Probably until ten years ago the visual or photography never made any sense to her, she did not think about herself as a visual person at all, she regarded herself as a bookperson, entirely defined by the verbal….this proved to be tunnelvision, for then the visual became a form of being, a world. It had to do with a need for quiet maybe, for introspection or reduction, and maybe other things. She could just see and didn’t have to say, to speak; she could still speak, by way of what she had seen, but it wasn’t necessary anymore to use words. That was excellent. She was almost entirely able to take herself out of the moment, she wasn’t there anymore, just what she saw, and what she had seen could be a representation of, well, her opinion maybe, as free and decisive as any glimpse on anything, fleeting and yet not so fleeting…. seeing world…..
Schiller writes in his Aesthetic Letters (XI) that as long as someone only looks and feels (empfindet), this person is world, is the same as world, or nothing more than world ‘So lange er bloß empfindet…ist er noch weiter nichts als Welt.’ Expressed in a very disarming way, ‘nothing but world’ one could call this mildly delusional. But, who has the right to deny one one’s world. Is one not – first and primarily – world, of this world?
The separation from the world would occur when one acquires personality, according to Schiller, one needs to have or be a personality so that one’s actions can be one’s very own ones and one can give reality to one’s own talents, he says. Feeling and looking are not enough in order to constitute personality. One has to be personality and act, give form to matter; in order to be oneself, one needs to realize one’s talents. Without the realization of those talents one is world, one is not separate from it.
And so, when you were world.
You thought there was something very generous about this description, feeling and looking makes you to be world. You maybe were not yourself, but you were something, or part of something, of something -everything. For how can the world not be everything.
You couldn’t say who you were or are. The shifting pronouns, I, you, she. Who is saying something. It didn’t matter, did it not matter more that something was said? Or how? Or at what cost? Or when. What happened ten years ago that would have justified the turn to the visual. Nothing she could put a finger on. The change was as invisible as she felt. She couldn’t speak in seven languages and it was not clear how this affected her, some advanced Lord Chandos problem, but it ran deeper. So far gone that she could not even get an intellectual hold on it, it was not clear whether this was due to her or due to the nature of the problem: she was aware of an experience of being totally kicked out of her life? being? self? The experience of annihilation was so complete that she wasn’t even aware of her own annihilation. She wondered what it was like, she couldn’t remember all there was disorientation, and she could not do anything except looking and this was what she did, to look and stare. Maybe she had been taken away from herself, but the world had not been taken.
She could not put any words to it, none that would come close to it or be able to convey the experience, it was more like a psychological ellipsis and so her mind shifted from what she couldn’t grasp to what was there, lived in her frozen unspoken world, that is to her this world was not frozen, but full of light. Light had all kinds of shades. There were things to see. The world was not populated, it was there, it could be seen, she was in it somehow. She was not outside it, but disconnected to everything in it. She didn’t know how to see (she just did) or what to say or how to order the world or how to connect the experiences to herself. She felt she was not able to have an traction in this world, to give it form like Schiller suggests. But she was in-world. Seeing could bridge that disconnection, to some extent at least. She looked. And in seeing everything was important. Immersion took priority over distinction. A capacity to reception, to empathy in contrast to judging and discarding. To realize her talents was not something that came to her mind. She never regarded herself as a photographer, just as someone who sees. Seeing is ia sense as a preliminary way of expressing something. Not even maybe to others. Just expressing a moment maybe. That doesn’t imply a superiority of images. Or a distrust and rejection in the ability of language. After all words are now used to describe those insights. And yet she saw. She felt herself to be entirely without prejudice, without intention when she took pictures. She had no plan or agenda or manifesto, was not interested in equipment. She just saw. She was (no subject) and there was (no subject) but the world…
She also felt she could hide in the world she would just hide behind an image. That this was a lot easier for her than to hide with words. The words forced her to be in the world and shape the world in a much stronger way. Languages or rather, dominant ways of using them inhibited her. She could not express herself, she felt, in many ways languages seemed to be not really close to her own nature. Photography could accommodate her nature a lot more. Looking at something felt in a way just like clinging on to the world a little bit more, a little bit stronger, just by seeing establishing a connection to light which is a form of shelter.
And when you were not looking and not feeling. Looking meant you were world. But what if one doesn’t look or feel. Schiller had described that possibility as well, then one isn’t world, in such cases one is empty possibility. That is still something. Seeing already changes that and connects one to the world. That looking and feeling would not be enough for some people, at some times. That it could be enough, however, in order to anchor one in the world.
Where would she start and where world end?
dr flowerville, oscillating between words and images, aimless reflections on creative practice.
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