Friday, June 06, 2008


News of a journal called infleXions comes by way of Esmail's blog. Brian Massumi's contribution invites us to think again about the behind of things. Here's a sample:

[T]o see an object is to see volume. We don’t infer volume. We see the voluminousness of an object, directly and immediately, without having to think about it. We don’t say to ourselves: “let’s see, there’s a surface facing me, I would wager that there is a backside to it, which means it’s a 3D object, and therefore I could walk around it and see and touch the other side.” We don’t say this to ourselves because we don’t say anything to ourselves. We just see. We see what’s before us directly and immediately as an object. We see the “backedness” of it without actually seeing around to the other side. That’s precisely what makes it a perception of an object, rather than a deduction about a surface. We are really but implicitly – abstractly – seeing the object’s voluminousness. The perceived shape of an object is this abstract experience of volume. Part of it, anyway, because we also directly and immediately see an object’s weightiness. For example, We see weightiness through texture. Voluminousness and weightiness are not in themselves visible. But we can’t not see them when we see an object. In fact, we see them in the form of the object. Form is full of all sorts of things that it actually isn’t -- and that actually aren’t visible. Basically, it’s full of potential. When we see an object’s shape we are not seeing around to the other side, but what we are seeing, in a real way, is our capacity to see the other side. We’re seeing, in the form of the object, the potential our body holds to walk around, take another look, extend a hand and touch. The form of the object is the way a whole set of active, embodied, potentials appear in present experience: how vision can relay into kinesthesia or the sense of movement, and how kinesthesia can relay into touch. The potential we see in the object is a way our body has of being able to relate to the part of the world it happens to find itself in at this particular life’s moment. What we abstractly see when we directly and immediately see an object is lived relation – a life dynamic. Once again, we don’t see it instead of what we think of as being the actual form of the object. We’re seeing double again. But this time, we’re seeing the actual form “with and through” that set of abstract potentials. The reason we’re directly seeing an object and not just a surface is because we can’t not see what we’re seeing without also experiencing voluminousness and weightiness – the object’s invisible qualities. Seeing an object is seeing through to its qualities. That’s the doubleness: if you’re not qualitatively seeing what isn’t actually visible, you’re not seeing an object, you’re not seeing objectively.

(Massumi's emphases)

So, recalling Kojima's position on the matter, we now have two alternative ways, which may not be mutually exclusive, of understanding how we know, insofar as we can we say that we do know any such thing, that things have behind: (1) we know things have behinds because we live in an intersubjective world; (2) we know things have behinds because we live in a virtual world. There's a path that would dispense with the world altogether: behinds are given because we live intersubjectively or because we live virtually. However, I want to take some weight off the living entity and see if the world can carry it. Here are two alternatives: form is given with the world; shape is given with the world—I'll pick this up later.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 5:09 PM.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok, this looks interesting!


June 06, 2008 10:31 PM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

Hi, Paul!

Yeah, I was really enjoying it.

June 07, 2008 8:19 AM  

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