Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Sagittal Dimension as a Short-Circuit

Geometral views of visual representation typically portray the sagittal dimension (the line connecting the viewer with the viewed) as a "straight line" relating the object as an index, in Peircean terms, of the point of view. The "clipping" of the shadow from the subject, therefore, appears to be an illicit act. Creation of an icon and then a symbol from an original index has the flavor of the uncanny; the shadow "escapes" its master, the fictional character "escapes" the novelist; the defective narrator is enclosed by a larger mystery.

What is behind this account of the sagittal? Is not the automatic attribution of projection overlooking something? Gombrich's famous re-telling of Hans Richter's "experiment," where artist-friends attempted to draw the same scene from the same POV but "failed" because of their inherently subjective perception, reinstalls the Positivist template-plus-subjective-variation rule. Rather, it is the screen that "always-already" is there from the beginning, not added through the subjective presence or mechanical apparatus.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Shadow Takes a Vacation

A short circuit occurs when there is a faulty connection in the network—faulty, of course, from the standpoint of the network's smooth functioning. Is not the shock of short-circuiting, therefore, one of the best metaphors for a critical reading? Is not one of the most effective critical procedures to cross wires that don't usually touch: to take a major classic (text, author, notion) and read it in a short-circuiting way, through the lens of a minor" author, text, or conceptual apparatus ... what such a reading achieves is not a simple "desublimation," a reduction of the higher intellectual content to its lower economic or libidinal cause; the aim of such an approach is, rather, the inherent decentering of the interpreted text, which brings to light its "unthought," its disavowed presuppositions and consequences. Slavoj Zizek, "Series Forward," Short Circuit Series

The theme and premise of this blog is to expand the idea and role of the Lacanian "partial object" in the same way newspaper comic strips expanded the role of fictional characters through misadventures played out through panes/pains whose frames they even sometimes violated and certainly mimicked. Not only is the partial object as comic book character the model for our times, where we encounter such characters everywhere, but a tourguide for our thoughts, which resemble those of the main character in Saramago's novel, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, a man disturbed for the simple reason that the author of the book in which he is a character has died. This situation constitutes better than any other I know the Lacanian dilemma of "the condition of not knowing one is dead," which is the basis of what is called defective narration. Contrary to James Wood in How Fiction Works, I argue that this is not comparatively rare case in fiction but in fact the existential condition of our times. We all walk as shadows whose accustomed companion and generator went away on holiday and never came back.
If detachment of a thing and its index starts the business of defective narration, the collapse of distance carries it into pane after pane of misadventure, and since the blog and the comic strip are born cousins, the best way to regard this form of seriality is a set of unfinished stories.