Nancy speaks of the force of the image, a force that is "a unity woven from a sensory diversity" ("Image and Violence," in The Ground of the Image, p. 22). I don't believe this jibes with the immobility of the image Nancy posits in "The Imagethe Distinct." It seems closer to my initial feeling about the dynamism of the imagination. Anyway, here Nancy speaks of the force of the image and its relation to forms:
Under this force, forms too deform or transform themselves. The image is always under a dynamic or energetic metamorphosis. It begins before forms, and goes beyond them. All painting, even the most naturalistic, is this kind of metamorphic force. Force deforms (and so, therefore, does passion); it carries away forms, in a spurt that tends to dissolve or exceed them. The monstrous showing or monstration spurts out in monstruation.*
*The word monstruation comes from Mehdi Belhaj Kacem: "Communication is the attempt to restore, through the repetition of some sign, the intensity of an affect to which this sign is connected, but phenomenally this repetition must fail: there would be no affect without this perpetual failure, without the incessant monstruation of signs in the Heraclitian flux that is perceptuality." See his Esthétique du chaos (Auch: Tristam, 2000)
(ibidem, and page 142, note 10, emphases in original, my bold)
To see the violence Nancy sees in the image requires acknowledging a kind of violence without violation. I'm not sure that I can ultimately accept such a broad definition of violence, though I won't close the book on it. (It's curious that intellectuals would feel that their truths are violent. I'm keeping my eye on those intellectuals.) That leaves us with a discussion of the force of the image and the question of forms or, especially, deformation. Is it right to call this force of the image deforming? If the force of the image is truly metamorphic it might seem that it must do violence to forms. Does the image's being the other of forms ("The Imagethe Distinct," p. 3) mean that it does violence to forms? I'm not sure of this. I doubt that the imagination makes a study of the forms left in its wake. The consciousness that would see the imagination as destructive of forms must be retrospective or reflective, and I would be cautious about the assimilation of such a consciousness to the imagination. Do forms and imagination share the same consciousness at all? This is a difficult question.
Can there be a metamorphosis prior to forms? I'm wondering if Nancy hasn't misidentified the force of the image. Perhaps form itself introduces violence into the imagination, or the expectation that form creates and which cannot be fulfilled manifests itself as a kind of violence. The force of imagination itself however, were we to allow it to flow without imposing forms upon it, may not be violent. It may not violate forms because forms and the force of imagination don't really touch on each other, and it's really only a belief in forms that misleads us into thinking that they should be in contact. Monstruation then would represent a distorted view of what happens in the imagination, a view from inside the form, from the inside of a repetition destined to failure, a view from outside the image. But I am not sure of this line of thinking. I have to seriously consider Nancy's suggestion that the image has no inside (ibidem p. 11). Wouldn't it follow that the image has no outside?
Let's take up the idea that the imagination touches upon forms. To reiterate, if the force of the image is prior to forms what is the sense in calling it metamorphic? What would be the problem with regarding the imaginataion as morphogenetic? (Is the force of the image not being violent a problem?) If the force of the imagination is indeed prior to the emergence of form would it be prior to the existence of a morphogenetic field? (Could the imagination be just such a field?) By the time a mnemic entity can survey it the morphogenetic field is littered with broken and ruined forms. Who destroyed them? Who created them? Who can remember whence the forms came? How could the imagination be capable of anamnesis?
If monstruation has an other it is kaleideation. Kaleideation also speaks to the failure of repetition, yet it keeps going. The kaleidoscope is its symbol, its instrument and its perspectivehow odd. Can we avoid being spectators of our imaginations? The deformations of kaleideation are invisible to us, if they ever in fact take place. Nonetheless, the kaleidoscope gives us a sense of being able to witness the imagination's metamorphic force. Collisions without horrific consequences? It seems that now I'm only looking at the metamorphic force of the imagination with one eye. Where did I put that other eye?