Unreal Nature

May 19, 2020

Source of the Sensation

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:01 am

… In this case hearing does not go beyond what is heard …

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

… When we hear a sound whose source remains undetermined — a rustle, for example, but not something that rustles — then the sensation is unsatisfying, disquieting; it impels us to listen, to try to discover the material source of the sound, and we will not rest until we have succeeded in associating what we hear with something visible-tangible. In this way we perceive the entire audible world as an adjunct to the world of visible and tangible things, as though wrapped around it.

[line break added] Visible-tangible things that treat themselves to the luxury of being audible — for a change, for the sake of colorfulness, of enriching the picture, to please us, disquiet us, warn us — eye and hand acting as lawgivers, the ear as an auxiliary organ: this is how one might describe the world opening to our senses.

This description would be correct if our enumeration of audible sensations did not include the item “sound of a violin.” At this point the audible breaks away from that order, from its correlation with visible-tangible things. As tone follows tone, as the tones become melody, in the midst of the audible world a door opens; we enter, as though in a dream or a fairy tale, not so much into another world as another mode of existence within our familiar world. The audible has broken its ties with material objects.

[line break added] On hearing other kinds of sound, if I ask, “What is it?” I expect an answer such as “An airplane” or “The wind.” If I asked the same question when hearing a violin, and someone answered, “A violin,” I would laugh at him. [ … ] In this case hearing does not go beyond what is heard, does not reach out toward the visible-tangible source of the sensation; what we hear is self-contained, is whole and complete in itself. A world of the purely audible opens, a domain in which the ear is lawgiver.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

May 18, 2020

The Spread of Knowledge

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:57 am

… We have no well-grounded reason to think that the spread of knowledge particularly interested Gutenberg.

This is from the essay ‘The Educated Man in the Printing Industry’ found in The Well-Made Book: Essays & Lectures by Danial Berkeley Updike; edited by William S. Peterson (2002):

… Through the training the printing trade has given me, I have learned much, but I shall always regret not having had an education which obliges one to learn many things one does not want to know. A man may, by pursuing some particular branch of knowledge that interests him, become, in a narrow sense, cultivated, yet this is a lopsided sort of development. That it is so can be readily detected by the broadly educated person. I have had to undergo a long and needlessly difficult training because I was never taught how to learn, and, in particular, because no one ever took the trouble to tell me the things I am telling you in these pages.

Perhaps for the educated man this form of livelihood must choose him — he must as a revivalist would say, “feel the Call.” Otherwise it is a dubious adventure, all the more if one is not obliged to undertake it.

This next is from the essay ‘Gutenberg and His Relation to Printers Today’:

… The extravagant laudation [Gutenberg] has received has made him appear not alone as the first inventor of moveable type, which incidentally he was not, but as a disseminator of knowledge itself and in a sense an apostle of beauty. It is forgotten that the knowledge which his invention did in the long run disseminate was already extant, and was the legacy which antiquity and Gutenberg’s more immediate predecessors had left to his generation. We have no well-grounded reason to think that the spread of knowledge particularly interested Gutenberg. What engrossed him was his invention and the perfecting of it.

My previous post from Updike’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

May 17, 2020

This Outside

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:17 am

… it will remain despite every nullification, invariant as soon as it entered into rigor, present in our forgettings.

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

… All materials and powers wear out: what will become of pure form? Of the most vanishing image, the least concrete, the lightest, the least sayable possible, whose writing has no importance, whose trace can be lost without harming the meaning, whose very memory can pass away or die without consequences, for its stable history?

[line break added] If you schematize it falsely, it doesn’t matter. If you don’t draw it, don’t write it, it’s still of no matter. More or worse: if you destroy sources and testimonies, do away with the monuments, burn partial manuscripts or entire libraries, erase almost entirely the period during which this form came to light, it will remain despite every nullification, invariant as soon as it entered into rigor, present in our forgettings.

… About the inventor and what he discovered, it’s very commonly said: but where did he go to look for that? Nothing here resembles it. Mimesis seems to be in check, so much does his discovery not imitate anything else.

Where? An entirely simple naivety repeated by the scientific models. So where? Outside. But outside what? Outside here: outside the ordinary group normed by custom and law, outside the common and coded language, outside normal science, outside the education given in the supposedly superior schools, in brief, outside the closed system in general …

Outside the closed, this tautology isn’t a bad image, for a piece of naivety. But if it doesn’t explain, at least it describes: outside the ordinary, the closed network of opinions, the police, politeness, outside the walls, outside the law. What does this outside signify?

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

May 16, 2020

The Corrupting Influence of Conception

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:05 am

… “the fault is only due to the conception … of the observers.”

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

… Observers often noted that when using a telescope to see the details of some celestial objects, such as the belts of Jupiter or the divisions of Saturn’s ring, verbal directions on where and how to look were not always enough. An amateur astronomer writing in 1825 about the etiquette of astronomical observing parties explains: “When [the details] have been pointed out in a Portrait of them [rather than by word], I found people discern [the details] directly — and candidly declare, that they knew not before what they were to look for.”

[line break added] As late as 1871 Thomas Webb, author of the widely acclaimed Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes, could assert that “it is well known that success in observations is much more readily obtained by those who have some previous idea as to what they may fairly expect to see,” the “previous idea” being in most cases a pictorial representation of the target object.

… Sometimes instructions were provided in the text, suggesting, for instance, that one stand back a few inches or even a couple of feet from the engraving in order to get a vision of an object as seen through an eyepiece. In other cases one had to distort, shift, or reorient one’s vision to see what the printed figure was supposed to show.

… The number and availability of drawings of the nebulae had increased considerably in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Thus, by the time [Wilhelm] Tempel was engaged with the nebulae, he confessed that his own perplexity and confusion had increased as well, especially when these published figures were compared. But Tempel found it even more surprising that astronomers had made no attempt at explaining this startling state of affairs (the severely diverging drawings of the same object). In fact, none had dared to do so in public. Tempel was loath to ask the source of the drastic differences in the published visual images for the same object. But somebody had to do it.

… Tempel wrote, “the fault is only due to the conception [Auffassung] of the observers.” So “for my part,” Tempel continued, “the answer to these questions and objections is simple: the cause of the lack of agreement of their drawings lies in the draughtsmen themselves.” Not only was there a lack of preliminary and requisite skill, but undue allowance was made for the corrupting influence of conception by the observer-draftsmen in their relatively unskilled attempts. In fact, the two failures went hand in hand.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

May 15, 2020

Nothing Occurs

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:57 am

… it is perhaps simply a rhythm in which “I” seek desperately to recognize “myself.”

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

… The absence of that on the basis of which there is imitation, the absence of the imitated or the repeated (music, which in its very principle is itself repetition) reveals what is by definition unrevealable — imitation or repetition. In general, nothing could appear, arise, be revealed, “occur,” were it not for repetition. The absence of repetition, by consequence, reveals only the unrevealable, gives rise only to the improbable, and throws off the perceived and well-known. Nothing occurs: in effect, the Unheimliche — the most uncanny and most unsettling prodigy.

… perhaps, “every soul is a rhythmic knot.” We (“we”) are rhythmed.

For this reason then, the auto-graphic compulsion is indeed connected to the obsession with “music.” That is to say, the obsession with rhythm. This latter obsession, precisely because rhythm is conceived and theorized as figure (carrying with it, consequently, everything of the order of modeling, exemplarity, etc.), or because it is felt and spoken of as pulsation or repetition marked by a caesura, constantly converts itself in an incomprehensible manner into an obsession with melody. “There is a tune for which I would give … .” But it is perhaps simply a rhythm in which “I” seek desperately to recognize “myself.”

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

May 14, 2020

One Has to Know When to Stop

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:08 am

… what about traversing the places in the mind where memories meet, come together as a whole and then part again … ?

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):

… A photographer works in the dark; but her works belong to the nature of light. Time folded and unfolded; time and time again. Where do I situate myself in the picture? I want to throw myself into the present moment and linger in it through the reds, yellows and browns. More light; less light. One has to know when to stop. I control the light. I am in charge of the moment. I take the image and alter it at will. Yet the image runs back to me; breaking away, it slides, tosses, crumbles, reacts, breathes air and absorbs light.

To photograph is an event presenting itself from within the body (via the body’s perceptions and affects) and in which one does not know, strange as it is, hovering somewhere between movement and stillness, if the event is going to happen.

… Slight ruffle of the trees in the summer breeze. I look upwards through the branches. The leaves come together and part again in a condensed moment that only a photograph would be able to capture through its distinct successions.

One layer over the other and another one again, keep going until it forms a solid image. A movement implies jumps from one place to the other; movement implies traversing a known space; what about traversing the places in the mind where memories meet, come together as a whole and then part again … ?

My most recent previous post from this book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

May 13, 2020

The Mythical Character

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:04 am

… ‘Ontogeny does not recapitulate Phylogeny: it creates it.’

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

… the inevitable solidarity of evolutionary theory and theories of embryogenesis, and the fact that embryological theory must take primacy over evolutionary theory, has always been clearly understood. If the formation of a new individual cannot be explained on the basis of genetic ‘orders,’ how can we continue to allow the claim that the formation of species is explained by the accumulation of solitary genetic mutations? The evolution of a species is only, after all, the ensemble of individual formations in both species 1 and then species 2. What is false for a given generation cannot be miraculously true for the totality of all subsequent generations.

… [Gaviin] de Beer has forcefully emphasized the mythical character of the morphogenesis of a species vaguely imagined as distinct from and as ’cause’ of the unfolding of individual morphogeneses, which would in turn be restricted to its recapitulation. On the contrary, it is much rather the case that individual morphogenesis must invent specific modifications: ‘Ontogeny does not recapitulate Phylogeny: it creates it.’ [Garstung] If neither the analogy with tracing nor the invocation of errors in tracing can be taken as acceptable interpretations of ontogenesis, there only remains the solution guided by an analogy borrowed from aesthetic creation, that of ‘theme and variation.’

A simple comparison, no doubt, and science is not done by comparison. But it is equally anti-scientific to refuse any value to this comparison since to do so would lead us to once again concede the convergence, or the miraculous continuation, of two modes of development whose principles yet remain with nothing in common.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

May 12, 2020

There Is Still a Void to Be Filled

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:07 am

… even after it has given its all-inclusive answers, language still leaves some questions unanswered.

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

… Every form of behavior [according to behaviorism] aims by definition at the zero point of resolved tension; it is judged successful or unsuccessful according to whether this goal is or is not attained.

… From our point of view, however, the most important thing about music is not that it eliminates something from the world but adds something to it — indeed, that it creates a world; not that it brings man back to where he was in the world but that it takes him to a place where he has never been before. In short, what we are trying to understand is in what ways the world and man are changed by music.

… The mouse that solves the riddle of the maze does so to reach a bit of bacon; man solves puzzles for the sake of solving them. But the crucial boundary, which behaviorism cannot trace because it marks its own limits, runs elsewhere — namely, between the puzzle and the scientific problem. The solution of the former can still be interpreted adequately as a type of behavior; not so the solving of a scientific problem.

[line break added] Both puzzle and problem are experienced as disturbances of the intellectual balance; but the puzzle is solved on order to do away with the disturbance, whereas the scientific problem is solved in order to discover a truth. The solved puzzle ends up in the wastepaper basket; the solution to the scientific problem rises as a new star in our intellectual firmament.

… Music, as we said at the beginning of these reflections, must be understood as necessary, i.e. in such a way that a world without music or a mankind without music would be unthinkable. … Even after everything nameable, including God, has been given a name, there is still a void to be filled, a darkness to be lit up; even after it has given its all-inclusive answers, language still leaves some questions unanswered.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

May 11, 2020

If You Have Anything in You

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:02 am

… If you have anything in you, good or bad, you will translate it into the printed work for which you are responsible.

This is from the essay ‘On the Planning of Printing’ found in The Well-Made Book: Essays & Lectures by Danial Berkeley Updike; edited by William S. Peterson (2002):

… Thus we have suddenly arrived at the relation of the printer to his customers. Cardinal Newman speaks somewhere of the need of practicing an “economy in imparting religious truth.” This being interpreted signifies to keep back something; and has its authority in certain rather “unevangelical” passages in the New Testament, to the effect that it is at times wise to give out only as much truth as the hearer is able to bear.

[line break added] This is usually the part of wisdom in a printer’s treatment of a customer. He cannot be told everything; in fact, he can only be told (advantageously to himself) what it is good for him to know! Anglo-Saxons detest this kind of reasoning, because they say that it appears shifty and untruthful; but what they really subconsciously dislike is the principle of authority inherent in it. As a race we resent experts — though all Americans, and no doubt some English, secretly believe that they are experts themselves!

… I remember once being obliged to print, for a personage who dealt in muffins, a circular which was to show their excellence; and to this end he showed me an announcement printed in colored ink from horrid types, on brown note-paper, with a “hemstitched” perforated edge, as a model for what was to be done. This circular he had secured from the establishment of a milliner.

[line break added] His mind worked in this way: that as an expensive hat was advertised by a circular adorned with perforations, and this hat cost one hundred times more than a muffin, a circular adapted for the hat must be many times better than the ordinary method of muffin advertising! I explained that there was a suitable and even ideal way of advertising muffins as well as hats, and that to advertise a muffin as one would a hat might very likely mislead the public about its digestibility! We ended by making an advertisement which I thought pretty, and he said was extremely so, and it sold the muffins!

… It was said of Congreve that “his nice scholarship had taught him the burden of association which time had laid upon this word or that. He used the language of his own day like a master, because he was anchored securely to a knowledge of the past.”

… If you have anything in you, good or bad, you will translate it into the printed work for which you are responsible. In printing, as in literary composition, by expressing yourself (to use Raleigh’s words) you “anticipate the day of judgment and furnish the recording angel with the material.”

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

May 10, 2020

Outside the Reach of Power and Glory

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:16 am

… we have never known anything except thanks to this space.

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

… Some anonymous Greek ancestors, chased out of the market, out of the competitions and temples, excluded from the stakes, the grand discussions in the agora, expelled from the categories, must have blindly sought, in order to subsist, a space that would be everywhere absent, populated with impossible objects.

They finally laid their hands upon a place without place, the pure space of abstract rigor, upon that perfect utopia outside the world, without which knowledge would be nothing but derisory, accumulation and copy.

… If someone seeks a space or an object outside the grip of the tomb, outside the reach of power and glory, if someone seeks a place without stakes, without fetishes, without merchandise, if he seeks a utopia, you will say about him, a ridiculous searcher, that he won’t find a world that doesn’t exist, that no one has ever seen the space in which the things themselves are abstractly gathered.

And yet these anonymous Greek ancestors saw it. They saw it, and we’ve seen it through them and thanks to them. And we have never known anything except thanks to this space. And since they’re still anonymous, they’ve even been chased from posthumous glory, from apotheosis. And for having been detached even from this glory, they laid their hands upon this world that’s conditional for knowing.

And this was the birth of long-term knowledge.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Blog at WordPress.com.