Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

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Deleuze and the Sign

July 6, 2010

Signs are one of the more overworked bits of thought, like small pack animals carrying the weight of the world’s meaning. And along with this each philosopher or school of thought likes to have their own take on what exactly entails the framework of the sign, how they behave, their dynamics, and with each new approach they morph, pinch, subvert, or are twisted in order to fit within some larger framework. Signs are like the proteins of philosophy, in that they begin to “taste” like whatever they are cooked or seasoned with. It’s with this in mind that I approached Christopher M. Drohan’s Delueze and the Sign. As someone who’s only recently begun dipping a toe into the ideas of Delueze, it was through the familiar vantage point of the sign that I chose to approach. In Delueze and the Sign, Drohan highlights a surprisingly cohesive and accessible set of Deluezian semiotics from various sources into a concise volume that remains true to the language and dynamic approach. Through this system, signs emerge as a means for understanding the relationship between things as a way of learning and making meaning in the world. As Drohan observes: “It is signs that expose new relations in our world, and it is the search of signs that creates the most basic meanings through which we know the world” (23). In all of this Drohan should be commended on his ability to use language to clarify Deleuze’s key concepts, but also as a means to illustrate and give passion to the dynamic process set forth by Delueze, who in a sense is marrying a world of essences and ideals to objects and material realism through an analysis of the sign.

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Louise Bourgeois and Scheherazade

April 17, 2009

Louise Bourgeois is the rare artist whose orbit intersects with many big thinkers and personalities of the last century, while always remaining relevant and enduring. Not bad for ninety-seven. I love the way she hones her images and takes them into new psychological spaces, and even the way her voice sounds when she speaks. On June 25th, 1984 she wrote:

“Scheherazade talked to ward off castration (assassination). She talks as a last defense. It is a pretty miserable motive, useless and dangerous, silence is wonderful.”

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Uta Barth’s Distrust of Narrative/Cause and Effect

April 10, 2009

Writing is most alive when directly engaged in the experience—as a cartography of an encounter or inner space. Recently I stumbled across an interview with photographer Uta Barth where she was asked why narrative annoyed her. Barth’s response captures a lot of what I’ve been thinking:

Narrative holds out for a certain inevitability, it places deep faith in cause and effect. Narrative is about reconstructing a chain of meaningful events based on a known outcome. I’m curious about visual art that’s about the visual. Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees is the title of Robert Irwin’s biography. Originally, it was a line in a Zen text. Narrative in art makes us think about all sorts of interesting things, but it derails the engagement with a visual experience.

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