Saturday, March 10, 2007

Motivation, Surface, Image

The Pangrammaticon posits a Critique of Pure Passion to serve as a shadow cabinet (of horrors) to the Kantian critique.

Separate from any possible representation, people impinge upon our lives as motivations.

In so far as people are "represented" to us (in conation*) as subjects, whether correctly or incorrectly, we call our relation to them surfaces.

A surface with its motivation removed is an image.

Now, such immobile images of course don't actually exist. But the image is that component of the surface that is separate from the motivations that occasion it.

Literature is the cultivation of imagery through the very minimal motility of letters.

The white page with black marks on it is all the "motivation" we are offered.

This is still not pure imagery. Reading involves anticipation: projected motivations.

The image is "sticky", as Kasey might say. It will always be composed in a field of motivation. And yet, each image will have its own degree of articulateness. It will occupy experience more or less intensely, i.e., it will be a better or worse product of the imagination.

Even as we acknowledge that images owe much to motivations, it is important to keep the possibility of a life of minimal imagery in mind: the complete absence of any artifice in our motivations (and thus the dissolution of the difference between a person, a motivation and a surface). Such a life might, of course, be fun. But it would be demonstrably illiterate; it would be inarticulate.

The next post will introduce a book-length project I'm working on under the title Composure. My aim is to provide a complete pangrammatical articulation of a single image, viz., Kant's plate. "The empirical concept of a plate," he says, "is homogeneous with the pure geometrical concept of a circle. The roundness which is thought in the latter can be intuited in the former." (KRV A137/B176) In the shadow critique of passion, we would read the following: "The normative emotion of a sling is homogeneous with the pure chronological emotion of a cycle. The revolution that is felt in the latter can be institutionalized in the former."

*My Concise Oxford Dictionary is remarkably "pangrammatical". Conation is the homologue of cognition. The COD defines the former as "the desire to perform an action" and that latter as "knowing, perceiving, or conceiving as an act or faculty distinct from emotion and volition". The homologue of the COD definition of conation (and thus a definition of cognition) is "the belief in the representation of a perception"; the homologue of the definition of cognition (and thus a definition of conation) is "mastering, acting, or emoting as a fact or activity distinct from conception and intellection". It's a bit rough, but it provides a useful analysis of the "stickiness" of the imaginary field.

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