The Invention of Space

“Man is an odd body,
whose centre of gravity is outside of itself.
Francis Ponge

Everything is an interior
and forever remains
this interior.

For no thing should escape
its form.

No thing should remain


No thing should abandon itself
another’s body.


No body
has any right to the body
of what it isn’t.


must remain within itself.


must contain itself
assume only its form
occupy only its place
be no more
than it ought to be.


Above all
nothing should abandon
the place
its body has been allotted.


Everything must remain
what it is
and add nothing.


In this world
everything is already too pronounced.


Everything is much too present
too close
always too driven
by the desire to escape
to take another’s place
to increase in volume
in surface
in space
in oxygen.


Everything is an interior
and must remain so.


if things
didn’t maintain their interior.


If things
no longer knew
their limits
the forbidden border.


Things always too full
unable to remove themselves.


which threaten to fracture
to contaminate


which would subdue
which would reduce others
due to an excess of body
of presence.


this entire world
enclosed in its body
dreaming of proliferating
of invading
of growing elsewhere
of multiplying
in the body of others
of being present
in everything.


This entire
impatient world
that is fed up with
containing itself
of having its inside
inside of space
never able to escape
never finding a crack
the narrowest passage
to flow elsewhere
infiltrate another
and make it its own.


if space
couldn’t maintain
its distance
could no longer contain.


Where would the world begin
the world’s body
if space had let things
exceed themselves
avoid being said once and for all.



One writes
to empty things of themselves.


One writes
so that things
don’t have to be.


No longer have to stick
to the compulsory
the necessary.


are too present
too insistent
to free themselves

too full
not to trip
over themselves.


How could a thing
escape itself
when every part of it


It revolves
yet is still the ground

the body
with all its weight.


No thing
can approach itself
can take the plunge.


The world is too bound

it contains itself
more than it should.



The world has too much body

always piled up
along the edge
never spilling over itself.


No thing
can get away from itself
no thing
can find a passage.


Infinitely within
and always stomping its weight
further down.



Only we
are afraid of overcoming
of opening space.



Having put one foot in the river
we want the whole river

the ground
before the first step.



Words call
and we nail them down.



Always this fear that our words
our gestures
might leave us.



And what if our words were
what this world lacks
more than anything else?



We think we keep
while setting it down on paper

and over there
things lose their footing

their reason to be.



You form a word

and an object
takes root
outside of its form.



Things shouldn’t be given
a place

but an absence
a passage
to take.



so that the world
loses its hold

so that things
exceed their form

so that they no longer have
to turn around
to restrain themselves.



to create
some distance

to invent space.



Always this need to establish

to secure
the least little thing.



This need to detain
afraid that everything will leave

detach from its base.



Everything is far too stuck

because of the desire
the necessity to adjoin
to congregate.



Everything is of a whole.



You take one thing

and the entire world
comes along.



Not a single object
can stay alone

can break away
from its base

not one object
can take a step



They are too fond of their ground.



You pick up one object
and everything comes with it
its body
its support.



Just one object
and the entire world



Even far away
the object bears
this desire for the ground.



We keep lots of objects
pile them up
beside our bodies
to create some ground

to draw the earth
to us.



Always afraid of not being
of being too light
of disappearing with the slightest movement.



Putting down an object
always fearing
that it might take off.



We are funny things
always doubting the very ground
beneath our feet

always moving here and there
fearing that it will give way.



We move
convinced that we won’t get in
over our heads.



This effort
to cling to the earth
to not let go.



All these pockets
these compartments
to keep a little bit
to contain
the smallest thing.



We bustle about
walk or fly
to prove to ourselves
that we will come back.



At the given moment
the ground
will be right there.



We leave
but the return
is in our gestures.



We love the flight of birds so much
because we are
the fixed point.



Birds move
and since they move faster
than us
we become the stability
of their flight.



We run
to gather
even more ground

to touch it more
than usual.



We multiply our steps
to have more earth
so that it follows us better
so that the aerial
doesn’t expand too much.



We walk calmly
because we are certain
that the earth will
greet our steps.



Our walking draws it to us.



How could it
remain there
without our feet?



The world finds a place
an earth
in our very arrival.



We move
and the world becomes stable.



A single step
and the world



Imagine a world
without support
with nowhere
to land.



Turning around
and around
without ever discovering
a place to stay.



How would this world be possible
without the earth
of our steps?



A thing’s speech
is its body

its whole body.



can only fall
to the bottom of themselves.



An object
cannot escape itself
cannot get out.



It makes just one movement
and its whole body
comes along.



It turns around
and its face
fits back into
its face.



An object
has no border
no boundary to cross.



It occupies itself entirely
has no room.



The air is so dense
so close to its body
that it is always body.



Things are silent
so as not to grow.



They don’t lack air
they suffocate it.



There is no room
for a mouth

barely open
it is full.



No object
can make a move
without curling up
even tighter inside.



Upon finding a point of support
its whole body
becomes support.



Objects are too inside
no matter what they do
they enclose themselves.



For an object
is touching its interior.



Even if it rushes
it ends up
where it began.



No thing
knows its limit.



The world is far too cluttered
too quickly saturated
for a thing
to have a beginning
and an end.



Objects have no boundary.



They only have an inner
infinitely within

and a vertigo
which instantaneously compensates.



They lean
and the ground



The world doesn’t experience space.



No thing knows
which way to turn

what must be kept
or given up.



No thing knows
where the exit lies.



Our words are the space
this world is lacking.



Our words
are the world’s boundary.



The missing boundary.



We don’t cross space
we deduce it from our steps.



We don’t give things
a body
we remove it from them.



The sole gesture
is in coming
and in obliterating.



One writes
to empty the world

so that it loosens up


from its own embrace.



We don’t give things
we take it from them.



We empty them
of this attraction
for the inside.



Opening space
is to push things
out of themselves.



We don’t cover space
we abandon it
from the first step.



Every time
we move
we lose



And the more we cover
the more we must take.



This entire world waiting
for us to open a passage

for us to give it a place
where it won’t be

where nothing will hold it back.



As soon as we speak
objects break away from the ground
get some fresh air.



Giving a name
to a thing
makes it lighter
gives it a different consistency.



Writing a word is all it takes
for the world to achieve its full stature.



Our words are a border
a starting point.



One writes
and the world breathes



far from itself


into the hold
of the wide open.


Jean-Louis Giovannoni
L’invention de l’espace,  Lettres Vives 1992