Unreal Nature

March 31, 2020

As Though a Door Had Opened

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:21 am

… people sing in order to make sure, through direct experience, of their existence in a layer of reality different from the one in which they encounter each other and things as speakers, as facing one another and separate from one another …

This is from Man the Musician by Victor Zuckerkandl (1973):

… the correlation of words and things is superficial, accidental. There is no intrinsic necessity for a given vocable to denote any one thing rather than another; identical vocables may denote different things, and different vocables one and the same thing. By contrast, every emotion gives forth its own characteristic expression, as a flower its scent; the correlation between the two is direct, inherent, leaves no room for ambiguity.

… For the singer, the words acquire a very special plenitude and depth of meaning. Something that remains silent in words merely spoken begins to flow, to vibrate; the words open and the singer opens to them. It is as though the tones infused the words with a force that reveals a new layer of meaning in them, that breathes life into them in a special way: not by making the word a tangible thing, as it appears when seen from outside, and certainly not in the sense of submerging it in a universal life in which all particularity, all distinctions are abolished, but exactly in its determined content when seen from inside, from a point where the word is, so to speak, an “I.”

… In the layer of meaning opened up by the tones, things that are separated meet; speaker and spoken word, “person” and “thing” come into direct contact. It is as though a door had opened through which the speaker’s living self goes out to what has been said, and what has been said enters him as something that has a life of its own, as an “I.”

… There must be a layer in which all things have their roots; then tones must, so to speak, activate this layer and thereby bring us closer to the roots of things.

… The very existence of tones is evidence of a stratum of reality in which unity shines through diversity.

Accordingly, a second answer to our question about the meaning of song might be: people sing in order to make sure, through direct experience, of their existence in a layer of reality different from the one in which they encounter each other and things as speakers, as facing one another and separate from one another — in order to be aware of their existence on a plane where distinction and separation of man and man, man and thing, thing and thing give way to unity …

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

March 30, 2020

The Fan

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:22 am

… It generates wind, reminding you that there is air.

This is from a 2010 interview with Phong Bui in Sarah Sze (2016):

Phong Bui: You know, one of the most difficult techniques when one studies martial arts, especially kung-fu, is the drunken technique. Not because you have to be drunk, but because you have to think like a drunk, so that your movement becomes extremely unpredictable. In other words, while the practitioner may look intoxicated, the technique behind the appearance is highly acrobatic and skilled and requires a great degree of balance and coordination. …

Sarah Sze: A friend of mine who was one of the primary dancers at Tanztheater Wuppertal — Pina Bausch — said that the hardest and first test they would give any dancer who wished to be part of the company was to ask him or her to walk naturally across the stage. And, immediately, from that test you were either in or out. It’s just the idea that trying to mimic nature, even in yourself, is actually very hard.

[line break added] For example, the cot in the piece Never Enough (Projector) — it looks like it’s been eaten by moths or like it’s become a ruin. But in fact that’s my hand trying to paint or reproduce something in a way that looks like nature made it, like it happened outside of my hand, by a larger natural force. It’s an idea central to earth art — the investigation of the actual behavior of landscape rather than the representation of landscape.

[ … ]

PB: Are there other functions of the fan, apart from creating physical moments to certain areas?

SS: It generates wind, reminding you that there is air. It’s like when you see a spotlight on a stage and you see the dust floating in the air, and it makes you aware that there is air.

My most recent previous post from this book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

March 29, 2020

We Understand Each Other

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:24 am

… In order for dialogue to succeed, our eyes must be closed and our ears must be plugged …

This is from Geometry by Michel Serres, translated by Randolph Burks (2017, 1995):

… the perceived thing is endlessly distinguishable: a different word would be necessary for every circle, symbol, tree or pigeon; and again for yesterday, today and tomorrow; and again depending on whether the one perceiving, you or me, is irritated, suffering from jaundice, and so on ad infinitum. At the extreme consequence of empiricism meaning becomes totally submerged in noise, the communication space becomes granular, like the space in which Achilles nor the arrow reaches their goal; dialogue becomes condemned to cacophony. The empirical only makes noise.

So the first of the third men, the empiricist, must be excluded; this is the strongest of our demons, since it suffices to open our eyes and ears to see that he controls our world. In order for dialogue to succeed, our eyes must be closed and our ears must be plugged to the song and beauty of the Sirens. With the same movement we eliminate hearing and noise, vision and the faulty drawing, the subject itself; by the same stroke we conceive form and we understand each other.

… Hold on: is the collective constituted by this free, lively and agreed upon debate, or is it born on the contrary from natural objects or the idealities of geometry itself? Is consensus born from necessity or necessity from consensus? In one case, the solution to the problem of the origin would therefore presuppose it to be already resolved. What relation does social and contractual debate maintain with the thing itself, exterior to it? That is the question, which in itself debate itself could not settle.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

March 28, 2020

To Be the Thing It Is

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:04 am

… “The thing must not be seen merely” …

This is from Observing By Hand: Sketching the Nebulae in the Nineteenth Century by Omar W. Nasim (2013):

… For Nichol … what was most exceptional about Rosse’s “portrait” (Nichol’s label) of M51 was not its display of possible resolution but its “metamorphosis” from what was first seen in Herschel’s portrait to what now appeared in Rosse’s: “the transforming of a shape apparently simple [a ring], into one so strange and complex that there is nothing to which we can liken it, save a scroll gradually unwinding, or the evolutions of a gigantic shell!”

[line break added] In fact, the apparent transformation led Nichol to pose a question: “[While] it is clear that, unless through the forms of these distant groups, nothing satisfactory can be inferred regarding their character and meaning … how far can we rely that the telescope yields an absolute revelation of these forms, — to what extent are we safe in speaking of what is apparent, as if it were real?”

Nichol intends reader-viewers to hold in mind the spiral conception or “criterion,” comparing a few of the plates and beginning to see spiral forms reveal themselves in objects that are not at first glance spirals. Nichol even asks readers to view a couple of the plates “obliquely” and compare them with an oblique view of M51 so that an angled view may reveal their true form. By turning the print of the Great Spiral so it can be viewed from the side, the top, the bottom, or at an inclined angle, readers may find themselves in a visual and intellectual position to see other objects figured on other plates that might come to correspond to these different views.

The effort and active engagement Nichol demands of readers, requiring changes of angle, flipping, careful unfolding, and so on, did not go unnoticed.

… “The thing must not be seen merely,” writes Nichol, “but ascertained by some criterion to be the thing it is.”

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

March 27, 2020

Absolute Reflection

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:16 am

… But we hold on to him now, we have our eye on him.

This is from Typography: Mimesis, Philosophy, Politics by Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, edited by Christopher Fynsk (1989):

… A mirror is installed, right in the middle where everything comes to be reflected without exception, “theorized” and “theorizing”: the whole of the theoretical realm (the totality of what is) in which we have been installed — indeed, ever since the episode of the cavern.

[line break added] This includes the “subject” who has installed (himself in) the theoretical realm and performed the operation, since the mirror allows one to reflect oneself, and since nothing at all prohibits now — on the contrary — that it should be “Plato” who thus watches himself over Socrates’ shoulder or over that of his brother Glaucon (who is here “his” interlocutor and who is overwhelmed by such a “wonder”). It is, strictly speaking — that is, in Hegelian terms — speculation: absolute reflection and theory of theory.

But this mirror is not a mirror — or a false mirror, or a two-way mirror. It is there for the mimetician. It is only a certain means, a trope, for (re)presenting (darstellen) the mimetician. We have here, then, a strange mimetician: a mimetician who is frozen, fixed, installed — theorized. One that has become perfectly visible (and “revealing” himself as “working,” of course, in and with the visible). But we hold on to him now, we have our eye on him.

My previous post from Lacoue-Labarthe’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

March 26, 2020

Archaic and Always New

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:58 am

… which goes from the nothing that a divine line divides to the line by which a drawing recovers from nothing the thickness of the received world …

This is from The Pleasure of Drawing by Jean-Luc Nancy, translated by Philip Armstrong (2013):

… Drawing wants to show the truth, not of what has appeared or its appearance but of the coming into appearance that subtends it and that “itself” does not appear or show itself. Thus, it is about showing what does not show itself.

… Distinction of the earth and sky, distinction of regions of space, of places and their times, of edges and limits, of the inanimate and the animate, of the conscious and the unconscious, of self and that — in a certain way, it is the same continuous-discontinuous distinction, absolutely archaic and always new, which goes from the nothing that a divine line divides to the line by which a drawing recovers from nothing the thickness of the received world, and thus further demands and desires the divine, in other words, the common divider of forms (alternatively, others might say: attributing the truth of his work to the divine).

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

March 25, 2020

The Melody

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:14 am

… by which forms come into the world and act in it.

Continuing through The Incorporeal: Ontology, Ethics, and the Limits of Materialism by Elizabeth Grosz (2017):

Ruyer claims … that memory is not a property of bodies but that bodies are properties of memory; bodies form themselves according to a theme that preexists them and which they bring into actuality and locate in space and time.

… The transpatial theme pervades all of time, to the extent that it constitutes the melody, the rhythm, through which each thing forms itself. Primary form appropriates themes that have already been laid out for it in advance, not a priori like a command, but more like the musical performance of a score, which preexists and to some extent directs but does not determine each performance.

… All primary forms are both agent and ideal: both an agent, or many, that acts first of all to form and maintain itself before and as it acts in the world, and an ideal, a form directed to goals, those that are required for its self-formation and action in a particular manner. These are two orientations or directions for each being — the finality represented by the ideals, the mnemic themes which regulate form, and the modes of materialization by which forms come into the world and act in it.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

March 24, 2020

Everyone

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:21 am

… being what he is he can now, without losing his identity, be with what he is not …

This is from Man the Musician by Victor Zuckerkandl (1973):

… The farther back we go, the more it seems as though music, far from being an end in itself (as is has eventually become in Western “art music”), was always subordinated to ends outside itself — religious, social, practical.

… However different the behavior of people praying, marching, dancing, watching a spectacle, working, or celebrating, and however the ways in which they express themselves may differ — action or contemplation, motion or rest, physical or psychic alertness or the lack of it, tension or relaxation — in all these situations, the people involved abandon themselves wholly to whatever they are doing.

[line break added] They do not abandon themselves in this way for the sake of self-abandon, in order to forget themselves or — the extreme case — to find release in Dionysiac frenzy. Yet there is an element common to all these diverse expressions of a need for self-abandon, and this is not a turning away from the self, not a negation, but an enlargement, an enhancement of the self, a breaking down of the barriers separating self from things, subject from object, agent from action, contemplator from what is contemplated: it is a transcending of this separation, its transformation into a togetherness.

… Can one imagine that people come together to speak songs? One can, but only as a logical possibility; in real life this would be absurd.

… Invariably, [tones] are both outgoing and incoming. Whereas the word goes out from me, the speaker, and remains outside with the person spoken to, who replies with another word, I, as a singer, go out of myself with the tone and at the same time, as a listener, return to myself from outside with the tone. In the tone, and only in the tone, the singer encounters himself coming from the outside, and not just himself if the singer is the group. In the one tone that comes from all, I encounter the group as well as myself.

[line break added] The dividing line between myself and the others loses its sharpness. Here the situation is not one where two distinct parties face each other; here the others do not address their singing to me. Whereas words turn people toward each other, as it were, make them look at each other, tones turn them all in the same direction: everyone follows the tones on their way out and on their way back. The moment tones resound, the situation where one party faces another is transmuted into a situation of togetherness, the many distinct individuals into the one group.

… The singer remains what he is, but his self is enlarged, his vital range is extended: being what he is he can now, without losing his identity, be with what he is not; and the other, being what it is, can, without losing its identity, be with him.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

March 23, 2020

For the Sake of Investigation

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:18 am

… What can art do?

This is from Laura Hoptman’s essay in Sarah Sze (2016):

… their compositions never reach a conclusive form. Elements of non finito are easily locatable, gaps are left in sequences of objects as if another one has yet to be placed, circular configurations are broken, vectors shoot off from a central point and end abruptly as if paused in mid-flight. There is a deliberate sense that the activity of accumulation that produced them, the investigation that powered their creation, could continue if the artist chose to do so.

[line break added] This is a conscious privileging of process and it is meant to counter what Sze considers to be a culture addicted to facts and fixated on results. Skeptical about the human ability to use all the data that science has discovered in pursuit of those longed-for outcomes, she is also critical of the hubris involved in believing that a state of all-knowingness is either desirable or achievable. As she recently remarked, “Having knowledge breeds a false sense of security that you have power over nature.”

… One could argue that this divide between realizing a work of art for deployment into the art ecosystem and realizing one for the sake of investigation describes some of the most urgent questions in contemporary art at the moment: What does art do? What can art do?

My most recent previous post from this book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

March 22, 2020

I Eliminate the Empirical

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:12 am

… the exclusion of every subject, make[s] possible a science for the Universal …

This is from Geometry by Michel Serres, translated by Randolph Burks (2017, 1995):

… When I say bed, I’m not talking about such and such a bed, mine, yours, this one or that one, I’m evoking the idea of bed; when I draw a square or diagonal in the sand, I’m not talking about this irregular or anexact graphe, rather I’m evoking through it, the ideal form of the diagonal or the square: I eliminate the empirical.

Furthermore, precisely what makes this bed mine prevents you from understanding bed since what makes the other bed yours refers more to you than to the bed. Goodbye to the subject. In recognizing the style of the drawer [the one who draws] in a given shakiness of the drawn square, we talk about his genius and not about this form. So goodbye to every personal subject. Do you want to have a successful dialogue? Then don’t talk any more about yourself. With regard to the world and astronomy without eyes, we will again find this exclusion of every subject which constituted the Hellenic genius. Noise? You or me. Beasts? Me and you.

Thus the elimination of what conceals form, cacography, jamming and noise, thus the exclusion of every subject, make possible a science for the Universal for us and, in rigor and in truth, in the Universal in itself.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

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