Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Noble Form of Memory

Merleau-Ponty discusses the painter as one who carries on a conversation with himself, with the things of his world, and with pre-existing works. Perhaps this conversation is the triple resumption he is referring to when he says:

This triple resumption which makes a sort of provisory eternity of the operation of expression is not simply a metamorphosis in the fairytale sense of miracle, magic, and absolute creation in an aggressive solitude. It is also a response to what the world, the past and the completed work demanded. It is accomplishment and brotherhood. Husserl has used the fine word Stiftung—foundation or establishment—to designate first of all the unlimited fecundity of each present which, precisely because it is singular and passes, can never stop having been and thus being universally; but above all to designate that fecundity of the products of a culture which continue to have value after their appearance and which open a field of investigations in which they perpetually come to life again. It is thus that the world as soon as he has seen it, his first attempts at painting, and the whole past of painting all deliver up a tradition to the painter—that is, Husserl remarks, the power to forget origins and to give to the past not a survival, which is the hypocritical form of forgetfulness, but a new life, which is the noble form of memory.

("Indirect Language and the Voices of Silence," in Signs, p. 59)

It might be useful to think of Stiftung as also endowment or donation.

Metamorphosis must be a kind of response, either a response to forms or a response to some meaning or expression carried by or through forms. Well, this isn't altogether clear. We can ask whether metamorphosis responds directly, or indirectly, to forms; alternatively we can ask whether it is actually forms that are given to responsive metamorphosis. Or form itself. (I like for my questioning to recognize a variety of mental bents.) Metamorphosis may be, always or in certain instances, a response by way of forms to expressions that weren't previously given in the form of forms. Why forms? Here we need to ask about what it means to be given. Would it be possible to give and take form in a single gesture?

The last time I talked about the prefix μετα- I was drawn to its sense of signifying a quest. Now if I ask whether form and change relate sibsomely or unsibsomely—or both together in some manner, which would have the status of a possibility (kaliedeation/monstruation)—am I giving new life to questioning itself? Surely questioning doesn't need to be given anything, and not by me. Does the question take the form of an endowment? Do you see where this leads? Towards the provisory, perhaps.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 10:29 AM.


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