*the ‘frozen’,… —as opposition to the turbulence of movement. … —on the origins *(—the… precipitation) of the ‘mirror stage’. …

– LACAN & (THE QUESTION OF) THE “REAL” –
*(—a reading group).

Why Lacan & why the real… —? —Introduction to the reading group.

Introduction to Lacan: notes from a lecture.

Outline of a reading of ‘The Mirror Stage’.

Mirror Stage I.—the infant, the mirror, & the nature of the image.

Mirror Stage II.—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (i).)

Mirror Stage II.—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (ii).): Nietzsche on the intellect, language, the ‘I’ as fiction, and ‘intuition’.

Mirror Stage II.—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (iii).): the Undivided Continuity of States. —‘analysis’, ‘duration’ & ‘intuition’ in Bergson.

Mirror Stage II.—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (iv).): language, ‘intuition’ & flux in Nietzsche & Bergson, & the fiction of the ‘I’ in Lacan.

 

*the ‘frozen’,… —as opposition to the turbulence of movement.
(—on the origins *(—the… precipitation) of the ‘mirror stage’). …

[…] *freezes it and in a symmetry that reverses it, in opposition to the *|turbulent movements| with which the subject feels he *animates it.
*(Lacan, ‘The Mirror Stage’, 76).

 

The desire for identity, I have argued, is spurred by a more primary (so to) desire,… —a need,… —an unrealistic and (ultimately-finally) unrealisable hope,—for fixity *(—stasis). …

 

 

*—‘freezing’ turbulent’ movements (repress) beneath apparent… discretion of the form—the ‘contour’—of the ‘I’

 

*… —The mirror stage represents an attempt to wrest (the fiction of a) fixity-stasis (—peace and security) from the chaos of an underlying flux of movements of and within the subject (—psychological and bodily), and in(-within) its environment (surrounds-environs).

 

 

*It’s possible, then, to read (—to give an account-a reading, here, of) the origins of the ‘mirror stage’.

 

 

—In laying out this reading-account of the origins, and of the structure of the mirror stage,… I want to draw, in particular, on a key idea from the work of the Modernist critic, poet, and aesthete T.E. Hulme,… —an idea which he himself adopts(-appropriates) from the work of Wilhelm Worringer: …

 

*… —I want to examine the origins of the ‘mirror stage’—in-as a response to, following Hulme and Worringer, I’ll characterise here as

 

*—‘space fear’.

 

 

*(—I’ll adapt-be adapting here, some material from my doctoral thesis, as well as some material which I wrote (from the point-of-view (so to) of my protagonist) for my first novel: Notes of a Vanishing Quantity *(—which I’m still trying, and failing, to publish, and which my thesis and its adaptation in this blog, are intended as a kind of a… companion piece), and which I earlier adapted for the blog of an ‘early C20th political writing’ reading group of which I was a part, under the title of: towards an Ethics of Friendship. …

 

*—The material from ‘Ethics’…  places my own spin on ‘space fear’,… reading it (implicitly-by implication) with, or in terms of Nietzsche, Bergson, and Hulme on language and flux, and Nietzsche’s later doctrine of the ‘will to power’ *(—for my reading of the ‘will to power’, see elsewhere on this blog).

 

 

 

on the ‘geometric’. …
*—agoraphobia. 
—at the root (—the necessity) of art in Hulme & Worringer. …

In his account of artistic inspiration in the later ‘Modern Art and Its Philosophy’ (—a lecture to the Quest Society, London, 22nd January 1914), Modernist poet and art critic T.E. Hulme appropriates Wilhelm Worringer’s concept of ‘space-shyness’… —

The fear I mean here is mental, however, not physical […] *a kind of space-shynessin the face of the varied confusion and arbitrariness of existence. In art this state of mind results in *a desire to create a certain *|abstract geometrical shape|, which, being durable and permanent shall be a refuge from the *flux and impermanence of *outside nature.

[…]

In the reproduction of natural objects there is an attempt to *purify them of their characteristically living qualities in order to make them necessary and immovable. *The changing is translated into something fixed and necessary.

*(—in T.E, Hulme, Speculations: Essays on Humanism and the Philosophy of Art, ed. Herbert Read, with a Frontispiece and Foreword by Jacob Epstein (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd.; 1924)86)

 

For Hulme, in contrast to ‘vital’ art, which is inspired by a ‘delight in the forms of nature’,… —artistic inspiration in ‘geometric’ art *(—functioning here as a kind of pseudonym, I’d argue, for Hulme’s own conception of ‘classical’ art, which I won’t go into here… ) stems from a state of fear of the confused and arbitrary—the inchoate—flux of the phenomena of ‘outside nature’. …

 

*—This… ‘space-fear’ gives birth to a desire to imbue the flux of external phenomena with a static form, or ‘shape’.

 

Just as ‘vital’ art, for Hulme, ‘geometric’ art still aims at the reproduction of natural objects. …

 

However,… *—in ‘geometric’ art this reproduction aims to ‘purify’ phenomena, sloughing off all that is contingent in them, and drawing out all that is ‘necessary’, imbuing them with permanence and redeeming experience from its contingency.

 

Hulme’s terms are a verbatim repetition of those of Worringer. …

*—In a passage which I love… —I think it’s stunningly astute, and uncannily accurate, on the psychology of the motivation to write—to attempt to create art… —Worringer identifies ‘an immense spiritual dread of space’ at *‘the root of artistic creation’ in what he calls ‘the urge to abstraction’.

*(—Wilhelm Worringer, Abstraction and Empathy: A Contribution to the Psychology of Style, trans. Michael Bullock [London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, Ltd., 1953],—15)… —

[It is] because he [the artist of ‘abstraction’/—the abstract artist… ] stands so lost and spiritually helpless *amidst |the things of the external world|, because he experiences only obscurity and caprice in the inter-connection and flux of the phenomena of the external world, that the *urge is strong in him to *divest the things of the external world of their caprice and obscurity in the world-picture and to *impart to them a value of necessity and value of regularity. *(—18)

Worringer distinguishes this ‘fear’ in the *‘urge to abstraction’ from the *‘urge to empathy’, which, he argues, represents— *‘a happy pantheistic relationship of confidence between man and the phenomena of the external world.’ (15)

 

(hmm). …

 

 

Hulme first refers to this ‘fear’ (—agoraphobic) in ‘A Lecture on Modern Poetry’ (—c.1908). …

 

In this earlier piece, however, he relegates it to the sole possession of the ‘ancients’ and distinguishes the relativity and rejection of ‘absolute truth’ characteristic of the ‘modern spirit’. (—see T.E. Hulme: Selected Writings, ed., Patrick McGuinness, (Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1998), 59-67 [62-63])

 

—It’s not until the later piece that he fully incorporates Worringer’s conception of ‘space-fear’ into his own definition of the ‘classical’ and modern art.

*(—see Helen Carr ‘T.E. Hulme and the “Spiritual Dread of Space”’ in Edward P. Comentale and Andrzej Gasiorck, ed., T.E. Hulme and the Question of Modernism [—Aldershot, Burlington: Ashgate, 2006,—93-112 *[—esp. 103]). …

 

 

*… —to retrieve (redeem)—to save—experience, then,… —from the sense of its being inessential and lost.—without meaning or (necessary) consequence.

 

—without purpose or import.

 

—arbitrary, floating and haphazard.

 

*—infinitely replaceable.

(—nothing substantial, nothing essential, nothing that stands). …

 

—to redeem experience from the overwhelming mass—the flux—of forces (—events, possibilities, obligations-demands, desires, anxieties…), uncontrollable and vast.

(—a resentment of…).

 

—agoraphobia…

 

space-fear.

 

Hulme appropriates what he sees-defines as Worringer’s insight into what lies at the very *root of art. …

 

*—‘abstraction’.

 

—that, at ‘the root of artistic creation’, lies ‘an immense spiritual dread of space’.

(against, what Worringer calls, the ‘urge to empathy’: that ‘happy pantheistic relationship of confidence between man and the phenomena of the external world’.)

 

—gives rise (birth) to the (artistic) ‘urge to abstraction’:

Hulme-Worringer (CLUSTER)

 

—the fear of the (apparent) vastness of space (paradoxical as it might nonetheless seem) is in fact revealed as a fear-resentment of (life’s)smallness.

 

—to be overwhelmed in the face of the vastness—the vast expanse of forces (felt) in the external world, that run counter to the will—to the willed

(would will, if could.).

 

agoraphobic.

 

fear.—of an incapacity to control.—a resentment of the smallness of the lived.

(frustration the incapacity to exceed the limits of circumstance circumscribed, and realise the potential-desired, felt).

 

to be caught (inescapably) in-within the smallness of what must be lived (circumstance) at the cost of the all-else that could (—that ought?) to be lived.

 

—to fix the lived (—the impression) in a fixed form. in a form which makes (which renders) it necessary.

 

—to record the impression—atomically (—faithfully).find (to use) the precise—exact—words.

 

—qualification.

 

qualification of (the expression of) the impression.—precision-accuracy

(full—complete—honesty/accuracy.—as honest as can). …

 

—and slough off the inessential

 

to fix the core of the experience and render it sharp, hard and precise (‘geometric’).—to give it a shape.

 

make the lived necessary.—by virtue of its being a form

(existence—having existed-lived—become necessary to the creation of the form and become necessary through its own embodiment within—imbued with—the form).

 

 

to redeem (to show—to reveal—the already redemption of) the lived, in-by recognition.—of the work (—the image).—of the attempt to articulate the intuition.

 

recognition (approbation?).—to be recognised.

 

need.—to have the sense of an intuition recognised.

 

something worthy of being communicated (—set down).

 

recognition of the need (the compulsion) to set it down.

 

to create a solid, stable object that demonstrates the necessity of experience. makes experience-the lived necessary to itself,—to its own creation.

 

a yearning (—an ache) to realise and to communicate and to have that feeling-sense be recognised (and be shared-requited).

 

to be recognised as self in another-others and reflected.

 

to be known (and to be loved).

 

in-between space-fear, then, and the desire (the need) for recognition

 

—language.—flux.
—the fiction of the ‘thing’(—the ‘self’). …

an art of reading. …

 

—of the structure (—the shape) of the impression-impressions.

 

… —of the forces.—physical: movements, pressures.—of the senses: light, colour, touch, smell, sound… —of the emotional.—of connections in-of memorial-remembered (memories—conjured up, so to).

 

—of the competing impulses of which the impression is comprised-composed.—their arrangement, their relation to one another and their (relativeprominence.

 

in any given moment.

 

—all urges. drives. impulses.

 

and all compete (struggle) for balance, for clarity, for order,for dominance.

 

and the balance-order, at any one given moment, is what decides what am (to be).

 

—the ‘self’.

 

 

*—the ‘self’ (the… sense of ‘self’), then, as a fiction. …

 

—the result (the end) of a process of struggle (negotiation) of—between—drives and forces.

 

—the name (retrospective)-naming, thus, of the arrangement—the hierarchy—of forces.

 

in (within) an organism.

 

an imposition of language

 

imposed on flux

 

—a multiplicity of forces (of sub-wills).

 

projection.—a fiction of unity projected onto the flux of forces.

 

—language (linguistic).

 

—the origin and the history of a ‘thing’ (of any given thing): first, a projection—projecting back name—onto an arrangement-heirarchy of forces.

 

and second—a forgetting of (that act of) projection (that act of creation).

 

the name—the forged thing—taken to be (thereal.

(because—for Nietzsche, following Kant… —all that we can have access to and thus have knowledge of are the objects of everyday experience. because we cannot think outside the limits of our senses, we take those objects of experience to be real—in-themselves. … ).

 

any ‘thing’ in existence, then, has (must have)—come about

 

—as the result of a continuing process of naming (—names).

 

—a continual (continued,—continuing) process of being (having beeninterpreted.

 

—from the retrospective imposition of a unity (—of unities) upon the flux that flows always (anywaybeneath.

(—beneath the names).

 

upon the flux of forces.

 

—upon a (any given) quantum of reality

 

—always being appropriated and (re-)transformed…

 

—continually being undone and remade (—re-named).—re-forged

 

appropriated by (—linguistic) forces. overpowered.

 

—from without.

 

—the history, then, of any (given) ‘thing’, then, is a chain of signs (of names, of naming…).

 

always unfolding.

 

—a history, then, of *interpretations….

 

*—of adaptations. …

 

not (no, never) a progress-thus progressive.

(—no ‘goal’,—no ‘end’).

 

only ever a series (—a succession) of—mutually independent—processes.

 

—of appropriation.

 

of adaptation. …

 

exacted on the (given) quantum of reality.

(—of resistances, then, and of overpowerings).

 

 

*… —the form and the meaning of a ‘thing’ (—of any given thing), then, is fluid (always)

 

as in the process of the formation of language.

 

first: the stimulus of sense-sense-stimulus.

(a sight, a sound, a scent.—an impression)…

 

transposed-translated into a word (—sound).—from a need (felt) to discharge the (physical-physiological,—psychological) reaction to the stimulus.

(the word as a metaphor—as first metaphor—for the stimulus felt).

 

when many such similar impressions are yoked together (—grouped), under the aegis of a single word, that word becomes a concept.

 

—a name for a group—a cluster—of experiences (impressions), which serves to yoke them all together according to the similarities that they share.

(and must overlook—must elide—all the differences between them.

 

—crude (unsubtle)…).

 

the concept.—second metaphor.

(at two removes, then, from the sense-stimulus which gives birth-rise to it).

 

—the formation of the concept of the ‘leaf’…

 

—formed by discarding the differences between all (of those) individual leaves.

(—awakens the idea that, in addition to all those individual, incompatible, leaves, there exists—in nature (somehow, somewhere)—some ür,—some ideal ‘leaf’,—from which, in some way-fashion, all those other leaves,—descend

 

the (Platonic) Idea(-Form). …).

 

—‘analysis’ (—to borrow ol’ Bergson’s term). …

 

*—breaks down—fragments—its subject (—the flux) into parts-thus elements (—‘things’).—all made to participate with other fragmented elements in-under—pre-existing—concepts.

 

the break down (—breaking down) of-in-within ‘analysis’… *—art (after a fashion). …

 

 

—in the forgetting of that (act of) art (—creation)—the (mistaken) taking of the fragment-‘thing’ as-for a thing-in-itself (—as-for the real. ).

 

—the ‘self’, then.—a word. …

(—a name.—an ideal thus.—impossible to hold to,—impossible to attain identity with.—thrust upon on, thus,  from without,—in linguistic…).

 

fiction.

 

beneath the veneer, then, of (supposéd) ‘things’ (—of what we come to think of, then, as ‘experience’).—beneath the membrane (the skein) of artificial fragmented atoms—of ‘things’ in-of conceptual space, and of ‘moments’ in conceptual time—there subsists a foundation (—a substrate) of undifferentiated ‘states’.

 

—the flux of an undivided continuity of ‘states’.

 

—apparently mutually exclusive and autonomous, these ‘states’ thus nonetheless interpenetrate, enfolding (down, within themselves) all the states which led-up-to (preceded) their emergence, and, again, unfolding, ineluctably, into all those states which are to (must) follow (in the future yet). …

 

—forming, then, (justone reality, nonetheless, however paradoxical it may seem, comprised of this continual flux of successive ‘states’.

 

after a time, through habitual use (—familiarity)—convention—the concept (concepts) become empty—flat and stale—and elide (ignore) the details and the variations (—the engine of the difference) between things.

 

—no longer maintain any connection to the sense-stimulus from which they originally evolved-arose (no use value any more.—no connection to the quanta they were born to name—to which they, in effect, gave birth).

 

 

—clichés.

 

*on Lacan, then, & ‘space fear’ (—the ‘geometric’ … ). …

*Before the establishment of relations-relationships between the subject (—through the ego = “I”) and-to a world of discrete ‘things’… … *—the (‘Nietzschean’-‘Bergsonian’, so to) flux—of an undivided continuity of ‘states’. …

 

—In the face of which—in response to which—the subject feels (of necessity), then,—overwhelmed… —imperilled (threatened). …

 

—experiences *‘space fear’ (agoraphobic). …

[The abstract artist/artist of ‘abstraction’… ] experiences only obscurity and caprice in the inter-connection and flux of the phenomena of the external world, that the *urge is strong in him to *divest the things of the external world of their caprice and obscurity in the world-picture and to *impart to them a value of necessity and value of regularity. (Worringer, Abstraction and Empathy,—18)

 

—In response to ‘space fear’ (—agoraphobia)… *(… —no way to engage with-to relate to ‘outside nature’. … —no way to defend against-fend off the peril in-of chaotic flux), then,… —a necessity (felt)—an *urge—… to impart discretion upon the otherwise fearful, inchoate flux. …

 

*—the imposition of language. …

 

… —selection. … the selective culling of forces, impulses,… of—detail, from flux: highlighting—bounding round, with (an only ever apparent) contour, of some,… —the  elision or suppression of others. …

*—the creation of the fiction—the artistic projection—of ‘thinghood’ *(so to—in space, and in-of time),…

 

*—the creation of the fiction of the ‘I’. …

 

*—the divestiture of caprice, and the imparting of discretion (stasis). …

 

 

*Lacan,… and the ‘frozen’ (—‘freezes’) as opposition to ‘tubulent movements’ *(—the turbulent movements in-of the flux of the organism. … ).

 

 

—that which underpins (so to) and precipitates ‘the mirror stage’—

 

…—a… response

 

—an attempted ‘geometric’ (—the form-formal outline—contour—of the image of the body… —appropriated in-to (the artistic fictional projection of) the “I”) remedy for, the desire-need (felt) for fixity-stasis,…

 

*—the-a fear (—agoraphobic) of space, and of flux. …

 

 

*The ‘mirror stage’, then, as—the appropriation, or the… pulling, of the non-/pre-egoistic subject (so to—sic?) into extant (pre-existing) orders/structures (—the legislation, in early-Nietzschean terms) of language.

 

*as *(—the formation of)— *the I that says “I”. …

 

*—the ‘ideal I’.

 

 

I want to move on now, then,—to examine the nature of that ‘ideal’ (there) in more detail, and the way in which (I think) it can provide a hook into thinking about the *‘real’… —ontology in Lacan *(—Lacan’s ‘ontology’ … ), and can serve to qualify some of the ideas I developed in my readings of Nietzsche and Bergson on language and the nature of flux. …

 

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*towards a reading of Lacan’s ‘The Mirror Stage’. … —PART II. on ‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’: the Undivided Continuity of States. —‘analysis’, ‘duration’ & ‘intuition’ in Bergson. …

– LACAN & (THE QUESTION OF) THE “REAL” –
*(—a reading group).

Why Lacan & why the real… —? —Introduction to the reading group.

Introduction to Lacan: notes from a lecture.

Outline of a reading of ‘The Mirror Stage’.

Mirror Stage I.—the infant, the mirror, & the nature of the image.

Mirror Stage II.—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (i).)

Mirror Stage II..—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (ii).): Nietzsche on the intellect, language, the ‘I’ as fiction, and ‘intuition’.

 

*(—the following is taken from: ‘On the Undivided Continuity of States. … —on the “primal unity” &(/as)—“duration”.’ … ).

 

 

 

*the Undivided Continuity of States.
—‘analysis’, ‘duration’, & ‘intuition’ in Bergson. … 

*In An Introduction to Metaphysics (of 1903), Henri Bergson offers a clear, concise, and apt summary of the distinction between ‘analysis’ (—the conceptual) and ‘intuition’, which he had established in his earlier works (Time and Free Will,—Matter and Memory, (etc.)…)…—

By intuition is meant the kind of intellectual sympathy by which one places oneself within an object in order to coincide with what is unique in it and consequently inexpressible. Analysis, on the contrary, is the operation which reduces the object to elements already known, that is, to elements common both to it and other objects.

*(—Henri Bergson, An Introduction to Metaphysics, trans. T.E. Hulme (Cambridge: Hackett, 1999),—23-24).

 

So,…

 

—‘analysis,’ Bergson argues, breaks its object down into parts (—‘elements’) corresponding to pre-existing concepts in which it participates (is made to participate) with other objects. …

 

*—it strikes me that these terms very closely echo—perhaps in a way not dwelt upon (certainly at any length in extant work on the similarities or parallels between Nietzsche and Bergson—Nietzsche’s critique of language, the intellect, and the conceptual in ‘On Truth’, and, in particular here, Nietzsche’s critique of the formation of the ‘Platonic’ concept of the ‘leaf’, which was formed, he argued, by discarding the differences between individual leaves: the awakening of the ‘idea’ that, ‘in addition to the leaves’, there exists in ‘nature’—‘the leaf’.’ (‘OTL’, 117.—see pervious. … ).

 

—(the process of) ‘analysis’, then, reduces the thing (—its object) to these constituent elements and to their conceptual correspondences.

 

 

—by contrast, Bergson wishes to promote the method of ‘intuition,’ which—*as it did for Nietzsche in ‘On Truth’—aims to shatter the reduction of its object to pre-existing conceptual prejudices, and to place the observer back into (in closer proximity to) an original state of disinterested, non-conceptual receptivity *(—‘intellectual sympathy’). …

 

… *—beneath the hardened veneer of the fragmented and atomised spatio-temporal realm of the concepts—the ‘crust solidified on the surface’ of experience (—cf. Bergson, IM, 25)—Bergson identifies ‘one reality […] which we all seize from within, by intuition and not simply by analysis. It is our own personality in its flowing through time—our self which endures.’ (24) …

 

*—Beneath the artificially differentiated, atomistic experience of things in conceptual space, and of moments in conceptual time, Bergson argues, subsists a foundation of undifferentiated states which he calls *‘duration’ (—durée)…

beneath these sharply cut crystals and this frozen surface, a continuous flux which is not comparable to any flux I have ever seen. There is a succession of states, each of which announces that which follows and contains that which precedes it. (25)

 

*—Duration, then, constitutes ‘one reality’,—seemingly paradoxically comprised of a continual flux of successive ‘states’.

 

 

*—We are originally made aware of this flux, according to Bergson, through our consciousness of our own personality (—internal intuition) and (then, subsequently) extend the principle to the outer phenomena of perception (—external intuition).

 

—apparently autonomous, these… states nonetheless interpenetrate, containing all those states which precede them and unfolding ineluctably into all those which are to follow.

 

The ‘states’ of duration constitute neither a simple multiplicity, nor a simple unity, but, ‘instead of being distinct, as they are in any other [comparable form of] multiplicity, encroach upon one another.’ (30)—They constitute ‘a continuity of elements which prolong themselves into one another’, a continuity which ‘participates in unity as much as in multiplicity; but this moving, changing, colored, living unity has hardly anything in common with the abstract, motionless, and empty unity which the concept of pure unity circumscribes.’(30-31.—Cf. Bergson, Creative Evolution, trans. Arthur Mitchell [New York: Dover Publications Inc., 1998],—1-7. … )

 

*—the flux of duration represents an undivided continuity of states’. …

 

 

*—It’s the undivided continuity of this flux which the concepts rend asunder through the what Bergson (again,—with echoes of Nietzsche) characterises as the *imposition of—artistically projected—individuated forms … —

Pure intuition, external or internal, is that of an undivided continuity. We break up this continuity in the one case to distinct words, in the other to independent objects. But, just because we have thus broken the unity of our original intuition, we feel ourselves obliged to establish between the served terms a bond which can only be external and superadded.

*(—Bergson, Matter and Memory, trans. Nancy Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer [London: Swan Sonnenchein & Co., Ltd, 1911],—239)

 

—The concepts are generated through the formation and (importantly) the false hypostatisation of words *(… —an echo of Nietzsche’s account of the formation of language in ‘On Truth’), and of independent (that is —apparently discrete) objects. …

 

*—Once fragmented, for any form of discourse to be possible, it becomes necessary, Bergson argues, to artificially form bonds between these—severed entities. …

 

—and this, ultimately, is the role (—the purpose-goal) of ‘analysis’. … (—cf. CE, 4)

 

*(and, again,… —I think that this is significant for my current reading of Lacan’s ‘mirror stage’. …)

*—For Bergson, these bonds, whatever their use value (for language and for action), can in no way afford access to the underlying flux, but are, and must remain, external epiphenomena. …

*(and, again,… —this echoes Nietzsche’s critique of the conceptual quasi-Platonic prostheses to experience in-of the ‘On Truth’ essay. … ).

 

[…]

 

*(—for my attempt to elaborate my reading of Bergson on time & flux, through a reading of ‘The Slow Mo Guys’ slow motion videos, see the original blog post. … ).

 

*… —the shattering of these prejudices-conceptual (—of habit-inertia)… —is what, for Bergson, as it had been for Nietzsche, is at stake in ‘intuition’ (—vs. the concepts of the intellect)—as method. …

 

 

*on ‘intuition’, then,—as method. …

 

*Bertrand Russell very beautifully summarises what he (rightly.—why not?) calls Bergson’s ‘ingenious’ conception of the intellect and his conceptions of ‘matter’ and of ‘time’. …

Intelligence or intellect, “as it leaves the hands of nature, has for its chief object the inorganic solid”; it can only form a clear idea of the discontinuous and immobile; its concepts are outside each other like objects in space, and have the same stability. The intellect separates in space and fixes in time; it is not made to think evolution, but to represent becoming as a series of states [. …] Solid bodies, it would seem, are something which mind has created on purpose to apply the intellect to them.

[…]

The genesis of intellect and the genesis of material bodies, we are told, are correlative; both have been developed by reciprocal adaptation. “An identical process must have cut out matter and the intellect, at the same time, from a stuff that contained both.”

*(—Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy [London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1961],—758).

 

*—‘matter’, then (—so-called)—as a product-creation of the intellect—as that which falls away from duration—from-through its own inertia.

*(… —frozen-carved (away.—‘Solid bodies’) from duration, in order that the intellect—that the subject (as subject) be able to function at all…).

 

*(and this is the same for good ol’ Fritz, I think. …

 

*—‘matter’,—the subject (—the ‘I’-the ‘self’),—the body (as whole-discrete)… (again)—creations of the intellect—as all that which falls away (so to) from flux. …).

 

indeed.

 

 

*though, to my mind, he offers what is still by far one of the most sharp and clear readings of Bergson, Russell, I think, is mistaken in the charges of ‘irrationalism’ and the anti-intellectualism, which he lays against him. …

*(—see Russell, 756 and 762, respectively… ).

 

 

Russell is too dismissive and too reductive. …

 

—I think Russell’s charge of ‘irrationalism’ represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the terms of Bergson’s critique of the intellect, but in a way which is actually genuinely useful to me here and illuminating for my reading of Nietzsche…

 

 

*for Bergson, as for Nietzsche… —we are (all of us) trapped in language. …

 

—locked. in (within) the inadequacies—the limits—of language…

 

*—of the fragments (of things) in space,… —in the atoms (in-)of ‘time. …

 

—for both, there can be no —complacency in (with regard to) language. …

 

—there must, for both, by contrast, be always a (fundamental) wariness-mistrust

*(—of the ability-capacity to ever truly say (have said) anything).

 

 

—no,… sitting still in the arbitrary, illusory, inadequate and ineluctably failing quanta (in-) of language. …

 

language.—as something entered into,… —not (never) as something possessed. …

(—something (sic) thrust into (into which, then, we are thrust). unavoidably.—in-volun-tarily but—necessarily. …). …

 

‘analysis’ (—the intellect) rends asunder the flux of the continuity of ‘states’.

 

*—just as for Nietzsche, in his account of the origins of language in ‘On Truth’, for Bergson language emerges as a process of metaphorical transposition:

*—from the original (sense) stimulus, through the word (—the sound), in-to the abstract concept. …

 

 

*—Modernist poet and critic T.E. Hulme, in his essays-articles on Bergson’s philosophy, argues that these metaphors ‘soon run their course and die. But it is necessary to remember that when they were first used by the poets who created them they were used for the purpose of conveying over a vividly felt actual sensation.’

*(—T.E. Hulme, ‘Bergson’s Theory of Art,’ in Speculations: Essays on Humanism and the Philosophy of Art, ed. Herbert Read, with a Frontispiece and Foreword by Jacob Epstein [London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., 1924],—141-169 [151] ).

 

 

Just as for Nietzsche, for Hulme (—following Bergson… )—language originally emerges from a need to articulate a vividly felt sensible stimulus—an internal or external ‘intuition’.

 

 

*—When this initial stimulus and artistic projection have passed, the metaphor (the word) can then, itself pass into popular usage (—becomes, then, a concept). …

 

—It becomes hypostatised and its artistic origins are forgotten. …

 

—The metaphor reaches the end of its capacity to articulate the ‘vividly felt actual sensation’ and becomes a mere ‘counter’,—akin to the pieces in a game of chequers, to be manipulated (‘moved about’) according to the demands of practical utility.

*(—Cf. Hulme, ‘Bergson’s Theory of Art,’ 151-152, 159-162, 165-166 and ‘The Philosophy of Intensive Manifolds,’ 176. … —The metaphor is also crucial to the notes gathered together under the title of ‘Cinders’,—215-245).

 

*For Bergson, the aim of intuition as method is to ‘recover [the] contact with the real,’ severed in the formation of concepts and of ‘analysis,’ and to ‘restore intuition to its original purity’.

*(—Matter and Memory, 241. Cf. Gille Deleuze, Bergsonism, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam [New York: Zone Books, 1988], 13-35 (—esp. 14), and Suzanne Guerlac, Thinking in Time: An Introduction to Henri Bergson [Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006], 63-64:

‘This is what Bergson is trying to do: to bring to philosophical awareness what has been absolutely repressed by thought and is structurally inaccessible to it’. (—63) ).

 

 

*—Echoing Nietzsche’s claim for the necessity of the redemption of the intellect through ‘forbidden metaphors and in unheard-of combinations of concepts’ in ‘On Truth,’… Bergson argues that intuition is ‘only truly itself when it goes beyond the concept, or at least when it frees itself from rigid and ready-made concepts in order to create a kind very different from those which we habitually use.’ (—Bergson, Introduction to Metaphysics,—30)

 

The aim of intuition, then, is, by an ‘effort,’ to break through the artificial surface of the conceptual and regain the undivided continuity of flux (—duration), and what Bergson dubs ‘the intention of life’: … —‘the simple movement that runs through the lines, that binds them together and gives them significance.’

*(— Creative Evolution,—176-177. Cf. Introduction to Metaphysics,—21-22 and Hulme, ‘Bergson’s Theory of Art,’—144, where the passage is reproduced verbatim… ).

 

*Bergson, and Hulme following him, dub this the *‘aesthetic intuition’, and both view art as the paragon of the attempt to lacerate the conceptual and to bring back new forms (new language, new metaphors, new images and new concepts) from the flux of duration—an (ironic) re-birth and appropriation of the intellect

 

*importantly, then… —rather than a form of straightforward ‘irrationalism’ or anti-intellectualism, as Russell’s reading would suggest—intuition, then, *(as method) represents an attempt (perhaps invariably ill-fated.—inevitably fails-failing), to appropriate the process of the formation of language and the concepts—the intellect (—‘analysis’).—from in-within. *—in the laceration and return. —and to revivify. …

*(—to revivify language—the concepts of the intellect—and to turn to account. …): …

 

*—‘This intention is just what the artist tries to regain in placing himself back within the object by a kind of sympathy and breaking down by an effort of intuition the barrier that space puts between him and his model.’

*(—Creative Evolution,—177.—Cf. Hulme, 144. Hulme goes on to refer to the artist’s shattering of the conceptual and experience of flux as the ‘essentially aesthetic emotion’ [145]. Cf. also 149-150 and 161-162).

 

 

*’image’. ‘complex’. ‘VORTEX’. part (ii): *the image,… —the fragment. …

*(… —follows on from *‘the image.—vs. Platonic ressentiment’, ‘—toward a disruptive, anti-transcendental “classicism”’, *‘the “classical”.—vs. the “romantic” (in Joyce, Nietzsche, and Hulme.)’, and *‘“image”. “complex”. “VORTEX” (i): the exact word.’).

 

—As I wrote in the nervous and slightly rambling introductory comments to my last post, … I’ve had (I’ve felt) a great deal of difficulty in revising and restructuring this portion of what I want to in-with this blog project. … —I still have a vague anxiety over the quality and depth of my engagement with Pound and the Imagists here, and the… justice I feel I’m not really doing to the material. …

 

—What follows here is new material: pieced together from notes and from excised-discarded fragments of proposed chapters and portions of my doctoral thesis. …

 

*—It’s an attempt to read Imagist poetry, in light of my reading of the key philosophical and aesthetic claims of their ‘manifestoes’ and against what I see as the prevailing tendency amongst critics and Modernist scholars to dismiss the poetic output of the Imagists as a disappointment, when weighed against the force and potential of their creed. …

 

So then, …

 

*the image,… —the fragment. …

 

 

*I want to move on now to take a few examples from the Imagist canon (so to).

 

 

*The most obvious… move here would be (I feel) to take the tried and tested route (so to) of, first, reading Pound’s ‘A Station of the Metro’—by far the most famous and instantly recognisable of the Imagist poems, and then to move on to take examples from H.D.’s work (—for example, ‘Oread’)—again, one of the most famous and widely acknowledged and quoted of the participants in Imagism, and examples of Imagist poems.

 

 

*Instead, I’ll take two poems from John Gould Fletcher, and one from Amy Lowell, in order to examine the execution of the aesthetic demands-dicta of the manifesto(es)… and, in particular (especially), their relationship to *the form of the fragment. …

 

 

John Gould Fletcher

The Skaters

To A.D.R.

Black swallows swooping or gliding

In a flurry of entangled loops and curves;

The skaters skim over the frozen river.

And the grinding click of their skates as they

     impinge upon the surface,

Is like the brushing together of thin wing-tips

     of silver.

*(S.I.P. 1916; I.P., 70).

 

 

*—I want to draw attention first to the stasis, isolation and the—detachment of the poetic ‘voice’ or ‘person’, created here,… —a voice nonetheless implicated to be present in-to the scene. …

 

The poem presents a simple scene: a voice, seemingly detached from and observing the scene, simply indicates the detail of black swallows flying over a group of skaters, skating over a stretch of frozen river.

 

*—‘Skaters’ is marked by an exclusive focus on the (‘objective’) detail of scene *(that is,… —a scene evoked precisely through this focus on detail… ), without obvious (ostentatious) reflection. … —no description, allusion, or reaching for significance,… *—merely (so to) a kind of staged transposition. …

 

*The poem is… spartan. … —There is a cleanliness and concision to the presentation of the cold,… —empty(?), quiet pathos of the scene (—a spare-ness, so to, of economy).

 

The observation and description are simple, definite, and atomic, and yet not without rhythm:… ‘Black swallows’. … —they are simply that: black.—There is nothing more here to them,… —they are merely a part of a scene, or view (—a detail). …

 

… —Strangely and beautifully cleanly geometric—angular—and static (staid, cool, reserved), even in its description of movement. … *—an impression of (made by) movement: ‘swooping’, ‘gliding’, ‘skim’… *—‘loops and curves’.

 

There is a sort of sharp, clean staccato (—onomatopoeic) to the transposition of sound (sense): ‘grinding click’, and, again, a solid geometry: *‘impinge – upon – the – surface’. …

 

And, again,… —the attempt at an exact transposition of the impression of the… sharp,—thin, and slight … powdery and rasping (fibrous?) sound of metallic contact, that sparks off the (admittedly perhaps somewhat precious) simile-image of the brushing silver wing-tips.

 

 

*(—From Irradiations: Sand and Spray [Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1915])…

VII

Flickering of incessant rain

On flashing pavements:

Sudden scurry of umbrellas:

Bending, recurved blossoms of the storm.

[…]

And the rustling of innumerable translucent leaves

(I.P., 72).

 

 

*Again, …

 

The scene (so to) of the poem here is the simple capturing of mundane everyday moment,— from the perspective or location of an isolated poetic ‘voice’, in a position or, perhaps (rather) a—demeanour of (cool, reserved) detachment, and yet nonetheless implicated to be in, or to be present to-for the scene.

 

And what is presented is simply the (sensuous) details of the scene …

 

*—The sense-impression(s) of the rain: … —its ‘flickering’,

 

… —the (intermittently) shining reflective surface *(and, again, for Gould Fletcher, there is an emphasis on the solid geometry of surface here … )… —that strange illusory quality of seeming depth (of the reflected space above) and seeming translucence—created on the (damp) stone of the pavements by reflected light.

 

—The slightly hurried (and again, almost onomatopoeic description of the) movements of pedestrians: *‘Sudden scurry’. …

 

And, finally, the umbrellas,… —seemingly tilting into (—against) the incessant rain, which evokes (for the poetic voice) the image of the ‘Bending, recurved blossoms’ in a storm. …

 

Amy Lowell

Spring Day

(extract)

Midday and Afternoon

Swirl of crowded streets. Shock and recoil of traffic. The stock-still brick façade of an old church, against which the waves of people lurch and withdraw. Flare of sunshine down side-streets. Eddies of light in the windows of chemists’ shops, with their blue, gold, purple jars, darting colours far into the crowd. Loud bangs and tremors, murmurings out of high windows, whirling of machine belts, blurring of horses and motors. A quick spin and shudder of brakes on an electric car, and the jar of a church bell knocking against the metal blue of the sky. I am a piece of the town, a bit of blown dust, thrust along with the crowd. Proud to feel the pavement under me, reeling with feet. Feet tripping, skipping, lagging dragging, plodding doggedly, or springing up and advancing on firm elastic insteps. A boy is selling papers, I smell them clean and new from the press. They are fresh like the air, and pungent as tulips and narcissus.

   The blue sky pales to lemon, and great tongues of gold blind the shop-windows putting out their contents in a flood of flame.

*(S.I.P. 1916; I.P., 88).

 

 

Again, in Lowell’s fragment, though there is a greater wealth of detail here, and a more frenetic and peopled energy to the urban scene than in the selections from Gould Fletcher, —what is presented, from the position of a (seemingly) cool, detached, observing poetic voice (or figure: far more ostensibly self-aware here—‘feel the pavement under me’), implicated in (—as present in-to) the scene, is still a focus on a particular time or (rather)—*moment. …

 

*There are, here in ‘Spring Day’, not even the similes and metaphors of Fletcher’s imagistic poems. …

 

Lowell dispenses with grammar and creates an immediate, and still detached poetic voice-person. … —an attempt to create the sense of hitting off the (immediate—im-mediate) impression (so to) with the exact word: ‘Swirl’,—‘Shock’,… —‘Eddies of light’. …

 

There is a focus on movement: as somewhat unnervingly abrupt and staccato, dictated by mechanical (machine-metallic), industrial, and commercial influences … ‘Shock and recoil’, ‘spin and shudder’, and yet also a clean, smooth organic and (almost) geometric rhythm: ‘waves’. …

 

—A proliferation of detail into which the impression of the crowded, active streets breaks down *(—its quanta-constituents).—The sharpness (concision), cleannesss, and definition (exactness) of the capturing and articulation of sense-impressions: … —‘Flare of sunshine’,—‘whirling’, blurring’,—‘metal blue’,… ‘clean and new’,—‘pungent’. …

 

*—But, most of all,… —the transition in-of time that proceeds—indifferently and ineluctably—outwith-beneath(?—around) the plethora of urban activity(/ies), and the way, in particular, in which this is captured and articulated through the effect of the change of the quality of light in-on the urban scene: … *—the change in the quality of the reflected light of the setting sun (moving down the sky, as it pales to a lemon yellow) on the glass of the shop-front windows.

*(—This puts me in mind of Lichtenstein’s ‘Reflections’ series, which I was lucky enough to see in person at the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art recently … ).

 

 

*… There is here then—an economy, precision, and pragmatism (a sort of… stoical (—?) fidelity to (only) the model).

 

*—A focus on simple quotidian detail(s). …

 

*… —No transcendental speculative extrapolation from, or treatment of the thing-model as ‘standing in’ for something (—something essentially ungraspable and (thus) unrepresentable. …).

 

—Only the thing experienced-the experience *(however fictitious or hypothetical) and the impression which sparks off a-the corresponding image. …

 

*…—(For want, then)… —A form of (what I’ll dub here, for my current purposes) *psychological realism. …

Presenting-presentation, without exposition, comment, or judgment. …

 

—Thus evoking, then, a (—hypothetical) thought or psychological process,—the perspective or shape of consciousness (so to)—of the figure (equally hypothetical, but… bound at the very least, if not straightforwardly identical to) the poetic voice.

 

 

—an attempt, then, of sorts, to construct a shape of consciousness of the poetic voice (or, perhaps rather, a consciousness-perspective that the poetic voice occupies—somewhere (in-)between the 1st & 3rd persons, in the manner of ‘free-indirect’ discourse in Modernist prose…), and to evoke an (again,—at the very least) analogous shape of consciousness in the reader,…

—working out, by suggestion or allusion, from the interplay of thoughts (—the intellectual and emotional in the instant of time) to the shape of consciousness for whom that interplay, or ‘complex’ is a possibility:

 

*… —the psychological conditions of-for the image. …

 

(—?).

 

 

*I hope to return to this later (down the ol’ line) in comparing the Romantic concept of the fragment, the ‘Epiphany’, and the ‘image’, and the legacy of the Romantic fragment,… but, on this, I think, it’s worth going into some (repetitive) detail in comparing my earlier reading of Joyce’s early ‘Eat out his eyes’ ‘Epiphany’ fragment. …

 

*—To take the liberty of recapitulating here…

*(I know I do do this quite a lot, but the reading itself is important here, I feel, and the nature of this as an ongoing blog project means I’m… fishing around, somewhat (so to) to connect all the thoughts and form a coherent flow of thoughts ideas across posts. …

And, anyway,… hell.—why ever not, ‘ey(hmm)? … —s’my blog… I promised to be intemperate and idiosyncratic (right at the start there…), ‘n’ I’ll self-indulgently quote m’self back to m’self ‘s’much as I want, damn your eyes. … )

 

 

— “

 

 

pull out his eyes

 

*… —There is a mocking-patronising tone in Mr Vance’s performance of admonishment *(—and there is a quality of a certain—forced—condescending theatricality…). …

 

—What is an ostensible, formal, address to the mother here (—Mrs Joyce), is nonetheless, obviously intended as a direct address-admonishment to ‘Joyce’, reduced here to the status of the third person, framed indirectly through the mother. …

 

—Framed as an indirect address (admonishment.—the detail of the stick…), appealing to the mother, so that Mr Vance can administer discipline-punishment without violating the—unwritten-unspoken—social code, prohibiting disciplining someone else’s child (and thereby adopting the parental role and relegating the parent to the status of a by-stander. … *—an assumption of knowing better how to discipline another’s child… and it’s important, in this regard, that the fragment is framed at the outset in-through the domestic, social context of the parlour of the house…),—the mother thus made complicit in an open secret.

 

 

*—What may seem a fairly obvious *(—innocuous? … —forgettable-inconsequential,… —trivial) moment-exchange, then, in-point-of-fact, reveals the nature, and the inner-workings (sic) of what is actually a quite complexly coded, socially fraught performance… *—the awkward and perpetual negotiation—of social roles *(—for complicity… —for validation and compliance in-of ‘authority’)—rendering all the actors here complicit in an unspoken yet (painfully) present open secret. …

 

*The striking element is the child’s burgeoning awareness-consciousness (—the revelation-manifestation) of the nature and stakes of this performance here… —Mr Vance’s appeal to, and reliance upon, the open secret, as well as the mother’s (necessary) voluntary complicity, in establishing (—performing) the authority to admonish and threaten retribution-punishment… *(—coupled to the child’s intimidation, resentment, and yet powerlessness in the face of the admonishment (—that is,—his inability to step outside the bounds of social and filial propriety implied by the performance, whilst painfully aware of the tenuousness and provisionality of its legitimacy)… *—‘under the table’. …).

 

 

*—… —‘Joyce’s’ attempt to appropriate of the language of (performed) authority,—in-through the accidental-incidental rhyme, and through repetition, in the composition of the short poem, forms an attempt—reveals a capacity—to challenge-confront (irresistible) authority, and to control *(to—master) experience (—‘to himself’. …)  *—through the artwork. …

(and hence the dramatic use to which the fragment could then be put in Portrait, where, in fact, I’d argue (at least), very little is actually added (or—needs to be added) by way of exposition to expand the context, and where (in fact) it could be argued that the fragment is reduced, almost, to the status of a thematic precursor… (—?)).

 

 

*… —The ‘epiphany’, then, is a highly complex, self-contained fragment,—(negatively) pointing out to (—outward toward.—evoking) a larger social-political-linguistic context that informs its structure and the nature of the revelation it represents…

 

…—There need be no more exposition than a few, choice, place indications and ‘stage directions’ *(—the fragment plays out as a ‘scene’ … *—the record of an impression. …).—The effectiveness of the ‘epiphany’ (—as fragment), indeed, relies upon the sparseness, brevity, and cleanliness (—clarity) of this—strict—artistic economy…

 

 

*—The Imagists—images—then, share in common with Joyce’s ‘Epiphanies’ the status of the fragment. …

*—presentation, without (ostensible) judgment, of detail(-details) from which a broader situation-context is evoked, and a tight literary-poetic economy. …

 

*—The pathos of the poems (their mood and tone) derives from the detachment, isolation, and observation of the poetic ‘voice’, and (yet also) its implication in the scene-moment-detail(s) observed, and the sharp, clean economy of selection and presentation. …

 

 

The Imagists, then, I’d argue, share (or, rather,—participate in (—?)) the post-Romantic, anti-transcendental tradition *(yes, yes,… —so to. … *—scepticism, pragmatism) in-of Nietzsche, Joyce (particularly in his early fiction and in the terms of his own critical writings), and T.E. Hulme.

 

 

*—I want to move on now to fully detail the philosophical and artistic stakes in-of the ‘image’, and (what I hope I’ll demonstrate to be) the mutually illuminating parallel between the *structure of (artistic) experience (so to) implicit in Pound’s claims about the ‘image’, the ‘complex, the ‘VORTEX’,… —the poem, and that at stake in Stephen’s aesthetic theory in ol’ Joycey-beards early fiction, linking these more explicitly to my reading(s) of Nietzsche and Bergson. …