Unreal Nature

April 12, 2021

Ruins

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:58 am

… when you are willing to eliminate things that have been looking good all the time …

This is from Philip Guston & the Poets by Kosme de Barañano (2017):

… The painting does not describe or narrate; it happens, it is, like an algebraic formula, like a cocktail . Guston paints his visual cocktail just as the poet [Montale] indicates in the first four lines of the section titled Ossi di seppia:

Don’t ask us for the word to frame
our shapeless spirit on all sides,
and proclaim it in letters of fire to shine
like a lone crocus in a dusty field.

… As Guston told his friend the art critic Harold Rosenberg, “The only things you can really talk about in painting are impossible to talk about. I can only put it in the negative, but you can do a lot with negatives. The real difficulties begin when the hand refuses to do what the soul doesn’t want it to do.”

… [Guston] “As you work, you think and you do. In my way of working, I work to eliminate the distance or the time between my thinking and doing. Then there comes a point of existing for a long time in a negative state, when you are willing to eliminate things that have been looking good all the time; you have as a measure — and once you’ve experienced it, nothing less will satisfy you — that some other being or force is commanding you: only this shall you, can you, accept at this moment.”

… Guston makes his self-portraits into stones and his objects into ruins in the light of the setting sun.

My most recent previous post from Barañano’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

April 11, 2021

What Precedes

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:57 am

… Are philosophy itself and science inside or outside?

This is from Statues: The Second Book of Foundations by Michel Serres, translated by Randolph Burks (2015, 1987):

… When we go back in our past in search of everything that conditions or founds us, agreement seems to occur on an equivalence between the originary and the religious. The lowest and the best-buried plate, in the geological sense, the plate that moves little but over multi-century rhythms, bears the magic, the sacred, both fundamental, primitive. Transcendental philosophy builds haunted castles or manufactures automatic statues when it dispenses with this abyssal plate.

… What is religion? We would make immense progress in philosophy if we could construct its limits. Are philosophy itself and science inside or outside? We don’t know. It’s even probable that we will never know: as though one limit of our knowledge consisted in our incapacity to mark out the limits of what precedes our knowledge.

… Can one meditate on being or God without theology or ontology, that is to say without saying? The religions of writing and speech have won so completely, have invaded space and our cultures so universally that we no longer see their victory as the end of the crushing of the other zone, the one that’s forgotten, humiliated, left in the silence and shadow, the one I’m exploring in these pages with astonishment: the religions of the things that propose to men being born before dead stones.

From the height of the logos, the Greek metaphysicians scorned as popular superstitions the statuary of religions that they hadn’t understood for a long time, just as the writer prophets of Israel fulminated against the golden calf, still standing, and as the first Christians exposed themselves to death by smashing idols: language detests things.

My most recent previous post from Serres’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

April 10, 2021

Simultaneously Strange and Familiar

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:49 am

… it is the body that also brings knowledge.

This is from the title essay in The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays by Albert Camus, translated by Justin O’Brien (1983; 1955):

… There can be no question of holding forth on ethics. I have seen people behave badly with great morality and I note every day that integrity has no need of rules.

… In this field that is both limited and bulging with possibilities, everything in himself except his lucidity seems unforeseeable to him. What rule ,then, could emanate from that unreasonable order? The only truth that might seem instructive to him is not formal: it comes to life and unfolds in men. The absurd mind cannot so much expect ethical rules at the end of its reasoning as, rather, illustrations and the breath of human lives.

… “The play’s the thing,” says Hamlet, “wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” “Catch” is indeed the word. For conscience moves swiftly or withdraws within itself. It has to be caught on the wing, at that barely perceptible moment when it glances fleetingly at itself.

… The very scale of the human body is inadequate. The mask and the buskin, the make-up that reduces and accentuates the face in its essential elements, the costume that exaggerates and simplifies — that universe sacrifices everything to appearance and is made solely for the eye. Through an absurd miracle, it is the body that also brings knowledge.

[line break added] I should never really understand Iago unless I played his part. It is not enough to hear him, for I grasp him only at the moment when I see him. Of the absurd character the actor consequently has the monotony, that single, oppressive silhouette, simultaneously strange and familiar, that he carries about from hero to hero.

My most recent previous post from Camus’ book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

April 9, 2021

Undergoing, Enduring, Tolerating

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:59 am

… Yet that we can bear this (passion) is thanks to a power: a power to be affected.

This is from Pure Means by Yve Lomax (2013):

… With the process of subjectification a subject is not captured, but bodies, living bodies, bodies of being (including thought), bodies of existence, cerebral, blood and guts, are. In becoming the subject of an apparatus, bodies of existence, affective bodies and bodies of being form attachments, assume identities and become identifiable, and I am suggesting that as soon as an identity makes an appearance a separation from an originary freedom has happened, is happening.

Chair, desk, computer: an apparatus.

And what do I feel as I sit there and, like it or not, form attachments, fold an outside inside, become a semisolid mass of manipulated relations between forces?

Silently and almost imperceptibly a body of existence — including thought — has become taken and separated from a power to be, and I’m not excluding the possibility that, captivated on that chair, I’m also taken and separated from an originary freedom.

… It is fair to say that management and governance are ceaselessly devising outcomes and making aims, goals and ends. What is done, what is to be done, has its ‘economy’: the aims that give the reasons for it to be done. … [T]his requires a tireless capturing that makes means as means to an end.

… Let me reiterate: the power to be and the power to act suffer separation, and once this happens the power to act loses something of itself and becomes diminished — the very power to act is lessened and becomes reactive. And once this becomes my daily routine I’m not doing much else than undergoing, enduring, tolerating — let’s not be afraid to say, suffering. And I’m not the only one. Yet that we can bear this (passion) is thanks to a power: a power to be affected.

My most recent previous post from Lomax’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

April 8, 2021

Away From Visual Appearances

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:02 am

… What really matters is to turn out, not an image, but a thing …

This is from Painting and Reality by Étienne Gilson (1957):

…”Quantity” is defined, in a loose way, as “any amount capable of increase or decrease in kind” (Webster’s). When applied to quantities either of space or in space, this notion leads to numerical expressions that point out the amount or the ratio of certain increases or decreases, but all such calculations presuppose the notion of the line conceived as a unit and a whole.

[line break added] This notion itself reveals properties of the line not accountable for by the nature of any one of its points or even by the fact that such points are distributed in space so as to make up such a line. This means that, even in the order of pure quantity, wholes have properties transcending the nature of their parts. Any such property is a quality.

… the very fact that we have thus [via modern art] been taken further and further away from visual appearances, and introduced to a new world of qualitative realities, has forcibly suggested the modest but real way in which man partakes of the creative energy in virtue of which the world of nature both is and operates. [ … ] What really matters is to turn out, not an image, but a thing; not to add an image to reality, but a reality to reality.

… This visible world of ours is only one particular instance of what was, to its Creator, the inexhaustible realm of possible reality. There still remains more reality, either real for us to discover or possible for art to actualize.

My most recent previous post from Gilson’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

April 7, 2021

Outside Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:57 am

… Every living being “knows” beyond what it “observes” …

This is from Neofinalism by Raymond Ruyer, translated by Alyosha Edlebi (1952; 2016):

… Only a domain of survey can choose, because the two objects to be differentiated exist together and distinctly in the subjective field, and because these objects are referred back, through the thematic and signifying character of true forms, not to an extremum, but to an optimum. An automaton does not have freedom of choice and, correlatively, it does not work (except in an entirely metaphorical sense).

Work proper always consists in establishing and improvising bonds and not in operating according to preestablished bonds. It consists in the “assembly” (in the active sense of the term) of bonds and not in operating according to an assembly (in the passive sense of the term).

… What we call “control” in machines like ENIAC or MARK, that is, the center that guides the opening or closure of circuits, is obviously nothing more than a control in the second degree, passive relative to the will of the manipulator.

… A living being understands another living being only by placing itself in the finalist perspective and not in the perspective of mechanism or thermodynamics.

… Every living being “knows” beyond what it “observes,” though observation is always easier than knowledge and always risks obstructing the intuition that the nature of consciousness makes possible. Every living being is at once inside physical or thermodynamic time and outside time and the ordinary evolution of entropy.

My most recent previous post from Ruyer’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

April 6, 2021

Tonal Idiom

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:07 am

… Outside the musical context … tones have no dynamic qualities.

This is from The Sense of Music by Victor Zuckerkandl (1959):

… Like tone itself, pitch cannot be defined. The only way to know what it is is to hear two different tones. Pitch is the quality to which we refer when we call one of the tones higher, the other lower.

… What matters in a tune is not the tones as such but the relations between tone and tone. Whatever the tones are, as long as these relations remain the same, the tune itself will be the same. It is therefore not quite correct to say that a tune selects a number of tones; what it actually selects are tone relations.

… The barriers between music and music are far more impassible than language barriers. We can translate from any language into any other language; yet the mere idea of translating, say, Chinese music into the Western tonal idiom is obvious nonsense.

[line break added] We can take a course and learn the Chinese language; but we must actually live with Chinese music and to a certain extent become Chinese if we want to understand the Chinese tonal language. The favorite quotation about music as the universal language of mankind only betrays a naïve tendency on our part to think of ourselves, the representatives of Western civilization, as representing all of mankind.

… The dynamic quality of a tone is part of the immediate tone sensation. We hear it just as we hear pitch or tone color — but not under all circumstances. A tone must belong to a musical context in order to have dynamic quality. Within a musical context no tone will be without its proper dynamic quality. Outside the musical context however — for instance, in the laboratory — tones have no dynamic qualities.

My previous post from Zuckerkandl’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

April 5, 2021

Return to These Images

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:58 am

… next to a small, luminous, talking box, I in this city and not another …

This is from Philip Guston & the Poets by Kosme de Barañano (2017):

Montale searches for his words; he superimposes them in order to capture the essence of things. He would have liked to be “hard and essential,” like the pebbles and the shells tossed about by the waves and worn down by the saltpeter.

[line break added] Like the poet, Guston knows that only he can undo Abstract Expressionism and return to these images like smooth pebbles beaten by the sea (and corroded by comics). In addition to these images of what has been discarded on the beach, there are others that remind us of Guston: his heads like stones, the larvae and insects on the brick walls, the clouds and the spider webs.

… Memory implies recreating a past experience and reliving it in some way. By bringing the past to the present, memory holds onto the experience of sinking, dragged along by the current of time. And despite the fact that the personal identity may amount to little more than a bundle of perceptions (according to the philosopher David Hume), memory appears to bring them together and save the subject from complete dispersion or disintegration.

[line break added] Because not only is memory, in the words of St. Augustine, “a chamber where are the treasures of countless images, imported into it from all manner of things by the senses … to be recalled and brought forth when required.

[line break added] Until such time as these are engulfed and buried by oblivion” and not only does “the vast chamber of my memory” contain “heaven, earth, sea … There also do I meet with myself, and recall myself — what, when, or where I did a thing, and how I was affected when I did it. There are all which I remember, either by personal experience or on the faith of others.”

As we know, Guston painted mainly at night. His painting emerges; it is cooked, worked on, sounded out in nocturnal solitude. In his Intervista immaginaria, in 1946, Montale says: “I must work tonight and I hurry home like one with urgent matters to deal with.

[line break added] But later I submerge myself, turn the dial of the radio from one side to another and go no further than the ordinary surprise of feeling myself alive. Diogenes sheltering in his barrel, next to a small, luminous, talking box, I in this city and not another, I and not another … who knows why?”

Here in the silence of the night, the feelings, the thoughts of each artist come out, tossed by the sea onto the shore of poetry or painting. Just as poetry enables language — with the same words, but composed in another manner, in their silence and in their evocation, in their position and in their rhythm —to make us hear afresh and encounter new horizons of meaning, so too Guston, armed with his new figurative language of objects, like syllables of different syntax, is allowed to return from the exile of abstraction to figuration …

My most recent previous post from Barañano’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

April 4, 2021

Inhumed

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:13 am

… The subject is subjected to the grasp of what fashions and ruins it.

This is from Statues: The Second Book of Foundations by Michel Serres, translated by Randolph Burks (2015, 1987):

… he who lies below what lies before him holds back: attentive, concentrating, humble, silent.

Subject.

This word retains the trace of an act of humility. The subject is subjected to the grasp of what fashions and ruins it. Yes, kills it. The object alone exists, and I am nothing: it lies before, and I disappear below. It alone marks the place for which I am no longer the reference. I think, therefore the object invades the existence I accept being excluded from.

… I think, therefore I consent to die from the object, to lie beneath the stone, buried. I think, therefore I disappear. I think, therefore I resurrect. Leave the earth, am born or reborn from the humus. The subject is constituted in this humility. Thus and only thus do I attain the designation of human, reserved in our language for those, humble, inhumed, whose bodies are sculpted from earth.

My most recent previous post from Serres’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

April 3, 2021

Vigil of the Mind

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:07 am

… The preceding merely defines a way of thinking. But the point is to live.

This is from the title essay in The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays by Albert Camus, translated by Justin O’Brien (1983; 1955):

…what he demands of himself is to live solely with what he knows, to accommodate himself to what is, and to bring in nothing that is not certain. He is told that nothing is. But this at least is a certainty. And it is with this that he is concerned: he wants to find out if it is possible to live without appeal.

… “Prayer,” says Alain, “is when night descends over thought.” “But the mind must meet the night,” reply the mystics and the existentials. Yes, indeed, but not that night that is born under closed eyelids and through the mere will of man — dark, impenetrable night that the mind calls up in order to plunge into it.

[line break added] If it must encounter a night, let it be rather that of despair, which remains lucid — polar night, vigil of the mind, whence will arise perhaps that white and virginal brightness which outlines every object in the light of the intelligence.

… But it is bad to stop, hard to be satisfied with a single way of seeing, to go without contradiction, perhaps the most subtle of spiritual forces. The preceding merely defines a way of thinking. But the point is to live.

My most recent previous post from Camus’ book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

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