The Case Against Doors



'The case against doors' Transition 39: 42-65 (1992)

When is a door not a door?

a riddle

An article on doors threatens to write itself. The symbolic use of doors as framing devices and metaphoric tropes is material enough for a detailed analysis. This would be to describe what already exists and, in a way, celebrate doors. Just as the modern calendar is divided into awareness weeks for a variety of diseases and causes of concern, so doors would thereby gain their rightful place in a theoretical lexicon of everyday life.

But it’s too late. Like the 1988 bicentennial ‘celebration of a nation’, a celebration of doors would arrive just at the point when its cause is no longer relevant. Doors have traditionally marked the boundary between the ‘public’ and the ‘private’, but these terms are more sentimental tokens of the old world rather than living spaces of contemporary life. Yet, strangely, the decline of doors has occurred without argument. What is the source of their banishment?

Rather than a celebration, this article intends to be a prosecution of doors, exploring reasons why their presence is no longer warranted. The least a prosecution can do is provoke an argument for the defence of doors, thus allowing their demise to be subject to some trial.


For the purpose of this critique, it is necessary to take a leap beyond the notion of a door as an incidental feature of habitable space to a concept with an imminent logic of its own. In this manner, the door is seen not simply as a device at the service of architectural needs, but a frame for conceptualising how inside relates to outside. This method parallels Lacan’s 1955 seminar, where he proposed that ‘the ego is a thing’; that is, consciousness is not an idealised reflection on the world, it is rather the product of symbolic function not based in experience. Though Lacan’s comments on the door itself are questionable, they help provide the parameters of our critique.

Of this device, Lacan’s says ‘the door wasn’t entirely real’.

Please give this a thought—a door isn’t entirely real. To take it for such would result in strange misunderstandings. If you observe a door, and you deduce from it that it produces draughts, you’d take it under your arm to the desert to cool you down.[1]

Lacan’s use of the door is interesting because it avoids the obvious metaphoric tropes of doors such as employed by Freud in his metapsychology. The door for Lacan is a more formal device whose function illustrates the symbolic domain which contains elements of language which create meaning without having meaning themselves. As a formal device, Lacan’s door breaks the mould cast by Freudians who use it to describe the barrier between conscious and unconscious, reality and wish-fulfilment—a door can be open to reveal the unknown, whereas for Lacan it is the door which is the unknown. The shortcoming of Lacan’s formalism, however, is that it fails to engage the materiality of doors: their history, use and quiddity. The door for Lacan is either open or closed: ‘There is an asymmetry between the opening and the closing—if the opening of the door controls access, when closed, it closes the circuit.'’ This formalism skirts the fundamental problem of the analogue fluidity of doors. This is a point learnt early by children, as demonstrated in their riddle: ‘When is a door not a door?’ ‘When it is ajar.’ What this riddle naively demonstrates is the sensitivity of doors to their context. The majority of doors are designed to admit certain people while keeping out undesirables, such as draughts and burglars. But given the awkward design of doors, and their dependence on the conscience of their users, they are liable to fall into the ambiguous status of being half-open: admitting draughts and small animals but not humans.[2] While ajar, the door’s ideal binary function is lost.

Lacan’s analysis usefully places doors at an interstice of human experience, but it requires a more contextualised reading in order to take account of their materiality. For this purpose, the relationship between doors and forms of institutionalised authority is worthy of attention.


Beginning with the Bastille, doors have stood in Western democracies for limits imposed by powers that stand outside the will of the people. With the recent invigoration of that will in Eastern Europe, it is no surprise that doors have been targeted. Take for instance, the ecstatic reports of the Soviet disintegration in Melbourne’s The Age newspaper. Their senior journalist, Robert Haupt, used the door to accentuate the pathos of communist party decline:

I pass the Moscow Higher Party School every day. It stands on a leafy street near my flat, just opposite the bread shop.

Immense Corinthian columns stand beside tall oak doors—when the Bolsheviks took their pick of Moscow’s real estate after 1917 the finest buildings went to the party.

Those doors were the entrance to a party career, the life of privilege that kept the Communist Party intact long after its ideology had died.

Today the doors are shut. The proud red sign that stood behind the bevel glass has been taken down and replaced with a piece of cardboard that directs all visitors around the block. But when you get there, you find the back gate padlocked and a yard dotted with puddles. The Higher Party is no more.[3]

The ultimate vindication of decades of corrupt party rule is the desperate state of the grand entrance to the party training centre: the doors to communist power. As a means to dramatise the demise of a great institution, ‘the party has closed its doors’ works on both metonymic and metaphoric principles: as material evidence of failure and symbolic evocation of disconnection with society. A free Russia, as we will see later when examining the local scene, is a nation without doors. As democratic subjects, we must own to a well-primed contempt for doors: doors are the site of conflict between individuals seeking to involve themselves in society and stereotyped barriers.[4]

the palace of the law

While doors are thus incorporated in a history which celebrates the liberation of peoples, there is also a more personal form of exclusion imposed by their presence. Earlier this century, the Czech writer Franz Kafka wrote a short parable which is testimony to the subjective trauma evoked by doors. In Chapter XI of The Trial, Herr K. is told the story of the man from the country who seeks access to the Palace of the Law. This man finds at its entrance a doorkeeper who prohibits entry. The man from the country waits for an eternity to be allowed inside, until he realises how strange it is that no one else has sought entry. He inquires why this is so...

The doorkeeper perceives that the man is nearing his end and his hearing is failing, so he bellows in his ear: ‘No one but you could gain admittance through this door, since this door was intended only for you. I am now going to shut it.'’

A Slovenian commentator on this parable has attempted to justify the function of the door on Lacanian grounds. Slavoj Zizek argues that the essence of the Law is precisely its inaccessibility to the individual subject: the door is paradoxically for the man from the country precisely in excluding him.[5] To Lacanian eyes, the door provides a necessary block that enables the Palace of the Law to function in a way which targets its lack of interest on the one seeking entry. The Law—the absolute judgment before which one stands helpless—is on the other side of the door, a door made to be closed to oneself in particular.


There is a feature of Kafka’s parable that shouldn’t escape mention: the doorkeeper—the man with a ‘huge pointed nose and long thin, Tartar beard.’ Along with doors themselves are those who have found their ecological niche on the doorstep; these include: keyhole voyeur, travelling salesman, evangelist, nosy concierge, door bitch, macho bouncer, and the hotel doorman. These types prey upon either the insecurity of seeking entry or the vulnerability of those answering the knock.

While these doorpeople might be seen to be exploiting the possibilities of a threshold, it would be fairer to see them as products of the particular inequalities produced by the ownership of doors. While access within is limited, any passer-by has contact with the doorperson. This asymmetry burdens the person responsible for regulating the flow of individuals through the door with the onus of denial: the discrimination of the doorperson enables the generosity of the patron within.

Thus the door has since classical times been the location for slaves: the door was where they stood, what they maintained and where they slept.[6] Euripides renders the tragedy of the Trojan war in the heartfelt cry of Hecabe:

Now comes the last, the crowning agony; that I

In my old age shall go to Hellas as a slave.

They will lay on me tasks to humble my grey head—

Answering the door, or keeping the keys, or cooking food—I, who bore Hector![7]

Today, to do ‘door work’ is generally a form of humiliation intended to prove one’s devotion to the particular cause being celebrated inside. The lowliness of the situation is the necessary obverse to the sovereign power of the official function contained within.


It is no wonder, therefore, that in the representation of modern enlightenment, the open door is a powerful symbol of liberation. Around this symbol gathers the causes of a free society: equal opportunity, fair trade, freedom of movement, etc. But the materiality of a door in this symbolism might seem incidental: it could just as easily be an ‘open field’. But in the dramatisation of domestic authority, doors are more than metaphors of power. Given a child’s ineptitude in opening and shutting doors, they are often the sites for confrontation with a parental authority empowered to preserve the interiority of a family home. This provides a ground for the metaphoric significance of open doors.

Doors may thus become a problem for a parental authority which fails to successfully relate to the outside world. The patriarch in John McGahern’s novel, Amongst Women, is a widower veteran of the Irish civil war whose notions of strict allegiance to traditional values fails to engage with modern individualism. The father’s sullen resentfulness of the new order finds expression in the sound of doors slamming inside the house. On his death, the daughter vows never to let her children suffer the fate of the closed door:

She knew that her loyalty was probably ambiguous, that the deepest part of herself was bound to her sisters, this man and house. That could not be changed, but she wanted no part of it for her children: doors would be open to them that had been locked to her, their lives would be different.[8]

An open door would close the book on the tribal patriarchy of pre-modern Ireland, where individual destiny could only be judged in terms of family loyalty. In the door, an idiosyncrasy of domestic architecture becomes a platform for individual destiny.


But just as the antagonism towards doors is representative of a modernising individualism, so a fascination with their aura functions in a nostalgia for the old world. A significant theme in German thought is the preservation of the intimate space between inside and outside: the threshold. This expression of ‘care’ is dramatised in the scene of the lonesome traveller, offered succour within the sanctuary of the threshold.[9] Physical liminality generalises to a world attitude about experience as a threshold between the visible and the invisible, past and present, far and close, etc. This is the world evoked in Peter Handke’s novel Across, a story of thresholds in a modern German city. The character of the Priest looks at thresholds as remains of a classical order:

Doesn’t the archaic usage of ‘gate’ evoke the threshold as a dwelling place, as a room in its own right? According to modern doctrine, of course, there are no longer any thresholds in this sense. The only threshold still remaining to us, says one of our modern teachers, is that between waking and dreaming, and nowadays little attention is paid to that. Only in the insane does it protrude, visible to all, into daytime experience, like the fragments of the destroyed temples just mentioned. For a threshold, he says, is not a boundary—boundaries are on the increase both in inner and outer life—but a precinct. The word ‘threshold’ embraces transformations, floor, river crossing, mountain pass, enclosure (place of refuge)...

Every step, every glance, every gesture, says the teacher, should be aware of itself as a possible threshold and thus recreate what has been lost.[10]

So by contrast with the modern ‘boundary’, which is strictly binary (in or out), the more traditional ‘threshold’ is a space of its own which brings together incommensurable regions. As is the case with most German attitudes, Handke sees threshold as a fundamentally nostalgic place for making contact with the natural experiences of the past.

As such, the German sense of threshold is a limited space. It offers refuge from the modern world by providing sanctuary to the unchanging chthonic realm of the ancestral past. But this narrativisation of threshold fails to measure up to the incommensurability of inside and outside. If a threshold were to be incorporated into Kafka’s parable, it would be a rug thrown over the doorstep, providing the sense of containment between inside and outside, yet bringing the man from the country no closer to the Palace of the Law.

Handke’s novel forces us to engage with what it is that makes the outside so distant. Whereas inside represents what is graspable, familiar, the same, outside is the abode of the law—what is beyond comprehension. As such, inside is a denial of the fundamental truth of outside. Inside denies mortality, alienation, justice and separation from others. To be able to look life in the eyes is to go outside. The fundamental law of human society, the taboo on incest, is framed to open up the inside of the home to the outside of society. The danger with the concept of threshold, embodied in the door, is that it supports not only shelter from the elements, but escape from reality as well.

outside in

To modern minds, the existence of this secure inner world provides a challenge for the powers of technological enlightenment -- ‘the personal is the political.’ Inside harbours the claustrophobic intensity of closed social forms: tribal allegiances, bourgeois comforts, etc. But there is a problem: in removing doors, one takes away not only the barrier to truth, but also protection against nature. How is it possible to maintain the practical comforts provided by an insulated inside while at the same time not denying the truth of the world outside.

I would ask you to believe that a solution to this dilemma has been already been found: inside has been purged of its closed atmosphere and replaced by a stabilised form of outside. The legislation for ‘clean air’ in public places is part of this process. Previously, a comfortable inner space was reinforced by an atmospheric fug where words hung in arabesques of tobacco smoke, steam from the kettle fogged the windows, and human smells marinated the air. Because of the lessened tolerance of bodily contact, this closeness has been expelled by air-conditioning and state-sponsored collective drives, such as the banning of smoke in public buildings. The inside of the inside has now been turned out. Testament to this purge is provided by the clusters of smokers who stand by the side of the automatic doors of public buildings. These doomed figures linger like aristocratic dandies, sitting in their vandalised cafés after the revolution.

But unlike a revolution, this transformation of space has occurred without a whisper. There has been no obvious public campaign to replace doors—no newspaper headlines have announced: ‘DOORS TO BE ABOLISHED’. Instead, the automatic door have arrived with the simple excuse of convenience: it both frees the hands and helps regulate airlock. The automatic door makes common sense. But this common sense does not exclude its role in the epistemic withdrawal from interiority as a privileged domain of experience. The door as totem for a power within has been replaced by an openness where power is present everywhere. The open plan office distributes supervision evenly which before was contained behind the boss’s door.

Our argument here is on the verge of a quite expansive investigation of modern forms of power. But our tack remains the more material transformations of space and, as such, the question with automatic doors concerns what kind of spatial difference they maintain. If it is no longer an inner sanctuary which the door maintains, what kind of differentiation does it offer?

Within the German sensibility outlined above, the automatic door might be seen as heightening the difference between inside and outside in removing the space between difference provided by the threshold. How does this translate to experience? When entering a space through a door, there is usually so much action in the simple act of opening the door—determining the amount of necessary force, the correct procedure for turning the handle and direction to move the door—that the transition takes place largely unnoticed. Before you know it, you are inside, unbalanced and vulnerable to surprise. By contrast, the automatic door leaves the body undistracted by its tasks, and thus the senses are confidently open to change. At the point where the atmospheres of inside and outside meet, an automatic door offers a unique sensation of spatial transformation: the tepid air billowed by invisible fans, the absence of shadow, acoustic containment and the slick smell of polished surface. These are all sensory remainders of an inside which has been leached of its intimacy; the inside has become a kind of hyper-outside.

The hyper-outside is a strictly controlled environment. All actions are accountable here; the slightest deviation from expected behaviour provokes an abject response.[11] There is no place to hide: the Law is no longer ‘outside’ because the ‘outside is inside’.

In common sense discourse, this formulation might seem a mere play upon words. The Law for us is usually considered in its concrete details of inscriptions and agents. What we are dealing with here is a different, Kafkaesque understanding of the Law as an ‘atmosphere’ of consciousness. The idea of Law as an abstraction is conveyed in words borrowed by Michel Foucault, writing about the work of Maurice Blanchot:

the law is not the principle or inner rule of conduct. It is the outside that envelops conduct, thereby removing it from all interiority; it is the darkness beyond its borders; it is the voice that surrounds it, converting, unknown to anyone, its singularity into the gray monotony of the universal and opening around it a space of uneasiness, of dissatisfaction, of multiplied zeal.[12]

As with Kafka’s man from the country, the Law exists as interminably beyond. It is on the ‘outside’: beyond the reach of individual powers. For this reason, Kafka inspires a picture of intrinsic alienation.

Automatic doors provide a challenge to this picture of alienation. No longer does the door maintain an inside which exists under the shadow of the outside. The inside today is stigmatised as harbour for ‘private’ crimes: smoking, mafia, child abuse, sexual harassment, drug addiction—immoral acts perpetrated behind closed doors. As persons of the 1990s, it is very difficult for us to muster an argument in defence of doors which might obstruct the discovery of such crimes—intimate behaviour has become public business. Taking the door off the hinges is a way of both extending the care provided by the long arm of the law and liberating us from the barrier to a Law outside.

It would be easy here to identify the automatic door as an agent in a paranoid conspiracy of the Law against the individual. But given that there is a consensus, even among radicals, that what goes on behind closed doors is public domain, we should embrace the automatic door as a necessary element of a less secretive society. As such, the automatic door inspires great expectations. The entrant might walk taller relieve of both the dependence on an inside that does not stand up to the light of the outside and the toll on entry claimed by door people. Thus may be born a bold modern citizen with the freedom to move anywhere. It is with these expectations that we will observe the life of three automatic doors in Melbourne.

carlisle street          

The shops in Carlisle Street, Balaclava, provide host for new Soviet emigres. The walls of delicatessens show hand-printed notices in Russian about the food on sale.[13] The street is refuge for the homemade commodities native to eastern european living. As a customer, there is little guarantee of priority and shops are constantly breaking out in arguments between demanding clients and disinterested staff.[14] Going inside Carlisle Street is plainly entering into a space controlled by the owner.

But there is one place in Carlisle Street where this vulnerability does not hold. You might already be familiar with the emphasis in National Australia Bank advertising on its young devoted and smiling staff. But how does this compliant attitude announce itself in Carlisle Street? The exterior of the Balaclava branch of the NAB is a seemingly unbroken pane of smoked glass. The main clue for the possible presence of an entry is a faded no-smoking sticker. On approach, the glass parts in two, allowing access to the grey-carpeted space within. Inside, clients quietly fill out slips of paper to be handed to staff who quietly fill out complimentary slips of paper—all in a clean-air atmosphere populated by artificial trees. By contrast with the other shops in the street, the customer feels a relieved freedom focused on the absence of an authority whose presence demands acknowledgment, and an entry that requires no test of strength.

The ‘outside of the inside’ in the NAB is illustrated by the scene of one of the bank tellers going outside to smoke a cigarette and join the queue for the automatic teller machine. The normal privileges to those on the ‘inside’ plainly has no place in the NAB.

regency hotel

The entrance to the Regency Hotel is a single automatic door with a row of ‘R’s at chest height, flanked by brass columns and supervised by a doorman. As the guest passes through the door, there is a porter’s stand to the right and a reception desk directly in front.

The Regency exhibits a slightly overanxious display of individualism. The house restaurant is titled: ‘Iian Hewitson’s Memories of the Mediterranean’—the name tells the story, focussing on the experience and discernment of a ‘great individual’. In this atmosphere of self-pride, businessmen pass through the lobby, their copies of the Herald Sun newspaper indicating that their capital is more economic than cultural. Couples entering the lifts of the Regency are usually carrying bags with the names of Georges, Phantom of the Opera, Chester’s, Bolshoi Ballet.

While there is much movement of people inside the lobby, nothing actually seems to be happening. I sat there for half an hour before I realised there was music playing. Most of the action is provided by the doorman, despite the convenience of automatic doors. Not only does the doorman purposefully enquire into the well-being of every passerby, but when a guest finally does make it through to the lifts, the doorman jumps inside to ask: ‘Which floor, sir’. Once this whim is indulged by the sometimes exasperated guest, the doorman happily departs from the lift with the satisfaction that every detail taken care of.

Why does the hotel need such a doorman? His fuss breaks the spell of the weightless inside. He undermines the mental composure of the guests. His obsequious greetings force one into a colonialist position against one’s better judgment. He sticks out like the brass tap in an otherwise severe modernist interior: a pathetic afterthought catering for the most saccharine of tastes.

bourke place

Bourke Place is host mainly to the BHP corporation. On the ground is a medley of glass doors. The front doors consist of two double curved-glass automatic doors that flank a manual door. Inside the ground floor can be found a straight automatic door, and an automatic revolving door. Entrants do not come across a doorperson until well inside the space, where two secretaries sit before the lifts and a security man monitors a booth at the intersection of the lift corridors.

There is a chill early spring wind careering down Bourke Street. Those making their way through the building can be divided into four types: executives, secretaries, couriers and clients. Executives enter with easeful purpose; alone they do some light grooming (straighten a tie or handcomb their windblown hair) and in pairs they engage in mild jocularity. Secretaries are the only ones who exit for a cigarette, braving the dishevelling winds. Two short secretaries fail to trigger the door mechanism and are forced to use the manual door. Couriers are the most hurried but are the only ones who regularly choose the manual door—apparently suiting their more physical mode of operation.[15] Clients are the least confident in the new space. In groups, there is often a division about the choice of automatic or manual door, though in the course of a more confident exit the automatic door is a unanimous choice.

A closer look at the action of the curved glass double doors reveals a very curious phenomenon. There is something gripping in the design of these doors. On approach half the glass circle opens, allowing entry into a grey-carpeted space of approximately two metres in diameter. Once inside the glass recloses and for a brief moment the entrant is trapped, just before the second half of the circle parts and the entrant is free once more. The double-action of these doors encloses the entrant and propels him/her forward. As a revolving door dices a group into individuals, these double-curved doors pump individuals from outside into the lobby.

What is most curious about this scene is not the grandeur of the door action, but the submissiveness of the entrants. In a count, roughly half the entrants bowed their head on approach to the second door. Executives bow just as much as the other types, though most often it occurs to entrants whose speed of walking necessitates some break in their pace. But this break in pace is never expressed with exasperation—a stamping of foot or eye raised beseechingly to the sensor—instead, there is a small concave arch of the back with a mute kick of one foot, as a person might try to kick a ball so that it travels no distance.

This door nod is not specific to double doors, but can be found as a general approach to automatic doors. It is subject to various interpretations. It may be a vestige of the habitual deference to doors which required the downward weight of the body to provide the momentum necessary for the act of opening. It may indicate a general sense of uncertainty about the activity of the space: in the nod, the eyes are cast to the ground for possible obstacles. But from a distance, the most plausible interpretation is that the entrant bows respectfully to the sensor, casting eyes away from the observing gaze, as one averts one’s eyes while undergoing a medical inspection. It is difficult to identify one reason as responsible for this door nod, but from the viewpoint of the spectacle of public space, this deference is disappointing. Rather than glorying in the open-sesame power of automatic doors, entrants seem to paying the same mute respect as demanded from the traditional doorman.

it’s for you

There is a prophetic scene in Handke’s Across when the adults in conversation about thresholds attempt to attract the attention of an adolescent.

In the enthusiasm of our storytelling, we even interrupted the son of the house, who was still on the telephone, to ask him what he thought a threshold was. He answered succinctly: ‘A nuisance!’ and sank back into his telephone corner.’ [p. 70]

In the city, the deference to automatic doors is sharply contrasted by the animated bodies of businessmen holding invisible court on their mobile telephones. One might argue, indeed, that the function of door has not been removed by the automatic door, but has moved on to another device. In a recent phenomenon, the function of the door in regulating social contacts has been replaced by the answering machine: the machine operates as an abstract equivalent of a doorman, providing a screen that preserves an immunity from unwelcome outside elements.

In one of the early scenes of Oliver Stone’s film Wall Street, the young upwardly mobile stockbroker Bud Fox finds himself hard pressed to make the kinds of deals that will give him status in the cut-throat world of high finance. After leaving dozens of messages for prospective clients, he expresses his exasperation in the cry: ‘If only one day I could be on the other end of the phone’. The enhanced extension of contact provided by communication technology has not liberated individuals from the tyranny of the doorman. Instead, making contact now involves an equivalent powerlessness in the (non‑) face of answering machines, ‘hold the line please’ muzak, switchboard operators, etc.

Where does this leave the automatic door? The Slovene, Slavoj Zizek, uses the term ‘vanishing mediator’ to describe the role of certain historic types whose significance lies as transit points of change.[16] His analysis uses the example of the Protestant, whose removal of religion from the church in the interests of higher spirituality was the necessary stage in the gradual transformation to religion as a ‘means’ rather than an ‘end’ in life. The argument for the automatic door has largely been Protestant in nature: the new device is heralded as a liberation from the concrete institutionalised forms of power. But here we might admit that far from emancipating the modern person from the tyranny of a sequestered Law, the automatic door deprives us of power as a potentially visible presence. It is both materially and theoretically a ‘vanishing mediator’ between the door and the telephone.

While doors have traditionally been the site of inaccessible power, their abolition through the mediation of automatic doors cannot be definitely said to have brought within our reach a new world where individuals stand equally before the Law. A suit against doors would be advised to settle out of court: any success would amount to a Pyrrhic victory, removing from grasp the mere possibility of contact with power behind closed doors, and affording it the more inaccessible screen of a silent number.


[1]. Lacan, Jacques, In J.-A. Miller (ed.) The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book II, The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis 1954‑1955 (transl. S. Tomaselli) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990, p. 301

[2]. The technical struggle with the unreliability of the door function is ably chronicled by Bruno Latour ( see `Mixing humans and non-humans together: The sociology of the door closer' Social Problems 1988 35 pp. 298‑310)

[3]. `The Age' 2/9/91

[4]. The controversy surrounding the denied entry of an aboriginal member of Yothu Yindi to the St Kilda bar Catani's is a recent example of this.

[5].        the Law that the man from the country viewed with awed respect, assuming automatically that is did not even notice his presence, had regarded him from the very beginning; precisely as excluded, he was always-already taken into account. [Zizek, Slavoj For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as a Political Factor London: Verso, 1991, p. 90]

[6]. Thébert, Yvon `Private life and domestic architecture in Roman Africa' In P. Veyne (ed.) A History of Private Life 1: From Pagan Rome to Byzantium (transl. by A. Goldhammer) Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1987. (orig. 1985)

[7]. Women of Troy 462‑537

[8]. McGahern, John Amongst Women London: Faber, 1990, p. 170

[9]. See Heidegger's parable of Heraclitus visited at his threshold (`Letter on humanism' In D. F. Krell (ed.) Martin Heidegger: Basic Writings (transl. F. A. Capuzzi) New York: Harper & Row, 1977 (orig. 1947)) and George Steiner's understanding of cultural reception as a knock at the door (Real Presences: Is There Anything in What We Say? London: Faber, 1989).

[10]. Handke, Peter Across (transl. R. Manheim) London: Methuen, 1986 (orig. 1983), p. 66‑67.

[11]. A convenient way of measuring the threshold for transgression in a hyper-outside is to imagine what it would be like to light a match in the space. The presence of a naked flame in the hyper-outside provokes anxiety regardless of the fire risk. The regulations for `clean air' have created an atmosphere which is highly `combustible'.

[12]. Foucault, Michel `Maurice Blanchot: The thought from the outside' Foucault/Blanchot (transl. J. Mehlman & B. Massumi) New York: Zone, 1987 (orig. 1966), p. 34

[13]. Café Hanna is typical of the cosy nooks within which shoppers gather for personalised service. On the walls of Café Hanna, little notes to the customers offer consolation and advice (e.g., `Smile if you've had a naughty today').

[14]. One example from a Russian delicatessen was a customer who wished to have salami taken from a fresh sausage rather that the dried end offered by the salesman. With a total lack of `customer service' the salesman carried out these wishes reluctantly, complaining how his business is endangered by such selfish demands.

[15]. The only executive who freely chose the manual door was pregnant.

[16]. Zizek, op.cit.