Unreal Nature

February 12, 2017

Being Affirmed and Founded

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:48 am

… I am situated on the boundary … of the world I see.

Continuing through the essay ‘Author and Hero in Aesthetic Activity’ in Art and Answerability: Early Philosophical Essays by M.M. Bakhtin edited by Michael Holquist and Vadim Liapunov (1990):

… On what plane of lived experience does the aesthetic value of outward appearance lie? Such are the questions we shall now take up.

There can be no doubt, of course, that my own exterior is not part of the concrete, actual horizon of my seeing, except for those rare cases when, like Narcissus, I contemplate my own reflection in the water or in a mirror. My own exterior (that is, all of the expressive features of my body, without exception) is experienced by me from within myself. It is only in the form of scattered fragments, scraps, dangling on the string of my inner sensation of myself, that my own exterior enters the field of my outer senses, and, first of all, the sense of vision.

[line break added] But the data provided by these outer senses do not represent an ultimate authority even for deciding the question of whether this body is or is not mine. That question is decided only by my inner self-sensation. And it is again my self-sensation that imparts unity to the scattered fragments of my outward expressedness, translating them into its own inner language. This is the case in actual perception: in the outwardly unified world that I see, hear, and touch, I do not encounter my own outward expressedness in being as an outwardly unitary object among other objects.

[line break added] I am situated on the boundary, as it were, of the world I see. In plastic and pictorial terms, I am not connatural with it. While my thought can place my body wholly into the outside world as an object among other objects, my actual seeing cannot do the same thing; my seeing, that is, cannot come to the aid of thinking by providing it with an adequate outward image.

… It is precisely in this that the difference lies between the world of artistic creation and the world of dreaming as well as that of actual life. In the world of artistic creation, all the participants are equally expressed on one and the same plastic and pictorial plane of seeing, whereas in life and in dreams the main hero — I myself — is never expressed outwardly and requires no outward image. The first task an artist must accomplish is to invest with outward bodiliness this leading actor of life and of dreaming about life.

… What is involved is less a matter of having an insufficient memory of our own outward appearance than it is a matter of a certain fundamental resistance exerted by our outward image. One can easily ascertain by way of self-observation that the initial result of such an attempt will be the following: the visually expressed image of myself will begin to assume unsteady definition alongside myself as I experience myself from within; it will just barely detach itself from my inner self-sensation in a direction ahead of itself; it will shift slightly to the side and, like a bas-relief, separate from the surface of my inner self-sensation, without breaking away from it entirely.

[line break added] I shall become slightly “doubled,” but shall not come apart completely: the umbilical cord of my self-sensation will continue to connect my outward expressedness in being with my inner experience of myself. A certain renewed effort is required in order to visualize myself distinctly en face and to break away completely from my inner self-sensation.

And when we succeed in doing this, we shall be struck by the peculiar emptiness, ghostliness, and an eerie, frightening solitariness of this outward image of ourselves. What accounts for this?

… My own inner I — that wills, loves, feels, sees, and knows — I structure from within myself in terms of entirely different value-categories, and these are not directly applicable to the outward expressedness of myself. However, my inner sensation of myself and my life for myself remain present in me as the one who is imagining and seeing; they are not present in me as the one who is imagined and seen.

… In order to vivify my own outward image and make it part of a concretely viewable whole, the entire architectonic of the world of my imagining must be radically restructured by introducing a totally new factor into it. This new factor that restructures the architectonic consists in my outward image being affirmed and founded in emotional and volitional terms out of the other and for the other human being.

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




Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: