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By Michel Foucault

What does it suggest to put in writing "This isn't really a pipe" throughout a bluntly literal portray of a pipe? René Magritte's well-known canvas presents the start line for a pleasant homage by means of French thinker and historian Michel Foucault. far better recognized for his incisive and mordant explorations of strength and social exclusion, Foucault right here assumes a extra playful stance. by way of exploring the nuances and ambiguities of Magritte's visible critique of language, he reveals the painter much less got rid of than formerly inspiration from the pioneers of contemporary abstraction.

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O ften invented after the very fact and b y o ther humans, the titles interfere into the fi g ures the place their applicability used to be if no longer indicated at the very least licensed prematurely, and the place they play an ambiguous position: supp orting pegs and but termites that gnaw and weaken . The countenance of an abs olutely critical guy, unsmiling , unblinking , "breaks up " with a laughter that comes fro m no­ five 6 the place . Le Soir qui tombe can't fall with no shat­ tering a windowpane whose fragments (s until re­ taining , on their sharp edges and glas s shard s , the sun's reflections) are s cattered at the ground and sill . concerning the sunlight ' s disappearance as a " fall, " the phrases have swept alongside , with the picture they evoke, not just the windowpane however the o ther sunlight, the dual sunlight completely defined at the s mooth and transp arent glas s . Like a clapper in a bell , the foremost stands vertically 7 "in the keyhole" : it ring s forth the regular expression until eventually it beco mes absurd. Mo reo ver, hearken to Magritte : " B etween phrases and obj ects you could create new relatives and speci fy char­ acteristics of language and obj ects normally missed in lifestyle . " Or back: " So metimes the identify of an obj ect takes where of a picture. A observe can take where of an obj ect in realit y . A n picture can take where of a notice in a proposition . " And the fo llowing assertion, conveying no contradiction yet relating the inextricable rangle of phrases and photographs and to Burrowing phrases 39 the absence of a co mmon flooring to sus tain them : "In a paintin g , phrases are of an analogous fabric as photos . particularly one sees photos and phrases another way in a portray. ,,* of those substitutions, those transubstantiation s , there are various examples i n M a g ritte's w o r ok . In sonnage marchant vers l 'horizon , eight in keeping with­ there's the well-known fellow visible from in the back of , with darkish hat and coat, arms in his p o ckets. he's positioned close to 5 coloured blobs . 3 o f them res t o n the floor and endure the italicized phrases fosil , fouteuil , cheval ; one other, over­ nuage ; ultimately, on the terminus of earth and sky, one other vaguely triangular blob is named ho­ rizon . nine we're far fro m Klee and his regard­ lecture . 1o this is often certainly not a question of weaving head, is named indicators and spatial figures right into a special and completely novel for m . phrases should not certain on to different pictorial components . they're m erely inscriptions on blobs and shapes: Their distribution above and lower than , correct and left, i s precise t o the normal format of the portray . The horizon is certainly within the heritage, the cloud overhead, the sunlight located vertically and to the left . yet inside this general context , phrases don't change lacking obj ects . They o ccupy no empty or hole areas , as the inscription-bearing blobs are thick, voluminous lots, stones or males­ hirs whose shadows stretch fo rth at the flooring be­ part that of the guy. those " word-bearers " are thicker , extra subs tantial than the obj ects themselves .

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