Friday, March 09, 2007

Sensation, Appearance, Image

I think the following determinations are vaguely Kantian.

Separate from any possible representation, things impinge upon our lives as sensations.

In so far as the things are "represented" to us (in cognition) as objects, whether correctly or incorrectly, we call our relation to them appearances.

An appearance with its sensation removed is an image.

Now, such insensate images of course don't actually exist. But the image is that component of the appearance that is separate from the sensation (in fact, sensations) that occasion it.

Literature is the cultivation of imagery through the very minimal sensibility of letters.

The white page with black marks on it is all the "sensation" we are offered.

This is still not pure imagery. (To my mind, the Critique of Pure Reason fails precisely to establish the "purity" of any of the faculties convincingly.) Reading involves memory: recollected sensations.

The image is "sticky", as Kasey might say. It will always be composed in a field of (in part) sensation. And yet, each image will have its own degree of articulateness. It will occupy experience more or less clearly, i.e., it will be a better or worse product of the imagination.

Even as we acknowledge that images owe much to sensations, it is important to keep the possibility of a life of minimal imagery in mind: the complete absence of any artifice in our sensations (and thus the dissolution of the difference between a thing, a sensation and an appearance). Such a life might, of course, be fun. But it would be demonstrably illiterate; it would be inarticulate.

The next post will repeat these determinations in terms of motivations and surfaces. An image is a surface separate from its motivation.

No comments: