Sunday, August 17, 2008

July 25 - August 14, 2008

Michel Foucault
This Is Not a Pipe
25th Anniversary edition, 1982, paperback
11 cards

While I'm just starting this summer to read books by Foucault I was surprised that I had not heard about this one before discovering it on a shelf in a DC bookstore. Foucault takes as his subject Magritte's infamous painting as his subject, discussing it with the complexity that it deserves but in a way that doesn't overwhelm. Foucault discusses two pipes (a 1926 drawing, and a 1966 painting) that both contain the phrase "Ceci n'est pas une pipe," however there seem to be even more. It was surprising to me that he didn't mention the 1964 painting at the Art Institute of Chicago (part of the Bergman collection) also containing this phrase but titled "L'Air et la Chanson." It makes me wonder how many additional paintings with this phrase were made by Magritte and their titles. Foucault's comments on Klee and Kandinsky broadens my understanding of elements of both artists' work.

Selected notes:
Translator's Introduction:
2- de Chirico's "The Song of Love"- Magritte claimed to have realized "the ascendancy of poetry of painting.
4- Borges
9- Magritte: "it is in vain that we say what we see; what we see never resides in what we say."
15- handwritten script
20- "what misleads us is the inevitability of connecting the text to the drawing"
21- "As a sign, the letter permits us to fix words; as line, it lets us give shape to things."
24- "The text must say nothing to this gazing subject who is a viewer, not a reader. As soon as he begins to read, in fact, shape dissipates."
25- "They very things that is both seen and read is hushed in the vision, hidden in the reading."
-"Magritte redistributed the text and the image in space."
33- Klee
34- "The essential point is that resemblance and affirmation cannot be dissociated."
-"the colors that Kandinsky called 'things.'"
36- Magritte: "The titles are chosen in such a way as to keep anyone from assigning my paintings to the familiar region that habitual thought appeals to in order to escape perplexity."
37- "Magritte secretly mines a space he seems to maintain in the old arrangement. But he excavates it with words..."
38- Magritte: "Between words and objects one can create new relations and specify characteristics of language and objects generally ignored in everyday life."
40- "the sort of things that cannot be names and that in fact 'name' themselves bear an exact and familiar name. The painting is the converse of a rebus, that chain of shapes so easily recognized as to be immediately identifiable..."
41- "In order to deploy his plastic signs, Klee wove a new space. Magritte allows the old space of representation to rule, but only at the surface...beneath, nothing."
43- resemblance and affirmation
44- "To me it appears that Magritte dissociated similitude from resemblance, and brought the former into play against the latter."
-"Resemblance presupposes a primary reference that prescribes and classes."
-"Resemblance serves representation, which rules over it; similitude serves repetition, which ranges across it."
46- (resemblance)- "...reveals the clearly visible; similitude reveals what recognizable objects, familiar silhouettes hide, prevent from being seen, render invisible."
-"Resemblance makes a unique assertions, always the same: This thing, that thing, yet another thing
46-47- Magritte: "Only thought can resemble. It resembles by being what it sees, hears, or knows; it becomes what the world offers it."
-"Thought resembles without similitude...."
47- "Magritte's painting doubtless rests here, where thought in the mode of resemblance and things in relations of similitude have just vertically intersected.
48- "Who speaks in the statement?"
49- infinite games
51- mirror- Les Liaisons dangereuses
54 "...Campbell, Campbell, Campbell, Campbell."
57-58- letters from Magritte to Foucault
57- "Las Meninas is the visible image of Velazquez's invisible thought. Then is the invisible sometimes visible?"

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