Unreal Nature

April 30, 2020

The Flow or Stop

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:10 am

… inserting the photographic act allows for a bypassing of the linear understanding of a time …

This is from the essay ‘Pasearse: Duration and the Act of Photographing’ by Stella Baraklianou in Bergson and the Art of Immanence: Painting, Photography, Film edited by John Ó Maoilearca and Charlotte de Mille (2013):

… Whilst the disjunction between the photograph as object to be viewed and the photographer as subject remains, there appears to be a moment wherein the field of subjectivity between who operates what becomes, for a short instant, ambiguous. In this short interval, when taking the image, the shutter release acts as a break from within the apparatus.

… The notion of the photographic act is a singular act of recording an image, framing a perspective from a multitude of possibilities. By situating this act in a state of transference through a state of walking, the various coordinates of physical movement, potential framings, and the activity of the camera shutter or the technical intervention are all open to the field of immanence. The border demarcated between decision making and creative idea are subject to the transference of bodily movements towards the camera that will then capture or store this image.

… Instead of asking of something, of the photograph, what it is in terms of subject-matter or representation, the question is placed on the grounds of a relational process: through what does one thing belong to something else?

… The time from within (technical or mechanical, non-human time) of the camera conditions the flow or stop of images in a multitude of potentialities. The conscious decisions of the photographer are at the same time subject to the conditions of the mechanical recordings of the device. Opening up the field of immanence and inserting the photographic act allows for a bypassing of the linear understanding of a time of before or after, corresponding to the recorded event. Rather, it is the now, a constant present tense, that is open to potentiality.

My most recent previous post from this book is here.




April 29, 2020

The Infinitesimals of Novelty

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:16 am

… One can only live on credit.

This is from The Genesis of Living Forms by Raymond Ruyer, translated by Jon Roffe and Nicholas B. de Weydenthal (1958, 2020):

… In the behavior of a protozoan, the entire organism at once functions and improvises. The unicellular organism improvises its pseudopods in order to move around, and its mouth and digestive tube in order to eat. In the embryo, too, even that of a higher animal, improvisation is everywhere implicated in the functioning of the organs already acquired through preceding developments.

[line break added] The blastula improvises — according to a specific theme, certainly, but beyond any automatic functioning — like the cell migration which transforms it into the gastrula, like the unicellular organism improvises its pseudopods. Behavior is indiscernible from development, of which it is at once the principle and the manifestation. In the lower animals, bacterial colonies or amoebae, development remains indiscernible from behavior until the death of the organism.

… Structure and function, structure and behavior, far from being equivalent to ‘machine’ and ‘functioning’ (functioning only ever being defined in terms of the structure of the machine), develop in concert, often in the same step, function and behavior always anticipating structure a little. Function does not greatly anticipate structure — for we would then depart from the continuity of ‘verticalism’ and fall for a kind of magical or miraculous appearance.

[line break added] But in order for there to be any development or behavior, function must anticipate ‘possible functioning’ a little — the structural base would not otherwise be changed. Development cannot, like functioning, be cyclical, always returning in principle to its starting point. If, at the end of embryonic development, new structures, obvious and widespread, are there, the infinitesimals of novelty would have had to be integrated. One can only live on credit.




April 28, 2020

With One Another

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:00 am

… Song begins precisely where successive sounds rise above their ties to feeling and form new ties — with one another.

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

… We have still to consider a not infrequently expressed opinion … that singing man, far from marking any sort of advance over speaking man, actually marks a reversion to earlier, prelinguistic, prerational stages of development.

… A sound of more or less defined pitch, no matter how expressive, is not a musical tone; a sequence of sounds of varying pitch, by which feeling is expressed, is not yet song, nor can it become song merely by repetition. Song begins precisely where successive sounds rise above their ties to feeling and form new ties — with one another. A tone is a sound of definite pitch, referring primarily not to a feeling expressed by it — or, more generally, to a thing — but to other sounds of definite pitch, to other tones.

[line break added] A sequence of tones is a musical structure, a melody, when its unity results primarily from the audible relations of sounds to one another, not from their relations to something else — for example, feelings. Tones can be audibly interrelated only because they form a system, an order. The step from the prelinguistic call to the primitive melody is in no way less fundamental than the step to the primitive sentence.

[line break added] In either case, the step leads to order, signifies the discovery of structure; it is a spiritual act that creates meaning. The meaning of the sound is constitutive of the tone just as it is constitutive of the word; and even though tones are not meaningful in the same sense as words, the problem of how sounds become associated with meaning is a musical as well as a linguistic one. The same gulf separates prelinguistic utterance from the first melody and from the first sentence.

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




April 27, 2020

Stability in a Notoriously Unstable Age

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:52 am

… Is what you think what you experience?

This is from the essay ‘Implicit Intimacy: The Persistent Appeal of Henry Moore’s Public Art’ by Harriet F. Senie in Henry Moore: Sculpting the 20th Century edited by Dorothy Kosinski (2001):

Moore’s concerns seem to have become increasingly out of sync with contemporary critical issues. Modern art has since its outset been a largely intellectual enterprise; postmodern art, grounded in theory, is arguably even more so. Moore, however, refused to talk about or present his art in this way. He suggested that his work might be open to any number or readings and offered only a few, oft-repeated story lines when asked to discuss its origins.

Moore also did not fit the general idea of a modern artist as agonized genius. As his biographer observed: “No one could have been further from the popular conception of the artist as Bohemian, as outsider or as obsessed egocentric than this down-to-earth family man with his preference for regular working hours, his extrovert, unpretentious manner, his sometimes slightly squeaky voice, unfinished sentences, and engaging giggle.

… While many modern public artists implicitly envisioned an admiring or moving viewer, Moore seems to have conceived of a sensate one.

… given the chance, people do more than touch; they nestle, climb, and experience the work in as visceral a way as possible.

… The implicit intimacy of Moore’s public art is both seductive and comforting. His sculpture conveys the essence of stability in a notoriously unstable age and familiarity in a period defined by change. Inviting direct contact, or suggesting its possibility, it subverts art’s customary “don’t touch” status. Yet in many ways his figural abstractions, anchored in early modernism, today seem to belong to another time. So is Moore the consummate public artist or a relic of a more romantic age? Is what you think what you experience?

My previous post from this book is here.




April 26, 2020

There Is a Third Shadow

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:10 am

… Cutting can cause the stone to burst …

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

… The theater of measurement shows the decoding of a secret, the deciphering of a writing, the reading of a drawing. The sand where the Sun leaves its trace becomes the screen, the projection wall at the bottom of the cave. Here is the scene of representation anciently put into place for Western knowledge, the historically stable form of contemplation from the top of these Pyramids.

… But there is a third shadow, whose image and projection are translated by the other two, the deep secret buried in the entrails of the volume.

No doubt, the true knowledge of the things of the world lies in the essential shadow of the solids, in their opaque and dark compactness, forever locked behind the multiple doors of their borders, only attacked by practice and theory. Cutting can cause the stone to burst, and geometry can divide or double the cube; now we find that the solids, which are not exhaustible through the analysis of their sides, always preserve, sheltered, a kernel of shadow in the shadow of their borders: we must begin again.

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




April 25, 2020

Glimpses of Things

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:05 am

… It is a collection of delicate glances that have been turned into a durable gaze …

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

… even in connection with the existence of space, Herschel declares, “that which has parts, proportions, and susceptibilities of exact measurement, must be ‘a thing.'” What at first seems odd about this characterizing of space as an existent “thing” is that it is more properly applied, as we have just seen, to bodies in space such as the aurora borealis. But Herschel seems to have in mind that, if we are to treat space as a knowable and real thing, then like any other external thing, space is constructed out of or with the help of conceptions, themselves formulated in relation to the world.

… So why do we find this emphasis on conception? For many at the time, as we have already seen for Nichol and Whewell, the human mind had to contribute conceptions to any proper scientific observation in order to make out what one saw in an object or even in a published image of that object.

… Whether in the object, its pictorial image, or its production, to unveil “those hidden powers which work beneath the surface of things,” one needed to look beyond momentary sensations or glimpses of things and see deeper than their mere appearance. This was done with the help of scientific conceptions, often an integral part of a procedure.

A published descriptive map of a nebula is a collection of parts, views, and kinds of information acquired over a relatively long period. It is a collection of delicate glances that have been turned into a durable gaze, stabilized, and made ready for scientific use and instructive examination. The pictorial results present how the object ought to appear, rather than how it might appear on any given night.

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




April 24, 2020

What Is Not

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:53 am

… he presents himself as what is not …

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

… no matter how well one is able to sift critically the better part of the great founding myths, to show to what extent they lie or deform the truth, to compare them with what the correct theo-logy teaches of the divine, to denounce them in their effects and pernicious exemplarity, one will not have achieved anything with respect to what is essential, which is after all to seize the essence of fiction (of the “lie”) and to understand the reason for its fictioning, mimetic power. Why, in reality, and on what conditions, can we say that myths lie? Where, exactly, does their power come from?

… We know upon which major principle the Platonic analysis of lexis — or, of you prefer, the Platonic poetic genres — is in fact constructed. There is only one criterion: the dissimulation or non-dissimulation (the Verstellung and Unverstellung, therefore) of the author in his fiction or of the subject of enunciation in the statement he produces. Either the poet himself speaks in his own name, without seeking to mislead us or to pass himself off for another (without playing at being the other and, in particular, without relying on the direct quotation of another’s words), and we have what Plato calls haple diegesis, the “simple narrative.”

[line break added] Or else, inversely, the poet hides behind the one he (re)presents (darstellt), he makes himself “apocryphal” in order to slip into the other’s identity and so mislead us — in order to make animate what cannot (and should not) be; he presents himself as what is not, exposes himself as other than he is, and depropriates himself — and then we have mimesis. That is to say, essentially, dramatization …

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




April 23, 2020

Anything But Straight

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:13 am


This is from the essay ‘The Matter of the Image: Notes on Practice-Philosophy’ by Felicity Colman in Bergson and the Art of Immanence: Painting, Photography, Film edited by John Ó Maoilearca and Charlotte de Mille (2013):

‘Just walk in a straight line,’ says the male voice in the opening of the film titled Swamp. But the body holding the camera cannot comply with these instructions, and the creation of the art form is left for the camera to determine, frame by frame, as it records the process of the camera-body movement.

[line break added] As the body moves within the landscape of soft golden grassed tracks, a pale blue high skyline and brown-topped flax-colored reed stems are forced out of view and the line-forms created are crossed, barriers to movement that are anything but straight. Perceptual conflict arises from these seemingly benign images. What is it that we are seeing? What are these images? As we explore in this chapter, the processes that created them are controlled actions, productive of images that record and make forms, by the direction of their practice.

My most recent previous post from this book is here.




April 22, 2020

More Than Breath and Trace

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:21 am

… it shares this world by providing materiality with an excess, a virtuality, that enables it to shape itself …

Final post from The Incorporeal: Ontology, Ethics, and the Limits of Materialism by Elizabeth Grosz (2017):

… Life is the increasing complexification of material relations, the creation or invention of a membrane or barrier and the emergence of an internal circuit to regulate the cell in its external milieu and complicate their relation. This complexification is also the increasing complexification of ideality or conceptuality, the emergence not only of orientation or direction but of sense, whose elaboration through language and collective cultural and political practices is the condition of thought or the concept.

[line break added] Ideality is not in another world, another dimension or order than materiality; it shares this world by providing materiality with an excess, a virtuality, that enables it to shape itself according to a direction or theme coming from within its configurations and always positioning it within the rest of the world through different degrees of connection, with a future in view, even if this is not our future, or our wished-for goals and ends.

… As an incorporeal frame, the world of meaning or sense enables living beings and their chemical and biological constituents to orient themselves in relation to objects and each other, to direct their own actions, to give meaning and value to things, including themselves, and to develop languages and sign systems that refer to, address, signify, or express things, relations, events, and the universe they inhabit. The incorporeal is the condition under which language becomes more then material, more than breath and trace, the condition under which it connects the world of events to the life of reflection, thought.

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




April 21, 2020

Direct Expression

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:12 am

… It is singing man’s different attitude toward his world.

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

… the singer’s sense of being at one with the world has a sort of precedent at a prehuman stage, in the animal’s relationship with its natural environment, whereas the word marks the emergence of something utterly new, something that had never existed before. The passage to a new dimension here involves a radical break, a stepping out of nature: speaking man faces the world, sees it from “outside,” speaks to it; in speaking to it, he views it as distinct from himself, and himself as distinct from it; what the word names becomes thing, object.

… Words are boundaries: they create things by setting them apart, by tracing their boundaries. But a boundary is not the same thing as that which is bounded. That which is in this sense created by the word always extends beyond the word, extends “inward.”

… Direct expression of depth is denied to words, is reserved to tones. Tones, for their part, are denied the sharp outlines, the definiteness of figures, which require the two dimensions of the surface to be represented. In itself, the dimension of depth can produce no figure. Thus both, words and tones, have each their own limits and their own limitless possibilities.

… Wittgenstein was wrong to write, “What we cannot speak of we must consign to silence.” Not at all: what we cannot speak of we can sing about.

Just what we mean here should be clear. Singing man does not raise himself above speaking man; musical man does not supersede rational man. The otherness of tones is not of another world. It does not derive from some transcendental beyond or from some “purely interior” self or thought or feeling. It is singing man’s different attitude toward his world. That from which speaking man sets himself apart and which he holds in front of himself, singing man brings as close as he can to himself, becomes one with.

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




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