Non-Metaphorical Space

Last weekend I attended ACLA conference hosted by the University of Toronto. “Global Positioning Systems” was the conference’s theme. It happened that I and my co-presenter Ben Kozicki participated in two seminars, “Techno-allegories and Rhetorics of Worldmakingand “Reader Re-orientation: The Navigation of Space in Multi-modal Literature,” where we presented two different versions of our paper  “Borges and Non-Metaphorical Space”: one was more literature oriented and another mostly focused on media (GPS) contexts.

Tlön, infographic by Francesco Franchi. Borges: “The geometry of Tlön comprises two somewhat different disciplines: the visual and the tactile. The latter corresponds to our own geometry and is subordinated to the first. The basis of visual geometry is the surface, not the point. This geometry disregards parallel lines and declares that man in his movement modifies the forms which surround him.” (28)

Tlön, infographic by Francesco Franchi.
Borges: “The geometry of Tlön comprises two somewhat different disciplines: the visual and the tactile. The latter corresponds to our own geometry and is subordinated to the first. The basis of visual geometry is the surface, not the point. This geometry disregards parallel lines and declares that man in his movement modifies the forms which surround him.” (28)


“Techno-allegories” panel was certainly closer to my interestes. Due to a more narrow focus of the panel, the papers were nearly all in conversation with each other (a rare and great experience!). Ben’s topological reading of Borges’ short stories “On Exactitude of Science” and “Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” served as a good context where I could test the notion of “non-metaphorical space” – for the first time. The notion has become a focus of my new project that is being developed on the intersection of media theory and Lacanian psychoanalysis as my major orientations, but of course, the theoretical contexts are not limited to these two.

In this project, I draw a lot on the new developments by the Paris Freudian School’s clinicians, who introduced a category of the ordinary psychosis (see two Issues of Psychoanalytical Notebooks 26 and 19). I bring it together with the critique of the ideology of consumerism, Lacan’s Capitalist’s Discourse and J. A. Miller’s theory of the “disorder in the real.” And because “space” is one of the important categories, there are many theorists of space from Edward Casey to Doreen Massey, and from Lefebvre to Deleuze. I see the “non-metaphorical space” as the space without limits and law and thus, without a symptom. The non-metaphorical space is delusional, but this delusion is sold to us together with the tools with which we navigate today our lives.  

I closed the presentation with what I think could be an example of a non-metaphorical modal of space: the Onion’s Network News’ episode on the Apple’s Map app disaster. It’s a parody, of course, and we laugh at it. But probably, only to make ourselves believe that it is [still] a joke.

Apple Promises To Fix Glitches In Map Software By Rearranging Earth’s Geography