Unreal Nature

December 18, 2015

Ostranenie

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:34 am

…The thing must be ripped from the set of habitual associations. The thing must be turned over like a log in fire.

This is from Literature and Cinematography by Viktor Shklovsky; translated by Irina Masinovsky (1985):

… An artist holds on to representation, to the world, not in order to create the world but to use in his creative work more complex and rewarding material. The divorce from representation, the conversion of a painting into handwriting, occurs constantly throughout the history of the arts, but artists always returned to representation.

But an artist needs the world for his painting. There is a Greek anecdote about an artist who is asked to take the muslin off his painting. “I cannot do this,” said the artist. “My painting actually depicts a painting draped in muslin.” There are people who want to analyze a painting by going outside its borders. They speak of Picasso in terms of demons; they speak of the whole Cubist movement in terms of war; they want so solve paintings as if they were rebuses; they want to strip a painting of its form in order to see it better.

Paintings, however, are not windows into a different world — they are things.

[ … ]

… In erotic poetry one usually gives the erotic objects various “figurative” names. The “Song of Songs” is an elaborated set of such comparisons. Here we deal not so much with an image as with what I call defamiliarization, e.g. “ostranenie” (from the word “strange”).

We live in a poor and enclosed world. We do not feel the world in which we live, just as we do not feel the clothes we wear. We fly through the world as Jules Verne’s heroes fly “through the atmosphere in a cannonball.” But our cannonball has no windows.

The Pythagoreans used to say that we cannot hear the music of the spheres because it plays continuously. Thus those who live by the sea do not hear the waves, but we do not even hear the words we speak.

… We live as if covered with rubber. We need to restore the world for ourselves.

…The thing must be ripped from the set of habitual associations. The thing must be turned over like a log in fire.

-Julie

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