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Beautiful Theology

Signifying truth in more than words alone

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Words and Images 16

Les figures vagues ont une signification aussi nécessaire aussi parfaite que les précises:

Indistinct pictures have a significance just as necessary, just as complete as do precise ones

Much work to do on this translation. I stayed away from “form” for figure since Magritte’s been using forme itself, likewise image. I wouldn’t ordinarily describe an image in English as “vague,” though the contrast with “precise” commends it (I suspect that my middlin’ French impels me to avoid cognates more than is necessary). Parfaite thwarts me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always begin my study of these posts by trying to make my own translation of the captions (so thank you for keeping the French, and for posting your translation after) I translated this one as "fuzzy" or "blurry" though "indistinct" is good. Upon further reflection, my dictionary notes that "figure" can also mean a face that is not one's own (cf. visage=mine). That gives an interesting slant on this saying. I also chose "complete."

That said, this put me in mind of McCloud's statement that images with fewer details are easier to identify with. If both of these thinkers are right (and I tend to think that they are), then the reason the indistinct image is just as complete as the more precise is that I fill in the detail from my own storehouse of detail (see how the slant meaning of "face" links up both thoughts in my mind?).

March 14, 2007 12:03 PM  
Blogger Pascale Soleil said...

Why not use "vague" or "imprecise"?

...vague illustrations (sketches/diagrams/figures as in a textbook "figure A") have a meaning as necessary and perfect as precise ones.

I think the point being made is that when illustrating abstractions, like a square or a cloud of ideas, getting the picture "just so" is beside the point.

March 15, 2007 7:29 AM  
Blogger dydimustk said...

I would prefer to allow everything to be significant in its own right, though I am seldom willing to forgo my own judgment about anything.

April 01, 2007 7:20 PM  

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