Thursday, June 05, 2008


The image is that which can be seen without strain and done without effort.

Imagination turns what you see into something you can think about. It turns your feelings into something to do.


Presskorn said...


Is your concept of an image a referring noun, referring to objects or processes of some sort?

If so, is there really something mediating between "what I see" and what "I can think" (in the ordinary senses of these phrases)?
What sort of mediation or "turning into" would this be?

In fact, the transition from "I see a flower" to "I am thinking about the flower" is so strainless that I have to make an effort to see a mediation at all. Perhaps this is exactly your point?

(In their non-standard senses in which for instance "seeing" is not always "seeing-as", i.e. a sense in which "what" I see is not always seen as something, there would of course be some sort of necessary mediation. Say between raw sense data and thinking something propositional, i.e. properly intentional, about an experienced object. Mediation is necessary here, as it were, in order for the non-standard of sense of "seeing" to attain its standard sense.)

PS: In the case of turning my feeling something into my doing something, I think of the formation of an intention and not of the appearance of an image.

But surely the formation of an intention, too, is "done without effort".

Thomas Basbøll said...

Yes, I am using image as a noun, but I agree that its reference is a bit strange.

The image of the flower is not the object, i.e., the objective flower.

But the image is the "object" of the philosophical remark. It is what the philosophical remark is "about" or is trying to "represent" .... but actually, not re-present, just present. That distinction is as subtle as the idea of straining to see "that which can be seen without strain". I think that's a fair point on your part.

I think there is a motor image, or, rather, that the image can be approached motorically.

Think of it this way. My experience of the flower involves the possibility of picking it. There is a visual image, which gives me a flower to think about, and there is a motor image, which prepares me to pick the flower if I feel like it.

Note the directions:

Flower -> image -> thought

feeling -> image -> picking

In a sense (not yet a precise one), the object causes the the visual image. It is part of the objective "regularity" of the flower. But it is the subject that causes the motor image, which is part of the subjective "regulation" of the florist.

Thomas Basbøll said...

What I am saying is that an "intention", too, must have an image. (Intention must have a pangrammatical homologue on the "seeing" side: extention? Parhaps that's just a play on words, perhaps it is more.)

Laura Carter said...

I like this. Thanks for posting it.

Kirby Olson said...

I don't think you have provided a very clear definition, Thomas.

What do you think of this image?

At any rate, perhaps it gives you an opportunity to wax lyrically over the Obama Nation that so many imag-ine will be like living in a world of continuous poetry.

You will at least have to give us some examples.

Freud imagined that a dream's imagery arises from blockages in the ID caused by the SUPEREGO. he linked this to poetry and humor.

I don't know how that would fit the Obama Nation image I'm sending to throw a shoe into the assemblage.

It was supposed to hit 90 here today, but it rained, and it's cucumbery, flowers hanging out of lips like cigarettes.

Do you think that the BEAUTY of the image matters?

Must it explode like the Hindenberg, or can it creep along like a centipede?

Thomas Basbøll said...

The image is what the poet extricates from history to fashion a strophe; the image is what the philosopher extricates from the world to construct a remark.

I always think of Laura's "live" coverage of one of the Kerry/Bush debates in this regard. She made the aesthetics of the situation available to us. (Thanks, Laura.)

I often think my (pan)grammatology is a poetics of work like Laura's and Kate Greenstreet's. It is an abstraction from the plot. It is just trying to be at home.

The "politics of imagery", like its science (for philosophers), misunderstands what the image is. The image is free.

I'm not quite sure how a picture of Obama smoking should affect my thinking on this point. As always, he's lookin' sharp, no?

Kirby Olson said...

Cigarettes are very problematic. They cause cancer, and it's not very smart to smoke them. So as sharp as he looks, we have to wonder whether he is in fact a kind of cancer of political correctness.

Inside the image is a philosophy.

Obama is definitely out of the Sharper Image school of politics (unlike the dowdy McCain who is only 5'5" and can't raise one arm very high because Ho Chi Minh's hooligans broke it so many times), but I definitely appreciate your response.

Thomas Basbøll said...

I'll come back around to Obama in a later post.

Technical point: no, an image cannot contain a philosophy, nor even illustrate one. A "philosophy" is an exposition of the disposition of experience. The exposition proceeds, like poetry, as an arrangement of images. No single image can represent a philosophy.