Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Jonathan Lethem, noting a dilemma solved (post-immediate dispatch of “some guy name Ullman”) in Motherless Brooklyn:

“Have you ever felt, in the course of reading a detective novel, a guilty thrill of relief at having a character murdered before he can step onto the page and burden you with his actual existence? Detective stories always have too many characters anyway. And characters mentioned early on but never sighted, just lingering offstage, take on an awful portentous quality. Better to have them gone.”

Paul Klee (“On Modern Art”):

Color is primarily Quality. Secondly, it is also Weight, for it has not only color value but also brilliance. Thirdly, it is Measure, for besides Quality and Weight, it has its limits, its area, and its extent, all of which may be measured.

Tone value is primarily Weight, but in its extent and its boundaries, it is also Measure.

Line, however, is solely Measure.”

(Also, in the Notebooks: “The dot takes time to become a line.”)

Robert Steiner, in Toward a Grammar of Abstraction: Modernity, Wittgenstein, and the Paintings of Jackson Pollock:

“Wittgenstein: “What can be shown cannot be said” (Tractatus, 4.1212). This is the heart of the problem of writing about art, which if considered rigorously would leave us in the position of either writing about the problem or revealing that what has been written about art are mere remarks, even when the latter appear within a system that accounts for the “transcendent” nature of all aesthetics. The question is not only of what sort of propositions do paintings consist, but what sort of propositions are made about paintings? We know that language cannot mirror painting, but it is harder to recognize that language cannot mirror its own forms of representing paintings or mirror its own forms of representing the problem of representing painting. It would seem to leave us in that place where there is either silence or where we venture on high while pulling the ladder up behind us—the place of either mysticism or the senseless (the critique of language). We have, perhaps, a site without an object, a locus suggested by the Homeric verb therkesthatai (“to look, at nothing, with longing”), and which ended with the epic. To pose the question another way: if we cannot speak logically about painting, how can we speak of it? If we have not been speaking logically, how have we? To what end? That is, knowledge with regard to painting is always possible; if not, none of us could ever speak of painting. But the meaning of painting, a mysterium, can never be the subject of writing about painting when knowledge is a ratio for understanding.”



There kiss’d that I.

To look at nothing.

To look at longing with nothing (like longing).

To look at nothing

With longing.



A sod morning of definitions, “wheels within wheels.”