The Depth of the Surface
Writing, making pictures, building software. This is a variant outcome to a question I had when I was young, namely as whether to be a poet, an artist, or a philosopher. And then my philosophy if you will from an early age was to embrace the real, the concrete, the immediacy of experience—becoming then as opposed to being—and that to be something was a kind of prescribed finitude, a submission to ideas and a failure of living—even as I loved the world of ideas, which are forms.
Another way I’ve expressed this—this oscillation between a commitment to throwing myself into experience and valuing every moment, on the one hand, and on the other a grasping onto the categories and thought in language and criticality—is by thinking of myself as the bad Nietzschean. A phrase which, particularly with the definite article (language), it’s true, is hard for me to form in my mind (concept) without the image of Harvey Keitel (image)—a thought which (once again) brings me back full circle to the play of images, language, and concepts.
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Images: there was a moment when I wondered whether to call the work here images or pictures. Image fr. L. imago, imaginis, from the root of imitari to imitate (Websters 1913)—image seems closer to imagination (against wit or fancy—more on this some other time) I’m thinking while avoiding the relation to imitation.
And pictures. One of the definitions of picture is: a representation of anything (as a person, a landscape, a building) upon canvas, paper, or other surface (Websters 1913).
And surface. I have a friend in Guadalajara, one of the most gifted interlocutors I’ve ever met, who one day told me that he was at a party where another mutual friend said to him that he had no thoughts, no depth, no philosophy, that he was a superficial person living in the world of experiences and was quite happy with that.
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You could probably recognize the bad Nietzschean as one who has had the courage to undermine all idols and ideals, to joyfully throw aside all lies, not least of all the lies about reason and rationality (consciousness a symptom)—one who has had the balls to lovingly eviscerate all ideas in the interest of life, of truly living, which is art. As best he could. The same one who lives to the fullest, best he could, the art of rationalizing having another beer.
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August 2013: Greenpoint, NY.