and was granted on condition that it be
philosopher as too sleek, too
modern, possibly too urban, it
published only after the philosopher’s
is nonetheless worth noting death. It finally appeared in print on
Heidegger’s long-standing in-
fatuation with the potter’s primal May 31, 1976, under the provocative
imagery and generalized ceramic
metaphors: a seminal post-war
title “Nur noch ein Gott kann uns
text tersely titled “Das Ding” retten,” or “Only a God Can Save
plainly asks, and replies, “What
is a thing? [...] The jug is a thing.” Us.”25 Partly on the basis of Meller ​
A more widely read essay on the
“origin of the work of art,” Marcovicz’ photographs, it is possible
published in 1936, likewise invoked
the figure of the jug as the artful
to draw up a floor plan of the hut:
quintessence of thingness. a Vorraum with a table and chairs,

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DIETER ROELSTRAETE

25 The title for the interview where guests could be served some­thing
was taken from the following
sequence: “philosophy will be
to drink or eat; a cooking area that
unable to effect any immediate
change in the current state of
also contains a bed; the main bedroom,
the world. This is true not only tightly packed with four beds, above
of philosophy but of all purely
human reflection and which at one point a picture of a young
endeavor. Only a god can save
us. The only possibility avail-
woman in traditional Black Forest garb
able to us is that by thinking was hung; and the philosopher’s study,
and poetizing we prepare a
readiness for the appearance its bookshelves oddly empty, its window
of a god, or for the absence
of a god in [our] decline, inso-
looking out across the eastern end of the
far as in view of the absent god valley.26 The first object to encounter
we are in a state of decline.”
In Thomas Sheehan (ed.), the gaze outside this window is almost
Heidegger: The Man and the
Thinker (Chicago, ILL:
as famous, or rather emblematic, as the
Precedent Press, 1981), p. 66. hut itself: the well, with its hollowed-
26 Besides the image of a out log and a wood-carved star atop
young woman in Schwarzwalder
Tracht, the only other picture
its spout‌—‌the Sternwürfel (“star-
found on the walls of Heideg- crowned die”) immortalized by the
ger’s hut appears to have been
a portrait of Johann Peter great German-Jewish poet Paul
Hebel, a local poet best
remembered for his Aleman-
Celan in his elegiac Todtnauberg,
nische Gedichte (“Alemannic written shortly after visiting the
poems”) rendered in the juicy
dialect of Heidegger’s Heimat. former, unrepentant Nazi party
Hebel, as it so happens, also
ranked among Wittgenstein’s
member in his mountain retreat
favorite writers; the latter
frequently gave out copies of
in the summer of 1967:
Hebel’s Schatzkästlein, a trea-
sure trove of folksy anecdotes
and pastorals, to friends and
acquaintances alongside
Tolstoy’s Gospel in Brief. Johann
Peter Hebel also makes a
couple of appearances, finally,

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TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

in Adorno’s writings, where Arnica, eyebright, the


he is credited, at some point, draft from the well with the
with having written “one of
the most beautiful pieces of star-die on top,
prose in defense of the Jews
that was ever written in in the
German.” In Theodor Adorno, Hütte,
The Jargon of Authenticity
(Evanston: Northwestern
written in the book
University Press, 1973), p. 54.
‌—‌whose name did it record
27 Taken from Breathturn into before mine?‌—‌,
Timestead: The Collected Later
Poetry, trans. Pierre Joris (New in this book
York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, the line about
2014). Not surprisingly, Heide-
gger’s hut has attracted its fair
a hope, today,
share of literary attention in for a thinker’s
the German-speaking world
word
after Celan’s epochal passing:
in 1992, the Austrian Nobel to come,
Prize-winning novelist Elfride in the heart,
Jelinek wrote a play titled
Totenauberg restaging a meet- forest sward, unleveled,
ing between Heidegger and
his Jewish lover Arendt in an orchis and orchis, singly,
unidentified Alpine setting; a
more widely known caricature raw exchanges, later, while driving,
of the hut-loving Heidegger is clearly,
trotted out in Alte Meister (Old
Masters), a satirical short novel
he who drives us, the mensch,
published by Jelinek’s compa-
triot Thomas Bernhard in 1985. he also hears it,
Here are two representative
excerpts: “Heidegger, after the half-
whom the wartime and post-
trod log-
war generations have been
chasing, showering him with trails on the highmoor,
revolting and stupid doctoral
theses even in his lifetime— humidity,
I always visualize him sitting 27
on his wooden bench outside much.
his Black Forest house, along-
side his wife who, with her

98
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

perverse knitting enthusiasm, Adam Sharr relates the following ac­‑


ceaselessly knits winter socks
for him from the wool she has
count of Celan’s meeting with Heidegger,
shorn from their own Heideg-
ger sheep. I cannot visualize
quoting from John Felsteiner’s 1995
Heidegger other than sitting biography of the poet: “Heidegger told
on the bench outside his Black
Forest house, alongside his me,” says Hans-Georg Gadamer, “that
wife, who all her life totally
dominated him and who knitted
in the Black Forest, Celan was better
all his socks and crocheted all informed on plants and animals than he
his caps and baked all his bread
and wove all his bedlinen and himself was.” They also talked about
who even cobbled up his
sandals for him. […] Heidegger
contemporary French philosophy, but
in his worn plus-fours in front Celan’s attention was elsewhere. […]
of that lie of a log cabin at
Todtnauberg is all I have left The Jewish Dichter [poet] accompanied
as an unmasking photograph,
the philosophical philistine with
the German Denker [thinker] to his
his crocheted black Black Forest mountain retreat at Todtnauberg,
cap on his head, under which,
when all is said and done, noth- noticed midsummer blossomings
ing but German feeble-minded-
ness is warmed up over and
along the way, took a drink from
over again.” In fact, Bernhard Heidegger’s much publicized well
repeatedly returns, in his signa-
ture manic style, to the topic of with its star-shaped wooden cube on
Digne Meller Marcovicz’ photo-
graphs: “Heidegger is a good
top, and signed the guestbook “with
example of how nothing is left a hope for a coming word in the heart.”28
but a number of ridiculous
photographs,” and “I have seen The “coming word” in Celan’s heart
a series of photographs which
a supremely talented woman
(and in that of countless others, no
photographer made of Heideg-
ger, who in all of them looked
doubt) would have been one of repen-
like a retired bloated staff offi- tance and shame over past sins. But of
cer.” Thomas Bernhard, Old
Masters, trans. Ewald Osers course Heidegger never expressed any
(Chicago, ILL: The University
of Chicago Press, 1992).
public remorse over his activist role in
the early years of the Third Reich‌—‌
28 Sharr, op. cit., p. 82.

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100
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

29 There is no definitive proof and Celan committed suicide by


that Arendt, a regular guest
after the war in Heidegger’s
drowning himself in the Seine in Paris
Freiburg home, ever visited
the hut; it seems unlikely, judg-
on April 20, 1970, Adolf Hitler’s birth-
ing from the tone of her corre- day. In any case, in this guest book,
spondence with Karl Jaspers
in the immediate postwar Celan may have come across the names
years: “This living in Todtnau-
berg, ranting against civiliza-
and signatures of other luminaries
tion, and writing Sein with a ‘y’ of German-Jewish culture such as
is surely in reality just the bolt-
hole into which he has with- Hannah Arendt and Herbert Marcuse:
drawn, because he rightly
assumes that there he needs
the hut had already become something
to see only those people who like a site of philosophical pilgrimage.29
make a pilgrimage to him full
of admiration; surely hardly In earlier years, Husserl, Gadamer,
anyone will climb 1200 meters
just to make a scene.” Quoted
Karl Jaspers and Karl Löwith were
in Safranski, op.cit., p. 374. all regular visitors; after the war,
30 Heidegger appears to have a planned visit to Todtnauberg by
been especially enchanted
with those passages in Sartre’s
Jean-Paul Sartre was called off at the
Being and Nothingness—a Heide- last minute, though both Alain Resnais
ggerian title if ever there was
one, of course—in which he (!) and Jean-François Lyotard managed
philosophized about skiing,
something Heidegger himself
to make the pilgrimage to Heidegger’s
had briefly considered doing Black Forest retreat‌—a‌ telltale sign
in his early Marburg years (but,
according to Safranski, “in the that the royal road of Heidegger’s
end had lacked the courage
to do in a published work”).
philosophical revalidation would
At some point Heidegger
wrote to Sartre: “It would be
wind through Paris.30 A guest book
great if you could come and that “reads like a veritable catalogue
see us in the course of the
winter. We might jointly philos-
of 20th-century European intellectual
ophize in our small ski hut and
from there make ski tours in
‌history”31—‌a very different kind of
the Black Forest.” Similarly, in retreat, in short, than that envisaged,
a letter sent to Cambridge don

101
102
103
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

G. E. Moore from Skjolden realized and practiced by Heidegger’s


in January 1914, Ludwig
Wittgenstein noted that he
exact contemporary and seeming philo-
was learning to ski and found
it “great fun.” A philosophy of
sophical antipode Ludwig Wittgen-
skiing may be worth the initiat- stein: the idea of Wittgenstein inviting
ing effort after all… As for
Lyotard’s memory of his a photographer, say, into his Skjolden
Todtnauberg experience:
“I remember a sly peasant
abode to chronicle his thinking life
in his Hütte, dressed in tradi- there is quite simply inconceivable‌—
tional costume, of sententious
speech and shifty eye, appar- ‌leading one to look back at Heidegger’s
ently lacking in shame and
anxiety, protected by his
hut not just as a philosophical statement
knowledge and flattered by in wood and stone, but also as a rhetori-
his disciple. This picture was
enough to prevent me from cal device or theatrical ploy: the stage
becoming a ‘Heideggerian’.”
Jean-François Lyotard, Political
on which the philosopher was able to
Writings (Minneapolis, MN: choreograph the drama of retreat for
University of Minnesota Press,
1993), p. 137. the camera, for the world’s watching
31 Charles Bambach, Heideg-
eye‌—e‌ scape and exile, in essence,
ger’s Roots: Nietzsche, National as performance.
Socialism, and the Greeks (Ithaca,
NY: Cornell University Press, Sometime in the late 1960s‌—s‌ hortly
2003), p. 1.
after Digne Meller Marcovicz’ second
and last visit to Todtnauberg, perhaps‌
Previous pages: —‌as Heidegger’s old age began to make
Digne Meller Marcovicz
Martin Heidegger collecting
traveling back and forth between Freiburg
water from the well of his
hut in Todtnauberg, 1968
and the Schwarzwald countryside an
100 increasingly challenging prospect,
Digne Meller Marcovicz the hut began to recede from the hori-
Martin Heidegger in his
hut in Todtnauberg, 1968
zon of the philosopher’s daily life,
102 which became largely limited to

104
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

his villa in Freiburg. Eventually, a small


single-story structure‌—‌the cost of
which Elfride Heidegger briefly consid-
ered to cover with the sale of the Being
and Time manuscript to an American
University‌—‌was built in the garden
of his residence on the Rötebuckweg
to provide a comfortable setting for the
waning years of his life. It is here that
Heidegger must have written down the
last utterance, as far as we know, in his
own hand‌—a‌ greeting on the occasion
of the awarding of Messkirch’s honor-
ary citizenship to the Freiburg professor
of theology Bernhard Welte: “Cordial
greetings to the new honorary citizen
of their common hometown Messkirch‌
‌—‌Bernhard Welte‌—‌from an older one…
May this feastday of homage be joyful
and life-giving. May the contemplative
spirit of all participants be unanimous.
For there is need for contemplation
whether and how, in the age of a uni­
form technological world civilization,
32 Safranski, op. cit., p. 432. there can still be such a thing as home.”32

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108
109
110
111
112
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114
3. T.A.

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33 Stefan Müller-Doohm, Theodor Adorno was born Thomas


Adorno: A Biography
(Cambridge, UK: Polity,
Ludwig Wiesengrund-Adorno on
2005), p. 39. Friday September 11, 1903 in Frankfurt
am Main to an assimilated Jewish father
Previous pages
Paolo Chiasera running a successful wine-exporting
Condensed Heidegger’s Hut, business and a Catholic mother of
2009 107, 108, 109, 110
Corsican descent who instilled into
Spazierstock, 2009 111
Heideggers walk 5, 2009 112
their only child a life-long love of
Heideggers walk 6, 2009 113
music. (He only became Theodor W.
Heideggers walk 3, 2009 114 Adorno in the course of the 1930s,
Paolo Chiasera’s Condensed while applying for US citizenship.)
Heidegger’s Hut is a multi-faceted
work built around a life-size replica
Young Wiesengrund’s upbringing and
of Martin Heidegger’s cabin that youth were a cosmopolitan, sheltered
was constructed on a vacant lot
behind the artist’s Berlin gallery affair that seems to have been impacted
in September 2009. In a first phase
of the project, the hut was burnt
only faintly and indirectly by the
down, the resulting ashes used to upheavals of World War I, the disso­
produce a monochrome gray paint-
ing that conjures the fiery logic of lution of the German Empire, and the
the philosophy of transformation
of one of Heidegger’s pre-Socratic frenetic, frenzied crises of the early
teachers, Heraclitus (nicknamed
“the obscure”). In a second phase,
Weimar years. (“Did Adorno even
Chiasera created a series of ellipti- notice that, from the summer of 1922
cal drawings imagining the Black
Forest landscape Heidegger would on, inflation had begun to transform
have taken in during one of the
many rambles around his mountain
urban life in Frankfurt?,” his biogra-
retreat. The ghost of philosophy’s pher Stefan Müller-Doohm pointedly
deep historical relationship to walk-
ing haunts the ensemble’s lone asks.33) In the early twenties, he en­-
sculptural presence, an artist’s
impression of the oracular thinker’s
rolled in the Hoch Conservatory,
walking stick. studying composition with Bernhard

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DIETER ROELSTRAETE

Sekles and piano with Eduard Jung


and dashing off string quartets in the
staccato style of the Second Viennese
School. The music of Alban Berg
would prove especially influential,
and in 1925 Adorno departed for
Vienna to continue his musical studies
there under Berg’s guidance‌—‌but not
before obtaining his doctorate in philos-
ophy at the university of Frankfurt
with a thesis on the phenomenology
of Edmund Husserl. Adorno must have
been minimally aware of Heidegger’s
work at the time, in other words,
though it wouldn’t be until much later
that he would engage Heidegger’s
philosophy head on. (It would have
been harder, during his time immersed
in Vienna’s dazzling musical life, to
catch a glimpse of Wittgenstein’s pres-
ence, if only metaphorically‌—b‌ ut not
impossible. Berg would certainly have
been aware of the Wittgenstein family’s
musical legacy.) Returning to Frankfurt
in the late 1920s, Adorno finally decided
to choose the path of philosophy once

117
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

and for all with a Habilitationsschrift


on Kierkegaard‌—t‌ he basis for his first
properly philosophical work, published
in 1933 under the title Kierkegaard:
Construction of the Aesthetic. (Its
publication coincided with the notori-
ous Enabling Act of 1933, awarding
the newly elected chancellor Adolf
Hitler full dictatorial powers.) In the
meantime, Adorno had befriended
the likes of Walter Benjamin and
Max Horkheimer; the latter had been
appointed director in 1930 of the
Institut für Sozialforschung, the institu-
tional home of what was to become
the so-called Frankfurter Schule of
Critical Theory with which Adorno’s
name would forever after be associated.
Because of the Institute’s solidly Jewish
pedigree and its members’ Marxist lean-
ings, its work was forced underground
soon after the Nazi seizure of power,
its leading theorists scattered abroad in
exile in the UK and US‌—‌an experience
of radical, violent uprooting and home-
lessness that would haunt Adorno’s

118
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

34 Müller-Doohm again, with thought in particular until his death


exquisite terseness: “[Adorno]
now took the opportunity
in the Swiss Alps (!) decades later.
created by his stay in Oxford
to become better acquainted
(“The highest form of morality is not
with modern analytical philos- to feel at home in one’s own home.”)
ophy, in particular that of G. E.
Moore, as well as the history Adorno’s first port of call on his
of logic. It is not clear how
deep his studies went. He did
fifteen-year odyssey through an Anglo-
not come in contact with Witt- phone world that would in essence
genstein, who was a fellow
of Trinity College, Cambridge.” always stay foreign to him was Oxford,
Op. cit., p. 193. A. J. Ayer,
another figurehead of the
where he was once again returned to
Anglo-Saxon analytical tradi- a study of Husserlian phenomenology.
tion in philosophy, “recalled
in his autobiography that no Working closely with the analytic
one in Oxford took [Adorno]
seriously but regarded him as
philosopher Gilbert Ryle there, Adorno
a dandy.” Stuart Jeffries, must have been exposed to the work of
Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of
the Frankfurt School (London: Ludwig Wittgenstein, who was back at
Verso, 2017), p. 122. Jeffries
likewise dwells on the sadly
Trinity College in nearby Cambridge at
missed opportunity of Adorno the time‌—‌though there are no records
meeting Wittgenstein while
in shared exile: “A great of them ever meeting.34 (Ryle and
shame: they had so much
in common—their negative
Wittgenstein were on friendly terms
philosophical sensibilities, for most of the 1930s, though Ryle
cultural iconoclasm and
pessimism. What’s more, would later come to lament Wittgen-
given Wittgenstein’s temper
and Adorno’s waspishness,
stein’s “detrimental” influence on his
the former‘s lack of interest
in dialectical method and the
students.) During his four-year stay
latter’s scorn for what he took in the UK, he also met with Heidegger’s
as English philosophy’s posi-
tivism, the results of any meet-
old philosophical antagonist Ernst
ing between the two would
probably not have been pretty.
Cassirer. In February 1938, following
Wittgenstein was charged with in the footsteps of his primary
having attacked Karl Popper

119
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with a poker during a interlocutor Max Horkheimer, Adorno


meeting at the Cambridge
Moral Sciences Club; what
sailed for New York, initially taking up
he would have done to
Adorno is anybody’s guess.”
residence on Riverside Drive, where he
may or may not have bumped into Paul
Wittgenstein, another recent transatlan-
tic arrival. Hannah Arendt was another
forced newcomer to New York’s Upper
West Side during his sojourn there
(they all lived literally blocks away
from each other), though it is unlikely
35 Adorno’s address in that they would have sought out each
New York was 290, Paul
Wittgenstein’s 310, and other’s company much: Arendt famously
Arendt’s 370 Riverside
Drive. They never met:
lashed out at Adorno, describing him
“der kommt uns nicht ins
Haus,” Arendt is reported
as “half-Jewish and one of the most
to have said about her con-­ repulsive human beings I know,” in a
temporary; she denounced
the entire Frankfurter Schule letter to Karl Jaspers about the postwar
coterie as “truly an abomina-
ble crowd.” Safranski,
fate of their former friend and mentor
op. cit., p. 417. Martin Heidegger.35 In any case, soon
after, in winter 1941 Adorno journeyed
further west, to Los Angeles, where he
would settle down in the city’s Pacific
Palisades neighborhood, later dubbed
“Weimar on the Pacific” because of its
dense population of German literary
and musical luminaries exiled to this
sun-kissed, palm-tree-lined edge of the

120
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

36 The daily lives of the old Western world after 1933. Indeed,
German émigré community
of 1940s Hollywood—really
Adorno lived a literal stone’s throw
the subject for another essay,
another exhibition—is the
away from Bertolt Brecht, Hanns
stuff of legend, chronicled Eisler‌—w ‌ ith whom he co-wrote a
most compellingly in Ehrhard
Bahr’s Weimar on the Pacific: book, published in 1947, titled Compos-
German Exile Culture in Los
Angeles and the Crisis of Modern-
‌ing for the Films—‌Otto Klemperer,
ism (Berkeley, CA: University of Thomas Mann, Arnold Schoenberg and
California Press, 2008) and,
less scholarly but no less other aristocrats of the Austro-German
enlighteningly, John Russell
Taylor’s Strangers in Paradise:
Geist.36 One could speculate that
The Hollywood Emigrés, 1933- Adorno’s perfectly nondescript
1950 (New York: Holt, Rinehart
and Winston, 1983). Another bungalow located on 316 South
key source is Salka Viertel’s
memoir The Kindness of Strang-
Kenter Avenue is perhaps the closest
ers: A Theatrical Life, Vienna – the cantankerous critic ever got to a hut
Berlin – Hollywood, published
in 1969. Viertel was the sister of his own; it certainly has something of
of the Polish-Jewish pianist
Eduard Steuermann, Adorno’s
the Hieronymian desert oasis about it,
old music teacher in Vienna a perfect “refuge for the homeless,” as
and a prominent advocate
of Schoenberg’s twelve-tone the title of one of his entries in his acer-
composing technique in
America later on.
bic anthology Minima Moralia would
have it.37 (In a letter to the American
37 Minima Moralia was
published in 1951, the same composer Virgil Thomson dated Octo-
year Heidegger delivered
his “Bauen Wohnen Denken”
ber 21, 1942, Adorno wrote: “We live
lecture. In the short vignette
“Refuge for the Homeless”
in a quiet nice little house in Brentwood,
(reproduced in its entirety not far, by the way, from Schoenberg’s
elsewhere in this book),
Adorno bluntly states:
place.”38) Accepting the fundamental
“Dwelling, in the proper
sense, is now impossible. […]
and irreconcilable absurdity of having
The house is past.” Theodor to live and work under the never-setting
Adorno, Minima Moralia:

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Reflections from Damaged Life, sun of the emerging entertainment


trans. E. F. N. Jephcott
(London: Verso, 1974), p. 38.
capital of the world, Adorno finally
The publication of Minima
Moralia upon his return to
returned to Germany in 1949, just
West Germany helped cement in time to witness the birth of the
his reputation as the damaged
nation’s moral compass; Federal Republic, and spent the last
he himself explained the
book’s remarkable critical
twenty years of his life teaching at the
and commercial success by university in Frankfurt and gathering
claiming that the German
audience had grown tired acclaim for such classics of 20th-cen-
of incessant “Heideggerei.” tury philosophy as Negative Dialectics
38 Virgil Thomson, Selected ‌and Aesthetic Theory—‌the latter only
Letters of Virgil Thomson (New
York: Summit Books, 1988), published posthumously in 1970, a year
p. 181. While living in Brent-
wood, Adorno acted as his
after his premature death on August 6,
neighbor Thomas Mann’s 1969, an event some say was brought on
principal musical adviser for
the latter’s 1949 masterpiece by one particularly graphic incident
Doctor Faustus, the compos-
er-protagonist of which was
in the long summer of student discon-
clearly modeled after the tent when the grand old man of Critical
figure of another neighbor,
Arnold Schoenberg (who Theory was “attacked” at the lectern by
had little appreciation
for the ploy).
three young women baring their breasts
at him. (“Following inconclusive dis­
cussions between the few supporters
of this disruption and their critics, the
lecture hall emptied. The Grassroots
Sociology Group distributed leaflets
39 Müller-Doohm,
with the title ‘Adorno as an Institution
op. cit., p. 476. is Dead.”39) After that, not even moun-
tain air could save him any longer.

122
123
124
125
126
127
128
129
130
Interlude:

Previous pages:
Ewan Telford
Theodor Adorno House,
316 S. Kenter Ave, 2018 123
Goshka Macuga
Adorno, 2018 124
Susan Philipsz
Part File Score IV, 2014 125
Anselm Kiefer
Hirnhäuslein (für Alexander),
2017 126
Alexander Kluge
Triptychon, 2018 128
Unknown
Portrait of Theodor Adorno,
1958 130
Susan Philipsz’ Part File Score Philipsz’ installation. Part File
is based in part on the travails Score also includes a suite of prints
and tribulations of the left-wing derived from Eisler’s FBI file
German-Jewish composer Hanns compiled at the height of the early
Eisler who, while living in exile Cold War’s “red scare,” one page
in Los Angeles’s Pacific Palisades of which prominently lists the
neighborhood in the 1940s, co- contact details of other denizens
authored the treatise Composing of “Weimar on the Pacific.”
for the Movies together with fellow Eisler and his wife were eventually
expatriate Theodor Adorno. This expelled from the US and settled
book included the composition back in East Berlin in 1948, where
Fourteen Ways to Describe Rain he would go on to compose the
by way of exemplary exercise, nascent GDR’s national anthem
and it is this piece that forms the in the decidedly modernist popu-
sonic backbone—given the dodeca- lar idiom that he had switched
phonic treatment so current in musical allegiances to years before.
Adorno and Eisler’s day—of
Being and 1922
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

Heidegger’s hut was built and readied


for occupation in 1922, the year of his
appointment to a chair of philosophy
at the University of Marburg and of the
publication of his first major philosoph-
ical work, the two-volume Phänome-
nologische Interpretationen zu Aristote-
les. In 1922, Wittgenstein no longer
considered himself a philosopher‌—‌
he was a teacher at village schools in
Trattenbach, Hassbach and Puchberg
at this point in time, locales not in­-
comparable perhaps, to Todtnauberg
‌—‌though he remained deeply involved
in the translation of his Abhandlung
into the Tractatus, finally published
that same year. Adorno was just nine-
teen years old in 1922, though reading
Georg Lukacs’ landmark History and
Class Consciousness published that year
would exert a decisive influence on the
development of Adorno’s own funda-
mental contribution to the tradition
of “western” Marxism. (One word:
reification.) An eventful year, in short,
from the perspective of our current

133
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

project‌—‌but not just from our perspec-


tive alone. 1922, in retrospect, appears
to have been enough of a halcyon
year to warrant its own monograph:
a book titled Constellation of Genius,
the subtitle of which names 1922
“Modernism’s Year One.” Its author,
Kevin Jackson, primarily dwells on
the Anglophone literary sphere‌—‌
with good reasons: 1922 was book-
ended by the publication of James
Joyce’s Ulysses and T. S. Eliot’s The
Waste Land, and the former in particu-
lar was taken by Ezra Pound to be the
beginning of a new age. (On May 18,
1922, so Jackson tells us, a dinner was
organized at the Hotel Majestic in Paris
bringing together Clive Bell, Sergei
Diaghilev, Joyce, Pablo Picasso, Marcel
Proust, Erik Satie and Igor Stravinsky.
On the other side of the globe, 1922 is
also celebrated as Brazil’s “Modernism
Year One.” Etcetera.) In the German-
speaking world, the all-consuming
concerns were of course political
and economic first and foremost:
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

1922 first witnessed the assassination


of the Weimar republic’s figurehead
Walther Rathenau‌—t‌ he first major
blow to Germany’s faltering experi-
ment in democratic politics‌—‌followed
soon after by the spiraling inflation
crisis that would culminate in the noto-
rious billion and trillion Mark notes
of 1923. A fitting backdrop for the
release of F. W. Murnau’s expressionist
masterpiece Nosferatu: eine Symphonie
des Grauens, in other words, or for the
jarring dissonances of Paul Hindemith’s
1922 piano suite, which Adorno (a
Frankfurter like Hindemith) would
doubtlessly have heard and condoned‌­
—‌soundscapes and visions that
are unlikely to have traveled to
the Black Forest highlands
or rural Lower Austria.

135
4. The Tangle
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

Contemporaries, hut-dwelling col­-


leagues, self-made post-philosophical
mystics: their obvious biographical
and temperamental differences not­-
withstanding, it seems only natural to
assume that Heidegger and Wittgenstein
had something to say to each other,
and Wittgenstein’s interest in the work
of Heidegger in particular is fairly well,
if mostly indirectly, documented.
(How tantalizing to imagine an actual
meeting… In whose hut would they
have convened?) Still, we know of
only one occasion when Wittgenstein
actually addressed Heidegger’s philoso-
phy more or less head on‌—‌in a remark
dated December 30, 1929, made in the
home of either Moritz Schlick or Fried-
rich Waismann, leading members of
the Wiener Kreis or Vienna Circle, the
coterie of logicians and philosophers
of science called into life in the course
of the 1920s with the almost exclusive
initial goal of dissecting Wittgenstein’s
Tractatus for everyday epistemological
use. The remark goes as follows:

138
139
140
141
142
143
144
145
146
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

On Heidegger
I can very well think what Heidegger
meant about Being and Angst. Man has
the drive to run up against the boundar-
ies of language. Think, for instance, of the
astonishment that anything exists. This
astonishment cannot be expressed in the
form of a question, and there is also no
answer to it. All that we can say can only,
a priori, be nonsense. Nevertheless we
run up against the boundaries of lan-
guage. Kierkegaard also saw this run-
ning-up and similarly pointed it out (as
running up against the paradox). This
running up against the boundaries of
language is Ethics. I hold it certainly to
be very important that one makes an end
to all the chatter about ethics‌—‌whether
there can be knowledge in ethics, wheth-
er there are values, whether the Good
can be defined, etc. In ethics one always
makes the attempt to say something
which cannot concern and never con-
cerns the essence of the matter. It is a pri-
ori certain: whatever one may give as a
definition of the Good‌—‌it is always only

147
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

Previous pages: a misunderstanding to suppose that the


Joseph Semah
Tracing Martin Heidegger’s hut expression corresponds to what one
and Paul Celan’s clouds: […], actually means (Moore). But the tenden-
2010 139, 142, 143
Alexander Kluge
cy to run up against shows something.
Triptychon, 2018 140, 144 The holy Augustine already knew this
Ian Hamilton Finlay when he said: “What, you scoundrel,
Adorno’s Hut, 1986–87 146
The present selection of artworks
you would speak no nonsense? Go ahead
40
is part of a larger, multimedia ‌and speak nonsense‌—it doesn’t matter!”
body of work conceived by Dutch-
Israeli artist Joseph Semah in
direct response to the unsettling
memory of Martin Heidegger’s It is certainly amusing to imagine
meetings with the Romanian-born
Jewish poet Paul Celan in Freiburg
the scene. As Ray Monk noted,
and Todtnauberg in 1967. Celan had “Saint Augustine, Heidegger, Kierke­
survived World War II in a Nazi
labor camp in his native Czernowitz gaard‌—‌these are not names one expects
region, an experience immortalized
in his oft-quoted Todesfuge (Death
to hear mentioned in conversations
Fugue) poem, written around 1945. with the Vienna Circle‌—‌except as
The shadow of the Shoah haunted
Celan until his suicide in Paris in targets of abuse.”41 Monk recalls that
1970—a shadow that can be
discerned in Semah’s reimagining
Moritz Schlick’s attempts, starting in
the contours of Heidegger’s hut as the summer of 1927‌—S‌ chlick first met
lugubriously twinned to those of a
Nazi-built crematorium. Celan’s Wittgenstein in February at the house
meeting with the former NSDAP
member concluded with an oblique
of the latter’s sister Gretl, a couple
plea on the poet’s behalf for some of months after the iconic building’s
explication or other for past errors,
but no such closure ever appeared to completion‌—‌to persuade Wittgenstein
have been on Heidegger’s mind. to attend the meetings of the Wiener
Kreis, had included the assurance
“that the discussion would not have
to be philosophical; he could discuss

148
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

40 Quoted in Paul M. Living- whatever he liked.” And indeed,


ston, “Wittgenstein Reads
Heidegger, Heidegger Reads
“sometimes, to the surprise of his audi-
Wittgenstein: Thinking
Language Bounding World,”
ence, Wittgenstein would turn his back
in Jeffrey Bell (ed.), Beyond on them and read poetry. In particular
the Analytic-Continental Divide:
Pluralist Philosophy in the Twen- […] he read them the poems of Rabin-
ty-First Century (Oxford: Rout-
ledge, 2017), pp. 222–223.
dranath Tagore, an Indian poet much
According to Livingston, in vogue in Vienna at that time, whose
the remark was first published
in the January 1965 issue of poems express a mystical outlook
the Philosophical Review. Living-
ston’s essay begins on a taut
diametrically opposed to that of
dramatic note: “This is a tale the members of Schlick’s Circle.”42
of two readings, and of a
non-encounter, the missed It would take another forty years
encounter between two philos-
ophers whose legacy, as
for Heidegger to return the favor, so to
has been noted, might jointly speak; the only recorded remark about
define the scope of problems
and questions left open, in the the philosophy of Wittgenstein dates
wake of the 20th century, for
philosophy today.”
back to the very end of Heidegger’s
active teaching life, namely to the semi-
41 Monk, op. cit., p. 283.
nars conducted in the French Provençal
town of Le Thor in the years 1966 to
1969. (These seminars were initially
conducted at the house of the French
poet and Resistance veteran René Char.)
Here is the fragment in question, dated
September 2, 1969, worth quoting in its
entirety to better convey the magnitude,
in fact, of Heidegger’s fundamental
misreading of Wittgenstein’s:

149
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

42 Ibid., 243. The writings What does “the question of being”


of Tagore rank among the
handful of books that Wittgen-
mean? One says “being” and from the
stein was fond of gifting to his outset one understands the word meta-
friends, like Tolstoy’s Gospel in
Brief and the stories of Johann physically, i.e. from out of metaphysics.
Peter Hebel. Around this
time—the mid 1930s—Witt- However, in metaphysics and its tradi-
genstein jotted down a remark tion, “being” means: that which deter-
that was only to see the light
of public scrutiny much later, mines a being insofar as it is a being. As
namely in Culture and Value,
the body of “vermischte a result, metaphysically the question of
Bemerkungen” compiled
being means: the question concerning
and edited by Georg Henrik
von Wright, Wittgenstein’s the being as a being, or otherwise put:
successor in Cambridge, in
1977: “Philosophie dürfte man the question concerning the ground of a
eigentlich nur dichten” (alter-
being.
nately translated as “really
one should write philosophy To this question, the history of meta-
only as one writes a poem”
or “philosophy ought really physics has given a series of answers.
to be written only as a poetic
composition”) Ludwig Wittgen-
As an example: energeia. Here reference
stein, Culture and Value, trans. is made to the Aristotelian answer to the
Peter Winch (Chicago, ILL:
The University of Chicago question, “What is the being as a being?”
Press, 1980), p. 24. Compare
this to a poem written by
–an answer which runs energeia, and
Martin Heidegger in 1947 not some hypokeimenon. For its part,
that lists, in verse, the follow-
ing “danger that threatens the hypokeimenon is an interpretation
thinking”: “The bad and thus
muddled danger / is philoso-
of beings and by no means an interpreta-
phizing.” In writers such as tion of being. In the most concrete terms,
Rainer Maria Rilke and Georg
Trakl, Heidegger and Wittgen- hypokeimenon is the presencing of an
stein definitely shared idiosyn-
cratic lyrical enthusiasms.
island or of a mountain, and when one is
in Greece such a presencing leaps into
view. Hypokeimenon is in fact the being

150
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

as it lets itself be seen, and this means:


that which is there before the eyes, as
it brings itself forth from itself. Thus
the mountain lies on the land and
the island in the sea.
Such is the Greek experience
of beings.

For us, being as a whole–ta onta–is only


an empty word. For us, there is no longer
that experience of beings in the Greek
sense. On the contrary, as in Wittgenstein,
“the real is what is the case” (“Wirklich
ist, was der Fall ist”) (which means: that
which falls under a determination, lets
itself be established, the determinable),
actually an eerie (gespenstischer) state-
ment. For the Greeks, on the contrary,
this experience of beings is so rich,
so concrete and touches the Greeks to
such an extent that there are significant
synonyms (Aristotle, Metaphysics A):
ta phainomena, ta alethea. For this rea-
son, it gets us nowhere to translate ta
onta literally as “the beings.” In so
doing, there is no understanding

151
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

of what is being for the Greeks.


It is authentically: ta alethea, what
43 Martin Heidegger,
Four Seminars (Studies in is revealed in unconcealment, what
Continental Thought), trans.
Andrew J. Mitchell and postpones concealment for a time;
François Raffoul (Bloomington, it is ta phainomena, what here shows
Indianapolis: Indiana Univer- 43
sity Press, 2012), pp. 35–36. itself from itself.

“The real is what is the case”


(“Wirklich ist, was der Fall ist”),
Heidegger is quoting Wittgenstein
as saying‌—a‌ n obviously erroneous
reference to the famous opening
sentence of the Tractatus Logico-
Philosophicus, which really states
that “the world is all, that is the case”
(“Die Welt is Alles, das der Fall ist”).
Interestingly enough, a much earlier
reference to Wittgenstein in Heideg-
ger’s writings recently came to the
surface in the notorious “Schwarze
Hefte” or “black notebooks,” diaries
kept by Heidegger starting in 1930 until
the end of his life, with much interest
evidently directed towards the ponder-
ings jotted down in them during the
Third Reich’s twelve-year rule he so

152
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

enthusiastically embraced. An undated


remark, almost haiku-like in its order-
ing, made sometime in 1938 or 1939
simply states:

Wittgenstein‌— ‌ /
In a lecture in Vienna:
“The absolute is the proposition.”‌—‌
i.e., the assertion.

44 Martin Heidegger,
Ponderings VII–XI: Black The editors helpfully add a footnote
Notebooks 1938–1939 (Studies
in Continental Thought), trans. stating that “neither the “lecture,”
Richard Rojcewicz (Blooming-
ton, Indianapolis: Indiana
nor the quotation, nor Heidegger’s
University Press, 2017), p. 203. source is known.”44 Did Heidegger
attend a lecture by Wittgenstein in
Vienna? Or rather a lecture by one of
his disciples, schooled in the ways of
the Wiener Kreis? The former seems
unlikely: Wittgenstein had become a
British citizen after the Anschluss of
March 12, 1938, and it is hard to imagine
him lecturing in the Austrian capital
at a time of extreme distress for his
brother and sisters. (“One morning
in late March, Paul [Wittgenstein]
came into the room where Hermine

153
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

45 Alexander Waugh,
was sitting, his face white with horror,
The House of Wittgenstein:
A Family at War (New York:
and said to her: “Wir gelten als Juden!”
Anchor Books, 2008), p. 205. (We count as Jews!).”45) As for the
latter: the Vienna Circle had effectively
ceased existing after the Nazi annex-
ation of Austria, and its spiritual leader
Moritz Schlick had been assassinated
two years earlier on the central staircase
of Vienna’s main university building
by a former student whose deed was
later celebrated by the rising tide of
Austrofascism as an attack on “Jewish
doctrines alien and detrimental to the
nation.” (Schlick himself, it should be
noted, was not Jewish.)
There are no noteworthy traces of
any sustained intellectual engagement
on Heidegger’s part with the philoso-
phy of Adorno. In an interview with
the philosopher Richard Wisser
conducted in 1969, Heidegger simply
said the following: “When Adorno
came back to Germany, he said, ‘I was
told: In five years, I’ll have cut Heideg-
ger down to size.’ You see what kind of
man he is.” He then admits: “I have

154
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

never read anything of his. Hermann


Mörchen once tried to convince me to
46 Richard Wisser (ed.),
read Adorno. I didn’t.” About Negative
Martin Heidegger in Gespräch
(Freiburg: K. Alber, 1970).
Dialectics, which he didn’t read but
Hermann Mörchen, a student heard Wisser speak about at evidently
of Heidegger’s from his
Marburg days, wrote two
tiring length, Heidegger merely notes,
books about Adorno and
Heidegger, the second one
with the unshakeable condescension
of which, published in 1981, of his highland living: “So he is a
was titled Untersuchung einer
philosophische Kommunikations- sociologist and not a philosopher.”
verweigerung: a study of
a “philosophical refusal
The conversation ends with a question:
to communicate.” “With whom did Adorno study?”46

155
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

We already discussed the missed oppor-


tunity of a meeting between Adorno
and Wittgenstein during the former’s
English exile. It appears fairly certain
that Wittgenstein never read any of
Adorno’s writings and may never even
have heard of Adorno; he was not
known to follow contemporary philo-
sophical developments all that closely.
It is best to imagine that, should they
ever have met, they would have stuck,
wisely, to discussing musical matters.
The relationship, conversely, of
Adorno to Ludwig Wittgenstein is
best summed up in an underhanded
comment recorded in The Jargon
of Authenticity, which was really
a screed directed against the stifling
grip of Heideggerian philosophy on
the postwar German imagination:
47 Theodor Adorno,
The Jargon of Authenticity “the term ‘commitment’ unites
(Evanston: Northwestern
University Press, 1973),
Heidegger and Jaspers together
p. 69. with the lowest tractatus-writers.”47
Indeed, further on in the same book,
Adorno refers to Heidegger’s writings
compiled, in 1957, under the rubric

156
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

Identität und Differenz as his “tracta-


tus”: Adorno’s blistering critique of
Heidegger is a critique of both Heideg-
ger and Wittgenstein. Elsewhere in his
writing, we come across the following
fragment: “It no doubt sounds very
heroic when Wittgenstein declares that
one should say only that which can be
said clearly. It also conveys a mystical-­
existential aura that many today find
appealing. But I believe that this famous
Wittgensteinian proposition is of an
indescribable spiritual vulgarity inas-
much as it ignores the whole point of
philosophy. It is precisely the paradox
of this enterprise that it aims to say
48 Theodor Adorno, Philoso- the unsayable, to express by means
phische Terminologie I (Frankfurt
am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag,
of concepts that which cannot be
1973), pp. 55–56. expressed by means of concepts.”48
Or, in Against Epistemology: “As long
as philosophy is no more than the cult
of what ‘is the case,’ in Wittgenstein’s
formula, it enters into competition
with the sciences to which in delusion
it assimilates itself‌—‌and loses. If it
dissociates itself from the sciences,

157
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

however, and in refreshed merriment


49 Theodor Adorno, Against thinks itself free of them, it becomes a
Epistemology,  trans. Willis
Domingo (Cambridge, MA:
powerless reserve, the shadow of shad-
The MIT Press, 1982), p. 42. owy Sunday religion.”49 And finally:
“Wittgenstein’s maxim, ‘Whereof
one cannot speak, thereof one must
be silent’, in which the extreme of
positivism spills over into the gesture
of reverent authoritarian authenticity,
and which for that reason exerts a kind
of intellectual mass suggestion, is utterly
antiphilosophical. If philosophy can
be defined at all, it is an effort to express
50 Theodor Adorno, Hegel:
Three Studies,  trans. Shierry things one cannot speak about, to help
W. Nicholson (Cambridge,
MA: The MIT Press, 1971),
express the nonidentical despite the fact
pp. 101–102. that expressing it identifies it at the
same time.”50 Too many misreadings
to disentangle here: exile resembles
a Tower of Babel, misunderstanding
a method of choice.
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

About Adorno’s relationship to


Heidegger, finally, one can be brief‌—‌
all the more so since it is the subject
of an entire book of Adorno’s, namely
the aforementioned Jargon of Authen-
ticity. The pathos-laden, frequently
self-defeating animosity of the younger
thinker towards his ageing foe can
hardly obscure the bare facts of a
shared agenda. (Only privately does
Adorno appear to have admitted‌—‌as
in a letter to Max Horkheimer in 1949‌—
‌that Heidegger was “in a way […] not
51 Safranski, op. cit., p. 413. all that different from us.”51) It is Rüdi-
ger Safranski who perceptively noted
that the inevitable rapprochement of
these polar opposites in some way had
to occur in the sphere of art‌—o‌ urs, i.e.
the sphere of the image of the hut‌—
‌rather than that of academic
philosophy or even public opinion:

159
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

The Cassandras up on the mountain


peaks of bad prospects are calling to
each other, exchanging their gloomy
insights across the lowlands where
efficiency and “Carry on as you are”
hold sway. The 1950s and early 1960s
52 Ibid., pp. 408–409. Note
have given rise to a disaster discourse
Safranski’s paraphrase of
the rote opposition of the that coexists peacefully with reconstruc-
mountain peaks of deep
philosophical reflections tion zeal, with smug prosperity, with
to the lowlands’ lowly ethos
of everyday busy-ness. Refer-
optimism in small things and in the
ring back to our earlier remarks short term. The critics of culture provide
about Heidegger and Wittgen-
stein’s shared love of mountain a gloomy minor-key accompaniment
air, it is worth noting that
Adorno was likewise an en-
to the cheerful hustle of the prospering
thusiast of amateur alpinism Federal Republic. […] Heidegger, the
(if of a far less physically
demanding variety), and espe- critic of his time, suffered a fate similar
cially fond of holidaying in
Sils Maria, Nietzsche’s philo-
to Adorno’s‌—h
‌ e was being listened to
sophical home in the Swiss like an artistic oracle. Not the academies
Engadin. It is in Sils Maria,
interestingly enough, that of sciences but the academies of fine arts
a meeting between Adorno
and Paul Celan should have
were wooing Heidegger, just as they
taken place in August 1959. would soon woo Adorno. Fundamental
The planned encounter never
came to pass, and shortly critique, which did not wish to become
thereafter Celan wrote a darkly
comic short story inspired political and which was fighting shy of
by the non-event and titled religiousness, was inevitably received
“Conversation in the Moun- 52
tains,” published in 1960. on the aesthetic plane.

160
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

“Adorno’s hut,” after all, could only


ever be imagined as a work of art.

161
163
164
165
166
167
168
169
170
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

The places!, and spaces!, one runs into


Heidegger, one way or the other‌—‌as
an epigraph, most recently, prefacing
Previous pages:
Homi Bhabha’s milestone of postcolo-
Robert Gillanders nial studies The Location of Culture,
Eclogue, 1995–98 163 for instance: “a boundary is not that
Aircraft Carrier, 1995–98 164
at which something stops but, as the
Hegel Stile, 1995–98 165
Golden Head, 1995­–98 166
Greeks recognized, the boundary is
Temple, 1995–98 167
that from which something begins
Panzer, 1995–98 168
its presenting”‌—a‌ quote taken from
Herding, 1995–98 169 his “Building, Dwelling, Thinking”
Ian Hamilton Finlay, essay so beloved of aspiring
1995–98 170
architect-theorists.
From 1995 until the poet’s death
in 2006, Robin Gillanders was While visiting Ian Hamilton Finlay’s
Ian Hamilton Finlay’s photogra-
pher of choice for the realization
“retreat,” Little Sparta south of Edin-
of a number of collaborative burgh in September 2017, another book
projects as well as the documenta-
tion of Finlay’s sculptural work, title caught my eye in the late poet’s
most notably the sculpture garden
of Little Sparta in Dunsyre, sizable library: Charles Bambach’s
south of Edinburgh, which Finlay
famously styled “an attack, not
Heidegger’s Roots: Nietzsche, National
a retreat.” Many of the artworks Socialism, and the Greeks. Its introduc-
documented in these photographs
attest to Finlay’s obsession with tion starts with a consideration of “the
both the iconography of warfare
and the tragic trajectory of
hut,” worth quoting in its entirety here:
German philosophy. Gillanders’
elegiac black-and-white images
powerfully capture the militant
melancholy animating Finlay’s
aphoristic art of “silence, exile,
and cunning.”

171
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

The hut is still there. It still stands unob-


trusively at the top of a long sloping hill
some 3000 feet in elevation, nestled just
below a densely clustered patch of dark
and towering fir trees. The small ski hut,
built for Heidegger in 1922 when he was
a young professor, still bears witness to
the lost world of a rural peasant farm
community of the 19th century. No num-
ber marks its front doorway; no tele-
phone, gas, or electric lines obstruct its
view of the valley below. High above the
small village of Todtnauberg in the
southern Black Forest, the cabin still pro-
claims its proud independence from the
interlocking structures of modern exis-
tence with its urban-industrial vision of
implacable progress and irremediable
consumerism. In the early days, Heideg-
ger would retreat to Todtnauberg during
semester breaks and prepare for the rig-
orous regime of thinking and writing by
chopping wood for the fireplace. When
he was still at Marburg, students in
Youth Movement circles would come out
to ski, hike, camp, play guitar, sing, and

172
philosophize. The list of visitors to the
cabin‌—‌Hans-Georg Gadamer, Karl
Löwith, Hannah Arendt, Alfred Baeum-
ler, Ernst Tugendhat, Günther Anders,
Jean Beaufret, Paul Celan, Carl Friedrich
von Weizsäcker, and others‌—‌reads like
a veritable catalog of 20th-century Euro-
pean intellectual history. But what
marked the life-world of the hut more
than its social interactions or philosophi-
cal tête-à-têtes was its isolation and soli-
tude. And it was this sense of solitude
that marked Heidegger’s work-world at
the cabin. As Heidegger himself
expressed it:

People in the city often wonder


whether one gets lonely up in the
mountains among the peasants for
such long and monotonous periods
of time. But it is not loneliness, it is
solitude. In large cities one can easily
be as lonely as almost nowhere else.
But one can never be in solitude
there. Solitude has the peculiar and
originary power not of isolating us
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

but of projecting our whole existence


out into the vast nearness of the pres-
ence [Wesen] of all things.
To the outside observer, the hut pre-
sented itself as a small three-room
cabin with a low-hanging roof that
stood against the outline of a scenic
mountain landscape: a charming cot-
tage with kitchen, bedroom, and
study for summer vacationing and
winter sports. For Heidegger, howev-
er, it stood as an entryway into the
nearness and abiding simplicity of
authentic existence‌—‌a site for dwell-
ing and thinking that safeguarded the
53 Charles Bambach,
Heidegger’s Roots: Nietzsche, old world of the peasant community
National Socialism, and the
Greeks (Ithaca, NY: Cornell against the incursions of modernity.
University Press, 2003), “This cabin-Dasein,” as Heidegger
pp. 1–2. The Heidegger quote
is taken from Denkerfahrungen, called it, did not merely constitute a
1910-1976 (Frankfurt: Kloster-
mann, 1983). It is also here pleasant background for his work but
that Bambach comes across became for him an essential element
the notion of “Hüttensein,” 53
or “cabin-Being.” in the experience of thinking.

174
DIETER ROELSTRAETE

After leafing through this book (which


also references the poignant formula
coined by Ernst Bloch of a “pastorale
militans,” a militant pastoralism),
I wandered about Finlay’s deserted
sculpture garden for an hour or so
in the Scottish afternoon gray. I had
come to visit the place in part to solve
the mystery of the Finlay installation,
referred to in the beginning of this
essay, that was so enigmatically titled
“Adorno’s Hut,” and so hard to find
traces of out there in both the analogue
and digital world. (I was half success-
ful‌—‌something to do with the bicen-
tennial of the French Revolution, the
French art-critical establishment, and
the artist’s polarizing interest in Nazi
aesthetics…). I did come across other
hut-like structures on the grounds of
Little Sparta, and many a nod to
German intellectual history‌—o‌ ne in
the shape of a stone-carved fragment
from a Hölderlin poem paying homage
to “the plowman’s cottage”‌—b‌ ut it was
the experience of Finlay’s house and

175
TROIS MACHINES À PENSER

garden as a whole, of course, that


provided conclusive enlightenment,
not just about Adorno’s Hut, but about
the huts under consideration in this
essay in general. The crucial insight
is encapsulated in the notion that,
as Finlay put it only half-ironically in
54 Alec Finlay (ed.), Ian
Hamilton Finlay: Selections his “Detached Sentences on Gardening,”
(Berkeley, CA: University of
California Press, 2012),
“garden centres must become the
p. 179. Jacobin Clubs of the new Revolution”54
‌—‌that the garden, or the hermit’s cave,
or the philosopher’s hut, the writer’s
cabin and the composer’s cottage,
is not a retreat: it is an attack.

176
178
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Culture
Throughout his life Wittgenstein
recorded miscellaneous thoughts
about architecture, music, and
religion in a series of notebooks.
The following excerpts are re-

and Value
printed from the anthology
Culture and Value, trans.
Peter Winch (Chicago, ILL:
University of Chicago Press,
1980), pp. 16, 22, 42, 43, 69.

Working in philosophy—like work


in architecture in many respects—
is really more a working on oneself.
On one’s own interpretation.
On one’s way of seeing things.
(And what one expects of them.)
1931

179
Previous page:
Ben Richards
Ludwig Wittgenstein rowing
a boat on the Eidsvatnet in
Skjolden, November 1950

180
LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN

Remember the impression one gets


from good architecture, that it expresses
a thought. It makes one want to respond
with a gesture.
c. 1932–34

181
182
LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN

What is pretty cannot be beautiful.


1942

183
184
LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN

Architecture is a gesture. Not every pur-


posive movement of the human body is
a gesture. And no more is every building
designed for a purpose architecture.
1942

185
CULTURE AND VALUE

Architecture immortalizes and glorifies


something. Hence there can be no
architecture where there is nothing
to glorify.
1947–48

186
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background

187
188
189
190
191
192
193
194
Shumon Basar

The Eternal
Return
of the
Primitive
Hut
1
Earth is always-already architecture.
Peter Carl

Jeremy Millar based his film to the natural landscape: Friedrich


The Dark Night of the Intellect Nietzsche was perhaps the first to
(an allusion to the 16th-century programmatically foreground walk-
Spanish mystical poem The Dark ing as a “machine for thinking.”
Night of the Soul) on an essay A perfect stainless steel sphere,
written and narrated by Tim engraved with the name of a peak
Robinson about the landscape in Engadin and allegorically remi-
surrounding Rosroe, a small com- niscent of the Nietzschean specter
munity in Galway on Ireland’s of eternal recurrence, completes
desolate western coast that its the Sils suite of works.
Previous pages:
one-time resident Ludwig Wittgen-
Ben Richards
stein called “the last pool of dark- Wittgenstein on Vacation is
Ludwig Wittgenstein’s hut,
ness at the edge of Europe.” It was the overarching title of an ongoing
Skjolden, November 1950 187
to a cottage located in Rosroe that research project spearheaded by
Jeremy Millar Wittgenstein traveled in 1948 and Sebastian Kjølaas, Siri Hjorth
The Dark Night of the Intellect, again in 1949 in hopes of finishing and Marianne Bredesen conc­
2005 188 his second book, Philosophical erned with the particulars of
Investigations—which was, unsur- Ludwig Wittgenstein’s self-
Goshka Macuga
prisingly, only published after hisimposed exile in Norway. The work
Wittgenstein, 2018 190
death in Cambridge two years later.shown here functions as a model
Gerhard Richter for a monument to be erected near
12.3.89, 1992 191 This selection of overpainted the site of Wittgenstein’s cabin
photographs is taken from a body in Skjolden. It is sculpturally
Gerhard Richter
of work first conceived by Gerhard reminiscent of the duck-rabbit
1. Juli 94, 1994 192
Richter for an exhibition at the diagram made famous in the logi-
Sebastian Makonnen Kjølaas, Nietzsche-Haus (1992–93) in the cian’s Philosophical Investiga-
Marianne Bredesen, Siri Hjorth Swiss Engadin village of Sils tions. The model also emits sound—
Preliminary model of the Maria, an important marker in a whistling composition recorded
Wittgenstein Monument, 1:23, the evolving history of Western in honor of Wittgenstein’s well-­
2018 194 philosophy’s embodied relationship documented whistling mastery.

196
We flee in thought in search of a real
2
refuge.
Gaston Bachelard

1 Quoted from a conversation


between the author of this essay
and Peter Carl.

2 Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics


of Space, trans. Maria Jolas
(Boston, MA: Beacon Press,
1964), p. 31.

197
SHUMON BASAR

Imagine a field. Not an extraordinary


field. Just a field. Grass, yes. Trees in
the distance, also yes. A tempered blue
sky, a few clouds, birds flying from
season to season. No one has lived
in this field. Not in recent recorded
memory. This is an unspoiled field,
the kind conjured by middle class-
imaginations when image searching
for “nature.” There’s silence, but it
is not the silence of God abandoning
earth. It is the silence of the not-city.
There are no roads, no cars, no Star-
bucks, no automatic sliding doors,
no security cameras, no imposing
reception desks in stark office lobbies,
no windows locked shut, no sticky
linoleum, no Mickey Mouse gargoyles,
no marble slabs of boutique shelving,
no subsided brick walls, no wheezing
air-con, no nicotine stained ceilings,
no dusty vitrines, no talking toilets,
no fascist fenestration, no storage
cupboards and their secrets, and
definitely no soaring spires.
There is no architecture.

199
THE ETERNAL RETURN…

But what if you wanted architecture


to appear on this field. With the mini-
mal effort. The minimal means. What
would that be?
A wooden floor the size of a small
room? Walls arranged around it?
A door to enter? One or two windows?
A roof? Because, at some point, it will
rain. It might snow. And so, we might
wonder, is that gathering of elements
the most minimal architecture?
The name for such an assemblage
may be a “hut.” A single syllable word,
as simple as a child’s outline for a
house. Basic shelter, yes, undoubtedly,
for the earth’s inclemency is felt across
most of its inhabited surface. Protec-
tion from outside threats‌—‌wolves,
thieves‌—t‌ hat too. However, the
persistence of the hut in the history
of architecture and culture suggests,
very strongly, that its true symbolic
significance vastly eclipses its modest,
pragmatic pretense. And size.

200
SHUMON BASAR

In Joseph Rykwert’s landmark essay,


On Adam’s House in Paradise (1972),
the hut is introduced as the very first
dwelling in the Garden of Eden, insep-
arable from the bounties of fruit yield-
ing trees. And although the Book of
Genesis makes no specific reference
to Adam and Eve’s house, Rykwert
contends through extrapolation, that
it must have been there, as much a
“promise as well as a memory.”
The hut, as an archetype, contains
multitudes: ghosts of pasts, and shad-
ows of those ghosts that loom into
the future. According to Rykwert:

[…] the return to origins is a constant of


human development. The Primitive
Hut‌—‌the house of the first man‌—‌is
therefore no incidental concern of
theorists, no casual ingredient of myth
or ritual. The return to origins always
3 Joseph Rykwert, On Adam’s
House in Paradise. The Idea of the implies a rethinking of what you do
Primitive Hut in Architectural customarily, an attempt to renew the
History (New York: The Museum 3
of Modern Art, 1972), p. 192. validity of your everyday actions.

201
…OF THE PRIMITIVE HUT

In what forms, and at what times,


has the hut appeared as an effort to
house thought? How did it persist
over advancements in society, belief,
technology? And what is it hiding?
Or, what is it hiding from?

202
203
204
205
206
207
208
209
210
SHUMON BASAR

Alone with God


Imagine climbing to the top of a ruin-
ous column, in the desert heat of the
Eastern Roman Empire, 5th century CE.
There, you will stay for thirty-seven
years, in abstemious devotion to God.
Your name is Simeon Stylites, and, one
day, you will become a saint, in recog-
nition of your extreme privation, and
much time after that, Luis Buñuel will
make a feature film based around your
life, called Simon of the Desert.
Simeon’s retreat from the city
followed the practice of the Desert
Previous pages: Fathers and Desert Mothers, early
Luis Buñuel
Simon of the Desert, 1965 Christian hermits, ascetics and monks
201, 210
who lived mostly in the Scetes desert
Saint Melania the Younger
in a miniature from of Egypt beginning around the 3rd
the Menologion of Basil II,
985 204
century CE. The best known of these
Le Corbusier’s cabin
is Anthony the Great, who became
above Cap–Martin beach,
French Riviera 206
the father of desert monasticism. He
MUJI Hut 207
chose to follow the example of Christ,
Vittore Carpaccio and disavow his wealth and material
Saint Augustine in His Studio
or Vision of Saint Augustine,
belongings. In return, it is said, God
c. 1502 208 gave him special privileges, such as

211
THE ETERNAL RETURN…

the ability to heal the sick. By the time


of Anthony’s death in 356 CE, thou-
sands of monks and nuns had been
drawn to a similar calling. Anthony’s
4 Saint Athanasius of Alexan-
dria, Life of Saint Anthony of biographer, Athanasius of Alexandria,
Egypt (CreateSpace Independent wrote that, “the desert has become
Publishing Platform, 2016).
a city.”4
The Desert Fathers and Mothers
had a profound influence on the early
development of Christianity. They
shaped the way for monasteries to
emerge, as isolated communities
defined by what was made absent.
Isolation and privation‌—‌an away-
ness‌—‌became the premise upon which
exceptional spiritual access (to divine
wisdom, or future heavens) was trans-
acted. As Gaston Bachelard said,
5 Bachelard, op. cit, p. 32. “The hermit is alone before God.”5
The irreducible unit of the monas-
tery was the cell: a tiny, bare room,
pierced by a small window set high
on one wall, through which commune
with God could take place. The monas-
tic cell was its own hut.

212
SHUMON BASAR

At the very end of Buñuel’s film


(which was released in 1965), after
several failed attempts to break
Simon’s resolve, Satan transports
the two of them to a 1960s nightclub.
There, young people are dancing
maniacally to a song called “Radioac-
tive Flesh.” It is, perhaps, the absolute
antithesis to Simon’s decades alone atop
of the column, or, when he hid away
in a hut for few year, an act people
considered a miracle. Simon tells Satan
he wants to go home, back to the
desert, back to the minimal means of
existence. But Satan says he cannot.

213
…OF THE PRIMITIVE HUT

Alone with Knowledge


Imagine a palace in 15th-century
Urbino. Its impressive hallways
and staterooms, where decrees may
be signed, and wars weighed. In the
center of this palace is a small chamber.
It is set aside for study and contempla-
tion. Its walls are made from marquetry
and intarsia, and depict, in trompe
l’œil, shelves, benches and half-open
doors containing symbolic objects
representing the Liberal Arts. You
are Duke Federico III da Montefeltro,
and every day, your routine consists
of reading Greek literature, visiting
the lararium, and devoting yourself
to Classical studies in this studiolo.
These rooms became popular during
the European Renaissance. It signaled
that the owner was especially culti-
vated: in philosophy, astronomy, math-
ematics. As such, the studiolo’s walls
were meticulously inlaid with depic-
tions of musical instruments, books,
astrolabes, etc. The use of perspective

214
SHUMON BASAR

in the marquetry or intarsia creates


depth from flatness, of course, but
also introduces a realm of illusion
and latency. The studiolo was theatrics.
A stage-set for the (re-)making of
a character. The owner would meet
with their tutor in this space. Here,
they would turn away from daily
duties‌—‌as businessman, military
leader or head of state‌—a‌ nd turn
inwards, towards the space of knowl-
edge. In Duke Federico’s case, his
studiolo turned away from the city
of Urbino, and faced his rural lands,
suggesting that introspection is
oriented towards awayness, towards
nature.
In a letter to his friend Francesco
Vettori, Machiavelli described the
kind of personal retreat his studiolo
represented:

When evening comes, I return home and


go into my study. On the threshold I strip
off my muddy, sweaty workday clothes,
and put on the robes of court and palace,

215
THE ETERNAL RETURN…

and in this graver dress I enter the


antique courts of the ancients and am
welcomed by them… Then I make bold
to speak to them and ask the motives for
their actions and they, in their humanity,
reply to me. And for the space of four
6 Letter dated 1513, quoted in
John R. Hale, The Literary Works hours I forget the world, remember no
of Machiavelli (London and New vexations, fear poverty no more, tremble
York: Oxford University Press, 6
1961), p. 139. no more at death: I pass into their world.

Two famous paintings of a studiolo are


Antonello da Messina’s Jerome in His
Study (c. 1475) and Vittore Carpaccio’s
Saint Augustine in His Study (c. 1502).
In both, we see an elaborate constella-
tion of objects, furniture, books and
animals, all deeply recessed in spaces
that exclude the outside. For, like the
hut, the studiolo was an intense cos-
mos of interiority, one engineered
specifically towards rarefied thinking.
A retreat into a private zone of worldly
knowledge, where transformation‌—
‌of the mind, the soul‌—‌was possible.

216
SHUMON BASAR

Alone with Nature


Imagine a forest. You choose to bed
here for the night. There are four trees,
similar in height and form, close to
one another. You tear off some sturdy
branches. Array them across the
tops of the trees, forming a frame.
The other stripped branches, you set
at a pitched angle to one another.
Leaves are your roof tiles. Now
you are ready to sleep.
In 1753, Abbé Marc-Antoine
Laugier published Essai sur l’Architec-
ture. Three years earlier, Jean-Jacques
Rousseau published the first of his
treatises on the corrupting forces of
civilization upon human beings, Dis-
cours sur les sciences et les arts. Like
Rousseau, Laugier sought a way out
of the current cultural moment, which,
in France’s architecture at that point,
had become dominated by the Baroque:
excessively ornate, and, in Laugier’s
opinion, removed from the fundamen-
tal program of architecture: to shelter.

217
…OF THE PRIMITIVE HUT

Laugier returned to Vitruvius,


a 1st-century-BCE Roman civil and
military engineer, whose De architec-
tura is considered the earliest intact writ-
ing on the decorum of architecture, and
served as canonical from the Renaissance
onwards. Updating Vitruvius’ triad‌—
‌firmitas, utilitas, venustas (solid, useful,
beautiful)‌—‌Laugier sought his creation
myth in what nature had to offer:

The man is willing to make himself


an abode which covers but not buries
him […]. Pieces of wood raised perpen-
dicularly, give us the idea of columns.
The horizontal pieces that are laid upon
them, afford us the idea of entablatures
[…]. The little rustic cabin that I have just
7 Marc-Antoine Laugier,
described, is the model upon which all
An Essay on Architecture the magnificences of architecture have
(London: Osborne & Shipton, 7
1755), pp. 10–11. been imagined.

But, it was the second edition of Essai


sur l’Architecture, published in 1755,
that crystallized Laugier’s words into
a single compelling image:

218
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lighten paper
tone slightly/
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of image on left-
hand page

219
220
221
222
223
224
225
226
SHUMON BASAR

Charles-Dominique Eisen’s allegorical


frontispiece shows a young woman
pointing at a “primitive hut.” The hut
is embedded in trees, assembled from
branches; a kind of associative appari-
tion that synthesizes found nature with
human intent. In pointing didactically,
instructing a young child next to her,
the message is clear: this is the way.
This is the model of excellence. A return
to origins during the Age of Reason.
Architecture “discovered,” rather than
invented, whose moral virtue was thus
entwined with the prelapsarian status
Previous pages:
Luis Buñuel
of nature, “primitive man” and modesty.
Simon of the Desert, As Giambattista Vico, the Enlighten-
1965 219
Caspar David Friedrich
ment thinker put it:
The Sea of Ice or The Wreck
of Hope, 1823–24 220
Philosophers and philologists should be
The Duke’s Studiolo,
Palazzo Ducale, Urbino, concerned in the first place with poetic
1476 222, 226
metaphysics; that is, the science that
Studiolo, northern Italy, c. looks for proof, not in the external world,
1480 224
but in the very modifications of the mind
8 Giambattista Vico, that mediates on it. Since the world of
New Science, introduction nations is made by men, it is inside their
by Anthony Grafton
8
(London: Penguin, 1999). minds that principles should be sought.

227
THE ETERNAL RETURN…

Alone with the Void


Imagine a mountain. There stands
a man, besuited, walking cane propped
on the rock. Mist ripples in front of
him, blending into the clouds, receding
infinitely, perhaps, into some unknow-
able scale, of which, the man we see
is merely a kind of overawed fragment.
But we do not see the awe on his face
because we are standing behind him,
or more accurately floating, like a
surveillance drone. Together, the
figure and the scene conjure plaintive
enormity, an aestheticized stillness.
Some kind of sublime.
Caspar David Friedrich, whose
famous painting Wanderer Above
a Sea of Fog (1818) is described above,
wrote:

9 Joseph Leo Koerner, Caspar …the painter depicts not what he


David Friedrich and the Subject of sees before him, but what he sees
Landscape (New Haven, CT: Yale 9
University Press, 1995), p. 90. within him.

228
SHUMON BASAR

This summarizes the credo of Roman-


ticism, the largely 18th-century move-
ment that emerged at Enlightenment’s
dusk. Where Enlightenment valorized
reason and scientific method to arrive
at an ethics of nationhood and gover-
nance, Romanticism stressed the
primacy of individual agency. Often
to the point of hysterical and stormy
extremes. According to Isaiah Berlin,
Romanticism embodied:

A new and restless spirit, seeking vio-


lently to burst through old and cramping
forms, a nervous preoccupation with
perpetually changing inner states of con-
sciousness, a longing for the unbounded
and the indefinable, for perpetual move-
ment and change, an effort to return to
the forgotten sources of life, a passionate
effort at self-assertion both individual
10 Isaiah Berlin, The Crooked
Timber of Humanity: Chapters in and collective, a search after means of
the History of Ideas (Princeton, expressing an unappeasable yearning
NJ: Princeton University Press, 10
2013), p. 96. for unattainable goals.

229
…OF THE PRIMITIVE HUT

The context in which the artist or


writer would achieve such shrill self-
awareness was, for many Romantics
like Caspar David Friedrich, that of
nature, which was already being placed
in opposition to newly industrialized
cities, whose factories, smoke and
machines were instruments of human
oppression. Escape‌—t‌ o the Alps, to
the lakes‌—f‌ rom the city, would unleash
what Friedrich referred to as “the
artist’s feeling [as] his law.”
Solitude plus nature gave rise to
thought-in-nature, which in turn
produced an apprehension of “terrify-
ing beauty.” Infinity set against mortal-
ity. The resulting feeling‌—‌aestheticized
horror‌—‌was itself a kind of spatial
condition, an archetypal setting for
human truth, the kind Aristotle had
identified:
11 Aristotle, Physics, I, 1, 1
84a15 –20, in Jonathan Barnes […] from what is more obscure by nature,
(ed.), The Complete Works of but clearer to us, towards what is more
Aristotle (Princeton, NJ: Prince- 11
ton University Press, 1991). clear and more knowable by nature.

230
SHUMON BASAR

Alone without the City


Imagine: On the steep slope of a wide
mountain valley in the southern Black
Forest, at an elevation of 1150 meters,
there stands a small skii hut. The floor
plan measures six meters by seven. The
low- hanging roof covers three rooms:
the kitchen, which is also the living
room, a bedroom and a study. Scattered
at wide intervals throughout the narrow
base of the valley and on the equally
steep slope opposite, lie the farmhouses
with their large overhanging roofs.
Higher up the slope the meadows and
pasturelands lead to the woods with its
12 Martin Heidegger in dark fir-trees, old and towering. Over
Thomas Sheehan (ed.),
Heidegger: The Man and everything there stands a clear summer
the Thinker (Piscataway,
NJ: Transaction Publishers,
sky, and in its radian expanse two dark
2010), p. 27. hawks glide around in wide circles.12
In September 1933, Martin Heideg-
ger delivered a radio broadcast, entitled
Creative Landscape, which was pub-
lished in print the following year as,
Why Do I Stay in the Provinces?
The above quote is taken from that text.

231
THE ETERNAL RETURN…

The function of Heidegger’s broadcast


was to explain why he had chosen
to turn down, for the second time,
a Professorship at the University of
Berlin, and instead remain in Freiburg,
in the “provinces.” A full analysis of
his argument would need to be situated
in the broader German context of the
time (that Hitler became absolute ruler
in January 1933, that Heidegger joined
the National Socialist Party in May of
that year, and remained a party member
till the end of World War II): much has
been contested, and counter-contested,
about Heidegger’s affiliation with
Nazism and anti-Semitism. The topic
cannot be adequately covered here,
but, nor can it go unmentioned that
Heidegger’s praise‌—‌fetish, even‌—‌
for the world of the “peasant” would
have resonated with the dominant
fervor of Nazi German nationalism at
the time. Heidegger’s hütte in the Black
Forest was many things, but it was
certainly a stage-set as philosophical
manifesto, one which, as his radio

232
SHUMON BASAR

broadcast elaborately performs, turns


its back on the city. According to
Adrian Wilding:

For Heidegger, neither philosophy in


its profoundest sense, nor existence
in its emphatic “authentic” sense were
possible in the public world of the city,
13 Adrian Wilding, “Why
We Don’t Remain in the Prov- a world which, on the contrary, was
inces,” in Philosophy & Social
a place of inauthenticity, loneliness,
Criticism, issue no. 31, January 13
1, 2005, pp. 109–129. forgetfulness and untruth.

This sentiment is echoed by Adolf


Loos, Ludwig Wittgenstein’s archi-
tect-friend, who wrote:

The architect, like almost every urban


dweller, has no culture. He lacks the cer-
tainty of the farmer, who possesses cul-
14 Quoted in Yehuda Safran ture. The urban dweller is an uprooted
and Wifried Wang (eds.), The
Architecture of Adolf Loos: an person. By culture I mean that balance of
Arts Council Exhibition (London: man’s inner and outer being which alone
Arts Council of Great Britain, 14
1986), p. 104. guarantees rational thought and action.

233
…OF THE PRIMITIVE HUT

Nearly Alone by the Sea


Imagine the Mediterranean Sea, on the
morning of August 27, 1965. A seven-
ty-seven-year-old man goes for a swim,
as he has done every morning, more re-
cently against the advice of his doctor.
By 11am, he is found dead, by passers-
by, washed up on the beach. Not far
away, is his “Cabanon,” a single-room
hut, with adjoining studio, which he
had designed for himself and his wife
Yvonne, fourteen years prior.
By the time of his death, Le
Corbusier was arguably the most
famous architect and urbanist in the
world. Besides his countless celebrated
buildings, such as villas, housing and
museums, he had dreamt up immense
city plans, both unbuilt (Paris, Algiers),
and built (Punjab’s new post-indepen-
dence capital, Chandigarh). And yet,
the only thing he had built for himself
was this tiny rustic looking hut, at
Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, on the
French Riviera. Measuring a mere

234
SHUMON BASAR

366 × 366 centimeters in plan, and 224


centimeters in height, the “Cabanon”
was one of Le Corbusier’s most enig-
matic conundrums.
Whilst its outside claimed authentic
fidelity to rusticity, the inside revealed
an entirely different kind of world to
that of Heidegger’s hütte. A more
familiar Le Corbusier language of rigid
geometric volumes, finished in wood,
or painted in his trademark colors, pro-
portioned to his invented “Modulor”
system of measurements. A true
machine for living very modestly,
with the toilet placed right next to
the bed. Down a small pathway was an
even smaller hut, where Le Corbusier
would work. In his 1922 manifesto,
Vers une Architecture, he had written:

Primitive Man has halted his chariot;


he has decided that here shall be his
home ground. He chooses a clearing
and cuts down that crowd in it; he levels
the ground about it; he makes a path to
the stream or to the settlement of his

235
THE ETERNAL RETURN…

fellow tribesman which he has just left…


15 First published by Éditions there is no such thing as Primitive Man;
Crès, Paris, in “L’Esprit
Nouveau” collection, the text is there are only primitive means. The
here quoted from the English
idea is constant, potent from the very
edition Towards a New Architecture
15
(New York: Dover, 1986), p. 69. outset.

The location of the Cabanon is not


so much “away”‌—‌in the desert or
the forest‌—‌but in proximity to Le
Corbusier’s mytho-cosmological
elements of earth, sun, sea and sky.
His ritual of daily swimming physically
embroiled him in these symbols, after
which he could return to the
hyper-compact Cabanon complex,
and further his globalized plans and
projects, whose architectural progeny
had already changed the urban fabric
of every continent on the planet. The
Cabanon was a key part of Le Corbusi-
er’s own manufactured mythology, as
a poet-modernizer, whose pronounce-
ments on the future were fueled by
careful, coded citations of the past.

236
SHUMON BASAR

Alone: A Lifestyle
Imagine calling up Muji, because,
you read this on their website, and,
you want to make an order:

Who hasn’t dreamt of living somewhere


they really want to be? The tools to make
that dream a reality are now available.
It’s not as dramatic as owning a house
or a vacation home, but it’s not as basic
as going on a trip.

Put it in the mountains, near the ocean,


or in a garden, and it immediately blends
in with the surroundings, inviting you
to a whole new life.

This was the vision behind our radically


16 https://www.muji.com/jp/ 16
mujihut/en.html new “MUJI Hut” concept.

Costing 3,000,000 yen, the MUJI Hut


is a prefabricated single room unit
finished to the same perfection as a
Muji stationery holder. It doesn’t come
with somewhere to put it‌—t‌ hat is your

237
…OF THE PRIMITIVE HUT

responsibility‌—‌but it does come with


a very contemporary fantasy: to escape
roads, cars, Starbucks, automatic slid-
ing doors, security cameras, imposing
reception desks in stark office lobbies,
windows locked shut, sticky linoleum,
Mickey Mouse gargoyles, marble slabs
of boutique shelving, subsided brick
walls, wheezing air-con, nicotine
stained ceilings, dusty vitrines, talking
toilets, fascist fenestration, storage
cupboards, and soaring spires.
To escape architecture.

238
SHUMON BASAR

Never Alone Again


The hut‌—‌“primitive” or other-
wise‌—m ‌ ay be the first conceptual
architecture, as much as the first
concrete architecture, because, as
we have seen, it is the basic unit of
architecture thinking about itself.
A mono-syllabic, ur-thought.
It contains a multitude of fantasies
and is comprised of a history of intel-
lectual fantasies, some of which have
been outlined in this text.
The hut is the threshold between
nature and not-nature, regardless
of whether nature itself mutates
into something altogether artificial,
augmented and irreparable, as it is
today. Indeed, the hut is a quantitative
constant against the chaos of change‌—‌
a veritable eye of the storm‌‌—‌‌ and it
is this supposed immutability that
has rendered it perennially relevant.
Will this fantasy persist for future
philosophers? Will they, too, crave
self-exile, in order to turn inwards,

239
THE ETERNAL RETURN…

to some ineffable essence, from which


thought can speak? I can’t imagine
a so-called “accelerationist” choosing
this as their mythos anymore, even
though they may well holiday on a
remote Greek island in the summers.
Perhaps simply choosing to cut off
your Wi-Fi, or smashing your smart-
phone with a rock, will deliver the same
results as cultivated removal once did.
At this point, the hut is no longer made
of wood, but rather, the articulated
destruction of here-ness.

240
243
244
245
246
247
248
249
250
Theodor Adorno

Refuge
Text from Minima Moralia,
a collection of reflections and
aphorisms that Theodor Adorno
started writing during World
War II while living exiled in

for the
Los Angeles, California. The
following excerpt is reprinted
from Minima Moralia: Reflec-
tions from Damaged Life,
trans. E.F.N. Jephcott (London:

Homeless
Verso, 1974), pp. 38–39.

The predicament of private life today is


shown by its arena. Dwelling, in the
proper sense, is now impossible. The
Previous pages: traditional residences we grew up in
Patrick Lakey
have grown intolerable; each trait of
Fichte: Fichte’s House,
Jena, Germany, II, comfort in them is paid for with a betray-
2004 243
al of knowledge, each vestige of shelter
Nietzsche: Nietzsche’s House,
Sils Maria, Switzerland, III, with the musty pact of family interest.
2004 245
The functional modern habitations
Engels: Primrose Hill, London,
2004 246
designed from a tabula rasa, are liv-
Wittgenstein: Whewell’s ing-cases of manufactured by experts
Court, Trinity College, for philistines, or factory sites that have
Cambridge, England, III,
2004 248 stayed into the consumption sphere,
Adorno & Horkheimer: Lion devoid of all relation to the occupant: in
and Marta Feuchtwanger’s
House (Villa Aurora), Los them even the nostalgia for independent
Angeles,California, USA, II,
2004 250 existence, defunct in any case, is sent

251
REFUGE FOR THE HOMELESS

packing. Modern man wishes to sleep


close to the ground like an animal, a Ger-
man magazine decreed with prophetic
masochism before Hitler, abolishing
with the bed the threshold between wak-
ing and dreaming. The sleepless are on
call at any hour, unresistingly ready for
anything, alert and unconscious at once.
Anyone seeking refuge in a genuine, but
purchased, period-style house, embalms
himself alive. The attempt to evade
responsibility for one’s residence by
moving into a hotel or furnished rooms,
makes the enforced conditions of emi-
gration a wisely-chosen norm. The hard-
est hit, as everywhere, are those who
have no choice. They live, if not in slums,
in bungalows that by tomorrow may be
leaf-huts, trailers, cars, camps, or the
open air. The house is past. The bomb-
ings of European cities, as well as the
labor and concentration camps, merely
proceed as executors, with what the
immanent development of technology
had long decided was to be the fate of
houses. These are now good only to be

252
THEODOR ADORNO

thrown away like old food cans. The pos-


sibility of residence is annihilated by that
of socialist society, which, once missed,
saps the foundations of bourgeois life.
No individual can resist this process. He
need only take an interest in furniture
design or interior decoration to find him-
self developing the arty-crafty sensibili-
ties of the bibliophile, however firmly he
may opposes arts-and-crafts in the nar-
rower sense. From a distance the differ-
ence between the Vienna Workshops
and the Bauhaus is no longer so consid-
erable. Purely functional curves, having
broken free of their purpose, are now
becoming just as ornamental as the
basic structures of Cubism. The best
mode of conduct, in face of all this, still
seems an uncommitted, suspended one:
to lead a private life, as far as the social
order and one’s own needs will tolerate
nothing else, but not to attach weight to
it as to something still socially substan-
tial and individually appropriate. “It is
even part of my good fortune not to be a
house-owner,” Nietzsche already wrote

253
REFUGE FOR THE HOMELESS

1
1 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Joyful in the Gay Science . Today we should
Wisdom (Edinburgh/London:
Foulis, 1910), p. 203. have to add: it is part of morality not to
be at home in one’s home. This gives
some indication of the difficult relation-
ship in which the individual now stands
to his property, as long as he still pos-
sesses anything at all. The trick is to keep
in view, and to express, the fact that pri-
vate property no longer belongs to one,
in the sense that consumer goods have
become potentially so abundant that no
individual has the right to cling to the
principle of their limitation; but that one
must nevertheless have possessions,
if one is not to sink into the dependence
and need which serves the blind perpet-
uation of property relations. But the the-
sis of this paradox leads to destruction, a
loveless disregard for things which nec-
essarily turns against people too; and
the antithesis, no sooner uttered, is an
ideology for those wishing with a bad
conscience to keep what they have.
Wrong life cannot be lived rightly.

254
Alec Finlay

HUTOPIA
HUTOPIA

Coruisk Memorial Hut,


Isle of Skye, Scotland;
photograph Luke Allan, 2012

258
ALEC FINLAY

a hut frames
wilderness

259
HUTOPIA

the hut is the childhood of the house

play-house: hut

being temporary a hut seems


more profound than a home

this little is this much: hut

a hut attempts to limit needs


a house attempts to satisfy them

huts are closer to nature than society1

in its finitude the hut exceeds


the city’s infinite streets

a hut’s aesthetics are mostly ethics

the hut’s four posts


N E E D

260
ALEC FINLAY

the hut liberates building from


architecture

huts aren’t invented


they’re found

the plan of a hut is always in clear sight

huts are planned in pencil

though designs vary


huts should be native
in terms of ecology & locality

the boards of a hut aren’t straight


nor is the path to its door

wood came first: the hut is, in essence,


a wooden structure

261
HUTOPIA

in a hut materials are used in their most


natural way

the hut is a reminder that the evolution


of architecture is concerned with use
as well as design

the character of a hut is a matter


of aptitude & altitude

life always has a cost: in a hut this is


laid bare

a hut intensifies experience


by simplifying it

huts return us to the sense


of straightforward things

262
ALEC FINLAY

the greater part of life happens


outside a hut

in a hut poverty is sometimes cosy

in the ideal hut all the money is kept


in a bowl on the mantelpiece

a hut opens our closing up

huts are happiness

midway through life…


find yourself a hut

263
HUTOPIA

it takes one
of us to
find the hut
and the other
to allow us
to arrive
then we
settle
like snow

264
ALEC FINLAY

as the years gather


my dwellings get smaller2

265
HUTOPIA

Kamo no Chomei my first hut had a wall


but I couldn’t afford a gate
I moved to a shelter
as simple as a hut built
for 1 night by a hunter
on Toyama, Mount Hino
7 feet high × 10 feet square
with a shelf for 3 boxes –
“music”  “poems”  “writings”
and brazier by the bed
that burnt kindling
brung-in from the wood
I get by on berries, cress, & pears
no one owns these views
why vow silence
who is there to blether?
deer are a reminder how far
from town I’ve come
and why I built this hut
for myself alone3

266
ALEC FINLAY

the atom of delight: hut

267
HUTOPIA

a mountain without a bothy is lonely


a glen without a hut is abandoned

roads swell cities and empty the moors


of dwelling

the path to a hut is trodden

it’s our missteps that widen the path

the clearing made for a hut is an eye


in the wood

huts are good for the wellbeing


of a wood

Richard Bracken and Alec Finlay,


Wolf Den, Trees for Life, 2017
Dundreggan, Scotland;
photograph Mhairi Law, 2017

268
ALEC FINLAY

part home / part den

269
HUTOPIA

the constellations were named from


the window of a hut

in-between sleeps the moon changes


windows

the darkness outside the hut fills with


animal shapes at night

from a hut it seems the stars clear the


sky

starlight and snow are alternative means


of lighting

the roof ’s root-crop: icicles

the boots are pooled in their harbour


by the door

a hut is four thin walls nailed around


a metal stove

270
ALEC FINLAY

blankets for a hut


a duvet for a bungalow

the huts window is an omen


its bed an amen

the difference between a hut and a shed


is a bed

at night the ladder down from the bunk


has one less rung

the text of the loo seat at dawn: rime

shitting indoors – progress?

271
HUTOPIA

Ruins of a 18th century


summerhouse, Mar Lodge,
Scotland; photograph
Guy Moreton, 2017

272
ALEC FINLAY

distance and time separate


the Mar Lodge summerhouse

& Wittgenstein’s hut at Skjolden


but they share a prospect

Site of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s


house, Skjolden, Norway;
photograph Guy Moreton, 2005

273
HUTOPIA

huts are not what Wittgenstein,


Thoreau, Heidegger, & Adorno
have in common
but what separates them

274
ALEC FINLAY

a host for thought: hut

the drone of silence: thought

my hut isn’t big, but still, I can think in it

one does not come to a hut to debate


one comes to a hut to think

thoughts become clear in the unthink-


able silence of a hut at night

the philosopher sets up a tent in the


faraway where we may need to shelter
someday4

Naess’s hut had to be carried up the


golden mountain by hand5

Heidegger’s hut was a stage-set

Alec Finlay, poem-label,


the Bothy, Inshriach, the
some have been driven mad in huts by
Cairngorms, Scotland, 2017 the madness inside them
HUTOPIA

how’s my pal over the hill


making out in all this snow?

love is the desolate mountain


and the light shining
in the window of a hut

that hut over there allows me to dwell


here

you only see your neighbour’s lamp at


night

without a far neighbour how will we


love one another?

in a hut lovers sleep closer together than


they have in years

in the old days it was permissible to


share a bed in a bothy with no clothes
on, but, out of respect, a bonnet was
worn6

276
ALEC FINLAY

a hut is family scale and made to be


shared with strangers

Bachelard is wrong: our ideal hut isn’t


one without neighbors
it’s a hut with a curl of smoke
appearing over the hill7

measure from a man’s body


and you get a hut
measure from his purse
and you get a house
measure from his army
and you get a palace

Kevin Langan, Wild Shelter,


Scotland, 2013
HUTOPIA

any culture with huts is aware that


weather and time are close neighbours

the snow shows who lives around a hut


– all the tracks are Fridays

tasks have an order: they begin at first


light & end with the night

temperature is the alarm-clock in a hut

in a hut you tend to find yourself sleep-


ing in the roof or on the floor

a cabin is a shelter for 3 chairs

a hut made of old doors – which leads


inside?

the eaves of a hut are its eyebrows


the stove its heart

278
ALEC FINLAY

smoke is straightforward
chimneys are complicated

stovia: the irrational fear that all the


heat is escaping up the chimney

the smile of the stove in the wreath of


snow on the roof

the morning fire lights the song of a


blackbird from out the chimney

old timers arrange their tea lights in a


quincunx

each hut needs a tender for tinder

traditionally moss & ash are the only


adornments allowed in a hut

poem: kindling
thought: woodstack

279
HUTOPIA

The Bothy Project8 Bobby Niven was born


with a ladder in his head
that led to the high bed
of his mind

the wee stove gets so hot


the showers been put
on the outside

each hut should sit


by a stone that couldn’t
be moved when it
was being built

a home for visitors: bothy

The Bothy, Inshriach, the


Cairngorms, Scotland:
The Bothy Project (Bobby
Niven & Iain MacLeod);
photograph Luke Allan, 2013

280
ALEC FINLAY

a toast may all your wood


for the builder come free of skelfs9

Alec Finlay and The Bothy Proj-


ect (Bobby Niven & Iain
MacLeod), Bothan Shuibhne,
Sweeney’s Bothy, Isle of Eigg,
Scotland

281
HUTOPIA

Bothan Shuibhne, the thorn is the riddle


Sweeney’s Bothy the design began from
a memory of Suibhne’s spear
and the brang of battle
the point of the thorn
marks Suibhne: alone
the morphology of the thorn tree
is torn with intensity:
how can the sharp thicket
be persuaded into
a settled configuration?
the thorn grows by torque
twists itself out of symmetry:
how will we bring the thorn
into translation: borrowing
the means of shelter from nature
so the hut flowers into dwelling
how enter Sweeney’s aviform vision
exchanging beak & wing
for turf and beam?

Alec Finlay, sketches for Bothan


Shuibhne, Sweeney’s Bothy, 2013
282
ALEC FINLAY

Outlandia, a stand of spruce


Glen Nevis10 cleared to make
a hut of larch
this hut has a mast
this is a crow’s nest
this shoogle-shack
will give you vertigo
this hut scrapes
carousel clouds
a frottage cottage
an angel’s wings
for all those
who take the path:
what lies before you
is silence,
what comes after you
is silence

283
HUTOPIA

Outlandia, Glen Nevis,


Scotland: London Fieldworks
(Jo Joelson & Bruce Gilchrist),
with Malcolm Fraser, built
by Norman Clark, 2010;
Outlandia is an off-grid,
treehouse studio; photo­-
graph Luke Allan, 2013

284
ALEC FINLAY

285
HUTOPIA

what made the hut inadequate?


all huts are the same even though their
walls differ
what holds us back from the hut is fear
of the dark
the walls separating realities are thinner
in a hut
the door of a hut is of little importance
compared to its window(s)
a hut seeks no advantages (except its
vantage)
the hut sets straight lines against the sky
a hut lives and breathes in its creaks –
some huts sigh
flowers by a hut?
– I think not

286
ALEC FINLAY

The Quest a hut reached by a track


with many gates
each of which is fastened

with a more complicated


system of chains
& locks than the last

The Tragedy the body of a man found


a short way from the hut

he was trying to find


on a wild & stormy night

287
HUTOPIA

minimal living is a lot of work


first questions:
where does the milk go?
where do my boots go?
how does the fire light?
where are the matches?
cook when the stove is warm
warm yourself when you cook
of necessity the hut is a place where
innovative cooking ingredients are
trialled
the hut’s one luxury: fine mountain tea

beans have been on the menu ever since


Thoreau
stirring the poems
writing the soup

288
ALEC FINLAY

Cairnhead the shepherd’s crab apple


pastoral 11 blossoming
by broken walls

289
HUTOPIA

Carbeth Gerry says it’s just


a wee felt-roofed hut,
a shame to stay inside
but there is rain
wisps of white smoke
rise straightforwardly
from the chimley
those yaffles12
must be trying
to laugh their way in
our survival depends on our willingness
to be generous hosts and modest guests
in the golden age all the palaces were
roofed with thatch

290
ALEC FINLAY

a hut is a room carefully divided


into parts

having only one room there’s the relief


that there’s only one room to clean

it’s possible to become friends with a fly


in a hut – not in a house

a hut with wifi: is it really a hut?

the hut’s two rooms


inside / outside

Hut in Carbeth, Scotland, home


of poet Gerry Loose and artist
Morven Gregor; photograph
Morven Gregor, 2013

291
HUTOPIA

a hut is never a seat of power

a hut belongs to a hillside, not a parish


or ward

there aren’t many folktales in which


the son of a crofter is raised in a palace

a hut is a pocket of resistance hidden


in the hills

pissing in a stove: politics

how shall we make the poetry of huts


into city prose & state laws?

there are a few people who are able


to live in flats as huts

there was never a more radical body


of song than was created
in the plantation cabins
ALEC FINLAY

the hut is a look-out

huts are also used for torture

the watch-tower and border post


are kinds of hut

no-one ever blamed climate breakdown


on huts

the concept of the first hut is of less


significance architecturally than
ecologically

rather than the national character


of architecture huts speak to the
commonality of snow, wind, & rain

protest shelters are a tree-high


dissension

Protest shelter, Allercombe, protest shelters are designed


Devon, England; photograph
Andrew Testa to be above the law
293
HUTOPIA

The Bower a bower is an arc with its roots


planted in the past

a bower is made for & from its


surroundings

a bower is eaves of leaves


& rafters of branches
over a bed of hay

a bower is a simple twist of nature

a bower is set with the strength of


crooked lines

a bower is where the sun-ripened


honeysuckle forbids the
sun from entering13

a bower is open to the sun’s rising


at morning

294
ALEC FINLAY

a bower is open to the sun’s setting


at evening

a bower is shelter for a little light


stalked by shadows

a bower is a lade of light in the glade

a bower is a dry line drawn on a dawn


wet with dew

a bower is a tryst for a night entwined

a bower is a binding that’s sure to come


undone

a bower is pleached logic

a bower is grafted nature14

295
HUTOPIA

a bower is the cover that the letters of


our name configure

a bower is where two people who are


in love attach their names15

a bower is a charm, a rude bed, a fuck

a bower is where you bow down


and enter

for a bender set the saplings in a rock footing


then bind in the strength
of compound curves 16

Alec Finlay with Kevin Langan,


Bower, Duke’s Wood Nature
Reserve, Eakring, Nottingham-
shire, England; photograph Ordi-
nary Culture, 2013

296
ALEC FINLAY

297
HUTOPIA

Shieling transhumance would be more popular


if it was commonly known as
summering17

in the remote glens those patches


of green once held potatoes

shieling huts were where folk went


to heal up on the hill

each hill dwelling cast a net of names


over its surroundings

allotments are the shielings of the city—


where are the allotments of the hill?

rewilding is archaism—it should


embrace the primitive hut

history frames shielings and huts as


archaic, yet they meet a contemporary
need for the remediation of ecology

298
ALEC FINLAY

what if we made shielings, huts,


& place-names the basis of land
management?

we demand that the right to care for a


place replaces the right to own a place

Thoreau would have been an advocate


of shieling culture

A SUMMER CURE
FOR WINTER ILLS
shieling

THE HILL’S
COMMONS
hut

299
The One-night Shieling,
Geallaig, Scotland, from
Alec Finlay’s Gathering project,
commissioned by Hauser
& Wirth; photograph
Hannah Devereux, 2016

300
301
HUTOPIA

Highland Huts, the spittal18 is a precursor of the moun-


Bothies, and tain bothy—both serve passers-by
Island Hostels
the region of the hut is where Gaelic
and English meet

there is a reason there are no longer


huts in the Highlands

in a mountain bothy the lack of a lock


is an act of love

we go to huts and bothies to learn to live


right and find ourselves in a wounded
landscape

a hut is an emergency shelter


“for the rescued and rescuer alike”19

a number of bothies are dedicated to


climbers who died from accidents20

302
ALEC FINLAY

repair parties are the social glue of


the MBA21

a bothy empties a space the size of


a tent in a rucksack – room for food,
fuel, & a book

if summitism22 ceased to be a craze


what would become the purpose
of mountain bothies?

Sir Herbert Gatliff ’s idea: Hebridean


crofts renovated as hostels integrated
into the life of the community
and cared for by a local warden23

Bob Scott’s hut, Glen Derry,


Scotland; photograph Hannah
Devereux, 2016

303
HUTOPIA

mountain bothies haven’t increased


stewardship of wild land – they could
do if they had hosts24

in Scotland mountain huts are accepted


or rejected in terms of the claim they
establish: the right to enjoy (climb),
or the right to care (plant)

janus of the hill:


stalker / climber

climbers made bothies, lairds made


shooting lodges—shelters for
thrill-seekers

peace to the bothies


war on the lodges

304
ALEC FINLAY

Climbers’ Camp, Coruisk, Scot-


land, 1897, with the temporary
wooden tents designed by
J. Rennie for the expedition

305
HUTOPIA

Climbers’ Camp, rain! rain! rain!


Coruisk25 rain all day!
it rained most of the morning
“About tents I’ve nothing
to say except they blow away” it had been raining all day
– Derek Mahon

rain, rain, rain! pouring all day


real Skye rain and no mistake
another night of heavy rain
all night the rain came down in torrents
as the evening advanced
the storm increased
the rain descended in sheets
the rain was now coming down in floods
the noise of many waters
the howling of the wind
the rattle of the wind

high up in the corries I could hear


the storm-fiends shouting and howling
the roar of the winds
and waters was deafening
the whole air was filled
with driving sheets of spindrift

306
ALEC FINLAY

the wind, too, came


in sudden and cold gusts
sweeping the rain from off the rocks
in clouds of spray
last night we had a renewal of
the storm
last night we experienced
another stormy night
the heaviest gale we had yet had
of wind and rain
the storm still continues
“In reading over this record even worse than we had had it before
of our daily doings there
appears to be an undue we had a tremendous gale last night
proportion of ‘weather,’
and too little ‘climbing’
it was the worst we had yet had
recorded, but no doubt
‘weather’ always impresses
one more when camping
if the gale of the 16th was bad
out than at any other time.” that of last night was infinitely worse

307
HUTOPIA

Follies & Marginal small woodland rooms:


Gardens huts, bowers, & groves

the folly hut was an attempt to set a date


on primitive dwelling

the folly was a means to contemplate


time in the forms of the waterfall,
hermit’s beard, & blanketed fog (moss)
growing on a heather roof

a folly looking out on a waterfall:


sublime
with the addition of a hermit:
ridiculous

mountain – ah!
waterfall ah-ha!
garden – haha

a purposed perspective: prospect

308
ALEC FINLAY

follies employed multimedia


technology: ingenious apparatus
distorted perception by means of
coloured glass windows, mirrors,
sliding doors, and enhanced hearing
by means of chambers and waterworks

the laird’s rustic hut symbolised a leafy


refuge— but someone had to plant all
those trees

a viewing hut is aesthetic and economic


—there is my waterfall, over there are
my mountains, and here are all the trees
I planted

today’s Green Lairds are the


equivalent of the Planter Duke’s
of the 18th century26

309
HUTOPIA

Fog House, Invercauld, Scotland,


from Alec Finlay’s Gathering
project, commissioned by
Hauser & Wirth; photograph
Guy Moreton, 2017

310
ALEC FINLAY

MOCK
ROCK
grotto

BROW OF
THE HILL
font

FRAMED
IN THE ROUND
cupola

THE RIVER’S
ALTAR
waterfall

311
HUTOPIA

US Forest Service before the lookout cabins there


Lookouts27 was The Rag House28

Mt Crater Lookout: when the trail ends


there are only marks painted on rocks

view from Crater Peak: Three Fools


Peak, Freezeout Mountain, Devil’s
Dome, Hell’s Basin, Cutthroat Peak,
Deception Pass, & Last Chance Point29

in their enthusiasm the American


Forest Service built some fire lookouts
at an altitude too high to accurately
identify the locations of fires

312
ALEC FINLAY

the look-out’s bed is rope, not springs,


so his dreams keep free of lightning

boot-treads, deer, & bear paw-prints


criss-cross on the trail to the outhouse

poets should only stay alone on the


mountain until the peaks turn upside
down30

the stars seen through lit fires

313
HUTOPIA

Viel Glück für when Schwitters turned into the yard


31
uns in Norwegen! seeing the young apples, the beehives

& slant-roofed barn, he turned


to Harry Pierce and said

it’s just like Hjertøya, Norway


my little hut by the potato shed

314
ALEC FINLAY

Prospect Cottage, Jarman’s neat cabin


Dungeness 32 on the borderless
shingle jut
Derek is gone
his garden
grows on

315
SHUT
HUTOPIA
Endnotes shieling, where people A Company of Mountains, a blog
1 After J.H. Prynne. summered in the uplands, stay- and book mapping views on the
2 After Kamo no Chomei ing in small huts of turf, wood, Isle of Skye, commissioned by
(1155-1216). stone or heather-thatch, with Atlas, 2010.
3 Notebook of a Ten Square Rush- livestock, while crops were 26 John Murray, the Planter
mat Sized World, an essay writ- grown in the valley, around the Duke, 4th Duke of Atholl, over-
ten in 1212 by the Buddhist home farm, croft, or Winter- saw the planting of millions of
recluse Kamo no Chomei; my town. Shieling culture died out trees on his Perthshire estate,
version is after a translation in the 19th century in the Scot- in particular larch, and
adapted from the Japanese by tish Highlands. authored Observations on Larch
Thomas Rowe and Anthony 18 Spittal: an inn or bothy (1807). The estate features
Kerrigan. Blether: Scots, chatter. providing shelter for travelers important follies such as The
4 After Michel Serres. in the Scottish Highlands. Hermitage and Acharn. Green
5 The Norwegian philosopher 19 Quote from Hamish Brown, Lairds include those pursuing
Arne Naess built a hut, Tver- whose A Survey of Shelters in Re­- rewilding, deer culls, and native
gastein, at an altitude of mote Mountain Areas of the Scot- woodland regeneration.
1500 meters, on Haalingskarve. tish Highlands listed 400 build- 27 These poems draw on John
6 After Scottish naturalist Seton ings in danger of ruin that could Suiter, Poets on the Peaks: Gary
Gordon. be adapted for use as bothies. Snyder, Phillip Whalen and Jack
7 After French philosopher 20 A famous example is the Kerouac in the North Cascades
Gaston Bachelard. Hutchison Memorial Hut, the (Washington, D.C. – Oxford:
8 “The two bothy project huts, Cairngorms. Counterpoint – Oxford Publicity
Inshriach and Bothan 21 MBA: Mountain Bothies Partnership, 2003).
Shuibhne, Sweeney’s Bothy, Association. 28 The Rag House, a tent
stand as the finest Scottish 22 Summitism: the obsession pitched on Sourdough, 1915,
works of social sculpture of with conquering the summits the first of the lookout
their time,” Davy Polmadie. of mountains. dwellings.
9 Skelf: Scots, splinter. 23 The Gatliff Trust Hostel, 29 Gary Snyder’s mapping of
10 Poem composed by Alec Berneray, Outer Hebrides, the surroundings of his cabin
Finlay and Ken Cockburn for opened in 1977; the wardens on his first season as a fire
The Road North, a journey were two sisters, Annie and lookout.
around Scotland guided by Oku Jessie McKillop, from whom 30 Jack Kerouac describes the
no Hosomichi, written by Matsuo visitors would buy eggs, socks, view of the peaks upside down
Basho (1644–1694). and jerseys, hand-knitted from when he was meditating during
11 Shepherds in the Scottish the wool of their sheep, which his stint as a lookout on Desola-
glens would plant crab apple they sheared by hand. tion Peak in 1956.
trees near their huts or 24 In Scotland almost all both- 31 This poem refers to Kurt
cottages, for seasonal fruit. ies lack a host. Their presence Schwitters’ Merzhytte,
12 Yaffle: green woodpecker, depends on there being no Hjertøya, Norway, and Merz
known for their laughing call. claim of right asserted upon the Barn at Cylinders (owned by
13 After William Shakespeare. land they occupy. Harry Pierce), Langdale,
14 After Gaston Bachelard. 25 W. Douglas, “The Climbers’ England.
15 After Walter Benjamin. Camp at Coruisk,” Summer 32 Prospect Cottage, Dunge-
16 After Lloyd Kahn and Bob 1897; Scottish Mountaineering Club ness, England, home of the film
Easton. Journal, vol. 5, no. 1, 1898. This director, writer and gardener
17 The Summertown refers to found poem was composed for Derek Jarman.

318
ALEC FINLAY
Bibliography Michael Robson, A Background Some of the poems have
Joseph Rykwert, On Adam’s to Shielings (Isle of Lewis: appeared in variant forms
House in Paradise: The Idea of Islands Book Trust, 2003) in the following publications:
the Primitive Hut in Architectural John Suiter, Poets on the Peaks: Alec Finlay and Ken Cockburn,
History (Cambridge, MA: The Gary Snyder, Phillip Whalen and The Road North (Bristol:
MIT Press, 1972) Jack Kerouac in the North Cascades Shearsman Books, 2014)
Stuart Piggott, Ruins in a Land- (Washington, D.C. – Oxford: Bruce Gilchrist, Jo Joelson,
scape: Essays in Antiquarianism Counterpoint – Oxford Publicity Tracey Warr (eds.), Remote
(Edinburgh: University Press, Partnership, 2003) Performances in Nature and
1976) JH Prynne, “Huts,” in Textual Architecture (London – New York:
Alan A. Tait, The Landscape Practice, vol. 22, 2008, Routledge – Live Art Develop-
Garden in Scotland, 1735-1835 pp. 613–633 ment Agency, 2015)
(Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univer- Derek Mahon, Huts and Sheds Melissa Tuckey (ed.), Ghost
sity Press, 1980) (Loughcrew, Oldcastle: Gallery Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry
Fiona Stafford, The Sublime Press, 2011) Anthology (Athens: The Univer-
Savage (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Lloyd Kahn and Bob Easton: sity of Georgia Press, 2018)
University Press, 1988) Shelter (Bolinas, CA: Shelter
Tim Buxbaum, Scottish Garden Publications, 2012) I would like to thank:
Buildings: From Food to Folly Gordon Campbell, The Hermit The Bothy Project, for a resi-
(Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1989) in the Garden (Oxford: Oxford dency at Inshriach, Cairngorms,
Christopher Dingwall, “Gardens University Press, 2014) December 2017; Gerry Loose,
in the Wild,” in Garden History: Ashie Brebner, “Bothying Richard Bracken, Nick Belt, and
the Journal of the Garden History Before the MBA,” in Mountain Ken Cockburn; all of the
Society, vol. 22, no. 2, 1994, Bothies: Celebrating 50 Years of photographers; Iwan and
pp. 133–156 the MBA (Cupar, Fife: Mountain Manuela Wirth and the Fife
G. J. F. Dutton, Harvesting the Bothies Association, 2015) Arms project team at Hauser &
Edge: Some Personal Explorations Thomas Hunter, Woods, Forests, Wirth; Doug Gilbert, and Joyce
from a Marginal Garden (London: and Estates of Perthshire (London: Gilbert, and all those involved
Menard Press, 1994) Forgotten Books, 2015) in Project Wolf, Trees for Life;
Dave Brown and Ian R. Mitchell: Neil Stewart, Andy Mayhew, and Daisy Lafarge.
Mountain Days & Bothy Nights Dave Robertson, John Mitchell,
(Edinburgh: Luath, 1998) Peter King (eds.), Mountain
Richard Genner, Sleeping Under Bothies: Celebrating 50 Years of
a Simple Roof (Stamford Bridge, the MBA (Cupar, Fife: Mountain
1999) Bothies Association, 2015)
G. J. F. Dutton, Some Branch Geoff Allan: The Bothy Bible
against the Sky: the practice and (Bath: Wild Things Publishing,
principles of marginal gardening 2016)
(Newton Abbot: David & Rachael Hunt, Huts, Bothies and
Charles, 2000) Buildings Out-of-Doors, PhD
Albert Bil, The Shieling (Edin- thesis (Glasgow: University of
burgh: John Donald Publishers, Glasgow, 2016)
2003) Irvine Butterfield, “Lost Bothies
of The Cairngorms,” on cairn-
gormwanderer.wordpress.com

319
320
321
Previous page:
Digne Meller Marcovicz
Martin Heidegger with guests
in his hut in Todtnauberg:
Rudolf Augstein (second
from right), Georg Wolff
(right), Heinrich Wiegand
Petzet (foreground), 1968
Martin Heidegger

Why Do I
Martin Heidegger originally
delivered this text as a radio
address in 1933 (and published
it one year later) to explain his
reasons for rejecting an offer to join

Stay in the
the University in Berlin and stay
in Freiburg. Reprinted from
Thomas Sheehan (ed.),
Heidegger: The Man and
the Thinker (Piscataway, NJ:

Provinces?
Transaction Publishers, 2010),
pp. 27–28

On the steep slope of a wide mountain


valley in the southern Black Forest, at an
elevation of 1150 meters, there stands
a small ski hut. The floor plan measures
six meters by seven. The low-hanging
roof covers three rooms: the kitchen
which is also the living room, a bedroom
and a study. Scattered at wide intervals
throughout the narrow base of the valley
and on the equally steep slope opposite,
lie the farmhouses with their large over-
hanging roofs. Higher up the slope the
meadows and pasture lands lead to the
woods with its dark fir-trees, old and tow-
ering. Over everything there stands a clear
summer sky, and in its radiant expanse
two hawks glide around in wide circles.

323
WHY DO I STAY IN THE PROVINCES?

This is my work-world—seen with the


eye of an observer: the guest or summer
vacationer. Strictly speaking I myself
never observe the landscape. I experi-
ence its hourly changes, day and night,
in the great comings and goings of the
seasons. The gravity of the mountains
and the hardness of their primeval rock,
the slow and deliberate growth of the fir-
trees, the brilliant, simple splendor of the
meadows in bloom, the rush of the
mountain brook in the long autumn
night, the stern simplicity of the flatlands
covered with snow—all of this moves
and flows through and penetrates daily
existence up there, and not in forced
moments of “aesthetic” immersion
or artificial empathy, but only when
one’s own existence stands in its work.
It is the work alone that opens up space
for the reality that is these mountains.
The course of the work remains embed-
ded in what happens in the region.
On a deep winter’s night when a wild,
pounding snowstorm rages around the
cabin and veils and covers everything,

324
MARTIN HEIDEGGER

that is the perfect time for philosophy.


Then its questions must become simple
and essential. Working through each
thought can only be tough and rigorous.
The struggle to mold something into lan-
guage is like the resistance of the tower-
ing firs against the storm.
And this philosophical work does
not take its course like the aloof studies
of some eccentric. It belongs right in
the middle of the peasants’ work. When
the young farmboy drags his heavy sled
up the slope and guides it, piled high
with beech logs, down the dangerous
descent to his house, when the herds-
man, lost in thought and slow of step,
drives his cattle up the slope, when the
farmer in his shed gets the countless
shingles ready for his roof, my work is
of the same sort. It is intimately rooted
in and related to the life of the peasants.
A city-dweller thinks he has gone
“out among the people” as soon as he
condescends to have a long conversa-
tion with a peasant. But in the evening
during a work-break, when I sit with

325
WHY DO I STAY IN THE PROVINCES?

the peasants by the fire or at the table


in the “Lord’s Corner,” we mostly say
nothing at all. We smoke our pipes in
silence. Now and again someone might
say that the woodcutting in the forest is
finishing up, that a marten broke into the
hen-house last night, that one of the
cows will probably calf in the morning,
that someone’s uncle suffered a stroke,
that the weather will soon “turn.” The
inner relationship of my own work to the
Black Forest and its people comes from
a centuries-long and irreplaceable root-
edness in the Alemannian-Swabian soil.
At most, a city-dweller gets “stimu-
lated” by a so-called stay in the country.
But my whole work is sustained and
guided by the world of these mountains
and their people. Lately from time to
time my work up there is interrupted for
long stretches by conferences, lecture
trips, committee meetings and my
teaching work down here in Freiburg.
But as soon as I go back up there, even
in the first few hours of being at the cab-
in, the whole world of previous

326
MARTIN HEIDEGGER

questions forces itself upon me in the


very form in which I left it. I simply am
transported into the work’s own kind
of rhythm, and in a fundamental sense
I am not at all in command of its hidden
law. People in the city often wonder
whether one gets lonely up in the moun-
tains among the peasants for such long
and monotonous periods of time. But
it isn’t loneliness, it is solitude. In large
cities one can easily be as lonely as
almost nowhere else. But one can never
be in solitude there. Solitude has the
peculiar and original power not of isolat-
ing us but of projecting our whole
existence out into the vast nearness
of the presence [Wesen] of all things.
In the public world one can be made
a “celebrity” overnight by the newspa-
pers and journals. That always remains
the surest way to have one’s ownmost
intentions get misinterpreted and quick-
ly and thoroughly forgotten.
In contrast, the memory of the peas-
ant has its simple and sure fidelity which
never forgets. Recently an old peasant

327
WHY DO I STAY IN THE PROVINCES?

woman up there was approaching death.


She liked to chat with me frequently,
and she told me many old stories of the
village. In her robust language, full of
images, she still preserved many old
words and various sayings which have
become unintelligible to the village
youth today and hence are lost to the
spoken language. Very often in the
past year when I lived alone in the cabin
for weeks on end, this peasant woman
with her eighty-three years would still
come climbing up the slope to visit me.
She wanted to look in from time to time,
as she put it, to see whether I was still
there or whether “someone” had stolen
me off unawares. She spent the night
of her death in conversation with her
family. Just an hour and a half before
the end she sent her greetings to the
“Professor.” Such a memory is worth
incomparably more than the most astute
report by any international newspaper
about my alleged philosophy.
The world of the city runs the risk
of falling into a destructive error.

328
MARTIN HEIDEGGER

A very loud and very active and very


fashionable obtrusiveness often passes
itself off as concern for the world and
existence of the peasant. But this goes
exactly contrary to the one and only
thing that now needs to be done, name-
ly, to keep one’s distance from the life
of the peasant, to leave their existence
more than ever to its own law, to keep
hands off lest it be dragged into the lite-
rati’s dishonest chatter about “folk­-
character” and “rootedness in the soil.”
The peasant doesn’t need and doesn’t
want this citified officiousness. What
he needs and wants is quiet reserve with
regard to his own way of being and its
independence. But nowadays many peo-
ple from the city, the kind who know their
way around and not least of all the ski-
ers, often behave in the village or at
a farmer’s house in the same way they
“have fun” at their recreation centers
in the city. Such goings-on destroy more
in one evening than centuries of scholar-
ly teaching about folk-character and folk-
lore could ever hope to promote.

329
WHY DO I STAY IN THE PROVINCES?

Let us stop all this condescending


familiarity and sham concern for
“folk-­character” and let us learn to
take seriously that simple, rough exis-
tence up there. Only then will it speak
to us once more.
Recently I got a second invitation
to teach at the University of Berlin.
On that occasion I left Freiburg and
withdrew to the cabin. I listened to
what the mountains and the forest
and the farmlands were saying, and
I went to see an old friend of mine,
a seventy-five-year old farmer. He had
read about the call to Berlin in the news-
papers. What would he say? Slowly he
fixed the sure gaze of his clear eyes
on mine, and keeping his mouth tightly
shut, he thoughtfully put his faithful
hand on my shoulder. Ever so slightly
he shook his head. That meant:
absolutely no!

330
331
332
333
334
335
336
337
338
Goshka
Macuga
in conver-­​
sation with
Mario
Mainetti
GOSHKA MACUGA IN CONVERSATION

MM You are a storyteller—an artist who


enjoys analyzing intellectual relations
and imagining knowledge systems and
variations of what we call reality. What
is your relation to the field of philoso-
phy? For “Machines à penser” you
created three new sculptures depicting
the heads of the exhibition’s protago-
nists: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin
Heidegger and Theodor Adorno.
In fact, they function as flower pots…

GM In Plato’s genealogy of the trade,


a philosopher can be defined first and
foremost by his or her curiosity and
Previous pages: thirst for knowledge and ability to
Patrick Lakey
wonder about everything all the time.
Heidegger: Todtnauberg,
Black Forest, Germany, II, This consistent presence of the ability
2004 331 to wonder can certainly be found in
Schopenhauer: Archive, Frankfurt,
Germany, I, 2004 332
most people, but it obviously does not
Schiller: Schiller’s Garden automatically confer on them the status
House, Jena, Germany, II,
2004 334
of being a philosopher. A philosopher’s
Wittgenstein: Whewell’s Court,
hunger for knowledge is motivated by
Trinity College, Cambridge, the need to understand everything,
England, I, 2004 336
Fichte: Fichte’s House, Jena,
and to free oneself from the fear of his
Germany, I, 2004 338 or her outer reality. The same impulses

340
WITH MARIO MAINETTI

that have driven thinkers to reflect


on the reality they live in have been
a motivation for me and other artists
to make our work. It is only in recent
years that I have come to understand
that the world does not really make any
sense, and that the only sense we can
project onto it is entirely based on our
subjective system of beliefs. Defining
the idea of “I” versus problems of
“existence,” “reality” or “truth” is an
ongoing process, not only in art, but
also in psychology, sociology, econom-
ics, logics, physics, mathematics, and
so on and so forth. Since ancient times,
these categorizations have evolved
and proliferated; we are divided by the
fields of our respective practices, but
what brings us together is the uncer-
tainty of the reality in which we exist.
The notion of reality as such is evidently
a huge subject, and open to numerous
interpretations—even more so at this
moment in time when we have come
to realize that our future existence may
no longer be limited to being human.

341
GOSHKA MACUGA IN CONVERSATION

My methodology and modus operandi


are largely based on research and the
opportunities and possibilities afforded
by interdisciplinary shifts. Within these
shifts lies the continuing promise of
learning and, more importantly, digres-
sing. The media I choose to work in
follow the same path: my working
method constantly tries to break away
from a blind repetition of the patterns
that constitute the so-called canon;
instead I look for new avenues, con-
cepts and points of reference that are
more often rooted in the ideas initiated
by representatives of other disciplines:
philosophers, scientists, economists,
sociologists, anthropologists, linguists
or people who simply use intuition
rather than mere study. The instinctive
spirit of some has the power to inspire
philosophers, but very few philosophi-
cal writings, in my view, speak to indi-
viduals not given a chance to study. It
is because of this, perhaps, that philos-
ophy is more elitist, even, than art. Art
truly can be made by anyone, after all.

342
WITH MARIO MAINETTI

Culture—and more specifically


the art produced by past and present
generations of artists—may well have
shaped our sense of the world in a prac-
tical, tangible way much more than
philosophy has. Philosophy neverthe-
less has a timeless significance in ways
similar to art; it does not expire: the
history of philosophy is as relevant to
us humans today as the history of art
and vice versa, and this will always be
the case as long as we remain human.
This may be one reason why the history
of philosophy is more interesting to me
as a whole than the work of its individ-
ual thinkers. The narrative of history
in any field of study encompasses much
more than individual or individualized
perspectives. And not accepting the
world for what it is and the drive and
de­sire to be “different” is the reason why
we become artists and philosophers.
Yet our rebellious abandonment of prior
knowledge—the world as we found
it—does not always grant us the ability
to reach broader intellectual horizons.

343
GOSHKA MACUGA IN CONVERSATION

In the past four years, I have become


increasingly interested in the idea of
shared and sharing knowledge, collab-
orative working processes and intellec-
tual exchange between and within
different fields of inquiry. The intended
and unintended possibilities of such an
exchange are naturally being made
more and more available to us via tech-
nological advancement. The invention
of the Internet in particular has allowed
us to connect and share information
like never before—yet at the same time,
such great access to knowledge and
connectivity seems to have brought
with it more alienation, less hope.
Maybe that is why my recent discovery
of letters exchanged between Albert
Einstein and Sigmund Freud from the
1930s (later published in the Why War?
booklet) has been so important to me.
Adhering to the principles of the Inter-
national Institute of Intellectual Coop-
eration set up in Paris in 1924, Einstein
in his correspondence with Freud
shared his belief that the international

344
WITH MARIO MAINETTI

exchange between intellectuals of


all kinds and stripes could potentially
influence the public in a much more
profound way than any political leader-
ship ever could. In the face of the
recent surge of right-wing, populist,
and nationalistic agendas that have
come to dominate the current political
landscape, I felt that the reincarnation
of the I.I.I.C. could perhaps activate
a platform for social criticism, inspire
people to share knowledge and influ-
ence others in doing so. Following the
first manifestation of this concept in
the context of my exhibition at the
Fondazione Prada in 2015 titled “To
the Son of Man Who Ate the Scroll,”
I designed and built an I.I.I.C. Pavilion
(realized in 2016) in which I initiated
discussions between people of diverse
backgrounds. For the same pavilion
I created a series of vases based on
the portraits of historically impor-
tant philosophers, political activists
and scientists, such as Karl Marx,
Freud, Einstein, Olympe de Gouges,

345
GOSHKA MACUGA IN CONVERSATION

Slavoj Žižek, Ramon Llull, and the


members of Pussy Riot. The three
vases I created for “Machines à penser”
depicting the likenesses of Wittgenstein,
Heidegger and Adorno follow from
the same idea. These vases are usually
displayed with fresh flowers inside
them; they are comparably “open” to
multiple interpretations in the context
of this exhibition. Even though Witt-
genstein, Heidegger and Adorno did
not engage in a deep, direct exchange
of ideas (apart from Adorno’s virulent
critique of Heidegger and Heidegger’s
seeming indifference to it, that is),
there are obviously many connections
that resonate in the background, and
I was particularly interested in a shared
fascination with nature and the idea
of nature. The setting of my works
amidst the exhibition’s titular “thinking
machines” hypothetically allows for
such an exchange to finally take place.

346
WITH MARIO MAINETTI

MM “Machines à penser” introduces us


to the spaces chosen by our three
philosophers for the development
and organization of their thoughts—
away from “home” and isolated
from their habitual social contexts.
Where do your ideas come from?
Do you have a retreat of your own?

GM For most of my life I have been living


and working in an urban environment.
I can definitely be characterized as “one
of those people that need the light on.”
Living in a large city like London, away
from my place of birth (Warsaw),
gives me greater access to the kind of
information necessary for my research,
enhances my ability to participate in
cultural events as well the opportunity
to exchange ideas with artists from all
around the world, as well as with cura-
tors and critics. Indeed, at the beginning
of my artistic career this was fundamen-
tal. My process of thinking has opened
up to a more discursive path than it
would have in my hometown in Poland.

347
GOSHKA MACUGA IN CONVERSATION

Brainstorming, collaboration, borrow-


ing and sharing has always been my
working method of choice. Paradoxi-
cally, I consider my London studio to
be a retreat from the world. It is a place
of making and thinking and it definitely
has a very different purpose and use
than my house does: I go to the studio
in the morning to work and think and
sometimes mingle with art people, and
come home in the evening to eat, sleep
and enjoy a sense of domesticity and
intimacy with people close to me and
my dog.
London is certainly an exciting
center for people interested in art and
culture, similar to New York or Paris,
or any big city for that matter—wher-
ever museums, galleries, theaters,
libraries, universities, archives and the
like constitute a perfect platform for
enriching cultural experiences. Fashion
is cultivated by most here, and can un-
doubtedly be considered unique and
visionary. I was instantly seduced by
all this after arriving here in 1989.

348
WITH MARIO MAINETTI

At the same time the participation in all


these activities requires a huge amount
of effort; after all, there are thousands
of people living here who have the
same aspirations and aims as I have.
You could say that London is not built
for the good of the people; it’s rather
that people who live here have to really
commit to London’s limitations, needs
and restrictions. The diversity of the
social context offers excitement, but
also huge amounts of anxiety. The
latter is what I have found myself feel-
ing more and more in recent years. The
idea of escaping this context and my
life here, especially in the wake of the
Brexit referendum of 2016, has been on
my mind constantly. The need to find
my own retreat, away from big crowds
of people and city life more generally
became something of an obsession—
until last year, when I finally found
the perfect spot: a plot of land on
a Greek island called Kythera, as in
Antoine Watteau’s well-known paint-
ing The Embarkation for Cythera.

349
GOSHKA MACUGA IN CONVERSATION

Lying opposite the south-eastern tip


of the Peloponnese peninsula with a
population of just 665 inhabitants, it
seemed an ideal site to build my future
retreat. The population number played
a very important part in the decision
process that led me to buying this land,
having spent thirty years cohabiting
with eleven million people in London,
and close to two million people in
Warsaw. Of course, as on most Greek
islands, additional visitors come pour-
ing in during the summer season, and
that number will likely include some
Brits and Poles, but perhaps the sense
of space does not feel quite as invaded
here as it does in other parts of south-
ern Europe. The plot of land I found
is an actual valley that looks out onto
the sea; being situated far enough from
other houses and people, it offers me
a real feeling of separation and sense
of isolation. The sky is huge, no longer
hemmed in by the roofs and walls I am
so used to seeing. Ascending natural
terraces create a closed environment

350
WITH MARIO MAINETTI

in which orange trees, lemon trees,


almond trees, herbs and flowers guide
you towards the lowest level, where
you can find a small stream dried up for
most of the year but reappearing again
in the rainy season, i.e. during the
winter months. For generations, olive
trees have also been cultivated here by
the previous owners; they were passed
on to me with the trust that I would
continue to care for them as well.
These three-hundred-year old, amaz-
ingly shaped, living wooden objects
come pretty close to Paul Nash’s idea
of the “object–personage” that he
developed in the 1930s. Nash became
instantly and intensely aware of being
in the presence of what he could only
describe as a “personage” after coming
across a piece of driftwood on the
British coast. My garden in Kythera is
filled with highly individual objects of
this precise nature. It is more a garden
than a regular plot of land—a field
of natural curiosities that evolves from
season to season and astonishes with its

351
GOSHKA MACUGA IN CONVERSATION

capacity to expand and grow. I imagine


myself mirroring this seasonal trans-
formation, evolving there alongside
nature in a very different time-frame,
at a much slower tempo than I am used
to. This perfect place opens up so many
possibilities; for some it might repre-
sent a depressing idea of having a
retirement plan, but for me it can only
stand for a youthful existence, a sense
of the future that I lost living in a big
city. The memory of Kythera occupies
my mind every day I am in London;
it fills my heart with longing and opti-
mism. In a way, this tangible concept to
which I escape in my thoughts and my
imagination already performs its desig-
nated function: it is a retreat from the
everyday. In ancient Greek mythology,
Kythera was known to be the island of
the heavenly Aphrodite, the goddess
of love—though that is not what origi-
nally drew me to this place: its rich
historical significance, dating back as
far as the Archaic era, matters as much
to me as its natural beauty and the sense

352
WITH MARIO MAINETTI

of space. The possibility of an archaeo-


logical excavation uncovering remains
from past civilizations is a less attrac-
tive prospect than that of growing a
simple plant or vegetable. This is where
the consumption of knowledge can
acquire a different meaning, where the
idea of labor can produce new outcomes,
different from the ones I have long been
familiar with. In a broader context,
the symbolic value of the “simple life”
lived in nature and its struggle to sur­
vive is connected, in my view, to the
idea of one of humanity’s great achiev­
e­ments—its powers of transformation.
Sadly, it also alludes to humankind’s
failure in preserving this relationship.
We might well be the last generation for
whom the luxury of finding such an iso­-
lated place as I did is a possibility at all.
In my youth in Poland, I was taught
how to survive in a forest: how to eat
berries, mushrooms and plants, how to
heal myself with herbs. I learned how
to fish, but also how to respect animals
and nature in general. My parents and

353
GOSHKA MACUGA IN CONVERSATION

grandparents belong to those genera-


tions that remember at least one of
the great World Wars. The forest and
nature in general was what fed them
and protected them from the enemy.
It is precisely in the spirit of these
postwar, northern European principles
regarding nature that I look forward
to the new challenge of living in
Kythera, to the fear of the unknown
and the fear of finding myself again.

354
Leonor
Antunes
in conver-
sation with
Chiara
Costa
LEONORE ANTUNES IN CONVERSATION

CC Your works often contain elements


of mastery, gesture and craftsmanship
involving certain processes (sewing,
melting) and interrogating the physio-
logical performativity of materials
(rubber, leather, light). Does your
research start from the material,
so to speak?

LA My point of departure is not an isolated


fact per se—not the fact of materiality
as such—but a whole set of elements.
I am curious as to how materials are
used in different contexts and societies.
For example, I am interested in the
ways certain indigenous tribes in Brazil
weave different materials, how they
manipulate and produce volume using
different densities and purposes.
The Xingu tribes in Mato Grosso,
for instance, are still using these tradi-
tional techniques, working with natural
fibers that they cultivate in their region.
It is interesting to see how such looped
fibers and handcrafted mats can literally
expand infinitely in space, in all

358
WITH CHIARA COSTA

directions, building a structure with


no apparent limits or end. Or think
of the way they fabricate nets for
hammocks using very basic looms,
bringing to mind how nets have no
end—they are like Möbius strips…

CC As Dieter Roelstraete has pointed


out in reference to your work, the
anthropometric dimension helps to
emphasize the quality of the artistic
thing as a fully developed “other”
in a communally inhabited world in
which the essence of man’s fleeting
presence is defined by the concept
of “care.” Is proportion a concept
that you relate more to human
existence than to architecture?

LA The act of making and the act of


caring are part of the same “thing.”
This “thing,” as Heidegger described
it, is the object—as a representation
that stands “before, over against,
opposite us.” In this sense, the act
of making is not separate from the

359
LEONORE ANTUNES IN CONVERSATION

act of caring, since this thing we will be


looking at in the near future is not going
to be perceived in the same way as it is
today. To return to the issue of materi-
als and material choices, for example,
I often use so-called “natural” materials
that get tarnished over time. I am inter-
ested in duration, expansion. I intend for
the materials that I use to change over
time: the gold patina that the brass has
today will get darker and lose its shini-
ness if it is not cleaned. Or, take leather:
if it is not properly treated it shrinks
and breaks with time and use, just like
plants need to be watered. I see this
process in much the same way I look
at our body, which we need to care for,
much like we need to take care of the
objects that surround us—if we want
them to last. History and context also
assure that the objects in question will
be seen differently in a few years’ time.
I think of my sculptures as repro-
ductions of specific parts: they function
as mobiles, or as close-ups of some-
thing bigger that exists in a specific site.

360
WITH CHIARA COSTA

They are modules, and therefore exist


in their own place and time. I work a lot
with measures. I measure everything
that I am interested in working with.
It’s the first point of contact, it’s how
you get to understand a certain thing’s
structure. I have tons of notebooks
with measures I take during my travels,
by way of research. Sometimes, years
later, I go back to those notebooks and
can no longer relate to the source; some-
times they are just numbers. I used to
work with my own measuring tools,
although recently I have begun to use
standard measuring units. Before that,
my tools were related to parts of my
body, and I would use these as a unit of
measure. The ancient Greek sculptor
Polykleitos developed a mathematical
system of proportions using mathemat-
ical relationships between different body
parts that would result in a so-called
“perfect” human form. He used the pro-
portions of a finger to determine the
proportions of all the body’s parts to
each other and to the body as a whole.

361
LEONORE ANTUNES IN CONVERSATION

CC Past projects—I am thinking here espe-


cially of your projects at Serralves Villa
in Porto (2011) and Whitechapel in
London (2017–18), or your first Italian
solo show at the Associazione Barriera
in Turin, titled “Dwelling Place”
(2007)—have engaged thoroughly
with the history of the buildings in
which these works were exhibited,
dwelling on themes such as identity,
domesticity, colonialism, and modern-
ism in the process, often seen through
the prism of your experience as a
Portuguese artist long based in Berlin.
What was your first response to the
baroque palazzo in Venice in which
“Machines à penser” takes place?

LA The first thing I thought was to have


my works standing in the rooms with
terrazzo floors. Venice had the most
incredible artisans, extremely prolific
craftsmen. I was also responding to
the Venetian plaster walls, so specific
to the area, which Carlo Scarpa (who
hailed from Venice) reactived and

362
WITH CHIARA COSTA

reinterpreted in his work in turn.


That is one of the reasons I am so
interested in his work—his under-
standing of those specific crafts, their
context, the very specific know-how
involved in them. I am completely
fascinated by these matters. I think
the Palazzo has all these qualities. If
we start looking at the glass panels,
the frescos, the floors. I just can’t
avoid thinking of the different levels
of craftsmanship involved, but also
of its excess and decadence.

CC Although your project in Venice


is not exactly “based” on the house
that Ludwig Wittgenstein designed
for his sister Margaret in Vienna as
a Gesamtkunstwerk of sorts, there
are some interesting references to
the latter, especially in the obsessive
attention to detail.

LA I wanted to make new sculptures based


on the idea of light, but also on ideas
of craftsmanship, allowing me to work

363
LEONORE ANTUNES IN CONVERSATION

with local Venetian artisans. I was also


thinking of Wittgenstein’s mathemati-
cal strategies of placing things in space,
and his obsession with correcting
measurements as accurately as possi-
ble—as well as the notion of language
as the primal source of transparency.
I developed the idea of making “lamps”
that weren’t necessarily going to be
functional; my interest was in placing
them as a paradigm of mapping and
reading space. Last year, for the work
I showed at the Venice Biennale, I made
lamps that were part of a whole set of
sculptures, and which were produced
in Venice, using the Murano glass-​
blowing technique. I wanted to suspend
these long pieces of glass from the ceil-
ing, basing myself on fragments of the
concrete slabs of the Brion family tomb
next to which Carlo Scarpa’s body is
buried. During that production process
I realized I had to change the size of the
glass pieces, seventy centimeters being
the maximum length a glassblower
could inflate. I was really struck by

364
WITH CHIARA COSTA

the beauty of having the measure or


length of the glass be determined by
the actual physical capacity to blow.
I felt that this project had to involve
the same people—not just because of
the Murano glass and metal, but also
because of the “decadence” of such
craftsmanship, the obsolescence of
a certain type of making. Most of the
factories in Murano are closed today,
and the few that do persist either
produce small gadgets for the tourists
or chandeliers for rich Arabs in the
Gulf. It’s quite tragic to witness this.
The project also relates to ideas of
participation and collaboration, the
importance of preserving these things.
That, for me, is Venice.

CC The quote “God is in the details” has


been attributed both to an architect,
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and to an
art historian, Aby Warburg, but it may
derive instead from the slightly differ-
ent “Le bon Dieu est dans le detail”
(“The good Lord is in the detail”),

365
LEONORE ANTUNES IN CONVERSATION

a phrase coined by the French novelist


Gustave Flaubert. The saying seems
to coexist somewhat uneasily with its
opposite, “the devil is in the detail.”
Do you see a supernatural, other-
worldly character in details?

LA Bouvard et Pécuchet is one of my favor-


ite novels by Flaubert. The characters
in that book are as obsessive as Flaubert
himself when he was writing it. It repre-
sents the perfect metaphor for describing
the artistic process as something that
is as permanent as it is obsessive. But
it also speaks of the impossibility and
the curiosity of floundering through
almost every branch of knowledge.
It is important in my process to dele-
gate certain aspects of the work to
others who have a specific know-how,
such as glassblowers, carpenters or
saddle-makers. It’s one way of keeping
their métier alive. In this regard, I often
think of those “old” Japanese shrines
that are meant to be reconstructed
every twenty years: since the temples

366
WITH CHIARA COSTA

are entirely built of wood, using


old joinery techniques and no nails,
the need to rebuild them is crucial
to our understanding of the building
process. So the temple is forever new
and original. To me, these are forms of
knowledge as important as any other.

CC What is your “machine à penser”?

LA A measuring tape.

367
Alexander
Kluge
in conver-
sation with
Niccolò
Gravina
“Poetically Man Dwells”1
1 This line from Friedrich
Hölderlin’s poem In lieblicher
Blaue (In Lovely Blue) was
used as a title by Martin
Heidegger for a lecture he
de­livered in 1951 and then
published as an essay. Quoted
from Martin Heidegger, Poetry,
Language, Thought, trans. Albert
Hofstadter (New York: Harper
and Row, 1971), p. 209.

369
ALEXANDER KLUGE IN CONVERSATION

NG In the conversations we had about the


“Machines à penser” project, one ques-
tion emerged concerning the relation-
ship between the thought of Ludwig
Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger and
Theodor Adorno. In this respect, you
spoke of a hidden system of tunnels,
the same tunnels we see in your film
Triptychon (2018), where the three
thinkers are placed within a network
of underground passages. Should
we adopt an underground perspective
in order to approach the links between
the three philosophers?

AK The appropriate perspective is the one


that looks from the bottom up. From
this point of view the great thinkers
sometimes seem much closer to each
other. It is a well-known fact that
Adorno fiercely criticized Heidegger
in The Jargon of Authenticity. As for
Ludwig Wittgenstein, his mind is often
believed to be closed to dialogue with
others. This is what is known in
general. However, I am interested

370
WITH NICCOLÒ GRAVINA

in (and surprised by) the hidden tunnels


connecting these three thinkers. Thinkers
are not masters of their own thought.
Rebel kernels cross the boundaries of
their thoughts, even if the ego does not
want them to. The texts of the three
philosophers may thus also be interpreted
on the basis of their unconscious subtext.
Adorno’s Three Studies on Hegel and
his writings on Hölderlin and on the
poet Rudolf Borchardt are riddled with
underground passages, fascinating cata-
combs through which the reader unex-
pectedly arrives in the cellars and
subterranean waters of Heidegger and
Wittgenstein. This is particularly true
for the analysis of language, on which
all three focused. Language is like
a house, a tent, or a hut for thought.

As the poem by Rudolf Borchardt—


Adorno’s favorite—says:

It glimmers beneath an unstable tent,


so tiny,
the consolation of the New World.

371
ALEXANDER KLUGE IN CONVERSATION

Mainly a sensorial activity, thought


is more intelligent than intellect. I am
more interested in what connects the
three philosophers than what divides
them. And I would add that some de­-
termined construction of tunnels is
also required in the area of the rivalry
between Luhmann’s systems theory
and Adorno’s critical theory. The same
is also true for the current third genera-
tion of critical theorists, for example
Christoph Menke, and the great
French thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze,
Jacques Derrida, Bernard Stiegler,
and Georges Didi-Huberman. We
have to build bridges and collaborate.

NG In your last works, images seem to


emerge from a worn-out, at times even
enflamed film, thus suggesting direct
intervention on the material support,
i.e. the film itself. The image of Adorno
in Triptychon, which you shot through
a lens composed of elements borrowed
from Sigmar Polke’s glass windows of

372
WITH NICCOLÒ GRAVINA

Grossmünster church in Zurich, goes in


the same direction. And yet, this effect
in your films is deliberately introduced
in post-production—almost as an openly
proclaimed fiction, a mise en scène.
Why do you choose to make the techni-
cal medium, i.e. the film base, visible?

AK I am interested in silent cinema. The


film stock used during that period was
nitrate-based and highly flammable.
The negatives of our inner life are
constantly burning.
I regularly work with artist Kerstin
Brätsch of DAS INSTITUT, based in
New York, who has inserted fragments
of stained-glass windows by Sigmar
Polke in her glass works. I was fasci-
nated by these works displayed at the
Brandhorst Museum in Munich. They
resemble the Byzantine paintings on
glass of a thousand years ago, but
at the same time they are modern prod-
ucts of contemporary New York.
These glasses “alter” the performance
of the lenses of my movie camera in

373
ALEXANDER KLUGE IN CONVERSATION

a positive way. They work very differ-


ently from telescopes or microscopes,
giving the image a SPECIFIC MATE-
RIALITY. The pieces of glass placed
on the “skin” of the image (pellicula
means both skin and film negative)
create a “temporal magnifying glass.”
The result is overlaid temporal zones
rather than overlaid images, allowing
me to combine—achieving an effect of
authenticity—a contemporary image
with another from 800 or 2000 years
ago. These montages also form a poly­
phony. The test is the materiality of
the operation—it must be emanated
by the object itself, as though it were
a threadbare item of clothing, or a
worn-­down tool. The emotion comes
into play with its subjectivity, like
a burnt film. The material– the tech-
nique–must be evident, since it is
more intelligent than the creator.

NG How did you arrive at Triptychon?

374
WITH NICCOLÒ GRAVINA

AK The montage technique used for


Triptychon—that is “circular” rather
than linear—was first employed by
the French director Abel Gance.
In 1921, Bauhaus exponent László
Moholy-Nagy requested the installa-
tion of three screens in the draft of
a screenplay for a film on the frenzy
of the metropolis. And that is what
my work ties in with.

NG Anselm Kiefer’s Hirnhäuslein (Little


Brain House, 2018), which can be con­si-
dered an outcome of your conversations
with him, consists of a showcased brain,
positioned—or better im­prisoned—
within a structure of bricks. The sculp-
ture alludes to the Orphic doctrine,
transmitted by Plato’s Cratylus, that
the body (soma) is the tomb, but also
the sign (sema) of the soul. Aristotle
too, in De partibus animalium, claims
that thought (noûs), being divine and
therefore coming from outside, is
essentially detached from the body.

375
ALEXANDER KLUGE IN CONVERSATION

AK Hirnhäuslein can be compared to my


2016 film Armer Hirnhund, schwer von
Gott behangen. The subject is derived
from a remark by Martin Luther that
Kiefer and I discussed on several occa-
sions. Luther was amazed by the fact
that the brain, the organ of knowledge
and (for him) of faith, is housed in
the cranium as if in a bone prison with
a single door: the ear. That was what
inspired Kiefer to make the vitrine
of Hirnhäuslein. The pile of bricks
housing the brain in his work brings
to mind 1945 and has parallels in my
film Wie eine Trümmerfrau 1945 ihren
Mann reparierte; the Trümmerfrauen
(“rubble women” ) collected, cleaned
and piled up the bricks in the bombed
German cities during World War II.
The motto is soma sema. Plato consid-
ered the body the prison of the soul.
I think that Adorno would claim, in an
anti-Platonic sense, that the body is the
prisoner of the soul. The Superego and
the unconscious mind torment the body
until it breaks out in rashes. Any future

376
WITH NICCOLÒ GRAVINA

freedom requires balance between body


and soul (both are like wings) and it may
be that in order to achieve it, human
bodies and souls must first struggle
strenuously and change themselves.
Men inhabit the place where the soul
resides. This determines where and
how thought settles; I follow Adorno’s
intuition in all these questions.

NG What is the role of music in your work?

AK At the beginning of Triptychon you can


hear Valsette, a piece for piano composed
by Adorno. Since “The Boat is Leaking.
The Captain Lied.” exhibition project
at Fondazione Prada in Venice, I have
learned to love mute film sequences in
exhibitions. In other words, “without
music, life would be a mistake.” Music
is part of the “invisible images” in my
films. It is essential. I believe that the
art of film has more to do with music
than with photography. Music is an
art of time.

377
ALEXANDER KLUGE IN CONVERSATION

NG At the end of Kälte ist die Kette Gottes


(Cold Is the Chain of God, 2018) we
see a series of snow-covered, angular
ruins, which seem to emerge from
ice-blocks. In the background, different
landscapes follow one another, recog-
nizable through iconic landmarks, such
as San Francisco’s Golden Gate, the
Pyramids of Giza, the Kremlin in
Moscow. Although approached from
different angles, they are always the
same ruins, signs of catastrophes and
dystopias, evoking the ruins of history
discussed by Walter Benjamin. The
blocks of ice in your work are borrowed
from Caspar David Friedrich’s painting
The Sea of Ice or The Wreck of Hope
(1823–24), an enlarged detail of a
wrecked ship. However, in many of
your texts, such as Kong’s Finest Hour
(Fondazione Prada, 2017), you stress
the human capacity to survive, resisting
both superstructures and conditions of
danger. Is there a relationship between
the ruins of history and the “wild reli-
ability” of humankind in your work?

378
WITH NICCOLÒ GRAVINA

AK It is possible to identify something


inalienable in the majority of human
beings: a wild reliability. Spinoza
speaks of CONATUS (human beings’
inner assertiveness) and Epictetus of
PROHAIRESIS (inner consistency).
They are not the sort of behavior
displayed by those who spend their
time shut in a studio; they belong to
people who live among the dangers of
reality. This is how thought abandons
its home. In the question you rightly
referred to the famous painting by
Caspar David Friedrich: shipwreck
(the theme of our exhibition last year),
icy cold, hope. It leads me to the obser-
vation that, while philosophy is often
practiced at the desk and in a sheltered
place, theory unfolds in reality. Or,
in the words of the New York poet
Ben Lerner, “Theory, like swimming
in a storm.”

379
ALEXANDER KLUGE IN CONVERSATION

NG In a 1967 letter, Adorno wrote that he


intended to write a film on the theme
of “coldness” with you. Can you tell
me about your relationship, the impor-
tance that this topic had for you two,
and what its moral and political
implications were?

AK For Adorno (here, as elsewhere,


I follow in his footsteps), indifference,
or the disintegration of empathy, is the
most intolerable condition in society.
Indifference means coldness. At the
time of the Third Reich, millions of
German families were so totally
absorbed in the “Saturday entertain-
ment programs” and Gemütlichkeit that
they did not notice what was happening
at Auschwitz at that very moment.
That is coldness. We wanted to make
a film about it together. It was before
the explosion of the student protest
movement in June 1967.

380
WITH NICCOLÒ GRAVINA

NG Your movies, as Kiefer’s Hirn­häuslein,


you address the theme of language in
the work of the Grimm brothers, who
were exiles. Their research in popular
tales was an attempt to move up from
fairytales to legend, and from legend
to myth. They intended to transcend
local and national traditions to
recover—as Max Müller put it—­“what
is left of the ancient layers of thought
and of the words buried in the past.”
This research implies a process of
recovery of emotions, wherein, accord-
ing to Adorno, lies the origin of human
thought, however abstract or objective
it may subsequently become. Can we
speak of a relationship between such
recovery of emotions and the founda-
tion of moral thought?

AK According to Sigmund Freud’s


observations, “primitive trust” can
be found in newborn babies (sometimes
long persisting in older children too).
In fairytales, the qualities in which
trust may be invested (and on which

381
ALEXANDER KLUGE IN CONVERSATION

self-­awareness rests) are connected.


Desires are facts, to the same extent as
dangers are.“Those who do not believe
in fairy­tales have never found them-
selves in danger.” One of the fundamen­
tal principles of critical theory states
that the process of Enlightenment
must not be confused with simple
Rationality. The anchors of the ratios,
“the empathy of reason,” are closely
bound up with the flows that fairytales
also deal with.

NG In our conversations, you pointed to


a link between the idea of machines
à penser and the thought of Gottfried
Wilhelm von Leibniz—especially his
calculating machine based on binary
numbers. Leibniz appears, together
with Alan Turing and James Joyce,
in some passages of Triptychon. Can
you define the influence of Leibniz on
the work of Heidegger, Wittgenstein
and Adorno, and especially on their
meditations on the ideas of space, intel-
lectual retreat, and machine à penser?

382
WITH NICCOLÒ GRAVINA

AK Leibniz is the opposite of a builder


of fortifications. His philosophical
thought is that of a wayfarer with his
gaze fixed on the horizon. He lived a
generation and a half before Immanuel
Kant. When Kant’s three great critical
works are analyzed, a picture of a
powerful defensive system emerges:
thought as a security machine. Heideg-
ger and Adorno have the tendency
to evade such a fortification, similar
to the constructions built by Sébastien
Le Prestre de Vauban, the French mili-
tary engineer. Wittgenstein instead
tends to build a new, alternative fortifi-
cation, on the other side of the river in
a certain sense. As for our magic trian-
gle of Heidegger-Wittgenstein-Adorno,
the pragmatic 17th-century philosopher
Leibniz can be thought of as a blustery
wind filling the sails of the three 20th-­
century thinkers. In Leibniz, “Schengen”
(a space without frontiers) occupies the
dominant position between the single
point (the monad) and the universe.
He is also comfortable with the thought

383
ALEXANDER KLUGE IN CONVERSATION

of below the single point, and thus


in √-1. Indeed, Leibniz anticipated
the entire digital and quantum world.
Prudence is unknown to him and to
his mind thinking machines are divine
arrows. Leibniz was able to move easily
here and there, between “living artifi-
cial intelligence” and “interconnected
human intelligence.” He represents
a “safe shore on which to land”
for our three thinkers.

NG It is possible to observe a “ground


zero” in philosophers’ thinking, which
can manifest itself in different manners.
Firstly, as a mental state which may
arise from conditions of crisis or peril:
as happens, for example, in your tale
“Heidegger at Wildenstein Castle,”
where you describe how the philoso-
pher’s perceptions change during a
march to reach Switzerland in 1945.
Secondly, this “ground zero” can also
be interpreted as a method: the obsti-
nate and incessant elaboration of a way
of thinking constantly reconfiguring

384
WITH NICCOLÒ GRAVINA

itself, and capable of evading super-


structures. Wittgenstein’s work on
language, his obsessive revision of
the concept of rule and his need to
escape the academic environment
of Cambridge, can all be considered
expressions of a “ground zero”
of thought in this second sense.
How is this idea translated in the
works exhibited in this show?

AK A digital machine can be reset and will


then usually work again. But for philos-
ophers too, the question “where does
this thought lead?” is not nearly as
interesting as “where does the impel-
ling point, the state of necessity from
which thoughts stem? Where is the
ground zero?” In Wittgenstein I see
a “second zero” (as in the case of the
zero- gravity point, the place in which
gravitational forces cancel each other
out), exactly midway on the path
between his activity as primary school
teacher in rural Austria and the capital

385
ALEXANDER KLUGE IN CONVERSATION

of science, Cambridge. It is during


his journey, his exodus, that he finds
his zero point. And also in the instant
that he relinquishes his huge family
fortune, preferring to live as a hermit.
In Heidegger I think that the “zero
hour” corresponds to April 1945 (in his
case it is not a point of transition, nor
a second). The “hour” lasted almost
two months and is connected with
the period in which the University of
Freiburg, and thus Heidegger himself,
found refuge in Wildenstein Castle,
where the Freiburg academics spent
the last weeks of the Third Reich.
The tanks of the French army stormed
the valley below, while Heidegger
philosophized up in the castle. In this
exact spot, where he spent his exile,
the Danube breaks through an impos-
ing barrier of rocks. The most recent
wave of Homo sapiens to conquer
Europe arrived there 40,000 years ago.
The caves in the surrounding area are
home to rock paintings, the first musi-
cal instruments, and the oldest

386
WITH NICCOLÒ GRAVINA

advanced civilization before the in-


vention of writing. In this “historical”
place, Heidegger touched the bottom,
experiencing the loss of his identifica-
tion with the initial phase of the Third
Reich, that of the left wing of the
National Socialist Party, the “Aufbruch”
(upheaval or awakening). During that
time, in 1945, he prepared a farewell
speech. The question, he said, referring
back to Friedrich Hölderlin, is that
“we have become rich through poverty.”
“We have lost something, we are start-
ing from the beginning again.” This
represented a fork in the road. For a
few days he planned to walk to Switzer-
land with other academics, to settle in
a neutral land cultivating a new philos-
ophy. I believe that a new Heidegger
could have been born during this zero
hour. Something like this belongs
to the system of potential tunnels.
It is more difficult to establish
a ground zero for Adorno, as a zero
point is always present in his case.
Every thought (according to Adorno)

387
ALEXANDER KLUGE IN CONVERSATION

is generated by original suffering.


Consequently, Adorno’s ZERO
MILLISECOND occurs very early,
often during childhood and the losses
associated with it. Adorno never seri-
ously intended to become an adult.

NG Is there a specific place that you associ-


ate with the idea of machine à penser?

AK Thought is subcutaneous, presumably


residing “under the skin.”
The concept of machines à penser
makes me think of the use of the word
“machine” in the language of optimism
and self-awareness that characterized
the rise of the bourgeoisie at the begin-
ning of the Industrial Age. The forces
of nature become sedentary, machines
were the new lands, more greenhouses
than fields from the very outset.

388
WITH NICCOLÒ GRAVINA

Thus the organic body of each living


being is a kind of divine machine or
natural auto­maton… But the machines
of Nature, namely living bodies, are still
machines in their smallest parts,
ad infinitum.

Those are the words of Leibniz. At his


home in Göttingen, the Enlightenment
poet Georg Christoph Lichtenberg had
an electrophorus, a device able to pro­-
duce artificial lightning bolts the size of
a hand or an arm. This machine was in­-
tended to make visible the “invisible
force,” i.e. electricity, also considered a
triumph of the Enlightenment. Lichten-
berg was the German Benjamin Franklin.
In 1840, my English great-­grandfather’s
brother was a machine operator in a tex­-
tiles factory in the Midlands and watched
over the machines as though they were
a fine herd of cattle. Good machines
compete with good thought.
Thought in itself is not a machine.
Neurons swim in a sea of biochemical
and electrical matter. They are

389
ALEXANDER KLUGE IN CONVERSATION

industrious during the day and during


sleep. They know nothing of psychol-
ogy. They have no idea that conscious-
ness and thought originate from the
combination of billions of them. Their
synapses awaken from their state of
rest, explode, perform concerts, and
then return to a state of rest again. It
seems that this is connected to pleasure.

NG Where does thought originate? In the


veins? In the head? “Under the skin,”
as you say?

AK Humans are enclosed in their own skin.


Just as the brain, too, resides above all
in the cranium. Skin is a protective
shell. It is the prime place of thought
and feeling. There is a second “home”
around the skin: clothes. Can we say
that thought resides in our clothes?
And around people and clothes, lie
the home, the city, society. The world
of habits, the most-trodden ways,
the common emotions are condensed
in both—clothes and republics.

390
WITH NICCOLÒ GRAVINA

All of these are homes, and all around


is the pseudo-home of the nation.
Heidegger lives in his hut in Todt-
nauberg, his shell, but at the same time
he lives beneath the Greek sky of antiq-
uity. He is very careful to avoid actually
going to Greece (which he could easily
have done during the war). He does not
want to be disappointed. The home of
his thought thus has a dual form: a hut
in his imagination and a hut on a moun-
tain in the Black Forest. Wittgenstein’s
hut is a more complex matter. The
things he deals with—language, the
revision of the concept of rule, the
creation of an alternative world to
inconclusive academic muttering—
are all highly collective and intercon-
nected. An even stranger question is
“where does Adorno’s thought reside”?
His study is undoubtedly at the Insti-
tute for Social Research, which is home
to his desk, at which he sits each day.
Today the desk is displayed in a glass
cube in a Frankfurt park. However,
I don’t believe that his thought “resides

391
ALEXANDER KLUGE IN CONVERSATION

in the desk.” His apartment on the


Kettenhofweg is furnished in almost
American style with a grand piano, a
sitting area, a library, and a guest room.
None of this is a home to his thought.
Rather, music is his “hut.” It cocoons
him even during his exile, and indeed
exile, exodus, or internment could only
be such if there were simply entertain-
ment instead of genuine music.
I believe that Adorno’s thought resides
instead in a pile-dwelling. And one of
those pile-dwellings is called Monteverdi
(1607), another Bach, in the arrange-
ment by Arnold Schönberg. They
are nets rather than a hut.
Thought needs to retreat a little from
practical activity. Hunter-gatherers,
our prehistoric ancestors, who spent
their days following their quarry so that
they and their clan did not die of hunger,
were not bearers of thought; they had
experience but they did not have the time
to dedicate themselves to that luxury
that we call thought. They were survival
machines, not machines à penser.

392
WITH NICCOLÒ GRAVINA

It is no surprise to me that during


this time the shamans were women.
They were the thinkers. Hiding places
and caves were necessary in order to
produce, preserve, and even exchange
this surfeit that we call thought. For
Walter Benjamin, who took refuge
in Paris to escape the National Social-
ists, this cave was the National Library
of France, while for Karl Marx it was
the library of the British Museum.

393
Till Eulenspiegel in the Horse’s Hide

After having been banished from the king­


dom under threat of death, Till Eulenspiegel
nonetheless returned and was traveling
around the country when he spied the
prince’s guards in the distance coming
towards him. He killed his horse, skinned
it and sewed himself inside its hide.
As the prince’s procurator was
wondering what to order the guards to
do about that strange creature lying on
the path, Till Eulenspiegel shouted from
his safe hiding place that he was not in
the prince’s realm, but in his own. Or did
the procurator perhaps wish to doubt that
the horse was his property? The unreality
of the situation impressed the procurator,
and subsequently also the prince, to whom
the incident was recounted. The ruler was
unsure how his subjects would react if he
continued to persecute Till Eulenspiegel,
who was evidently separated from the
reality of the kingdom by the horse’s hide.
Consequently, he ordered him to come out,
with the promise of safe-conduct.
395
396
397
398
399
400
401
i have copy-
pasted extra grey
here. please
extend back-
ground at top of
orignal image

402
Mark Riley

Thinking Place
Imagining Heidegger at Todtnauberg
and Wittgenstein at Skjolden
Previous pages:
Mark Riley
Todtnauberg Diorama
(Martin Heidegger’s Hut),
2016 395, 396, 398
Ermenonville Diorama
(Jean–Jacques Rousseau’s
Cabin of Philosophy),
2017 399, 400
Skjolden Diorama (Ludwig
Wittgenstein’s Hut),
2016 401, 402
MARK RILEY

From site visits to Todtnauberg and


Skjolden, through photographs, field
notes, drawings and archive images,
I get a sense of the dimensions of the
buildings and the location of windows,
doors, etc. I am able to establish scale
based on the surviving building or its
footprint. Further, I can extrapolate
architectural drawings, realizing both
Heidegger and Wittgenstein’s huts as
technical exercises through plans and
later constructions. However, I am
conscious that the process of recon-
struction in the studio is also one of
re-imagining. In the solitary confines
of the urban working space, I have
involved myself in a process of think-
ing and reflecting on what these build-
ings might mean and, therefore, how
I can articulate these activities through
the process of creation.
This essay also describes two jour-
neys that follow paths to two historical
“thinking places.” Both journeys
constitute philosophical “pilgrimages”
to sites where thinkers sought to

405
THINKING PLACE

“relocate” the place of philosophical


thought, “outside” of the rarefied land-
scape of European academia and situ-
ate it in everyday experience. However,
in so doing, a contradiction emerges:
how can “isolation” and “rootedness”
be reconciled in this context?

406
MARK RILEY

Philosophers, Martin Heidegger (1889


–1976) and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s
(1889–1951) thought was centered on
addressing ideas of language, thinking
and place. Wittgenstein’s concerns with
language emerged through extended
solitary stays in Skjolden, Norway.
Whereas for Heidegger, “language”
engaged with the solitude of the moun-
tains of the Black Forest in Germany.
“Solitude,” for Heidegger, was the
1 Quoted from Joseph Rykwert,
feeling of entering into “nearness”
On Adam’s House in Paradise: The to what is essential in all things; a near-
Idea of the Primitive Hut in Archi-
tectural History (Cambridge, MA: ness to the world. Both philosophers
The MIT Press, 1981; second
edition), p. 28. For Modernist
attached their thinking processes to
architects, Adolph Loos and
Le Corbusier, the “primitive hut”
specific vernacular timber huts, which
questioned the “universal” in represented a kind of “ideal” of the
architecture by emphasizing the
necessity of “place” as a media-
type that modernist architects were
tor between man and nature and trying to return to. The “ideal” of
embodied what is “natural” and
“intrinsic” in building. Marc-An- the “primitive hut” emerged as the,
toine Laugier argued that the
“primitive hut” was “the highest “preconscious state of building […]
virtue that architecture could
achieve.” An Essay in Architecture
from which a true understanding of
1
(1755) (London: Osborne & Ship- architectural forms would spring.”
ton, 1755), p. 11.
However, in the history of the
emplacement of thinking, Jean-
Jacques Rousseau’s (1712–1778)

407
THINKING PLACE

“maison du Philosophe” had already


set a precedent. This was a small stone
building offered as accommodation
to Rousseau by René-Louis de Girardin
on his estate at Ermenonville, France,
in 1778. It was here that, as Gerard van
2 Quoted from Gerard van
den Broek’s book, Rousseau’s
den Broek notes, Rousseau “enjoyed
Elysium: Ermenonville Revisited company but also appreciated solitude
(Leiden: Sidestone Press, 2012),
p. 67.
from time to time.”2 At the stone hut,
Rousseau would “spend entire days
reposing […] while tending a fire
3 Ibid., p. 67. of logs in the crude fireplace.”3
The “primitive retreat” for the
modern thinker emerges at Ermenon-
4 Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics ville as “the tap-root of inhabiting”
of Space, trans. Maria Jolas
(Boston, MA: Beacon Press,
and where “destitution gives access
1964), pp. 32–33. to absolute refuge.”4 It is from this
first marker of solitary thought that
my journey begins.

408
Heidegger at
Todtnauberg

When the wind, shifting quickly,


grumbles
In the rafters of the cabin and the
Weather threatens to become nasty…
5
Martin Heidegger

5 From Heidegger’s poem,


“The Thinker as Poet,” in Poetry
Language Thought, trans. Albert
Hofstadter (New York: Harper
Row 1971), p. 8.

409
MARK RILEY

Heidegger’s connection with a specific


locale south of Freiburg and a particu-
lar building, the hut built for him in
the 1920s, is well documented. He gave
a “special legitimacy” to this small
wooden building (approximately six
meters by seven), situated on the north
6 Alan Saunders notes that side of a valley facing south, in the
for Heidegger, “Building […]
was the ‘basic character of
mountains of the Black Forest and
Being’ and when he sought
an example of it, it was a farm-
close to the village of Todtnauberg.
house in the Black Forest in As a place, it reflected and articulated
which ‘earth and sky, divinities
and mortals’ entered into things Heidegger’s concerns with temporality,
ordered by the house. For good
or ill, and probably both, the
rootedness and the thinking of Being.
hut was inseparable from what For him, the relationship between
he thought and the way he
thought it.” “The Philosopher’s thinking and the physical experience of
Hut,” in Suzanne Davies (ed.),
Shelter: On Kindness (Melbourne:
a locale were intrinsic to the process
RMIT Press, 2017), p. 21. of “sense making.”6
In 1922, Heidegger’s wife Elfride
commissioned a local carpenter, Pius
Schweitzer, to build a cabin on land
she had purchased on the hillside above
Rütte and close to the village of Todt-
nauberg. This building represented
not just a “thinking place” for the
philosopher but also a recreational
space for his family and invited guests.

411
THINKING PLACE

The village of Todtnauberg is situated


off the main road between Kirchzarten
and Todtnau and is, today, arguably
more notable for its waterfall (at nine-
ty-seven meters, the highest waterfall in
Germany) and as a winter ski resort
than it is for the association with
Heidegger.
Importantly, modern transport links
have made the hut and rundweg more
accessible than in Heidegger’s lifetime
(a regular train from Freiburg takes
one to Kirchzarten where a bus heads
into the mountains, dropping one at
Todtnauberg’s Rathaus—a journey
of just over an hour). However,
this was not always the case. Elfride
Heidegger noted in 1923 that:

Reaching the cabin […] was an arduous


business, particularly in winter. There
were various ways of getting to Todtnau-
berg: by train to Hinterzarten and from
there on foot or by ski over Rinken,
Feldberg and Stübenwasen; by train via
Lörrach up the Wiesen Valley to Todtnau

412
MARK RILEY

and from there up a steep slope; by train


7 Elfride Heidegger quoted in to Kirchzarten and from there by
Letters to His Wife 1915–1970
(selected and annotated by Gertrude carriage via Oberried and Notsschrei […]
Heidegger), trans. Rupert D. V. All these routes were arduous, especially
Glasgow (Cambridge, UK: Polity 7
Press 2008), p. 89. in adverse weather conditions.

8 Jewish poet Paul Celan visited The building and its surrounding
Heidegger the hut in 1967, and
as a result “commemorated” landscape have been interpreted at
the meeting with the poem,
Todtnauberg. Celan’s poem
different times as a retreat for a thinker
suggests, his appreciation of from the intensities of academic and
Heidegger’s mountain life was
mediated by his imaginings political concerns; a place of intense
of what had happened there
before. He asks a question in
routines of living, thinking, writing
the poem—“who’s name did it and work, and a site of significant
record before mine?”—hinting
at co-signatory’s (arguably with historical encounters.8
questionable credentials) that
would have previously signed
their names in the hut guest
book. Celan wrote in the book:
“In the hut-book, looking at
the well-star, with a hope for
a coming word in the heart.
On July 25, 1967, Paul Celan.”
Quoted from John Felstiner,
Paul Celan; Poet, Survivor, Jew
(New Haven, CT: Yale University
Press 1995), p. 244.

413
THINKING PLACE

On my numerous visits to the hut


commencing in 2010, I have followed
the route of the Heidegger Rundweg
(opened in 2002). It begins on the
outskirts of the village of Todtnauberg
at the rear of a youth hostel, heading
east, looping down to the hut and then
following a well laid out route around
the valley perimeter that circles back
to the starting point; a walk of approxi-
mately 6.4 kilometers. The route is
generally well marked and is punctu-
ated by illustrated information boards
providing details about Heidegger’s
life and his relationship to the place
and the landscape. The first of these
information panels is at the start of
the walk and the second is found oppo-
site the Jacobuskreuz along with an
inscribed wooden panel (“Im Denken
wirdjeglichDingeinsamundlangsam”—
9 Quoted from “The Thinker as “In thinking all things become solitary
Poet” (1947) and published in 9
Poetry Language Thought, cit., p. 9. and slow” ). From here the route takes
you along a car-wide track east along
the northern rim of the valley before
a small wooden sign (Wegmarken)

414
MARK RILEY

directs you down a narrow footpath to


the right into the trees. This short walk
through tree cover leads to a gate that
opens into a meadow from which the
roof of the hut is now visible. Crossing
the meadow, the hut emerges from the
hillside, the blue and green of its shut-
ters and window frames prominent
against the starkness of the new shin-
gles, now beginning to weather.
A third information board is posi-
tioned to the right of the gate down
to the hut (evidently to encourage the
visitor to view the hut from this point
and no closer). From here Wegmarken
directs the visitor past the rear of the
hut (noting the conspicuous privacy
notice attached to a tree within the
fenced-off area surrounding the hut),
across the waterlogged ground around
the spring that feeds the stream and
onto a loop walk around the valley.
Heinrich Weigand Petzet describes the
hut as, “just a simple wooden structure
without any exterior or interior decora-
tion; and the monk-like furnishings

415
THINKING PLACE

of the study where…nothing that


would delight the eyes was to be
10 Heinrich Weigand Petzet,
found in the thinker’s proximity […]
Encounters and Dialogues with Near the hut, through a pipe covered
Martin Heidegger 1929-1976,
trans. Parvis Emad and Kenneth
with wood, spring water splashes into
Maly (Chicago, ILL: University of a wooden trough. This is picturesque
Chicago Press, 1993), p. 192.
but nothing more.”10
The hut overlooks farmland and
the hamlet of Rütte. It has small,
square windows with shutters, a single
entrance door, oak timber shingled
11 In his essay, “Heidegger’s
House,” Adam Sharr notes: walls and a low pitched roof with a
“The hut was smaller. It was
less tightly sealed involving
wide galvanized metal gutter on three
its inhabitants with immedia- sides and a store space running the
cies of seasonal and climatic
movement. Its physical size width of the hut at the rear. It was built
intensified the interaction of
individuals “dwellings” with
as a functional dwelling in the midst
“places” of occupation. The
lack of building services argu-
of a farming community whose inter-
ably made hut “dwellers” ests were in the practical rather than
more aware of the demands
of subsistence and required
the picturesque. This small timber
active participation with basic
circumstances of existence.”
building proved to be the perfect
In Sarah Menin (ed.), setting for Heidegger to “crystallize”
Constructing Place: Mind
and the Matter of Place-Making his thinking into the elemental connec-
(London: Routledge 2003),
p. 139.
tions between earth and sky and
between dwelling, building and being.11

416
MARK RILEY

Otto Pöggeler notes that:


the hut […] was a place of retreat and
concentrated work which remained
12 Otto Pöggeler, “Todtnau-
berg,” in Alan Milchman and connected to life in those simple,
Alan Rosenberg, Martin Heideg- but marked relationships out of
ger and the Holocaust (New Jersey, 12
NY: Humanities Books 1996), which the philosopher emerged.
p. 103.

Significantly, Andrew Benjamin argues


in his prologue to Adam Sharr’s book,
Heidegger’s Hut, that,
the hut, rather than involving a merely
literal commitment to the countryside
13 Andrew Benjamin’s prologue and the provinces, involves a commit-
to Adam Sharr’s Heidegger’s Hut
ment to a particular relationship
(Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press
13
2006), p. xix. between philosophy and place.

Elsewhere, Adam Sharr suggests:


the organization of Heidegger’s hut
appears significantly aligned with
his philosophical writing. Its basic
comfort emphasized contact with the
meteorological drama of the mountains,
demanding immediate physical and
14 Adam Sharr, “Heidegger’s
House,” in Sarah Menin (ed.),
intellectual contact with the world.”
14
op. cit., p. 133. (my emphasis)
THINKING PLACE

The hut is one of several properties


situated on this ridge and remains
(to this day) in the possession of the
Heidegger family. From below it is
partly obscured by a small stand of
trees planted on level ground at its
right-hand corner and from above
by a more substantial copse to the left
of the property.
The path I walk is a concession to
the “Heidegger pilgrim” who makes
their way on foot or by car or public
transport to this locale in order to
attempt to engage with the legacy of
Heidegger’s “work-world.” When
Robert Mugerauer asks, “What goes
on in Todtnauberg that is so special?”
He answers: “Perhaps the chance to
retrieve and keep lost idioms and to
experience that still robust way of life
and speaking? Perhaps an openness to
strangers, and a possibility of insiders
coming to accept outsiders as belong-
ing? The giving of region, its locality,
dialect, intertwined natural and
communal rhythms: the giving and

418
MARK RILEY

15 Robert Mugerauer, Heidegger receiving of belonging together—that


and Homecoming. The Leitmotif in
the Later Writings (Toronto: constitute home and homecoming?”15
University of Toronto Press
2008), p. 526.
From the hut, the Rundweg circum-
navigates the valley allowing the visitor
views of the hut before returning to
the starting point at the youth hostel.

419
THINKING PLACE

In Why Do I Stay in the Provinces?


(1934) and, later, in The Festival Address
(made as part of a celebratory event
at Todtnauberg in 1966), Heidegger
made a specific claim for the activities
of thinking and writing at the hut.
In his 1934 essay he wrote:

On the steep slope of a wide mountain


valley in the southern Black Forest at
an elevation of 1150 meters, there stands
a small ski hut. The floor plan measures
six meters by seven. The low hanging
roof covers three rooms: the kitchen,
which is also the living room, a bedroom
and a study. Scattered at wide intervals
throughout the narrow base of the valley
and on the equally steep slope opposite,
lay farmhouses with their large over-
hanging roofs. Higher up the slope
the meadows and pasturelands lead
16 Published in Thomas
Sheehan (ed.), Heidegger:
to the woods with its dark fir-trees,
The Man and the Thinker (Piscat- old and towering […] This is my
away, NJ: Transaction Publish- 16
ers, 2010), p. 27. work-world […].

420
MARK RILEY

He argued that his philosophical work


(did) not take place as an aloof, eccentric
study but “belongs right in the midst
17 Mugerauer, op. cit., p. 524. of peasants’ work.”17 Heidegger further
proposed that the thinkers’ task /craft
does not merely belong together with
other skills of members of the commu-
nity, but all derive their power and conti-
nuity specifically from the landscape
where they are grounded and sheltered.
In this sense, the hut and its locale are
steeped in Heidegger’s concerns with
“authenticity” and “rootedness” and
“dwelling.” In Why Do I Stay in the
Provinces?, he stated:

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.
Then its questions must become simple
and essential. Working through each
thought can only be tough and rigorous.
The struggle to mold (sic) something
into language is like the resistance of
18 Heidegger in Sheehan, 18
op. cit., pp. 27–28. the towering firs against the storm.

421
THINKING PLACE

It is clear that Heidegger shared a pre-


occupation with “place” and “region”
common in German Romantic thought.
The landscape “spoke” to the philoso-
pher and the physical size of the hut
intensified the occupant’s interaction
with “dwelling” through the lack of
sophisticated built-in amenities. This,
arguably, made the “hut dweller” more
aware of the demands of subsistence
and, therefore, required the occupant
to participate actively with the basic
19 See Sharr, op. cit., p. 139. circumstances of existence.19 At
Todtnauberg, Heidegger was seem-
ingly happiest as a solitary writer,
single-minded in his concentration
on a vision of the future and removed
from the machinations of academic life.
Even in the aftermath of war and the
collapse of the Third Reich, Heidegger
seemingly refuted the idea that Germany
was “lost” and it was the landscape of
the hut that sustained this refusal in the
postwar period until his death in 1976.

422
MARK RILEY

Wittgenstein at Skjolden

I am not interested in constructing


20 Wittgenstein in R. Larson,  
Kjell S. Johannessen and Knut a building, as much as in having
Olav Amas (eds.), Wittgenstein in a surveyable view of the foundations
Norway (Oslo: Solum Forlag,
1994), p. 218.  of possible buildings. 20
Wittgenstein

423
THINKING PLACE

In October 1913, Wittgenstein left


21 In her article “Showing the
Way out of the Fly Bottle: Cambridge and his studies with
Searching for Wittgenstein
in Norway” Jan Estep notes
Bertrand Russell, and retreated to
of Wittgenstein at Skjolden
that, “in stark contrast to the
Skjolden; a small village situated at
social circles of Cambridge the end of the Lusterfjord, to spend
and Vienna, he (Wittgenstein)
appreciated the simplicity
the winter contemplating logic while
and seriousness of the place.”
Cultural Geographies, vol. 15,
walking the paths bordering Lake
no. 2, 2008, p. 256. Eidsvatnet.21 Wittgenstein had first
visited the village with his friend
David Pinsent in the summer of 1913.
He returned alone later that year to
make an extended stay and resided
in the village. In stark contrast to
the social circles of Cambridge and
Vienna, Skjolden offered him a land-
scape of ascetic simplicity in which
to conduct solitary meditations on
the problems of logic. The following
year, he commissioned local builders
to begin the building of a hut overlook-
ing the lake on the north side and about
a mile from the village. Ivar Oxaal
explains:

424
MARK RILEY

22 Ivar Oxaal, On the Trail […] Wittgenstein planned to build a hut


of Wittgenstein’s Hut: The
Historical Background of the and […] live alone and meditate […].
Tractatus Logio-Philosophicus The local builders began working on
(Brunswick, NJ: Transaction
Press 2011), p. 111. In his book, the hut in the spring…there are no
Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty
of Genius, Ray Monk argues details about Wittgenstein’s involve-
that the hut at Skjolden, “[…]
ment in the design or its construction
was intended to be a more or
less permanent residence— […] . Wittgenstein’s hut was built
or at least a place to live until
he (Wittgenstein) had finally on the lower slopes of a mountain,
solved all the fundamental 22
problems of logic.” (Monk,
but with a magnificent view.
p. 104).

My walk to the site in 2014 began at the


end of a six-hour drive from Bergen to
the Vassbakken campsite (approximately
three kilometers east from Skjolden).
The sign at the roadside is encouraging
and describes a walk of 45 minutes.
I head north towards the mountains
and cross the bridge over the River
Fortun before coming across my first
visual marker; a sign inscribed with
the word “Wittgenstein” accompanied
by a pictographic representation of
a trekker and arrow pointing to my left
along a car-wide track. I am reminded
here that Wittgenstein states in Philo-
sophical Investigations that
425
THINKING PLACE

“a ‘signpost’ has a guiding function.


It is not coercive. Its guiding function
23 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philo-
sophical Investigations, eds. Peter rests upon a custom which establishes
M. S. Hacker and Joachim
Schulte (Oxford, UK: Blackwell
a practice for its use – ‘a rule’ stands
2009), p. 85. there like a signpost.”23 I am following
“a rule” of the walk. The path is indi-
cated by signs marked with a red circle,
and on two occasions by Wittgenstein’s
name and an arrow. Initially, the walk
follows farm tracks across the river
and fields passing a scattering of farm
buildings before entering woods
at the edge of Lake Eidsvatnet.

The hut’s dimensions were typical


of a Norwegian cotter’s dwelling.
However, the gable end with the
balcony faced the village on the other
side of Lake Eidsvatnet and this was an
unusual orientation for such a building.
The hut stood as a solitary architectural
marker in Wittgenstein’s life as it was
the only structure designed and built
purposefully for his personal interests
and preoccupations. It had a simple
steep pitched roof for shedding heavy

426
MARK RILEY

24 Roger Paden notes that winter snow, a couple of small windows


Wittgenstein’s hut was:
“Constructed in the local style
on either side. Overall, this reflected the
appropriate to the cold tempera-
tures and heavy snowfall, it
traditional local vernacular language of
only had a few rooms. Visitors Norwegian coastal building. The hut’s
from England found it to be
Spartan at best, but were “style” expressed what Wittgenstein
nevertheless impressed by
its ingenious details. Its most
argued was missing from philosophical
important feature from Wittgen- study at the time: a necessary rooted-
stein’s perspective however
was its location which was ness in the fabric of everyday life. 24
sufficiently isolated to enable
him to get some work done.”
Ray Monk hints at aspects of the
Roger Paden, Mysticism and interior spaces and furnishings but there
Architecture: Wittgenstein and
the Meaning of the Palais Stonbor- are no illustrations and little clarity or
ough (Lanham MD: Lexington
Books, 2007), p. 17.
detail of what it might have looked like.
Wittgenstein’s occupation is identified
by his recorded presence on notable
occasions from 1921 until 1950, the
reports of invited visitors (philosopher
G.E. Moore, firstly in 1914 [obviously
before the hut’s construction] and later
in 1936 and Francis Skinner in 1937)
and the local inhabitants catching sight
of him striding up and down the lake-
facing balcony from the far side of
the water.
The path to the site is generally well
marked. At one point I miss an import-
ant marker and take a path onwards

427
THINKING PLACE

along the lakeside, heading north.


The terrain becomes increasingly
tough before the path disintegrates
completely. I look up to see the remains
of what must be the pulley system that
Wittgenstein designed to bring supplies
to him without him needing to have
direct contact with people. For one
moment I seriously consider this to
be the way up but it is far too difficult
and I abort my attempt to climb and
retrace my steps hoping to find a
marker that I must have missed.

As I reach the point at which the lake-


side turns east, I look to my left and
see a marker (a red “w” in a red circle)
on a stone that indicates a steep path
heading slightly to the north-east.
My relief is palpable and I begin to
scale the path swiftly, looking ahead
to see an additional marker and a
supplementary red “w,” which indi-
cates a sharp turn to the left (heading
north-west) and the continuation of the
climb. As I ascend, the lake is visible

428
MARK RILEY

through the broken tree line to the left


(as is the steepness of the drop to the
lake edge). Several metal posts appear
on the right-hand side under an over-
hanging rock face before a flagpole
emerges mounted at the top edge of
a steeply inclined rock. A limp flag
hints at Wittgenstein’s origins and
alerts me to the fact that I have reached
“Austria.” A little further, and the
stone foundation that is all that remains
of the hut emerges at the top of the
incline. The path then veers to the
right of the foundations and levels
out where there is a noticeboard and
a seat mounted on the corner of the
foundations. As I turn and look west
across the foundations, I am confronted
by the view, which takes in the lake
and the village of Skjolden framed
by the mountains beyond.
Rather than on foot, the hut was
historically accessed by boat across
Lake Eidsvatnet. Wittgenstein was
supplied during his stays there by a
pulley system he designed, bringing

429
THINKING PLACE

food, etc. up from a villager’s boat


moored at the lakeside, and he rowed
across the lake in all types of weather
to reach the village for company and
supplies. Ray Monk reports that:
Wittgenstein sent Moore (philosopher
G.E. Moore) a map, showing his hut
in relation to the lake, the fjord, the
neighboring mountains and the nearest
village. The point was to illustrate that
it was impossible for him to get to the
village without rowing. In good weather
this was not too bad, but by October it
25
25 Monk, op. cit., p. 363.
was wet and cold.

430
MARK RILEY

In the aftermath of Wittgenstein’s


death in 1951, the hut remained unoccu-
pied until it was finally dismantled
and its fragments relocated to Skjolden
in 1957. What remains is the trace of
occupation – a marker of Wittgen-
stein’s intermittent presence at
Skjolden.
As of 2014, what remains of
Wittgenstein’s hut at Skjolden is a
stone foundation above the lakeside
and the remnants of the dismantled
wooden structure in the nearby village.

431
THINKING PLACE

Previous pages: There is an on-going campaign to


Mark Riley
Skjolden, 2014 409, 419
preserve the site led by Wittgenstein
Todtnauberg, 2010 423, 431 scholar Dawn Phillips and artist David
Connearn. However, there appears
to be some contradiction as to what
remains of the wooden structure. Phil-
lips and Connearn propose that it is
substantially intact whereas Ivar Oxaal
seems to suggest that it was cannibal-
ized and incorporated into a number
of properties in the village. After visit-
ing the site in 1984, Ivar Oxaal notes:
“We drove back to the village to look
at the relocated hut. I didn’t know
what to expect, but sadly, the new
owners had clad the walls with white
asbestos-shingle, perhaps to conceal
the mistakes in the re-assembly or
possibly to save on maintenance.
The incongruity between this beautiful
setting and this pathetic little house—
it could have been a diminutive moun-
26 Oxaal, op. cit., p. 150. tain chalet – was very disappointing.”26
The site of Wittgenstein’s hut
differs from Heidegger’s in that it is
literally much less accessible. Oxaal

432
MARK RILEY

also notes that Heidegger’s hut has an


“unexciting view” whereas Wittgen-
27 Ibid., p. 111. stein’s was “magnificent.” 27 However,
what remains telling is that “elevation”
and “isolation” are synonymous of
both huts and their respective locations.
Oxaal further states that:

the notion of important buildings […]


built high up was […] an architectural
hallmark since classical times. Elevation
by itself – up in the mountains, among
the clouds, has a powerful psychological
28
28 Ibid., pp. 111–112. effect.

However, there is an obvious contra-


diction at work here. The perceived
“isolation” of “elevation” against
the emplacement of “rootededness,”
remain the touchstones of both loca-
tions and the thinking strategies that
emerged there.
In my investigations of the sites
at Todtnauberg and Skjolden, I have
found myself addressing these contra-
dictions. I criss-cross terrains; lay down
THINKING PLACE

and uncover markers; read and inscribe,


erase and re-inscribe. I make and inter-
pret field notes; record the event of the
walks, and return to the studio to make.
The works that I realize in the process
are attempts to apprehend a sense of
the relationship between place, thought
and a thinker’s determination towards
solitude.

434
435
436
437
438
439
440
441
Previous pages:
Iñigo Manglano–Ovalle
Die Hütte/Doppelganger
(from The Black Forest),
2015 437
Iñigo Manglano–Ovalle
Schwarzwald, 2015 438–443
The centerpiece of Iñigo
Manglano-Ovalle’s project
The Black Forest are two identical
charred wooden cubes that conjure
the tenebrous ghost of Martin
Heidegger’s famed Schwarzwald
cabin, where the German philoso-
pher conceived the celebrated
“Bauen Wohnen Denken” essay
that underlies Manglano-Ovalle’s
work. The monolithic black cubes
are accompanied by this photo
triptych, shot in a forest in northern
Navarra and printed using the
same carbon that inhabits the
sculptures’ charred pine.
Saint Jerome

Letter
In this letter, written in 385 to
the aristocrat Marcella—the first
Roman lady to adopt the monastic
life—Saint Jerome draws a con­-
trast between his daily life and

XLIII
that of Origen, and sorrowfully
admits his own shortcomings.
He then suggests to Marcella
the advantages which life in the
country offers over life in town,
and hints that he is himself
disposed to make trial of it.
Reprinted from Nicene and to Marcella
Post Nicene Fathers, vol. 6,
Jerome. Select Letters, ed.
Jeffrey Henderson, trans. F.A.
Wright (Cambridge, MA/
London: Harvard University 1. Ambrose who supplied Origen with
Press, 2007), pp. 171–177. parchment, money, and copyists,
and thus enabled our man of brass
and adamant to bring out his innumera-
ble books, in a letter written to his friend
from Athens, declares that he never took
a meal in Origen’s com­pany without
something being read, and that he
never fell asleep save to the sound
of some brother’s voice reciting the
Scriptures aloud. Day and night it
was their habit to make reading follow
upon prayer, and prayer upon reading,
without a break.

443
LETTER XLIII

2. Do we, poor creatures of the belly,


ever behave like this? If we spend more
than an hour in reading, you will find us
yawning and trying to restrain our
boredom by rubbing our eyes; then,
as though we had been hard at work,
we plunge once more into worldly affairs.
I say nothing of the heavy meals which
crush such mental faculties as we pos-
sess. I am ashamed to speak of our
numerous calls, going ourselves every
day to other people’s houses, or waiting
for others to come to us. The guests
arrive and talk begins: a brisk conversa-
tion is engaged: we tear to pieces those
who are not there: other people’s lives
are described in detail: we bite and are
ourselves bitten in turn. With this fare
the company is kept busy, and so at last
it disperses. When our friends have
left us, we reckon up our accounts,
now frowning over them like angry lions,
now with useless care planning schemes
for the distant future. We remember not
the words of the Gospel: “Thou fool, this
night thy soul shall be required of thee:

444
SAINT JEROME

then whose shall those things be which


thou hast provided?” We buy clothes,
not solely for use, but for display. When
we see a chance of making money,
we quicken our steps, we talk fast,
we strain our ears. If we are told that
we have lost, as often must happen
in business, our face is clouded with
sorrow. A penny makes us merry: a half-
penny makes us sad. Therefore, as the
phases of one man’s mind are so con-
flicting, the prophet prays to the Lord,
saying: “O Lord, in thy city scatter their
image.” For while we were created in
God’s image and likeness, by reason
of our own perversity we hide ourselves
behind changing masks, and as on the
stage one and the same actor now fig-
ures as a brawny Hercules, and now
relaxes into the softness of a Venus
or the quivering tone of a Cybele, so
we who, if we were not of the world,
would be hated by the world, have
a counterfeit mask for every sin
to which we are inclined.

445
LETTER XLIII

3.Therefore, as today we have traversed


a great part of life’s journey through
rough seas, and as our barque has been
now shaken by tempestuous winds,
now holed upon rugged rocks, Let us
take this first chance and make for the
haven of a rural retreat. Let us live there
on coarse bread and on the greenstuff
that we water with our own hands, and
on milk, country delicacies, cheap and
harmless. If thus we spend our days,
sleep will not call us away from prayer,
nor overfeeding from study. In summer
the shade of a tree will give us privacy.
In autumn the mild air and the leaves
beneath our feet point out a place for
rest. In spring the fields are gay with
flowers, and the birds’ plaintive notes
will make our psalms sound all the
sweeter. When the cold weather
comes with winter’s snows, I shall
not need to buy wood: whether I keep
vigil or lie asleep, I shall be warmer
there, and certainly as far as I know,
I shall escape the cold at a cheaper rate.

446
SAINT JEROME

Let Rome keep her bustle for herself,


the fury of the arena, the madness of
the circus, the profligacy of the theatre,
and— for I must not forget our Christian
friends— the daily meetings of the
matrons’ senate. For us it is good to
cleave to God, and to put our hopes
in the Lord, so that, when we have
exchanged this poor life for the kingdom
of heaven, we may cry aloud: “Whom
have I in heaven but thee? There is none
upon earth that I desire beside thee.”
Assuredly, when we have found such
wealth in heaven, we may well grieve
to have sought after poor passing
pleasures here on earth.
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