Marc Froment-Meurice


Come here, where the Sanctuary of the Temple has a garden with beautiful apple trees, and sleep proceeds from leaves that twinkle in the light…


VANISHED, SHE VANISHED long ago. They named her Aphaea or Aphaia, the non-apparent and invisible goddess. All that we know about her is that she was made of ivory. Later on, ivory was replaced by a polychromatic stone in order to welcome the new goddess of day-blind1 philosophers as well as the old mentor of polytropaic Ulysses: Athena the new star of the Olymp, brillant in every respect, “always nearby” as says Walter Otto, while Aphaea seems completely retarded; Athena the new goddess seems more experienced and therefore older than her childish ancestor. However, the two divinities used to share the same secret, or rather one would keep the other in her secrecy so that no one could even guess where the secret was kept since her guardian was afflicted with aphasia.

A speech about aphasia seems paradoxical, ridiculous, frivolous, scandalous, if not simply impossible—but no less than a blind wall: since walls have no eyes, how could they be blind, even if we lend them ears? My use of the word “aphasia” is even more paradoxical, or rather anomic, according to the scientific definition:

Anomic aphasia. This term is applied to persons who are left with a persistent inability to supply the words for the very things they want to talk about—particularly the significant nouns and verbs. As a result their speech, while fluent in grammatical form and output is full of vague circumlocutions and expressions of frustration. They understand speech well, and in most cases, read adequately. Difficulty finding words is as evident in writing as in speech.
By the way, let’s salute aphasia’s equity: aphasia does not privilege any of the two mortal enemies that are devoted to the same “cause” (“language”): speech or writing do not change a iota in aphasia. Words have vanished from sight, they are no longer visible. They got lost somewhere “in” our mind, like in a labyrinth, with its millions of connections but no exit in view.

Aphasia does not signify merely a deprival of speech, and should not be confused with muteness. Aphasia is not aphonia. The so-called “privative” alpha, as in the Greek word for our “truth,” a-letheia, precedes phasia, φασιs, a declaration or a statement, which, according to Aristotle, can be either kataphasis, affirmation, or apophasis, retraction. Aphasia “means” a complete absence of declaration in one way or the other, aphasia means to say nothing at all, neither “yes” nor “no.” Aphasia names a blank or gap, standing in between, in a “position” of abstention or neutrality or even absolute indifference. Phasis, in that case, comes from the verb phemi, “to say,” which the Greeks understood as to make seen, to expose. Another phasis is responsible for our “phase” (of the moon, for instance), but then the word comes from a different verb, phaino, to “show,” as in “phainomenon.” Yet phemi, “I say,” is nothing but a verbal way of showing that which appears by itself “in phase.” A phasma is an apparition, a phantom or even a monster. It names these strange insects that resemble the branches on and from which they live to the point that they become invisible, indescernible from the branches they have reduced to skeletons. Branches and phasmas are just alike—“cadaveric resemblance” that is a pure resembling coming back from the other side of death, “so to speak” or to speak like Maurice Blanchot.

…when just after dying she starts to resemble herself, solemnly becoming one with herself through the resemblance, with this impersonal, stranger and beautiful being who is like her double that slowly comes backs from the depth up to the surface.2


Logos as speech really means deloun, to make manifest “what is being talked about” in speech. Aristotle explicates this function of speech more precisely as apophainesthai. Logos lets something be seen (phainesthai), namely what is being talked about, and indeed for the speaker (who serves as the medium) or for those who speak with each other. Speech “lets us see,” from itself, apo-…, insofar as it is genuine, what is said should be derived from what is being talked about.3
Apophansis is not apophasis: “apo” means here less an extraction than an origination from itself, as in the extreme disclosure/revelation of apocalypse. Apophaino means to show, to bring into light “what it’s about,” what is being talked about, the subject of the discussion. “When fully concrete, speech (letting something be seen) has the character of speaking or vocalization in words. Logos is phone, indeed phone meta phantasias—vocalization in which something is sighted.” Reden, speaking in the sense of talking or discussing (about something) is immediately translated in terms of sight: Sehenlassen (to let or to make seen). Logos determines in advance the phainomenon as that which exposes itself in the horizon of the “as such” insofar as the pre-concept of “phenomenology” has already exposed the identity of logos and phainomenon. However, apophantic logos does not constitute the primary “place” of truth. Truth finds its place primarily in sheer intuition or aisthesis as the original reception of “sensory” sense, but above all as letting the phainomenon appear such as it shows from itself, prior to any exposition or explicitation, and naturally prior to vocalization. Voice no longer has its say about this matter as soon as it is about receiving what appears “as it is.” What matters is collecting, putting together, legein as understanding (Verstehen).

together to gather ensemble en semble sense seems in good shape don’t you think you think don’t you or else what do you do in your spare time? pull your miserable self together so that you will look at least like what like what you look like…

language “beyond” language is not strictly speaking a metalanguage, but an articulation that operates prior to any articulated language, and deals with sense “itself” if however such selfhood (ipseitas) of sense were possible and not always already exposed to dissolve into itself. Heidegger reminds us, not only are the words missing, but a different grammar has first to be invented.

[invisible gram marc]

Such grammar comes up against a principial difficulty that is related to the principle of relationality: it seems to presuppose a language if only to function as a grammar. At the same time, the apparent circularity (comparable to the hermeneutic circle) might be a trick of logic in order to better ensure the transcendental priority of logic itself. Heidegger discredits as “secondary” the doctrine of judgment in the name of a more primordial logos, which strangely resembles the phenomenological “principle of all principles,” namely that of evidence or originary intuition. He strives to restore or reinvent a prelogical logos that would connect directly with the phenomena, that is, also and by the same stroke, a pretheoretical theoria that would retrieve the original sense of seeing as “intuitioning” and projecting what makes sense. What makes sense is as invisible as the name that Ulysses took to escape the Cyclops’ single eye.

To see is not to contemplate, mouth hanging open, wide-eyed (the eye of Cyclops, which, because it does nothing but see, is blind). To see is to project, in a flash, the very thing that makes vision possible.4
To see is to anticipate meaning/sense; to see is verstehen, understanding, and it is from such outstanding power that sight holds its letters patent of nobility over all of the other senses. To see means to hold in sight and to have always already in view what it’s all about; to see is to have seen and thus to know (oida, in Greek, the perfect tense of “to see”). To see is to see the idea (from eidenai, “to have seen”). The Greeks envisioned “vision” from the perspective of perfection and finitude: what is to be seen can be seen only if it has already taken shape and “form” (idea is translated into Latin as forma). In a way, the Greeks had no consideration for what we call “future” or, in French, “avenir” (to-come). Thus, future meant for them death, in one way or another. That is, there was no future for them, except in becoming a shadow, bloodless and too weak even to die…

Es ist ein Licht, das der Wind ausgelöscht hat.

There is a light which the wind has extinguished.
There is a village pump which a drunk quits in the afternoon.
There is a vineyard, burnt and black, with holes full of spiders.
There is a room they have white washed with milk. The madman has died.5
In a short text that was published in German and French as Séjours/Aufenthalte, Heidegger “reports” about his tour of the Greek island(s) (Greece itself as an island). Of course he did not go there just “to see,” and even less to bring back “views” from his trip. Besides, how could he be compared to one of these tourists that have not an eye for that which is to be seen but which, as we’ll see, is fundamentally invisible? Invisible because it has been placed in the visible as what is always already in view in order to see whatever is to be seen. Now, this in-visible “thing” is none other than the Name. Only when Delos, the sacred island, appears is Heidegger visited by the “revelation” of what he had always been looking for: what he came to see or rather revisit, that was already made visible by the Greek language, and above all in the Name Aletheia.

                                         hale theia
                                         divine error

Aletheia, in one word this time, that is to say Delos, which appears exactly as and like (comme et comme) what its name says, that is, as or looking like the Manifest—there. Delos offers the Revelation of the Name thanks to its power to making seen what it says, in a purely performative way. The sacred name is what it shows, and this identity (of Being and Saying) seals (off) the secret of the Greek “miracle” in an inaccessible light. Such clarity or brightness says without saying a word, it “simply” is and “does” nothing else.

the oracle at Delphi does not reveal or hide anything, it shows (semainei)



“Showing,” Zeigen, is the key to the enigma because it is a “making seen that, as such, veils and keeps what is veiled.” The important thing is the “as such”: to make seen is not to reveal the thing itself. It is to keep it veiled in the given “view,” but at the same time this is not hiding either, since what is given to be seen is indeed the thing itself and nothing else. […] To hide would be the “Egyptian” mode in which everything refers to something else and in which sense finally always remains withdrawn, incapable of being found, lixe the exit from the labyrinth (which precisely has no outside: everything is labyrinthine). On the contrary, for the Greek mode of existence everything is outside, exposed in an “open-view” (Aussehen), which at the same time permits the inside to be purely sheltered, invisible because in the visible, and nowhere else, the in-visible in everything (visible)—6

But what, if…if the two modes of “existence,” the Greek one and the Egyptian “other” one (is it even a Dasein?), were at bottom inseparable, whatever alien they would be or feel toward their “other”? And what, if the ground that supports the Greek Dasein (Open as the hOrizon which, however, means in Greek “closure”) were precisely also what it rejects, from which it parts, if necessary by force, as Ulysses did with the Cyclops or Thesaeus with the beast in the labyrinth? What, if the Greek word for “truth,” aletheia, were bearing witness to its own truth as extraction from the very cave it comes from? Is it in this way that we should understand how, for the Greeks but also for Heidegger, who is probably the last (or the first, for that matter) witness of such coming-into-presence and thus the last Greek, provenance is the only future yet to-come-Herkunft als Zukunft?

What the Greek eye perceives as foreign, alien, Asiatic, disquieting, excessive points toward its secret provenance, a secret disclosed as “disclosure” or “unconcealment” (aletheia), a secret that is its own disclosure and, as such, is absolutely kept undisclosed and secret. Everything is exposed outside, nothing is kept apart save…save, perhaps, the “apart” itself (khora).7 But in existing in their extremely open and even “public” way, the Greeks transformed “existing” (i.e. standing out of oneself, open to whatever comes into presence) into another kind of labyrinth with no outside [view], without anything out of the totality of beings, which, itself posited as equal to the outside, crosses out any radical exteriority or absolute alterity. In yet another “myth” or rather allegory, Plato interpreted the exit from the “primitive” or “prehistorical” or “mythical” Cretan labyrinth as a coming-into-presence of what is invisible and yet makes seen everything. Yet the liberation from the dark cave and the anabasis toward the blinding Summit of the Idea turned into the nightmare of Oedipus blinded at his bloody origin and forced to acknowledge that there, in this dark matrix, there was absolutely nothing to see and therefore nothing to know.

                                        it’s all out there
                                        same thing as
                                        Hölderlin: “Alles ist innig,” “it’s all intimate”

::::: uncanny :::::: “eye of the word,” increasingly looking like a round eye, wide-open, a perfect circle as Parmenides calls his goddess Aletheia-the circle provides the perfect image of perfection, for the time being, having neither a beginning nor an end, that is, for present time as the only being of time.

(There is only one instant, forever only one. No sequence. From one instant to the other, there is no passage, no bridge. But as there is only one instant, the other will always come down to the same. Unless— unless something makes impossible for the instant to simply be the instant it “is.” Unless the instant is doubled with its ghost: the instant which never comes into its own, gone before even it had the time to be itself…vanished…)
Where do you wish I meet [see] you? -Nowhere. […] Sometimes I was thinking of this “Nowhere.”8

Let’s go there and see what looks so strange to us since this look is not directed at us; in fact, it seems to be looking out, out there, but where exactly? There, simply. There where there is. Where [the] There is. And there, the Name is. Watching there. Guarding, regarding: “Already the name of the arche-ancient divinity A-phaia-the non-appearing, withdrawing herself from appearing, the Disappearing-names what Aletheia says. The goddess Aphaia keeps/guards the enigma of Aletheia.”9
Pausanias has also left some information about Aphaea, which derived from some traditions of Crete. Zeus and Carme had a girl called Britomartis. She was very fond of hunting, that is why Goddess Diana showed her particular favor. But Minos fell in love with her; trying to escape she jumped into the sea and got tangled in the fishing net of some fishermen who took her onboard their ship. Then a sailor fell in love with her. Trying to escape again, she jumped into the sea and swam till she reached Aegina. She immediately took the way towards northeast where the grove of the island was. The sailors watched her vanishing little by little as if by a divine means, that is why they called her Aphaea = Aphande (vanished), and from what the legend says, she hid herself in a cave in the enclosure of the archaic Temple. During the excavation that were made there in 1901 many Mycenaean findings came to light. So we can conclude that the inhabitants of that area worshipped that deity from the prehistoric era. Cretans called Aphaea “Dictynna.”10

However, another internet source provides a different source for Aphaea’s name. “Fleeing from Minos, who had fallen in love with her, she [Brisomartis, alias Aphaea] threw herself into nets which had been cast (aphemena) for a draught of fishes.” So, cast or vanished, the lady? Do not expect a word of response from her, of course. But the fact is that “Dictynna”, her Cretan name or her name in Crete, is worshipped as the “Goddess of Nets.” It would be difficult not to think of this other labyrinth, called “le net” (in French, untranslatable): a global network, is there a more ideal crypt for guarding the secrecy of “Truth”: namely, that if you pursue “her” (Aletheia is a feminine) too closely or too openly you will put her to flight-for her true nature is freedom. As if the Open could be (en)closed!

Aphaea as the Vanished is Aletheia guarded in the nets of her name that neither reveals nor hides, but shows her without revealing anything of that through which she comes to disappear into what is shown. Aphaea is the aphasic image that we might call a phantom or a phantasy, a haunting or a hunting, the return (for a salutation) of what is gone with no return, of what fled but remained as a trace, a sign of life from the Departed (departed from herself): a dissolution that lets nothing but the image of effacing.

The connection of aphasic Athaea with the global net might seem forced and anachronistic; yet I’d like to keep it in mind or, better said, in memory, like a negative sheltered in this cave we call “camera oscura.” But the photographic image, far from keeping in mind, has become nothing but the junkyard where all “memories” are thrown away.

While we halted [aufhielten] for hours in the sacred enclosure, the crowd of visitors had significantly increased-everywhere people taking photographs. They dispose of their memory in throwing it into the image produced by technology. Without even giving a thought about it, they give up the unacknowledged feast of thinking. (S 79.)

But then what could thinking celebrate when the crowd invades the sacred enclosure without even giving a thought about “it,” that is, without seeing what is in fact invisible or visible only in the gaze of mind? Can you be blind in not seeing the invisible? If “they” have no idea about it, this might be less their fault than that of the idea itself. Indeed, if there is absolutely no way to figure out what the sacred “looks” like, it is “because” the so-called “sacred” has always already withdrawn from visibility and appearance—and therefore from speech—so to let see nothing other than its very withdrawal or retraction. Subtracted to any right of investigation or droit de regard, “it” names a completely invisible and unknown secret, in no way hidden but for that matter incapable of being disclosed. The crowd (“they,” “das Man”, hoi polloi) is the only one not to know that there is nothing to be seen, and therefore nothing to know there. The goddess that holds and guards in her sacred enclosure the secret of truth is guarded by her aphasia against making any appearance as to better keep the secret of appearing.

While the obscure Aphaea watches over the glorious Aletheia (or Athena), Apollo (brother of Artemis, who made Aphaea into a goddess) stands between the old and the new goddesses, exactly like his oracle stands between revelation and occultation, between day and night, just in-between. “In-between” characterizes the space of sense, or rather of making sense. Heidegger defines it as “a mode of making seen, which, as such, veils and saves what is veiled. This way of showing is the genuine event in the field of Aletheia, which grounds the sojourn (Aufenthalt) in the frontyard (Vorhof) of the Sacred.” (S 68.) Sense is never given, sense has to be made sense, that is to say, made seen, pro-duced, brought in (the) front. But sense is not made as an artefact, and the “making” should never be confused with a creation (a notion that is foreign to the Greek experience). Nothing is “made” when “it” makes sense. Nothing is created out of nothing because everything is already exposed and thrown, so to speak, in front of everything. Aletheia stands in front, because there is absolutely nothing behind the phainomena. Aphaea has been left behind, forgotten or as invisible as her name. The name constitutes the “preamble” of the Sacred, and there is no better witness to the priority of pre-sense than the name in Greek for “truth,” aletheia, where the core of the word, lethe, oblivion, like Hades the Invisible, escaped the eye of all and remained sealed off. Everything, each being is, insofar as it is, disclosed, manifest, therefore “true,” everything save…precisely the very name “aletheia,” but this is precisely how Aletheia saves herself from uncovering herself “as such.” There but nowhere to be discovered, escaping her pursuers, Aletheia waits, like her passionate land, the land of Destiny, for the magic instant of salutation—the “instant of vision”…

Like Artemis, Aphaea does not let herself be seen. She lives in the wilderness and hunts wild animals deep into the impenetrable woods. But unlike the goddess, she is a simple mortal. Against men and their lust, she can do nothing but turn into the wild animal she used to chase: run, Athaea! In French we say: “save yourself!” So she jumps into the sea just to escape Minos’ impious chasing: Minos, the King of Crete, the son of princess Europa and of the Father of Gods, Zeus, no less! At that time (and still nowadays), Cretans were famous for being the best liars in the world. I tend to hold their reputation for truthful, but then, what is a true liar? So to not get caught into the pitfalls of what Nietzsche would describe as a long history of deception (“truth” as the first lie), Heidegger ignores the Cretan “myths” in which the visitor inevitably gets lost as the innocent Athenian youth would get lost in the labyrinth, but in escaping the treacherous shores of paradox and aporia, he certainly saves his goddess Aletheia from human lust and greed but also he makes her into an enigma, all the more undecipherable that she won’t even say no for an answer.

That is nowhere said. [Yet “That” is to say.] And it must not be said, if saying signifies making-appear. Thus saying is a reserve in a double sense: a prohibition [interdit] (to disclose the “secret” of disclosing) and at the same time the resource that keeps the same secret in its a-phasic purity, a secret for which there is no place to be said and whose saying will not take place.11
Le secret n’a pas lieu d’être: the secret should not take place (in language, this “house of Being”) because there is or because this [= language] is no place where to be secret. By abstaining from being, i.e., in Greek, from being manifest, exposed, visible, by dis-appearing from the land of beings, Aletheia finds her “proper” place in the very place of dis-appearing and departing from all phenomenality and visibility: apart from all, where there is no way of access, only secession:


in a cave in the enclosure of the archaic Temple

Aletheia-Aphaea stays there, held there, and she does nothing else, nothing except abstain from going anywhere else. Aufenthalt, that I would like to translate as “halt”: the step that stops there, holds to and stands there, and therefore the step that holds back from going beyond-pas au-delà, step not going beyond. Halt, stop, demeurance.

arrêt de mort sur image


a death sentence suspended at the very moment the sentence is carried out: such double and contradictory movement (of halting) is what Greek “art” shows, and particularly the statuary that repeatedly ex-poses the stature and standing of such suspended in-stant, the instant of immortality that lasts only one instant, or more exactly, more harshly also, that does not last more than the time of saying it, of saying or even kissing this instant goodbye—


                                  little           by              little

vanishing into

will say
neither yes nor no.

She lets the wise guys speak, Pausanias the historian (but of which history? Nothing but incredible stories, myths, to put it in one word, which does say it all) as well as Heidegger this other historian, of a different but probably no less mythic History—the History of Being, or rather of its vanishing into oblivion, that is, up to now, the age of complete nihilism. Aphaea let them speak without saying a word, not even yes or no, to either of the two, as if she were indifferent to any kind of history, process and order of priority. Absolutely passive, she always escapes the nets whose goddess she is.

Perhaps Heidegger “makes” Aphaea say what he is the only one to see in the eye of her name. However, this critique is still very far from reaching the vestibule of the Thing itself, which stands back insofar as it regards the secret of appearing, that is, the name. Aletheia “speaks through the name of Aphaea” who says nothing at all, but becomes a truthful witness to the Greek unification around or under the reign of Aletheia: “The relationship to the divinity—Aphaia also attests [bezeugt] that the relationship to the divine simultaneously determines the Greek relation to the world, without letting the latter dissolve into an indeterminable pantheism.” (S, 72.) Not only is her Cretan origin conveniently silenced or “forgotten,” but her antiquity becomes an undeniable sign attesting to a remarkable continuity and astounding faithfulness toward the “truth” of (and at) the origin of the Greek Dasein: its (or rather his, since Dasein is not a Greek word) passion for Aletheia, “das eigentliche Wort des grieschischen Daseins, o muqos, die Sage”: the myth of all myths, “which for the Greek thinking finds its development in Logos” and nowadays in the logistics of arraignment through techno-logy. Such “myth” prevented the Greeks from dissolving into the labyrinth of Cretan myths, but at the same time such “myth” (of Truth) has “demythified” all (of the rest), forcing the divine to become completely invisible and therefore a matter purely of belief. Thus Heraclitus had to take refuge in Artemis’ temple—to the goddess staying far from human beings he offered his book in which he stated that all is doomed to perish by fire “times to times” or rather he burned it out like Empedocles threw himself into the volcano…


When the philosopher Thales, lost in thought, walked along a road, fell into a ditch, and was ridiculed by some servant girl, his body was in no way “lost in space.” Rather, it was not present. [—] Yet, this “absence” of the body is not nothing, but one of the most mysterious phenomena of privation.12
In the labyrinth you easily lose your way because it all looks alike but nothing is identical. “Perhaps there is a direct relationship between labyrinth and luxury. As adjective, luxus means that something is disturbed from its place, displaced and disconnected” (S 39): dislocated or disarticulated, like a luxated knee (un ge-nou luxé). Something—could it be time?—is out of joints, but then, nothing is missing; on the contrary, something—some “thing"—looks like in excess. In the eyes of the thinker, the Cretan luxury appears “a little too self-evident” to be true, i.e. trusted. A little too much looking like a total waste or a complete dissemination leaving no hope of return, and yet Heidegger refuses to hold the Cretan “Dasein” as frivolous or decadent. There is, there, for want of anything that would stand behind this shine to show its (absent, vanished) meaning, an enigma for our logocentric thinking: “Our thoughts remained in the museum, lingering over the retinal persistence of such shine, which once upon a time belonged to the free joint [Gefüge] of an increased Dasein that was foreign to the Greek Dasein and yet bewitched it.” Perhaps this magic of the “foreign” provenance is responsible for the fact that the Greeks had no faith or “religion,” nothing but the persistence of an enigmatic smile.

Let’s give the last word to the first of their thinkers, Heraclitus:

invisible (aphanes) joint [is] better and stronger than visible

All photographs: © Cécile Moreau, 2004, From Desolation. Color photographs mounted on sintra, 30 x 40 inches.

1The Greek (and French) “nyctalopt” says exactly the opposite of the English “day-blind”: “night-seeing.”
2Maurice Blanchot, “Rêver, Ecrire,” in L’Amitié (Paris : Gallimard, 1971), 168. I have taken the liberty to translate the masculine into a feminine, but not out of respect for a « feminist » reading. Ultimately the masculine is the only way to replace a non-existent neuter. In view of the almost impersonal, effaced and « shy » Atheae, « she » seems more appropriate.—Trans.
3Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. Joan Stambaugh (Albany, N.Y.: SUNY, 1996), p.28 [32].
4Marc Froment-Meurice, That Is To Say. Heidegger’s Poetics, trans. Jan Plug (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), 58. The footnote refering to the story of Polyphemus and Ulysses, alias Nobody, has been developed in “Personne a/à ce nom” [“Nobody Has/As This Name”], in M.F.-M.’s Incitations (Paris: Galilée, 2002).
5Georg Trakl, “Psalm,” in Poems and Prose, trans. Alexander Stillmark (London: Libris, 2001), 17-19. In the English translation of Heidegger’s seminar, we find “it is” (see Martin Heidegger, On Time and Being, trans. Joan Stambaugh [New York: Harper and Row, 1972], 39.)
6That Is To Say, 231.
7See Jacques Derrida, Khôra (Paris : Galilée, 1993).
8Maurice Blanchot, L’Arrêt de mort (Paris: Gallimard, 1984), 96 (my translation).
9Martin Heidegger, Séjours/Aufenthalte, ed. François Vezin (Monaco: Editions du Rocher, 1992), 72 [29]. Henceforth I will quote this text as “S.”
10Unverifiable and mythic source caught into a speedy spider’s net. Does it matter?
11That Is To Say, 233. “Un secret qui n’a pas lieu d’être, dans tous les sens.”
12Martin Heidegger, Zollikon Seminars, 1958-1969, ed. Medard Boss, trans. Franz Mayr and Richard Askay (Evanston, IL: Northwester University Press, 2001), 85.