Chôra: Creation and Pathology. An Inquiry into the Origins of Illness and Human Response


  • Nicoletta Isar


Plato’s dialogue the Timaeus describes not only the making of the cosmos (order), but also the condition of what is not order, neither for the human body nor for the universe. What is disorder in cosmogonic terms it is disease for the human body. Timaeus applies to the concept chôra in discussing the origins of disease as a state of imbalance and shaking, because the cosmogonic chôra is replicated in the human body, more exactly, in the liver. But the liver is also the organ of divination, the gift given to man to have access to some hidden truth. This article attempts to sketch out the relation between the chôra and illness, looking for an answer to the question of what light might shed the relationship between chôra and illness on human creativity. A specific human typology, subject to disturbances taking place in the chôra, is examined: the poet, the diviner and the melancholy artist, manifested as channels of some exceptional inspiration. They are “mantic subjects” because they acquire vision of divination not with reason, but in a state of inspiration, through divine madness (manía) and possession, as in a dream. These subjects turn illness into creativity by facing the drives of chôra.