Tuesday, September 04, 2007


I just reread an earlier post on what might be called "the picturing of the world and the machining of history". It reveals an ambiguity in the pangrammaticon. I normally want "the image" to be in the center, between the concept and the emotion, so that the image can attach itself "freely" to either side of the divide. But in that post I seem to have pushed the image into the claws of philosophy and posited a "device" to occupy the poet.

I'm not sure that's a bad idea.

It suggests an application for the distinction between drawing and diagram as well. Philosophy patrols the conversion of images into drawings (scientific representations); poetry patrols the conversion of devices into diagrams (political representations). And, in both cases, vice versa.

Life, then, (or experience, or the "whole thing", or grammar, what-you-call-it) is the conversion of images into devices (or simply the confusion of images and devices).

Pictures are for philosophers? Machines are for poets?

Like I say, it appeals to me.


Presskorn said...

When thinking about your concept of an 'image', I've (so to speak, always) had the impression that it was a sort of (unnecessary) third intermediary, while I preferred to think of ‘images’ as a sort of necessary (but in itself insignificant) by-product of both concepts and emotions.

I should stress that this was merely a (personal) impression. But I guess my question is: If this new twist to the concept of an image sticks, are we then more in line now than before?

PS: I know that I am being too vague for you to answer properly.

Thomas Basbøll said...

I think the most precise statement I've made about (my older ideas about) the image can be found in "The History of the World".

The image is detached
from appearances,
and applied to surfaces
with equal ease.
The image is what can be done
without effort,
and seen,
without strain.
The image is easy.

On this new hypothesis, it would look like this:

The image is detached
from appearances;
the device is applied
to surfaces.
Both, with equal ease.
The device is what can be done
without effort.
The image is what can be seen
without strain.
The image is easy.
So is the device.

You just glance at it.
You push the button.

It is important here to keep in mind that neither the detachment of the image nor the application of the device will necessarily work. The point is that "operating" the device demands an insignificant amount of effort compared to the results it can achieve (if it works). ("Operating an image" would be the wrong phrase. I can't think of the correct pangrammatical homologue of "operating a device".)

The role of the image (originally) or image/device (hypothetically) has to be to offer a "free" experience, i.e., a way of engaging with our experiences in an unconstrained way. We must be (absolutely) able to take them or leave them. Note that you can't just take or leave your perceptions and your actions, nor your sensations and motivations. You're to an important extent "stuck" with them. Images and devices are different in exactly that regard. (Just as intuitions and institutions are different exactly in regard to their immediacy.)

Looking for that older statement, I also found a post on "apparatus" and "machination". There might be something there.