The Ur-Sign: a graveyard in East Anglia

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The Greek word for ‘sign’ is sema, which is also the word for ‘grave.’ For the Greeks the grave was the ur-sign of signification for it ‘stood for’ what it ‘stood in.’ The sema points to something only present through its sign. For Adolf Loos, the grave was also the ur-structure of architecture:

 “When walking through a wood, you find a rise in the ground heaped up in a rough pyramid shape, then you turn serious, and something inside you says: someone lies buried here. That is architecture.”

In 2004, researchers from the Institute of Cultural Inquiry re-walked W. G. Sebald’s Rings of Saturn in England’s East Anglia. ‘Signs’ abounded.

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