Tag Archive | Mitchell

It’s Sunday Night,

so that means post time!

Even though I’ve had a shitty day and a couple soco and coke’s.  Everyone’s always bitching about how bad soco is, so I’ve never really tried it, but it isn’t that bad.  Goes to show you, don’t believe all the hype…

I’m starting to see the thread behind our readings, how one leads to the next.  There’s a conversation, the influence of forebears, especially of Benjamin; but I’m damned if I think that I’m able to get everything from one before we move to the next, and I really don’t have the time to go back and read the older stuff before we’re on the next.  It’s a tour of Europe in a week, and everything is very pretty, but it’s thirty minutes in the Sistine and then back on the bus.

I’ll skip to the end for Mitchell; he starts out by asking, “What do pictures want?”, and ends with, “simply to be asked what they want.”  I don’t know how to unpack this, because to me it sounds like he’s saying that pictures were made for a purpose, and so we look to that purpose when viewing them.  But Mitchell tells us that what pictures want doesn’t have anything to do with what the taker or painter (the artist?) made them for.  They’re an entity unto themselves. I don’t know, I’m totally stumped after that (although the suggestion of ventriloquism is kind of hilarious).

One thing I really did enjoy about this piece is his highlighting the desire/power thing.  A picture can’t do a thing, on its own (duh), but by its very helplessness it motivates.  This leads to a better question, what do pictures want without a viewer?  Which would be, not a thing.  It takes two to make a thing go right, my terrible intro to our other piece, the Crary.

Mitchell hints at some of the main idea of the Crary, the parts about the subject’s involvement in making sense the external world.

man, this is going to have to wait for tomorrow to finish.

Or tomorrow and a week.

The second post on Crary.
I waited a little while to get it up, and it’s going to be fairly brief.  Why can’t these guys say what they mean?

Virginia did a pretty good post of Crary, I think, summing up his main ideas.  There are two ways of thinking about vision, linked by the transmission of light (roughly speaking).  Light carries the images of the external world to us, and for some thinkers, e.g. Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Diderot, Reid, and Condillac, that’s about it.  We are inactive participants, what we see is what our eyes give us.
The opposite of this that Crary sides with is that our perceptions are in fact dependent a great deal on psychological processes, and psychological processes dependent on physiological processes.

I wish Crary would explain how Kant and Locke fit in his theories as he criticizes them, e.g. pg. 11– “If Kant gave a positive account of the mind’s capacity for synthesizing and ordering experience, Herbart (Kant’s successor at Konigsberg) detailed how the subject wards off and prevents internal incoherence and disorganization.”  What is this positive account?  Crary summarizes a bit of the French philosophers and Hegel, but he doesn’t say a thing about Kant or Locke.  Both had something to say about the SUBJECIVITY of observations, so I’d like to know exactly how Maine de Biran and Goethe distinguish themselves.

Look, I’m going to criticize Crary just a little.  First, let me say that I probably missed a lot in the article; but it seems like he was making one point throughout, that we should give a great deal more credence to the subjectivity of our vision, and this point did not need 34 pages to be made.  I kept waiting for him to get on to the next subject.  Second, if his conclusion is that our vision is subjective, hence, all our perceptions just ARE reality, then I would like to pose a quick question.  We are all pretty familiar with the phenomena of phantom limbs: I lost my arm from the elbow down, but my fingers ache every day.  Do we really think that this is reality?  I’m not going to follow this up, there are arguments on both sides, but this is the upshot of Crary’s piece, and I think he should have spent some time continuing on this thread and making a case for it (pg 9).  Otherwise, what on earth is the significance of this piece?
There’s one thing that could be said, now that I think about it.  Crary could be making a case that whatever you see is really what you see; but that’s tautological nonsense, now isn’t it?  Because we only really care about our visions as they depict accurate information about reality.

Hey, this is a good song btw