Unreal Nature

August 31, 2018

I Began

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:30 am

… The demand to come up with a new, unexpected — some unforeseen — variation, in light of these new circumstances, taking a measure of how things are … is the demand of literature.

Continuing through This Little Art by Kate Briggs (2017):

… But then I began: I think I must have begun amateurishly. The project of it — at once contained, constrained,and open to me. Open, as well, to the future, since it’s all to come: nothing has yet been decided. With translation, you begin: at the risk of getting it all wrong and with the original pages next to you as you write (to go back to, to keep repeatedly going back to), you set out, you begin to test out possible solutions to the questions and the problems that the project of translating (translating, setting down language, using and working its materials) causes to emerge, and something happens.

[line break added] Some new thing starts to get made in the frame of againness; something that is of the original, yes, but that will extend beyond the reach of it, the purview of it, since it is being made by someone else, by me now, and will be read, perhaps, by some or many others, all of them to come and for the moment elsewhere.

[ … ]

… In the preface of his Critical Essays, Barthes describes writing a letter to a friend who had just lost a loved one, wanting to express his sympathy. But finding it difficult. Feeling that all the words at his disposal are unsatisfactory: they are merely ‘phrases’, and do nothing to convey what he feels. He goes on, in Richard Howard’s translation: ‘I … realize that the message I want to send to this friend, which is my sympathy itself, could be reduced to a single word: “condolences.”

[line break added] Yet the very purpose of the communication is opposed to this, for the message would be cold and consequently reversed, when what I want to communicate is precisely the warmth of my sympathy. I conclude that in order to correct my message (that is, in order for it to be exact), I must not only vary it but that this variation must be original and seemingly invented.’

[line break added] The demand to come up with a new, unexpected — some unforeseen — variation, in light of these new circumstances, taking a measure of how things are — this demand, wrote Barthes, is the demand of literature. This is ‘its precious indirection.’ Indeed, ‘it is only by submitting to its law that I may communicate what I mean with exactitude; in literature as in private communication, to be least “false” I must be most “original,” or if you prefer, indirect.

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




August 30, 2018

Living in That Space

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:49 am

… They offer a visual release for the conditions of exchange while simultaneously ruining its method. We are beset by incompletion and failure.

This is from the title essay by Brigitte Kölle for Live or Die: Phillippe Vandenberg, Bruce Nauman (2017):

At first it may seem startling to see the small but dense selection of works by the American artist Bruce Nauman (born 1941) alongside those by the Belgian Phillippe Vandenberg (1952-2009). The artists never met one another and they could not be more different in their choice of artistic media.

… What motivates them? What is the secret that drives their art? I venture to claim that Nauman’s and Vandenberg’s work, no matter how different it may look at first sight, originates from the same source: frustration. It is not a matter of being upset about life in general, i.e. of suffering Weltschmerz, but a case of despairing about the dark side of people, about hatred and violence, coldness and vilification, and about the impossibility of communication between people and of engaging them.

[line break added] In an interview with Bernard Dewulf in 2008, Phillippe Vandenberg explained: ‘Despair has many guises. Despair guides me to my studio where another despair is waiting for me. That’s how it is.’ Bruce Nauman said something similar in a conversation with Joan Simon in 1988: ‘Anger and frustration are two very strong feelings of motivation for me. They get me into the studio, get me to do the work. [ … ] My work comes out of being frustrated about the human condition. And about how people refuse to understand other people. And about how people can be cruel to each other.’

… Articulated in arenas replete with signs and traces of communicative exchange, Vandenberg’s paintings can be deep and bleak, but they are remorselessly situational. They offer a visual release for the conditions of exchange while simultaneously ruining its method. We are beset by incompletion and failure.

… And yet the work is about avenues — as zones of consolidated flow on the one hand, but also as cord, rope and line on the other; all specific binding agents that come together — unwittingly or violently — with or without their subjects.

… Wife, wife, wife, wife. Or wife, mother, lover, friend. Or a mother’s two legs and a daughter’s two legs. Head nodes, vaginal nodes, toe-to-toe nodes. Relational nests tinged by love, desire and conflict, birth and death, abandonment and responsiblity. Perhaps Nietzsche put it best when he contemplated living in that space of ‘sinful happiness’ confirmed by misery: ‘To spend one’s life amid delicate and absurd things; a stranger to reality; half an artist, half a bird and metaphysician; with no care for reality except now and then to acknowledge it in the manner of a good dancer with the tips of one’s toes.’




August 29, 2018

Like a Garment Worn and Then Put Away

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:53 am

… it can be an expansion, working under the surface as though the scene itself were but a suggestion of some quite different and more potent reference …

Final post from Between the Landscape and Its Other by Paul Vanderbilt (1993):

… The accumulated mass [the “quantity” of all photographs from a period] is rarely studied in detail except for some statistical purpose or in a search for exceptional features. Yet there is a quality, photographic but not technical, that must be located in the mass and not in the isolated representative or exceptional print.

[line break added] The mass must be treated as collectively having a certain unaffected primal rawness, a common and ubiquitous texture that is the subjects’ own, and photography at the most primitive level did it. Photography was close to them, like a garment worn and then put away; by comparison, art and any artistry of words were distant and difficult.

… It is necessary, for a real grasp of a period, to feel the prevailing limitations and to prefer, as working material, the imperfect common currency over the exceptional photograph that is not photographically quite of its time. In this case, one has to like and be able to interpret the 1875-1915 way of seeing.

… In attempting interpretations, I cannot write anything valid about a picture unless I have that picture right in front of me. The recollection of a picture wavers and does not yield nuances of the nonfactual aspects. Without the picture itself, I do not have the shifts of intensity in a long leading line, the precise accents and tactile values from which to formulate just what I feel needs to be written.

Moreover, in the case of a landscape, I need a photograph that means more to me than the original scene would if I were standing there instead of looking at the picture. The photograph must be more real than the subject from which it was made.

… Throughout the photographic work shown in this book and the accompanying writing, there is an air of indirection, ambiguity, magical wonderment, otherness, occasional mysticism, and other intangibles essential to an understanding of unscientific certainty. We find our certainties in the much larger areas of imaginary projection, emotion, and the subconscious, close to the surprises of life, with the full conviction that the further intolerant analysis is applied, the faster the concept of Truth retreats into a mysterious and protective night.

… I’m not quite prepared to say that a picture is alive, but I think a good picture contains a form of life, either life energy found and here recorded, or power, essentially emotional, drawn from within and added as an endowment. It might seem that a given landscape is a reduction, as though a net had been cast over the whole immediate environment to catch and extract its manifest essence. But equally it can be an expansion, working under the surface as though the scene itself were but a suggestion of some quite different and more potent reference, spiritual or transcendental, its tangible source already forgotten.

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




August 28, 2018

Folds, Holes, Wrinkles, or Reworkings

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:38 am

… Humanistic temporality is broken, discontinuous, partial, fragmented in its fundamental conception and model.

This is from Graphesis: Visual Forms of Knowledge Production by Johanna Drucker (2014):

… A basic distinction can be made between visualizations that are representations of information already known and those that are knowledge generators capable of creating new information through their use. Representations are static in relation to what they show and reference — a bar chart presenting statistics about voting patterns is a good example.

[line break added] Knowledge generators have a dynamic, open-ended relation to what they can provoke; for instance, a train time-table can be used to calculate any number of alternative itineraries. The tension between static representations and dynamic generators will weave through our discussion.

… Visualizations and diagrams depend on the same basic graphic principles as other visual sign systems: the rationalization of a surface (setting an area or space apart so that it can sustain signification), the distinction of a figure and ground (as elements of a co-dependent relation of forces and tensions in a graphical field), and the delimitation of the domain of visual elements so that they function as a relational system (framing or putting them in relation to a shared reference). Without these basic principles, no graphical system can work.

… Conceptions of temporality in humanities documents do not conform to those used in the social and empirical sciences. In empirical sciences, time is understood as continuous, uni-directional, and homogenous. Its metrics are standardized, its direction is irreversible, and it has no breaks, folds, holes, wrinkles, or reworkings. But in the humanities time is frequently understood and represented as discontinuous, multi-directional, and variable. Temporal dimensions of humanities artifacts are often expressed in relational terms: before such and such happened, or after a significant event.

[line break added] Retrospection and anticipation factor heavily in humanistic works, and the models of temporality that arise from historical and literary documents include multiple viewpoints. Anticipation, foreshadowing, flashbacks, and other asynchronous segments are a regular part of narratives, and they create alternative branchings, prospective and retrospective approaches to the understanding of events that cannot be shown on empirical timelines.

Human experience of temporality is always relational, thus the marking of epochs in accord with expectations of a messiah’s return or in recognition of this as a still-future event mark major distinctions in the Christian and Jewish world views. All of historical time takes its measure in relation to such markers and milestones, and the shape of temporality is an expression of belief, not a chart of standard metrics.

[line break added] The experience of time is highly subjective, as is that of space, and thus the sense of a long moment, a swift day, a fast movie, a slow book requires elasticity in the ways we measure, record, and express temporality. The human record is full of gaps and breaks, ruptures and missing documents, so that any historical reconstruction necessarily provides only partial evidence.

[line break added] Humanistic temporality is broken, discontinuous, partial, fragmented in its fundamental conception and model. How to find the right graphical language to communicate this knowledge in ways that are sufficiently consistent to achieve consensus while being flexible enough to inscribe the inflections that characterize subjective experience?




August 27, 2018

The Here and Now of Art’s Display

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:52 am

… The cult value of contemporary art … is its performative potentiality — in a given context — for convening collectiveness, or we might say, for galvanizing being-in-common.

This is from the essay ‘What is the Future of Exhibition Histories? Or, toward Art in Terms of Its Becoming-Public’ by Lucy Steeds found in The Curatorial Conundrum: What to Study? What to Research? What to Practice? edited by Paul O’Neill, Mick Wilson, and Lucy Steeds (2016):

… art’s exhibition value lies in its need to be encountered, and in that event, intellectually negotiated: it indicates art’s social function, at the forefront of social debate and empowerment.

To nail what might be clear, Benjamin argues in fact for a progressive shift away from art being based in ritual, which prioritized cult value, decisively toward a functionality based in politics, prioritizing exhibition value. Instead, I want to suggest that both values, if somewhat differently inflected, can be seen to be crucially in play today.

… Invigorating cult value today involves rejecting ritual as a practice only of superstition or magical belief, organized, or alternative religion. Instead we bring into play all the collective or socially determined activity that we instinctively engage in, which is produced intersubjectively rather than with self-conscious deliberation.

[line break added] Turning now specifically to contemporary art, I want to argue that its cult value lies in the ritual engagement of publics — that is, their collective and performatively negotiated engagement — in art’s here and now. To a limited extent this involves reinstating “the here and now of the work of art,” hailed by Benjamin for having been eclipsed by art’s modern-day reproducibility.

[line break added] However this is not “the here and now of the original” artwork, which “constitutes the concept of its authenticity,” and insists on its unique identity, but instead it is the here and now of art’s display — whether in a museum, on the streets, at an Internet URL, or anywhere else. The cult value of contemporary art, understood along these lines, is its performative potentiality — in a given context — for convening collectiveness, or we might say, for galvanizing being-in-common.

[ … ]

… The point is not to “augment the weight of the treasure accumulating on the back of humanity,” but to “provide the strength to shake off this burden so as to take control of it.”




August 26, 2018

Indulgent Repentings

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:44 am

… one can stock up on penitence; whoever stores up in advance through works and mortifications a sufficient stock of merits will be able to spend it later in the form of sin …

Continuing through The Bad Conscience by Vladimir Jankélévich, translated by Andrew Kelley (2015):

… An eternal and pure suffering, remorse, insofar as it leads only to itself, appears as entirely insoluble. Repenting, on the contrary, is a solution; the accent here is displaced from the misdeed proper onto the wrongdoing me. What made for the brutal, incurable “realism” of remorse was that the subject was wholly his own misdeed, that he identified with it, body and soul, like the impassioned person.

[line break added] Not that the repentant person has ceased, strictly speaking, to recognize himself in his misdeed; but already he separates himself from it, already the misdeed, which a moment ago defined the very essence and totality of the agent, now represents but a certain accidental and particular predicate …

… Remorse seeks this freedom, this gentle distancing, in vain. There is no verb for remorse, because to remorse there corresponds no function: one simply “has” remorse, one lives nose-to-nose with one’s remorse, that is, with one’s misdeed, that is, with oneself. Repenting, on the contrary, is an attitude, a certain way of behaving …

… sometimes an almost-nothing suffices for remorse to veer into repenting [ … ] it despairs and looks at itself despairing, it admires itself, and it complains, and all of its pain melts into indulgent repentings. To repent is always “to pose” a bit: the consoled bad conscience, the bad conscience that has become complacency now savors its despair like a spectacle; the bad conscience struts about in front of the mirror. When the bad conscience is capable of whispering a reproach to itself, it is because it is no longer so ashamed of itself [ … ] as if to another I who is no longer wholly itself.

… sin has become a type of substance that one can expel or keep at bay and that does not belong, strictly speaking, to the essence of the person; an easy and complete purification demonstrates as usual that our stain was, from the beginning, exterior. In order to be able to repent is it not necessary already to have ceased to adhere? Thus the more a misdeed is inexpiable, the more that there are chances for it to be deeply installed in my ipseity so as to serve to characterize me.

[line break added] Closed penitence is thus the redemption of peripheral misdeeds, the main sins remaining, irremissible, in the depths of the person; in the end remission becomes a commodity that we traffic, like indulgences were sold in the sixteenth century; one can stock up on penitence; whoever stores up in advance through works and mortifications a sufficient stock of merits will be able to spend it later in the form of sin; one can even, like Pierre Louÿ’s gypsy woman, confess and receive communion in advance in order to amass a credit with an eye to misdeeds to come. During the course of the day, why would one not calculate in alter candles and Ave Marias the price of adultery?

… Moral life, for a penitent person, is little more than a succession of isolated acts of which none belongs to me essentially, since one can extirpate all of them with a heavy dose of alms, with pious readings and austerities; our redemption is thus a transaction to be settled between the actions themselves, to be settled and in which we are not wholly engaged …

… This atomism segmenting our moral path is profoundly foreign to remorse because remorse directly calls into question the person who is the overflowing source of all actions, the form of all these contents; or rather remorse is interested in a particular action inasmuch as this action serves to define me, expresses a general perversion of the I …

… Remorse itself neither punishes us so as to make us perfect nor so as to discourage crime, nor so as to settle a debt; this is not an “example,” this is not an initiation, nor is this a settling of accounts (tisis), a payment. And yet remorse punishes us for our sins, that is certain.

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




August 25, 2018

The High Cost of Awareness

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:48 am

… In the shared commonality of weakness and imperfection lie strength and, perhaps, even regeneration.

This is from ‘The Uses of Gesture in Warren’s The Cave*’ by James H. Justus, found in Robert Penn Warren: A Collection of Critical Essays (1980):

… In most of his novels, Warren sends his protagonist out of an intensely private world where commitment has been either ill-defined or too easily pledged, into a public world where, if he is strong, his experience will enrich and validate that personal vision of self. The search for self-knowledge is a response to two contradictory desires: the searcher’s need for a definition of his private being that will isolate him from the mass and celebrate his uniqueness, and his need for immersion in the group, the cause, the spirit of community.

[line break added] If in the search for self-knowledge he arrives at the clearing, the needs of identity and community will have been harmonized. The protagonist may succeed or, more often, fail, but in each case he will come away from his experience with an appreciation of the high cost of awareness.

… Those Warren characters who are blessed (or cursed) with the gift of vision, imagination, intelligence, or simply the mysterious compulsion to do right by a standard equally mysterious, are those who place the most value on saying, as if the words themselves may somehow act as agents for completing an experience still in the future.

[line break added] This largely unconscious use of verbal magic is an attempt not only to communicate wishes and desires, but also to establish the word as a coextension of the reality it names, to underscore the belief that by saying certain things in certain agreed-on ways, the sayer can shape his future and force events to turn out the way he wants them to. “Words,” says Warren in a recent essay on Dreiser, “are not only a threshold, a set of signs, but a fundamental aspect of meaning, absorbed into everything else.”

… If entrapment in The Cave* is the central metaphor for the difficulties of establishing personal identity, the human touch becomes the central metaphor for exploring the struggle to release, enrich, or redefine that identity. It can particularize a universal feeling of what might be called secular sacramentalism, the notion (more instinctive than rational) that not only one’s health but also one’s salvation depends on a right relationship with his fellows.

[line break added] It can also be used to pervert that notion and serve selfish purposes; even then, however, it reminds its user of what he should know at all times: that communion is possible but difficult. Touch symbolizes the greatest corporate virtue — human communion — but the rich, diverse, and complicated motives for touch dramatize the difficulty of that virtue.

… [Celia] condemns the social pressure from the town which forced [her son] Jasper to respond appropriately to the nudgings and chuckles over “old Jack’s boy.” And she remembers the touching: ” ‘They would put their hands on him — that awful old drunk Mr. Duckett, he put his hands on him ….’ ” For Celia, this leering, winking, joking relationship was the reason for Jasper’s caving — ” ‘To get away from the hands on him.’ ”

[line break added] At the same time she feels that she has failed Jasper precisely because she did not reach out her hand and touch him: “If only she had touched him. If only she had been able to reach out and touch him, then everything might have been different.”

… Touch, then, goes out not only in response to human weakness, but also as the manifestation of human weakness itself. The need is to be comforted as well as to comfort another:

This is my life, the woman was thinking. I can live it if he puts his hand on my head.

He laid his hand on her head. She had been staring toward the cave mouth and that touch on her head was a complete surprise. The tears were suddenly swimming in her eyes.

… The familiar Warren search for the “true” self continues, but here there is even more insistence (dramatically possible because of the large group of characters) that the “true” self lies in a mysterious but real concern for the non-self. Fathers must come to terms with sons, and sons with fathers; women with their men’s adulteries, and men with their women’s compromises; and brothers with their brothers’ achievements and failures. In the shared commonality of weakness and imperfection lie strength and, perhaps, even regeneration.

[* “In his sixth novel, The Cave (1959), Robert Penn Warren tells the story of a young man trapped in a cave in fictional Johntown, Tennessee. His predicament becomes the center of national attention as television cameras, promoters, and newscasters converge on the small town to exploit the rescue attempts and the thousands of spectators gathered at the mouth of the cave.”]

My most recent previous post from this book is here.




August 24, 2018

How to Write the World Differently

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:32 am

… values in the form of behaviors that parry the already decided, the apparent self-evidence, the all-purpose explanation …

Continuing through This Little Art by Kate Briggs (2017):

… For me, says Barthes, the place where this alliance occurs, where the aesthetic (as the vocation of the technical) meets the ethical — its privileged field — is precisely here: in what he calls the everyday detail of the domestic setting, the home. This is my fantasy, he says, this is the mode of writing I am projecting for myself: a domestic working practice, working from home, which would also entail the writing of the small differences among the days.

[line break added] Hence, once again, the interest in the haiku, which to Barthes’s mind has the capacity to do exactly this: a mode of recording the incidents of daily life, its particularities, the fragile and short-lived reach of the relations between the subject and the world that each tiny poem describes. For Barthes, attending to the detail of domestic life in no way implied a narrowing or circumscribing of the field of interest.

[line break added] On the contrary, as Adrienne Ghaly argues: in the lectures on the haiku, especially, this technical-ethical question of how indeed to write (how to make, how to produce) these ‘ “thin” or minimalist relations to the world ‘ — how, exactly, one might go about doing this, engaging with the actuality, the real-life practice of doing this — is, for Barthes, a way of asking about ‘language’s power to disrupt dominating, classifying and appropriating stances to which certain kinds of language use commit us.’ It is a way of asking how to write (and thus also how to make?) the world differently.

[ … ]

… The word Barthes uses in French is délicatesse — a beautiful sequence of syllables to walk through the mouth. A decisive principle of the oeuvre, writes Tiphaine Samoyault, délicatesse is ‘the contrary of arrogance’ and another name for what Barthes called ‘the neutral.’ But where the neutral is imagined as a utopia (in grammar, the neutral or neuter is neither masculine nor feminine, neither active nor passive; in politics Barthes sees it as a refusal to take sides on complex conflictual questions phrased in such a way as to permit only yes/no answers),

[line break added] délicatesse is the name given to the small-scale, everyday practice of values such as goodwill and attentiveness, what Barthes also calls ‘sweetness’ (la douceur), values in the form of behaviors that parry the already decided, the apparent self-evidence, the all-purpose explanation — and attend instead to those small, fleeting and fragile moments in life where, as Samoyault puts it, ‘individualities truly express themselves in their truth.’

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




August 23, 2018

Doll-like Bodies Lacking Personal Qualities

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:46 am

… One may be able to watch without being watched, but one’s gaze … inevitably becomes part of the situation.

This is from the essay ‘Dilemmas of Visibility’ by Magnus Schaefer found in Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts (2018):

… For the sociologist Jeff Weintraub, a central aspect of the private is that it is “hidden or withdrawn,” both literally and figuratively, whereas what is public is “open, revealed, or accessible.” Weintraub’s second distinction between private and public sets “what is individual or pertains only to an individual versus what is collective.”

[line break added] Both principles factor into Nauman’s corridor piece at Nicholas Wilder, which not only defines and delimits privacy, by restricting physical and visual access to its interior, but also invites individual viewers to interact with the architecture and the closed-circuit video by themselves, rather than offering shared experiences to larger groups. The setup recalls an observation Nauman made in an interview in 1986, contrasting the private form of watching that he associated with television and video against the public viewing of a film in a cinema.

In offering occasions to withdraw into partly secluded spaces or private experiences, Nauman’s corridor pieces invite viewers to remove themselves physically and psychologically from their surroundings.

Nauman has spoken repeatedly of his interest in the psychologically tense fault lines between private experience and public space — between a sphere allowing for individual freedom and self-determination and a social realm shared with others whose presence inevitably affects how one perceives and behaves.

[ … ]

… Those whose professional task it is to watch [surveillance camera] footage tend to do so passively, with diffuse attention, waiting for something to happen without knowing exactly what it will be. To be able to react to what unfolds on the screen, observers must extrapolate from what they are seeing, yet to do so they rely on additional information that their position as external spectators does not grant which is where past experience, statistics, and prejudices come into play.

[line break added] The surveillance scholar Hille Koskela further notes that CCTV-footage produces a limited and simplified spatial representation of the area monitored, and the technical apparatus that transmits the images from one place to another precludes personal contact between the person in front of the camera and the person watching on the screen. “People,” she writes, “are reduced to doll-like bodies lacking personal qualities.”

… distinction between what is relevant and what is not [in Nauman’s video mouse-surveillance work, Mapping the Studio] are precisely what is demanded of the viewers of actual CCTV footage. The gazes produced by Mapping the Studio, then, again point to the function of interpretation in watching surveillance footage, an issue tied both to the kinds of exposure and visibility that surveillance creates and to the role (and responsibility, or lack thereof) of those who assume the authority to invest these acts of visual observation with meaning — be it to enforce social norms or to satisfy their curiosity or voyeuristic interests at the expense of others.

[line break added] Like the other private spaces that Nauman’s work has involved since the late 1960s, the views of the nocturnal studio imply active observers. One may be able to watch without being watched, but one’s gaze — its condition of observing the space from an outside position and its correlating dependence on interpretation — inevitably becomes part of the situation.

My most recent previous post from this book is here.




August 22, 2018

The Middle Stage

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:42 am

… there is no end at the point when the picture happened …

This is from Between the Landscape and Its Other by Paul Vanderbilt (1993):

… Science likes cases brought to some conclusion; magic, with the teasing attraction of the unknown, likes things perpetuated. Magic is not destructive; it is just unending, one trial leading to another, and is thus related to that life that continues as influence and ideas, always the search without an answer. In this view, both art and religion, with their content of insoluble mystery, are preparations for an initiation into life, a life of as much time ahead as there is already past, much of it spent in the quest for meaning.

… I can hardly think of any field which, considered from an objective, historical distance, is not subject to some critical cynicism. There is the suggestion that, when all the data are on the table, all is not quite as it seems. Under the hard facts are those qualities that can be dealt with only as art.

… One prevailing view, common in education, is that, without a skillful, precise exposition in words, we do not know, for we distrust other forms of communication as unreliable. The opposing view is that language, from this very bias, gives only the illusion of clarity. Where is emotion? In the representation of human events? In self-expression? In an image form as such? A psychologist would put it in scientific terms.

The illusion, or perhaps the convention left over, is that a photograph is conclusive, the end of a line. Consistent with my view of continuity, I hold that there is no end at the point when the picture happened because of some static and external agency. The stones of a monument stir in and out of attention. The picture is in pursuit of its own ultimate source. An observer (1) starts outside of or before the picture, in his or her memory-image reality, then (2) passes through the photograph, as through a filter, to (3) arrive at a partially subconscious level inaccessible without the middle stage.

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




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