What would Barthes think of his Hermès scarf? – The New Yorker

“It is fair to say that there exists in our era a tragic discrepancy between the staggering richness of the visible world and the extreme poverty of our capacity to perceive it.”

word pond

” . . . world blindness, a disease described superbly by Robert Harrison in his book “Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition”: “It is fair to say that there exists in our era a tragic discrepancy between the staggering richness of the visible world and the extreme poverty of our capacity to perceive it.” The cure, Barthes knew, can be found in the study of literature, photography, and other art forms, optimal training grounds for developing the kind of attention necessary to see what surrounds us.” – Christy Wampole

What would Barthes think of his Hermès scarf? – The New Yorker

View original post

Reality: too obvious to be true

Banksy and Baudrillard

untitled (Banksy and Baudrillard) (detail)

Nothing is wholly obvious without becoming enigmatic. Reality itself is too obvious to be true. (Jean Baudrillard)

In hand, a bunch of diverse quotations, most of them having at least some bearing on the nature of reality. The Baudrillard piece seems to have appointed itself chief amongst them, but Einstein can be heard muttering in the background.

Not unexpectedly – given the two words, ‘obvious’ and ‘enigmatic’ – Google Images quickly finds a picture/text version of the Baudrillard quote. But more interesting by far, I think, is this Banksy art piece with which it is teamed up on the Particulate Matters blog.

Clearly, both Banksy and “cosmicdebris” (proprietor of Particulate Matters) are saying something about the teachings of the Christian Church – particularly, it seems, in relation to the indoctrination of children. Look elsewhere on the Particulate Matters blog and you will find links to other ‘indoctrination’ stories: for example, Monsanto indoctrinating kids at the zoo.

Actually, I’m inclined to suspect that indoctrination is integral to every aspect of living – and that everyone is routinely doing it and/or having it done to them. And it wouldn’t necessarily qualify as either brainwashing or catechism. Let’s put it more simply: we’re all inclined to push our ideas on others – and we call it marketing, persuasion, instruction, education, or teaching.

Be that all as it may, it is not really the main point of my post.

A few months ago, on |cross-ties| – the blog of “The Other” – there was a bit of back-and-forth about the nature of reality. A piece titled Taking a cycle trip led one reader to discuss Derrida’s ideas, noting that in language there is a gap between words and things. I would take this further, asserting that there is a gap between what we perceive and what is actually the case.

A similar gap yawns between the words of every witness and the occurrences they describe – what we thought we saw, the way it seems to us, what we believe to be true, and everything that is ‘obvious’. (And, by the way, since it’s that obvious, why can’t everyone see it our way?)

Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus begins with the proposition that “the world is everything that is the case” and ends by reminding us that “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” Wittgenstein isn’t saying there’s stuff we can choose not to talk about; he’s actually pointing out that there are some things nobody can put into words.

Albert Einstein asserts that “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” Elsewhere, he declares, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking.” He is not saying that nothing is real; what he means is that everything we experience as real is invented. “The human mind has first to construct forms, independently, before we can find them in things.” (Albert Einstein Essays in Science (1934), p27)

The way science talks about reality and truth is sounding more and more like the words of the ancient religions. For example, Geshe Rabten Rinpoche, a notable teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, says: “The ultimate truth of all conventional truths is their being void of inherent existence. Conventional truths, ie empirical phenomena, exist dependently upon causal conditions, parts and imputation; they have absolutely no existence apart from these conditioning factors.”

But “Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true,” wrote Francis Bacon (1560-1626). Called the creator of empiricism, “[Bacon] established and popularised inductive methodologies for scientific inquiry, often called the Baconian method, or simply the scientific method.” (GoodReads)

Ultimately, then, as Baudrillard says, whatever seems obvious is, in reality, the superficial manifestation of a profound mystery: the deeper you go into it, the less you are able to say about it.

In Poetry: This Death Is Incomplete (part one of an essay on poetry and death), Amy King talks about “spinning yarns to name things and claim power over them” – which, she reminds us, is not a new concept. In explication, King points us to Alice Notley’s The Book of Lies. The opening lines are especially apt: “Do you believe this stuff or is it a story? I believe every fucking word, but it is a story.”

__________

An ever-changing draft of this piece has been in my editor for months. There’s so much more I want to say, but it is long past time I got something posted. 

 

A nice knock-down argument for you

.

There’s no trickery
here – no obfuscation.
(You might not get that.)

I’m doing just what
we all do: all our own words
have private meanings;

there’s no language
we can share – speech divides us
inevitably. .

__________

‘I don’t know what you mean by “glory”,’ Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. ‘Of course you don’t – till I tell you. I meant “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”‘

‘But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument”,’ Alice objected.

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.’

(Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll)

Reading between the lines

words on face (20 May 2013)

words on face (20 May 2013)

.

.

.

In the public library.

Browsing the latest issue of ArtForum (May 2013), leafing rapidly through page after page of advertisements.

There’s always a pen and paper handy: poems often happen when I’m reading.

I’d gone past, but needed to go back and find it again: words were beginning to form …

.

There are words
written all over my face

I see words
in the mirror

If you bother to read me
……… take the time to read me

I doubt you’d have understood
even if you’d read carefully

.

__________

The image shown here is a detail of my re-photographing of the magazine advertisement referred to above.

Further information: http://www.faurschou.com/

http://vernissage.tv/blog/2013/05/15/shirin-neshat-the-book-of-kings-faurschou-foundation-beijing/

By the ancient pond

by the ancient pond, a haiku by Buson, translation by Jan Walls

古池の 蛙生ひ行く 落葉かな

(furuike no kawazu oiyuku ochiba kana)

"The Ancient Pond" by Master Haiku Painter Bashō (1644 1694)

“The Ancient Pond” by Master Haiku Painter Bashō (1644 1694)

.

.

.

by the ancient pond
a frog is growing older
among fallen leaves

(Buson – translation by Jan Walls)

.

.

Dipping into Word Pond today, I’m looking for something to spark my imagination. Splashes echoing: Bashō’s frog.

__________

Acknowledgements: 1/ Donna Fleischer’s Word Pond; 2/ Happ·Stance Dep·Art

Meditating on the cross

chi rho (23 Jun 2012)

chi rho (23 Jun 2012)

.

.

.

The Staurogram (monogram of the cross) or Tau-Rho symbol is comprised of a tau (Τ) superimposed on a rho (Ρ). (Wikipedia: Christian symbolism)

The Chi-Rho symbol was also used by pagan Greek scribes to mark, in the margin, a particularly valuable or relevant passage; the combined letters Chi and Rho standing for chrēston, meaning “good”. (Wikipedia: Chi Rho)

The mysterious cypher appeared on the newly-laid asphalt near my apartment during June 2012. And there it remains to this day, awaiting the commencement of who-knows-what piece of work?

Given the significance that one might attach to such symbols, I am careful not to trample it underfoot.

While it serves me well as a focus of devout respect and meditation, I will be interested to see the work begin … whatever it might be, and whenever it might happen.