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Beautiful Theology

Signifying truth in more than words alone

Friday, February 02, 2007

Words and Images 9

Tout tend à faire penser qu’il y a peu de relation entre un objet et ce qui le représente.

Everything tends to make one think that there is little connection between an object and that which it represents represents it. (See comments for Pascale’s correction of my error, and further discussion of this frame.)

I am so far from thinking Magritte is right about this that I think I must have misunderstood the image and the caption.

In the first place, “everything” — in the sense of extrinsic circumstances — tends to underline the presupposition that something does connect the object and the image. Tremendously powerful social forces collaborate in treating the image as an attenuated projection from the object to which it “really” referred. And “everything,” in the sense of intrinsic circumstances, reinforces the social circumstances (as the illustration suggests): the parts of “the real object” correspond to the parts of “the represented object” in detail. It takes considerable work to overturn the presupposition that some occult thread connects images and the objects they presumably represent.

But to start at the most basic, who decides what “real” object is depicted by the images that represents? Even hyperrealist art involves omission, elision, construction, generalization; in what does the connection between portrait and subject (for example) lie?

[I was going to continue along these lines, but Pascale caught me before I could resume, which was lucky since I would have been wasting my intellectual energy, since I had the translation backward.]


Blogger Pascale Soleil said...

Would you agree if the translation was: "Everything tends to make one think that there is little relationship between an object and that which represents it? (This is pointing out the lack of necessary connection between a referent and its indexical label.)

Because you are reading it as if it says "ce qu'il represente," which is quite different.

The accompanying drawing is a deadpan joke, don't you think?

February 02, 2007 10:00 AM  
Blogger AKMA said...

Ooooh, right, that’s just the kind of point I was sure I was missing. Now I need to step back a pace or two to see what I think.


That does make a lot more sense, especially for Magritte and the rest of the series. Thank you!

February 02, 2007 10:43 AM  
Blogger dydimustk said...

I really want to engage in this conversation, but wow, I have nothing to contribute at this point. I am, however, learning a lot.

April 01, 2007 6:45 PM  

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