Magritte’s Heterotopia

8 January 2014

James Harkness, the translator of Foucault’s essay on Magritte, This Is Not a Pipe, suggests that both Foucault and Magritte were ‘cartographers of Heterotopia’. Harkness refers to Foucault’s use of Borges’ strange encyclopaedia to illustrate the disruption of textual heterotopia in the Preface to Le Mots et les choses (The Order of Things):

‘there is a worse kind of disorder than that of the incongruous, the linking together of things that are inappropriate; I mean the disorder in which a large number of possible orders glitter separately, in the lawless and unchartered dimensions of the heteroclite; and that word should be taken in its most literal etymological sense; in such a state things are “laid, “placed”, arranged” in sites so very different from one another that it is impossible to find a common place beneath them all’

Both Magritte and Foucault enjoyed the subversive play of objects, words and images in the dance of resemblance, sameness and identity.

Les Deux mystères  1966
Les Deux mystères 1966



La trahison des images 1929
La trahison des images 1929