Some Etymological Clues
Before introducing my analysis of the ‘garden,’ as an enclosed micro-universe as such (allegedly) isomorphic to the cosmos, it could be useful to cast an etymological gaze on the origin of the word.
The Hebrew term for Garden is Gan, Gannah, which means ‘fenced area.’ In Greek, ‘garden’ is expressed with both ‘chórtos’ (from which ‘hortus’, in Latin) and ‘kêpos’ (cultivated closed space). As such, it is intended to mean an ‘enclosure’, namely a ‘closed place.’Footnote 35 What is relevant as regards ‘the limits to the limits of law,’ is that etymologically the ‘enclosure’, by virtue of and, at the same time, despite its closeness, is the place inside which is enshrined the (Divine) Logos. More explicitly, the closed (fenced circular) garden is a metaphor, and simultaneously a map of the Universe, a sort of cosmogram of its creative source and structural key.Footnote 36 Analogically, the idea of a sacred closeness is shifted also onto the temple (templum, in Latin, which comes from the Greek root temno, which means ‘to cut, to divide, to separate, to slice). The inner order of the garden is assumed (and thought of) as a scheme mirroring the harmonic order of the universe. In this sense, it simultaneously encapsulates (or is encapsulated by) an ontological and a normative significance. It presents itself as an image of the whole, and for this reason it promises to be complete, all-encompassing, self-bounded even if separated from the outside, which is implicitly depicted as evil, as noise, as undetermined and, ultimately, the ‘apeiron.’
Something similar can be found in the Greek translation of Genesis, where the term ‘Gannah’ is rendered through the word ‘parádeisos’, which in turn derives from the Persian ‘pairideiza,’ namely ‘fenced place.’ Beauty, happiness, harmony and order dwell, therefore, in a closed space, which physically and conceptually delimits the borders of the right/fair significance of the universe. That space means the sacred. But precisely because of this delimitation it presupposes, co-defines and floats on an undetermined Otherness from which it cannot be, at least genetically, divorced. This bridge with the undetermined, the obscure, the unknown origins of (its) signification, permeates the other side of sacredness with dread. Crossing the boundaries of the garden means going over to the domain of darkness and falling into an abyss of non-sense, which paradoxically is coextensive with a dimension of binding/blinding absoluteness, a morass made of the lost ontic correspondence between names and the entities of the world.Footnote 37
In the same vein, ‘Garden’ (English), Garten (German), Jardín (Spanish), Jardim (Portuguese), Jardin (French), Giardino (Italian), etc., derive from the Indo-European root gher (echoed by the English ‘gird’ and ‘yard’), which means ‘to encircle, to close, to border.’ From another perspective, and if only because of the phonetic assonance, even the Greek ‘orthós,’ is germane, meaning as it does, that which is ‘right, correct, straight, correct, complying with rules or norms.’
A Contemporary Tale: Buzzati’s Anecdotes on the Great Wall
I would like to begin my excursion through the ancient literary loci on the ‘garden’ by using as an ‘usher’ a contemporary short tale. It is entitled, ‘Anecdotes on the Great Wall’ and begins with the recounting of an Oriental Legend. The author, however, is a Western writer, more precisely the Italian Dino Buzzati. I will reproduce here only the first of the tales, which are presented as a sort of chronicle of bizarre events involving people on the verge of death. The plot reveals that seeing a mysterious long wall, at a distance, is the symbolic announcement of imminent death, and this is the interpretation that the same writer gives to the Oriental legend and others tales that precede it.
Anedoctes on the Great Wall
An Oriental Legend says:
The tired wayfarer arrived before the gates of a castle. He knocked, and an old man opened the doors and brought him to a beautiful garden intersected by many brooks and filled with fruit-bearing trees. The wayfarer ate and drank. Later, he was walking around the garden when he realized that, at a certain point, the entrances and exits to the garden were blocked by a wall. So, he asked the old man: ‘My Lord, what is to be found on the other side of this wall? Another garden’? The old man answered: ‘Behind the wall there is another estate even greater than that where we now dwell. I welcomed you into my estate with the intention of letting you go there. But not today. I will tell you when the time is right. Be thankful for all that surrounds you here, and beware of crossing that limit, even if a passage were unexpectedly open to you. In the wall there are, here and there, some doors. I offer you the keys. Take this for what it is: a sign of my trust in you.’ The wayfarer gave the old man his word. By and by, however, he became obsessed with the delights that must surely be found on the other side, and asked himself with evermore frequency, what might be beyond the wall. He dreamed of meadows and flowers even more breathtaking than those of the garden where he dwelled. One day, his curiosity became so compelling that he was no longer able to resist the urge; he used his key and opened one of the doors. As he stepped over into the new land, he found, as far as the eye could see, that there was nothing but an arid plain of stones. As he surveyed the landscape with dismay, suddenly, the door shut again behind his back.Footnote 38
Buzzati interprets the legend as if it placed a wall before the last frontier of life. But I suppose that this short tale has much to do with Biblical Eden (actually, I do not know if it is originally Eastern, since Buzzati wrote it in Italian; may have invented the whole thing). I would like to use this story as a sort of viaticum to accompany a journey through ancient myths about ‘gardens.’
A garden, in any case, is the real protagonist of the legend. It is enclosed by a boundary wall, which is punctuated by some doors. It is a place of delights. Nonetheless the wayfarer makes up his mind to open one of its doors and go outside before the master has announced that the time has come for him to use the keys. The wayfarer is unable to resist the temptation to see beyond the wall, as soon as possible, the other greater estate that looms in his mind, thanks to the words of the master. What impels the wayfarer to violate the master’s warning—the legend tells us—is a compelling curiosity: more specifically the curiosity of Otherness, of other possible, different worlds. The wayfarer betrays the old master’s trust because he refuses to wait for the right time to ripen. He is fascinated by an abstract idea of Otherness. The betrayal consists in more than merely seeking an improvement in the offerings (flowers and meadows) of the present garden inside the perimeter of the wall. The guest seems to use the trans-categoriality of the properties embodied in those entities (flowers and meadows) to imagine an indeterminate difference, a kind of abstract ‘more.’ This mental action, alongside a symmetric pragmatic movement (turning the key to open the door in the wall), exert a complete betrayal because they destroy the garden’s internal order, disregarding the meaning and value of the ‘inside entities’. In other words, the wayfarer’s premature action does not allow for the necessary time for specific differences take shape, as such significantly linking the differenced and its counterparts. These links would maintain the door open towards the outside, namely the Otherness, so as to convey a possible reconciliation. The possibility to give space for these links to manifest is instead abruptly and roughly cut away by the wayfarer’s aprioristic and untimely decision to place himself outside the garden. But the breaking of the old man’s trust entails the bankruptcy of sense, a sort of semiotic breaking of the contrat de véridition, namely the semantic social contract that proffers a shared sense, and thereby (the illusion of) objectivity, to both words and the entities in the world—inside and outside the garden.
What opens the door in the wall is thus a key driven by pure will rather than knowledge, or intelligence. His going out equals a refusal of the present and its significance. The outside, in this way, cannot be other than the opposite (an absolute Otherness) of what is inside the garden rather than one of its possible projections, consequences and metaphorical transpositions, able to maintain meaningful ties with what is inside the wall. The outside engendered by the premature passing through the wall is divorced from the world of delights, and as such can only be a desert, a desert of meaning. The door suddenly closing behind the wayfarer reverberates as a shutting out, a loss, a definitive unmooring from the roots of Being: the knowledge of which is to be regained, perhaps, through immense efforts and a genuine spirit of reconciliation with the content of the garden and its master. Nonetheless the legend does not tell us if this path back will ever be possible. The plot ends with an existential and cognitive tragedy, leaving the reader with an abyssal question about the meaning of that loss that comes close to a psychological death. But another cluster of questions, maybe even more crucial, arises from this gloomy conclusion: Why was the wayfarer not satisfied with the delights of the garden? Why did they start to bore him? Why did their sensory sensibility and satisfaction begin to fade and etiolate? And if they were already losing their signification, what did the wayfarer actually lose when the door closed behind him? And what, instead, was he searching for by opening and going through the door in the wall?
The Edenic Garden
In the wake of the above questions, I would move on to analyze the renowned Biblical passage on Eden’s creation and, more specifically, the power Adam was given by God to name all living beings and eat from all the trees in the Garden, with the infamous exception of the Tree of Knowledge, at least—according to the divine warning—if he wanted to avert a certain death.
Genesis 2:7.9; 2:15-19
“7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.”
Everyone knows the end of this story. Adam and Eve fall prey to the Devil’s inducement to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and God banishes them from Eden, condemning all human beings to struggle all their lives, procreate and die. One difference between Buzzati’s Oriental legend and the Biblical story is the latter’s inclusion of an explicit referral to the human attitude to name the entities of the world. Adam is given the power name all things (including animals and other phenomena) and therefore to elaborate categories. According to the biblical account, he named all the wild animals and the birds in the sky. The story seems to tell us that God brought to Adam individual specimens so that the name he gave to each would be that of all the individuals belonging to the species. Adam was really the gardener of Eden, that is, the person in charge of giving order to it. Nonetheless, Adam and Eve decide to follow the Serpent’s suggestion to access the knowledge of good and evil, the difference between what ‘is’ and what ‘is not.’
Adam was cognizant of general names. He thus made use of categories and, in doing so, should have become aware of differences. Nonetheless, in the Edenic garden, Adam’s naming functions like God’s Word (Logos): it is immediately constitutive of reality; it forges its object. This linguistic activity is endowed, in other words, with an inner ontic referentiality. It closely resembles Greimas’ description of legal language. Adam’s linguistic action is simultaneously ‘onomo-thetic’ (from the ancient Greek onoma, onomatos: name) and ‘nomothetic’ (from the ancient Greek nomos: law). However, it is precisely this coincidence that makes the differences among names and the related categories created by Adam devoid of sense, as if they were dead. In Eden there is no possibility of transformation. Eternity is the other side of the order Adam is charged to ensure. There is no tension among categories, trans-categoriality is neutralized, forever frozen. There is no possibility of mistake or transgression: entities and names enjoy an absolute correspondence, and each is in its own place. But without semantic tension, differences lose all their significance. They are irrelevant, silenced. Language is automatically made reality: the work of creation, namely of differentiation, is completed as it begins. Everything holds; each name simultaneously and exactly signifies all the others. There is no time; no history. Names and objects are the same. In this condition of solipsistic absoluteness, it is impossible to perceive differences, if only because if they are to be observed and measured, they need a potential for sameness among multiple othernesses, to begin. But in the Edenic universe of discourse, generality and individuality seem to coincide. When Adam names an individual specimen, this name immediately defines and shape all the entities belonging to the corresponding species. This kind of ubiquitous coincidence is ineluctably narcotic and mortally boring.Footnote 40
If it is correct to assert that meaning blossoms among differences and their endless recombination, then it was absent from Eden. There, it was impossible to give rise and room to metaphors: that is, inventing new categories from those already extant by means of their merging. There is no semantic space that serves as an alternative to the Garden. Adam and Eve have to break the pervasive order that afflicts Eden for their enclosed world to have significance and meaning. They have to make its self-bounded closeness crack and wriggle free from its own endemic eternity. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the way out. Nonetheless, it embodies an either/or solution. It allows the knowledge of difference, but only the absolute one. By virtue of its fruits, Adam and Eve get access to the opposite of good, the negation of Being. A space of differentiation from which it is impossible to start any metaphorical process with that which is inside the Garden. It is—like for the wayfarer of the Oriental legend—the betrayal of the trust God placed in Adam by showing him the ‘good/evil knowledge tree,’ naming it and verbally inhibiting the human being from eating its fruit.
The transgression against God’s edict opens human beings to the counter-universe of absence; it literally deploys before their eyes, and drags them into, the mortal dialectics of absence. But this same tragic path is also the source of the search for meaning, the starting point for foreseeing its possibility. As soon as Adam and Eve eat from that fatal tree, they suddenly discover what is lacking, nudity, what it means to feel ‘without-ness’, and thereby what ‘change’ is, and the potential trans-categoriality of the semantic components included in each name, word and the underlying category. For example, only by virtue of trans-categoriality, after the fall, will they recombine differences to conceive of clothes, metaphorically creating the dressed human being by the mutual adaptation of her/his body and other entities present in the world. They discover habits, which indicate more than the final material result; not only the thing-dress, but also the process of adaptation between the human being and the world, carried out through an activity of mind. Adam and Eve, once banned from Eden, become able, but are also compelled by necessity, to draw differences and then reconcile them by their relativization. This is the only way to find the long (perhaps, endless) path of reconciliation with the root of Being left in the Garden.
That said, and before going any further in the exploration of literary ‘garden’ loci, it could be useful to briefly dwell once again on metaphorical process.
The above analysis of Biblical passages touches on the cognitive role of metaphor and its spatial projections signified by the ‘inside/outside’ relations of Eden. When Aristotle, in his pioneering theoretical approach to metaphor, says that metaphor brings something unknown ‘before the eyes’, he is primarily focusing on one sense: sight. However, visual perceptions never come alone. Despite the Western (and originally Greek) predilection for sight, viewed objects are always perceived by means of the cooperation (at least potential) of all the other senses and the semiotic pro-active combination of environmental stimuli. ‘Bringing before the eyes’ hints, even if metonymically, at the embodiment of meaning encapsulated in the metaphor and produced through the metaphorical process. But ‘embodiment,’ in turn, implicitly presupposes the inclusion of spatial experience and, as such, already pervades Aristotle’s phrase, or at least the contemporary reception of its referral to ‘sight.’ In this regard, the body should not to be conceived of (only) as a material entity but rather as a phenomenological frontier arising from the ongoing adjustment between the organism and the environment.Footnote 41 Senses foster and dynamically constitute (but are also retroactively constituted by) bodily functions, the task of which is the integration of the experiential space into the subject’s pro-active patterns of behavior, or habits.Footnote 42 From this point of view, the semantic or categorical shifting produced by the creative power of metaphor also involves experiential spaces, their overlapping and remolding. As both word and space constitute semiotic dimensions, they interact horizontally,Footnote 43 if only because the meaning of words includes space through its experiential embodiment and, in turn, the understanding of space is imbued with the cognitive and behavioral schemes encapsulated in words and their related categorical checklists. Any change in our symbolic universe implies thus a consequent and symmetrical modification of our understanding and the (prospective or actual) use of space, even if this parallelism is carried out unconsciously.Footnote 44
The garden or fenced space should be considered a topographical metaphor of the bounded semantic space of categories. Precisely for this reason any categorical change or shifting implies the breach of the garden’s boundaries and is metaphorically signified by it. Conversely the garden imaginatively stands for the bounded normativity of categories that are signified through the individual entities and actions respectively extant and carried out inside it. Its fenced space, as well as the city and any kind of socio-ontological enclosure, is ultimately the domain (at least, allegedly) that is coextensive to any ontological and axiological order.
I think that it could be possible to lean on the semantic rhythm of metaphorical processes in order to understand the inner meaning of the ‘Fall from Eden,’ or the impossibility of returning to the Garden of Delights described in the Oriental legend. As many literary, semiotic, psycho-cognitivist and philosophical studies attest, metaphor functions provided that the semantic distance between the combined semantic domains remains present or perceivable. The metaphorical process has to yield new meaning and yet not completely overshadow the categories from which it began. If we accept the idea that the metaphorical process has much to do with the cognitive one (and the ‘invention’ of new ideas), we are somehow legitimized to think of the crossing of Edenic Borders as an act of negation and a refusal of the categories defining the Garden’s inner space. Nevertheless, cutting ties with previous knowledge means petrifying the new alternative categorizations and thereby making impossible both their novelty and any lasting understanding. In other words, the interplay between proximity and distance (in any case present even within oppositional relationships), between the Self and the Other, the Edenic Being and the Unknown Otherness, must remain. If this is not the case, he/she who crosses the borders will be compelled to re-trace the origin of the opposition and, in this way, the same ‘Self’ co-constitutive of the present ‘Otherness’, namely the first ‘Being’ (or, paraphrasing Peirce’s terminology, the Firstness). The human condition outside of Edenic Space could be equaled to an Otherness bereft of its Self, and ‘Other than Being’ as deprived of its relationship with ‘Being’. It will in any case presuppose the Self and Being (or Self-as-Being), but human beings will be aware of neither this ‘permanent relationship,’ nor its semantic content.
The novelty of ideas stemming in and through metaphor is inextricably intermingled with new relations arising from the conflation between the radial webs of properties and connotations underlying the combined original categorical frames. Hence, insofar as the knowledge of the difference between Good and Evil proceeds and ends up as a negation of Being, it will be doomed to sterilize thought, giving birth only to the death of its previous instantiations. The only way to survive this mortal divorce is to use new categories, carrying on the categorization process with modesty and taking in account the relationality underlying trans-categoriality and the metaphorical merging of semantic domains: that is, by continually re-adjusting, or at least pursuing the ‘rapprochement’ between the Other and the Self, the outside and the inside, the present and the past, perception and memory, and so on.
On the other hand, remaining in Eden and keeping a respectful (if not even trembling) distance from the Garden’s (categorical/spatial) boundaries would condemn the life inside it to a icy and unconscious felicity or, alternatively, to an everlasting and pervasive state of ‘irreflexive boredom:’ precisely the condition in which the activity of categorization is absent, or definitively exhausted. Doubtless, according to the Biblical account God initially entrusts Adam with the task of naming the entities of the world, involving him in the process of categorization of the Edenic reality. And perhaps it is not a coincidence that the fall into sin immediately follows—not without significance—the completion of the ‘naming activity.’ In the ancient oriental tale, the Edenic end of categorization is paralleled by the depletion of the initial surprise of the Garden’s guest. The source of Adam’s mortal sin coincides, somehow, with the gift of names by God. Those names will lose their initial harmlessness and innocence to become the semantic fuel triggering Adam’s cognitive and existential leap over the boundaries of Eden astride the consumption of the prohibited fruit. In the Oriental legend, the same function seems to be fulfilled by the flowers within the garden and the key given by the old man to his guest.
The metaphorical equivalence between the boundaries of the Garden and the Limits of Law seems now to trigger a crucial inference. This is to say that the limits to ‘the boundaries/limits’ of the legal domain spill out from the inner exceedance of categories and their tendency to self-produce Otherness through the dynamics of dis-composition and re-composition of their properties and connotations. However this uncontainable tendency toward extroversion could be compensated by a reverse metaphorical movement which prompts the rapprochement of Otherness with the Self, the Categorical Outside with the Categorical Inside, the (originally) Excluded with the Included.Footnote 45 This movement, which is the creative outcome of the metaphorical process, assures a continuous renewing of the ‘semantic matter’ from which boundaries/limits are made, as is the signification of legal thought and the legal experience as a whole. This means that the life of law entails an endless wobbling of semantic consistency, propelled by the innumerable and unrestrainable activities of signification perpetually weaving and unravelling the fabric of the semantic/connotative continuity between what is inside categorical boundaries and what is outside them.
The Phaeacian Garden
The next literary locus that engenders a reflection on the limits of general, as well as legal language, can be found in Homers’ Odyssey, in the description of the court garden of the Phaeacian king Alcinoos.
Odyssey, Book VII,Footnote 46vv. 103–132
“Bronze walls had been run this way and that… […]
As far superior as the Phaiacians are to all men in their knowledge of how to speed forward a fast ship at sea, just so are the women skilled at the loom; for to them especially has Athene given the knowledge of very fine things to do, and good sense.
Outside the courtyard, near the doors, is a big square garden covering acres, with a fence round it on both sides. There tall trees grow flourishing; pears, pomegranates, apple-trees, with glistening fruits, sweet figs and flourishing olives. The fruit of these trees never dies or fails, winter or summer, all the year round: the breath of the west wind all the time makes some grow, and ripens others. Pear after pear grows old, and apple after apple. Grape too upon grape, and fig on fig. There his fruitful orchard is rooted. On one part of it, in a smooth place, is a warm spot dried by the sun. Other grapes they gather, and other still they trample on. In front are sharp-tasting grape-clusters, shedding their flower; others are darkening. There are beds of flowers of all kinds growing along the furthest row in glorious abundance. There are two springs there: one is diffused over the whole garden, and another runs from a different spot, beneath the court-yard floor, to the high house; from this one the citizens drew their water. Such then were the gods’ glorious gifts in Alcinoos’ house.”
Odyssey, Book VII, vv. 38–44
“They do not put up with strangers or give a friendly welcome to any one who comes from somewhere else. Confident in their fast rapid ships, they cross the great gulf, since the earth-shaker has given them <that power>. Their ships are fast like an arrow, or a thought.”
Odyssey, Book XIII vv. 168–201
“When Poseidon, the earth-shaker, heard this he proceeded to Scherie where the Phaiacians are. There he waited. The seagoing ship came very close, lightly pursuing its course. The earth-shaker came close to it, who made it a stone and rooted it below, driving it <down> with the flat of his hand; and he was gone, far away. But they spoke winged words to each other, the Phaiacians, famous for their long oars and for their ships, and this is the sort of thing that one of them would say as he looked at some one next to him: ‘Oh! Who has enchained the fast ship at sea as it sped homeward?—and all of it could be seen too!”
To grasp the Homeric metaphor involving the Phaeacians’ garden, I think it would be useful to begin from the last excerpt, which describes the ship used by the Phaeacians to accompany Odysseus to Ithaca, and its transformation into stone by Poseidon and Zeus.
The fate of the Phaeacians’ ship symbolizes the petrification of the Word when it is assumed to be able to include in itself the object (internal referentiality), in this way denying any role to ongoing experience in the process of signification.Footnote 47 The word—as Homer seems to say—has instead to “row” (in Latin: remigo, remus and the Ancient Greek réo, réma or early, reüma: current, stream; in linguistics the ‘rhema’ is what adds something new to the discourse, the ‘thema’).Footnote 48 Furthermore, it has to do so in a dialectical fashion (from the Greek diá-lego), therefore speaking through, gathering (selecting, picking up) by means of language: that is, opening the sense connections dynamically, thereby continually reinventing and renewing the meaning of the object and the words related to itFootnote 49 (see the Platonic tale of Adonis’ Gardens in its criticism about the stiffness of writings if compared with the spoken words, dialogically interwoven: Phaedrus: 276a-277a).
When Odysseus comes back to Ithaca, conveyed by the Phaeacians’ ship, he does not recognize his homeland. But his inability is symmetrical, and to a certain extent also caused by, the vehicle of his travel. His homeland is reached unawares: during the journey Odyssey sleeps as a god—Homer tells us. Ithaca becomes, therefore, a kind of apodictically imagined object (a synthesis of imagination or synthesis speciosa, to use the Kantian terminology) by force of the mere, reiterated pronunciation of a word. In this case, if lacking direct experience, the mind reaches it without any fully effective knowledge. But if the word does not go through the language and stays alone in its solipsistic majestic ossification, it is doomed to die, to shrivel, even if its consequences, at first, seem to sprout profusely and rapidly, that is, to be connoted by dazzling evidence.
The Phaeacians’ ships are winged and fast as thought—Homer tells us. They do not seem to need any canvas or oars, as if they already know the destination and the route by themselves: they are like words. Precisely such presuming-to-know-in-advance, at the same time, heralds their fate: to be turned into stone. The same destiny could befall Alcinoos’ garden. It enshrines and embodies a deep knowledge of the world. It is imperishable, self-produces seasons, and is immune to death. Nonetheless, in the end, it will run the risk of being petrified, as if it was not really self-sufficient in the determination of its own life. All knowledge symbolized and mapped within the garden, despite appearances, will prove not to be a true knowledge, which can gush up only from the dynamic interpenetration between word and experience (that is, the related semiotic domains), the fenced space and its deep-rooted relationship with the universe, the uncultivated land, the desert. And yet, the desert will be, according to Tiresias’ prophecy, Odysseus’ ultimate travel destination.
Odyssey, Book XI, vv. 147-167
“But you will truly take your revenge on their violent acts when you come. When however you kill the suitors in your palace, whether by craft or openly with the sharp bronze, then you are to go, taking an oar that fits the hand, until you arrive at those who do not know the sea men, and they do not eat food mixed with salts nor do they know of ships with crimson cheeks, or oars that fit the hand, that are wings for ships. I shall tell you a very clear recognizable sign; it will not elude you: when some one else on the road meets you, and says you have a winnowing-fan over your bright shoulder, then sticking the oar that fits the hand into the ground, sacrificing fine victims to Lord Poseidon, a sheep and a bull and a boar that mates with pigs, go off home and make holy sacrifices to the immortal gods who hold the broad sky, to all of them in order. Death will come to you yourself from the sea quite gently, just like that, which will slay you when you are worn out by a rich old age; and your people round you will be prosperous. These things that I say to you are true.”
Odysseus must reach the land of people who never see the sea, who do not add any salt to food (undetermined flux of event, ongoing reality) and do not know ships and oars. There, Odysseus will be told by someone else—another wayfarer?—that he is bringing a winnowing-fan on his shoulder. Actually, Homer explicitly implies that the pointed winnowing-fan is an oar. But I think that this is not a linguistic mistake or inadvertence. Metaphorically, the winnowing-fan is the instrument of judgment, discernment and selection. It serves to separate the wheat from the chaff, good from evil, order from chaos, meaning from the undetermined stream of events. But the winnowing-fan is nothing but the word, the oar in the ongoing renewing of language in its routes through the ocean of experience. Ulysses, master in lies and the fictitious use of words, has to accept to plant in the ground his most powerful weapon and come to terms with gods, namely experience, the ‘beyond’ ineluctably resilient in the universe of life and exceeding any human effort to construe a linguistic, self-bounded and isomorphic dimension of (self-)reference. Only by laying down the word/oar, can he reach a rapprochement with the cosmos and come back again to Ithaca, where he will be surrounded by pacified and blessing peoples until a gentle death will come to him from a sea (language, the ocean of all possible semiotic connections) finally in tune with all the divine and earthly universes (of discourse). The end of Tiresias’ prophecy sounds, therefore, like a kind of viaticum for eternity (an inherently dynamic, moving eternity), exactly like the everlasting message that Homer bequeathed to humanity with his cognitive encyclopedia of hospitality (to be intended as the re-lation with and the trans-lation of Otherness), which the Odyssey is.
Actually, Odysseus’ arrival in Scherie, the Phaeacians’ homeland, breaks the spatial and semantic closeness of Alcinoos’ world, symbolized by his everlasting garden. Odysseus is a master of the use of language and yet he himself has had to discover, albeit still only partially, the deficient self-referentiality of words by means of a long and troubling personal transformation. After the blinding of Polyphemus, Odysseus raises his own name to the rank of absolute measure of the universe. He says that not even Poseidon the god, Polyphemus’ father, can give sight back to the Cyclops as sure as ‘I, a man named Odysseus, deprived you of it.’ The name Odysseus is therefore transmuted into an all-encompassing synthesis of past and future events, and ultimately the human and divine world. The price that Odysseus will have to pay to reconcile with the gods will be a radical self-distancing: to the extent that, once returned home, he will have to become someone else, camouflaging his own identity under the guise of a beggar, to understand what is happening in his palace, his realm, in his own life. After having taken his revenge on the violent suitors surrounding his wife Penelope, Odysseus must regain the trust of the people of Ithaca, whose youths he has killed. At this point, Homer presents the first step of Odysseus’ path towards reconciliation. Through a negotiation, he establishes a new social and semantic contract, inside which he accepts to redefine, after his long peregrination, his repositioning within an existential and political space of coexistence. But this repositioning is the same reconciliation encapsulated in the metaphorical trans-categorical ‘to and fro.’ Odysseus has traveled through difference, the Other-than-Self and the Other-of-Self, in order to find and grasp himself. This, however, is not enough. He must come to terms with the gods and reconcile with the universe; he must understand the mediating role of the word. He has to grasp the necessity to use categories with modesty, to dismiss any faith in their absolute inner self-referentiality, to leave open the way to a metaphorical movement from trans-position to reconciliation. All this because from the bosom of this mediating movement, the source of sense lights up, occasionally, in the guise of a thirdness, a novelty, which is revealed to be invisibly rooted in the folds and backdrops of all difference.
For the Phaeacians, Odysseus is, once again, the Otherness that abruptly breaks into their apparently self-sufficient world and, at same time, the trigger for its extroversion, namely a wise and modest use of their knowledge as well as their ships/words. In a sense, Odysseus embodies, at least with respect to the inhabitants of Scherie, the same role that the serpent-Satan plays in his dialogue of temptation with Eve. Both Odysseus and Satan are the semantic fissure toward the Elsewhere, the space of difference and Otherness, the categorical outside, the unenclosed, which, however, already inhabits all possible gardens by virtue of language and its idiomatic tension toward universalization in the creation of categories.
On the other hand, the vicissitudes that Odysseus experienced with Polyphemus also show the semiotic exceedance undermining any attempt to set or preserve linguistic/categorical and spatial enclosures. Actually, the Cyclops’ monocular sight seems to embody his inability (refusal?) to envisage the semiotic depth of phenomenal entities (including human beings) and their consequences. For Polyphemus, the world is as it appears to him. A little man, such as Odysseus, is only a little man, therefore a defenseless prey, which cannot modify itself, and must succumb to its situation, to its destiny. Words and things coincide up to the point that for the Cyclops the name of his victim is without any importance; it could even be ‘no one.’ But Odysseus knows techniques and the art of teleologically symbolizing the components of experience so as to remold their interaction and, simultaneously, his own life situation. Caged in the Cyclops’ cave, a sort of infernal garden, Odysseus transforms an olive branch into a sharpened stake with which to blind his giant enemy. But to achieve this result, the king of Ithaca plans to get Polyphemus drunk, exploiting the beast’s ignorance of fermented must, that is, of wine. Here, once again, Homer shows us the brute’s woeful lack of technique, due to his solitude and inability to build ships that might sail the sea (language) the way the human beings do, seeking one another to communicate. Actually, Polyphemus, appreciating the wine, says that even they, the Cyclops, have vines producing huge and lush grapes, but do not know how to transform their juice into this delicious ambrosia. But technique is an offspring of language and communication, and symbolization allows for the combining of different material things so as to change their attitudes, functions and meaning. This work applied to things is, thus, a form of predicative action, which like a metaphorical process overlaps and adjusts different entities to engender something new, sprouting from the creative merging of their features. Because of his unfamiliarity with language and its transformative attitude, Polyphemus is completely defenseless against Odysseus’ capacity to exploit trans-categoriality. He has left the Greeks secluded in a cave where there were no weapons to be used against him. At his return, instead, he will become the victim of a completely subverted situation, one which he was utterly unable to even conceive. In the new scene orchestrated by Odysseus, the metaphorical use of words and things (namely, the related semiotic spectrums) has thoroughly upset the Cyclops’ world and the meanings that underpinned it. In the end, even his ‘loyal’ animals will be transmuted into escape vehicles: clinging to the bellies of the beasts, which symbolize the ‘clear’ appearance of things and animals in Polyphemus’ cave, the Greeks will escape from their stone prison to the world and its open sea-language.
Homer’s lesson, here, conjugates both of the sources of categorical self-transformation analyzed so far. The ‘migration’ towards Otherness and the overcoming of categorical boundaries take place in the cave as a result of both the Other’s breaking into the Cyclops’ enclosed world and the transmutation that occurs to the entities already inside it, a process which finally conveys the foreigners outside the cave, toward the ‘outer space.’
Technique, metaphor, creative predicative activity and projection towards the outside will lead us directly to the final literary loci, both captured by the pen of Plato. I refer to Republic (II: 372A-374A) and Timaeus (23D-25d), where the ‘mythical city’ and the ‘imaginary one,’ respectively, take over from the metaphor of the ‘garden.’
In his Timaeus, Plato tells two mythical tales about the ancient Athens and Atlantis. The theoretical hub of both these stories has to do with the conceptual structure of the cities, their civilizations and their institutions. What is very peculiar to these passages is the relationship that Plato recognizes (but actually creatively establishes) between the social roles of individuals and the conceptualization of a cognitive order. Political structures and cognitive ideologies are taken together as if they were two symmetric wings of the two cities and their social frameworks. The boundaries of these city-states are assumed, therefore, to be coextensive with those ‘enclosing’ the categorical schemes defining social roles and the cognitive apparatuses involved in their ‘conception.’Footnote 50 Respect for the good (and wise) laws of a city—in this case, Athens—is strictly correlated with the maintenance of its geographical borders: which implies both their defense against alien enemies and the self-limiting avoidance of any temptation to illegitimately or violently enlarge the urban perimeter to the detriment of other populations. Nonetheless, the description of these two mythical cities in Timaeus ends up showing them falling prey to an overall disruption. The inhabitants of Atlantis use their extraordinary technological knowledge to indulge their longing for conquest and to wage war against Athens, which in turn defeats the enemy but does not come to terms with it. There is no reconciliation or negotiation in the tale of the war between these two cities. This clash of civilizations, which is also described as a struggle between different categorical ‘constellations’ and their spatial projections, remains bereft of a real winner. A mammoth telluric catastrophe signals the end of Atlantis and the disruption of Athens: as if the lack of any reconciliation implies and symbolizes the absence of any metaphorical-spatial re-composition. In the literary weft that Plato proposes, Atlantis plays the role of the ‘spatial and categorical’ enclosure overrunning its boundaries as a result of an expansive inclination fueled by its knowledge. Conversely, Athens has to deal with the incumbent ‘contamination’ of Otherness. But Plato seems to tell us that the reciprocal refusal occurring between the two Othernesses is tragically doomed to a self-disruptive earthquake. In other words, the struggle between two differently semanticized spaces and/or two different claims for the semantization of space can produce only a sort of void, that is, the vanishing of the space itself. History must begin anew. But let me cede the word to PlatoFootnote 51:
Plato’s Timaeus (23D-25D)
“When Solon heard this he was astounded, he said, and with unreserved eagerness begged the priests to give him a detailed, consecutive account of all that concerned those ancient citizens. ‘I won’t grudge you this, Solon,’ the priest replied. ‘I’ll tell you the story for your own benefit as well as your city’s, and especially in honor of our patron goddess who has founded, nurtured and educated our cities, both yours and ours. Yours she founded first, a thousand years before ours, when she had received [e] from Earth and Hephaestus the seed from which your people were to come. Now our social arrangement, according to the records inscribed in our sacred documents, is eight thousand years old. Nine thousand years ago, then, did these fellow citizens of yours live, whose laws and whose finest achievement I’ll briefly describe to you. At another time we’ll go  through all the details one by one at our leisure and inspect the documents themselves. “‘Let’s compare your ancient laws with ours today. You’ll discover many instances that once existed among you, existing among us today. First, you’ll find that the class of priests is marked off and separated from the other classes. Next, in the case of the working class, you’ll find that each group—the herdsmen, the hunters and the farmers—works independently, without mixing with the others. In particular, I’m sure you’ve noticed that [b] our warrior class has been separated from all the others. It’s been assigned by law to occupy itself exclusively with matters of war. Moreover, the style of armor used is that of shields and spears, which we were the first among the peoples of Asia to use for arming ourselves. The goddess instructed us just as she first instructed you in the regions where you live. Moreover, as for wisdom, I’m sure you can see how much attention our way of life here has devoted to it, right from the beginning. In our study [c] of the world order we have traced all our discoveries, including prophecy and health-restoring medicine, from those divine realities to human levels, and we have also acquired all the other related disciplines. This is in fact nothing less than the very same system of social order that the goddess first devised for you when she founded your city, which she did once she had chosen the region in which your people were born, and had discerned that the temperate climate in it throughout the seasons would bring forth [d] men of surpassing wisdom. And, being a lover of both war and wisdom, the goddess chose the region that was likely to bring forth men most like herself, and founded it first. And so you came to live there, and to observe laws such as these. In fact your laws improved even more, so that you came to surpass all other peoples in every excellence, as could be expected from those whose begetting and nurture were divine. “‘Now many great accomplishments of your city recorded here are awe-inspiring, [e] but there is one that surely surpasses them all in magnitude and excellence. The records speak of a vast power that your city once brought to a halt in its insolent March against the whole of Europe and Asia at once—a power that sprang forth from beyond, from the Atlantic ocean. For at that time this ocean was passable, since it had an island in it in front of the strait that you people say you call the ‘Pillars of Heracles.’ This island was larger than Libya and Asia combined, and it provided passage to the other islands for people who traveled in those days. From  those islands one could then travel to the entire continent on the other side, which surrounds that real sea beyond. Everything here inside the strait we’re talking about seems nothing but a harbor with a narrow entrance, whereas that really is an ocean out there and the land that embraces it all the way around truly deserves to be called a continent. Now on this Isle of Atlantis a great and marvelous royal power established itself, and ruled not only the whole island, but many of the other islands and parts of the continent as well. What’s more, their rule extended even inside the [b] strait, over Libya as far as Egypt, and over Europe as far as Tyrrhenia. Now one day this power gathered all of itself together, and set out to enslave all of the territory inside the strait, including your region and ours, in one fell swoop. Then it was, Solon, that your city’s might shone bright with excellence and strength, for all humankind to see. Preeminent among all others in the nobility of her spirit and in her use of all the arts of war, [c] she first rose to the leadership of the Greek cause. Later, forced to stand alone, deserted by her allies, she reached a point of extreme peril. Nevertheless she overcame the invaders and erected her monument of victory. She prevented the enslavement of those not yet enslaved, and generously freed all the rest of us who lived within the boundaries of Heracles.
Some time [d] later excessively violent earthquakes and floods occurred, and after the onset of an unbearable day and a night, your entire warrior force sank below the earth all at once, and the Isle of Atlantis likewise sank below the sea and disappeared. That is how the ocean in that region has come to be even now unnavigable and unexplorable, obstructed as it is by a layer of mud at a shallow depth, the residue of the island as it settled.”
The myth of Atlantis, the ancient Athens and their disappearing from the theatre of time has a paradigmatic significance concerning the relationship between language and space, knowledge and experience, categorical boundaries and pragmatic projections. Something similar is exposed in more general terms in the Republic with regard to the ideal city. In this case, the role of the self-overflowing Atlantis is played by the same Athens, in such a way that the connections between ‘categorical maps’ and ‘spatial boundaries of the city’ unfolds quite clearly. Initially the narrative and theoretical scene seems to be saturated by an original city. It is populated by ‘modest’ (frugal) citizens and simultaneously self-contained in and by means of its geographical borders, social roles and the categorical schemes useful to make people understand and mold the urban world. Abruptly, however, on the backdrop filled by this picture of perfect conceptual and socio-political equilibrium, a different behavioral, epistemological, and geographical dimension begins to loom. Who subverts the previous imagined order and its peaceful ‘enclosure’ is Glaucon, who ironically turns to Socrates as follows:
Plato’s Republic (II: 372A-373A).
“It seems that you make your people feast without any delicacies [relish, or relishes],Footnote 52 Glaucon interrupted. True enough, I said, I was forgetting that they’ll obviously need salt, olives, cheese, boiled roots, and vegetables of the sort they cook in the country. We’ll give them desserts, too, of course, consisting of figs, chickpeas, and beans, and they’ll roast myrtle and acorns before the fire, drinking moderately. And so they’ll live in peace and good health, and when they [d] die at a ripe old age, they’ll bequeath a similar life to their children. If you were founding a city for pigs, Socrates, he replied, wouldn’t you fatten them on the same diet? Then how should I feed these people, Glaucon? I asked. In the conventional way. If they aren’t to suffer hardship, they should recline on proper couches, dine at a table, and have the delicacies and desserts that people have nowadays. [e] All right, I understand. It isn’t merely the origin of a city that we’re considering, it seems, but the origin of a luxurious city. And that may not be a bad idea, for by examining it, we might very well see how justice and injustice grow up in cities. Yet the true city, in my opinion, is the one we’ve described, the healthy one, as it were. But let’s study a city with a  fever, if that’s what you want. There’s nothing to stop us. The things I mentioned earlier and the way of life I described won’t satisfy some people, it seems, but couches, tables, and other furniture will have to be added, and, of course, all sorts of delicacies, perfumed oils, incense, prostitutes, and pastries. We mustn’t provide them only with the necessities we mentioned at first, such as houses, clothes, and shoes, but painting and embroidery must be begun, and gold, ivory, and the like acquired. Isn’t that so? [b] Yes.”
Behind the overrunning of Athens is—much like Atlantis—an inner cultural motility. More specifically, what Glaucon sees in turmoil are the needs, desires, social roles and meanings growing in the city. Its frugal complexion is not enough for itself. Socrates, on the other hand, underscores the luxurious aspect of this propensity toward what is beyond sufficiency—which could be termed also as an anthropo-ethical sufficiency. But Glaucon’s metaphorical and ironic referral to ‘delicacies’, perhaps rendered even better as ‘relish’,Footnote 53 conjures up the linguistic concept of ‘rema’ (in English: ‘rheme’), namely the part of an enunciation that gives ‘more’ information about the ‘theme’, or ‘topic.’ This ‘more’ can coincide with the ‘predicate,’ and yet the predication itself can function as a metaphorical path toward the construction of a category or, more generally, of all categories. ‘Rheme,’ in turn, is etymologically rooted in the term ‘reuma’, from which also comes the meaning of ‘rema’ as ‘current.’ Glaucon’s relish evokes, in other words, the exceedance and, at the same time, the uncontainable (with a neologism: unenclosurable) tendency of categories towards trans-categoriality and the production of metaphorical shifting. Language and categorical constellations are inherently on the move and shift as continuously as the sea current; water runs over itself, overflowing from one location to recreate elsewhere other liquid spatialities. This simultaneously cognitive and spatial movement constitutes the content of the immediate reaction of Socrates to Glaucon’s description of the ‘upgraded’ city. But it would be better to read his words directly:
Plato’s Republic (II: 373B-374A)
“Then we must enlarge our city, for the healthy one is no longer adequate. We must increase it in size and fill it with a multitude of things that go beyond what is necessary for a city—hunters, for example, and artists or imitators, many of whom work with shapes and colors, many with music. And there’ll be poets and their assistants, actors, choral dancers, contractors, and makers of all kinds of devices, including, among other things, those needed for the adornment of women. And so we’ll need more servants, [c] too. Or don’t you think that we’ll need tutors, wet nurses, nannies, beauticians, barbers, chefs, cooks, and swineherds? We didn’t need any of these in our earlier city, but we’ll need them in this one. And we’ll also need many more cattle, won’t we, if the people are going to eat meat? Of course. And if we live like that, we’ll have a far greater need for doctors than [d] we did before? Much greater. And the land [kóra],Footnote 54 I suppose, that used to be adequate to feed the population we had then, will cease to be adequate and become too small. What do you think? The same. Then we’ll have to seize some of our neighbors’ land [kóra] if we’re to have enough pasture and ploughland. And won’t our neighbors want to seize part of ours as well, if they too have surrendered themselves to the endless acquisition of money and have overstepped the limit of their necessities? [e] That’s completely inevitable, Socrates. Then our next step will be war, Glaucon, won’t it? It will. We won’t say yet whether the effects of war are good or bad but only that we’ve now found the origins of war. It comes from those same desires that are most of all responsible for the bad things that happen to cities and the individuals in them. That’s right. Then the city must be further enlarged, and not just by a small number, either, but by a whole army, which will do battle with the invaders in  defense of the city’s substantial wealth and all the other things we mentioned. Why aren’t the citizens themselves adequate for that purpose? They won’t be, if the agreement you and the rest of us made when we were founding the city was a good one, for surely we agreed, if you remember, that it’s impossible for a single person to practice many crafts or professions well.”
Socrates says that in order to satisfy all these new luxurious desires they (the inhabitants of the ideal Athens) would need more territory. More specifically, Socrates focuses on the insufficiency of the original width of the country, and in order to illustrate this he uses the word ‘kóra.’ The same word is employed, a few lines below, when he mentions the neighbors’ land. But ‘kóra’ is also the term included in Timaeus to define a dimension preexisting the creation of the cosmos and, as such, beyond—and yet co-present to—the eternal universe of ideas, the material/experiential world and their dialectical relations. ‘Kóra’ is described by Plato, in Timaeus, as a receptacle, a sort spatial connotative continuum, devoid of determinations but just for this reason ‘working’ as a prerequisite for the existence of both the material world and, despite their eternity, even ideas.Footnote 55
In ancient Greek, ‘kóra’ can signify a region, a topographical portion of space, as well as ‘spatiality’ in and of itself. In my view, ‘kóra’ is to be intended as the properties/qualities continuum extant among all categories, as such ubiquitous, despite their semantic and spatial differences. ‘Chorology’ is the name that can be given to the cognitive efforts oriented to grasp the emergence of this continuum among categories whenever their stability is put in motion.Footnote 56 It is interesting, from this point of view, to notice that in the previously quoted passage of Republic, Socrates seems to allude almost simultaneously to socio-politically and cognitively bounded portions of space as well as to their overcoming, ending in a final conflation. New needs require an enlargement of Athens’ boundaries and then the war to take over the spaces previously occupied by other people. Nonetheless, this movement is imagined as reciprocal since Socrates envisages the desire of other populations to enlarge their living space, as well. All the social roles inside the city will be shaken and subverted by this process of enlargement. New social categories, endowed with specific competences, are to be invented and educated, including warriors. Nonetheless the reciprocity of excluding or conquering desires leads, in Socrates’ words, to an enlargement of the city, a sort of more-comprehensive social and legalized space able to include Otherness: that is, what previously was outside the categorical and political universe of the frugal Athens.
On the other hand, Socrates himself sets aside the possibility of a war against other Greek cities because all their populations belong to a common (historical) lineage. But, if there is to be no space for war, then the projections towards the outside and Otherness of all Greek cities cannot wind up otherwise than merging their cognitive, political and existential spaces. What is relevant for this essay in Socrates’ rendering of the future implications related to the overcoming of the cognitive and spatial boundaries of the frugal Athens is a sort double movement involving a symmetrical proclivity of all human urban ‘enclosures.’ Athens overflows from itself towards Others’ spaces, but at the same time, it must face the symmetrical Others’ exceeding their original ‘enclosures.’ This common destiny, which is also part of a shared lineage, seems to drive the final upshot of the city’s process of transmutation out from the morasses of a pure dialectic antagonistic opposition. Otherness and the space outside seem to embody the dimension of difference rather than its opposite. Socrates’ allusion to the imperative of averting a war because of a common lineage, even if anachronistically, sounds as if it were evoking Wittgenstein’s ‘family resemblances’ or the radial categorical projections of the contemporary psycho-cognitive theory of categorization, including (… if distantly and partially) Deleuze’s rhizomatic approach.
The cognitive and political movement described in this section of the Republic appears quite isomorphic to the back-and-forth shifting involved in the metaphorical process, which ends with a creative moment of reconciliation (rapprochement). This outcome coincides with the drawing of a new categorical space, and thereby a newly spatialized experiential ‘areal,’ within which the axes of categorical saliences and the center-periphery relationships among the categorical components have been remolded. The newly enlarged city could be considered the result of this extroverting and re-introverting development.
And yet, we must also note, Socrates dubs the luxurious city as a sick one. At the same time, however, he recognizes that the transformation can offer a useful observational terrain to understand the source of justice and injustice. On the other hand, Glaucon sarcastically rebuts that it would be pure nonsense to condemn citizens to live as pigs just to avert any possible dawning of injustice. Glaucon’s argument is, in turn, a metaphor, but it shows a weird continuity between human beings and pigs, directed to emphasize the condition of the citizens of Athens, should they remain eternally ensnared in a situation of forced frugality. This predicative continuity, however, transforms the luxurious city into a possible ‘predicate’ of the frugal one, and thereby establishes a metaphorical relationship between the citizens of the first city and those of the second. The enlarged city to which Socrates devotes the subsequent planning of an ideal Athens is like an enfolding that follows an excursion towards exterior space (kóra), which is to be intended as a trans-categorical and, simultaneously, a trans-territorial movement. The wider city is a synthesis, a kind of negotiation/transaction aimed at controlling the destructive excesses encapsulated in luxurious desires.
What is crucial in Glaucon’s objection and in Socrates’ thoughtful reaction is the necessity of law to come to terms with categorical semantic exceedance so as to include ‘the more,’ ‘the beyond’ and the ‘Otherness’ bridged by trans-categorical continuity and manifestly embodied by metaphorical movement. Glaucon cautions Socrates against the kinds of laws that aspire to determine what humans should be by completely overlooking what they are. Self-referential laws run the risk of proving themselves to be suited only for a drove of pigs. But along this anthropological descent, they would utterly miss their own orientation to the good. The non-porcine developmental attitude of human beings should be addressed by law and constitutes an inherent element of its source of legitimation. From this perspective, law should not so much indulge human desires considered as something opposite to wisdom and goodness, but rather follow the metaphorical paths that continually and irrepressibly renew the categories and experiential spaces of human beings. As a key factor in the process of civilization, law must be in tune with its rhythm of transformation. This necessity should not be understood as a heteroctonous limit but, instead, as a co-constitutive feature of law, an expression of the intimate connection between law and sense, legal language and experiential language.
The enlarged city of the Republic constitutes, therefore, the final result of a trans-categorical and an inter-spatial transaction gushing up from the combinatory and creative merging of differences which are made different—and therefore semantically and experientially amenable to recombination—just by virtue of their metaphorical trans-lation (to be intended in its etymological collateral meaning of ‘transport’, ‘transferral’, from the Latin ‘trans-fero’ and the ancient Greek ‘meta-pherein’).
These last reflections lead directly back to the initial issue addressed by this essay, namely the limits of law and the relationship between legal language and ‘natural language.’