conceptual

Theory

"It is the theory that decides what we can observe." (Einstein)

"It is more important that a theory be beautiful than it be true." (Paul Dirac)

In Greek, theoria originally meant a looking at or viewing and theoreo, a spectator. In this sense, theory and Visuality are metaphors of each other.

Is the theoretical attitude is that of the disengaged observer? Does theory require a distinction between the illusionless observer and the gullible participant, or to put it more mildly, between theory and observation? Does theory always entail what John Dewey derided as the "spectator theory of knowledge"? Perhaps to theorize is to create the impression of something that existed already (or, even better, always already) (see metaphor) In the Pragmatic tradition, theory is the critical reflection on "belief." William James calls it "an appetite of the mind," what Frank Lentricchia calls "the need to generalize" and "to obliterate differences." (quoted in Cary Wolfe, Postmodern Theory and the Pragmatics of the "Outside" )

But according to the Greek conception, theory is not a knowledge but touching (thigein ).

Read More

abstract/concrete

The etymological origins of "abstract" are the latin abs trahere , to draw away from. Thus the abstract is separated from body, object, or application. It can describe qualities apart from any object or thing. In Archaic Greek art, the genre of particular things outweighed their specific, individual qualities in artistic representation. Hence abstraction, expressed through the geometricization of natural forms, dominated Archaic art. A Greek polis , when understood as a particular pattern of life and not just a geographical grouping of people and their belongings, was essentially an abstract conception, just as a nation "is today. (see J.J. Pollitt, Art and Experience in Classical Greece.) When we describe a culture in terms of categories such as "religious," "economic," etc. we are not describing real subdivisions, but are making abstractions for our convenience. In the study of "structures" the practice of analysis consists in constructing "models" that replace the study of concrete phenomena by that of an object shaped through its definition. 

Read More

alterity / other

"The negative construction of ....others is finally what founds and sustains European identity itself." (Hardt and Negri) For Hegel, the effort to overcome the Other is simultaneously an effort to overcome self- consciousness' own otherness to itself. Hegelian negativity simultaneously restored and systematized, unleashed and bound the power of the Other, against and within the consciousness of the Same. In the work of self-consciousness, which is desire in general, the subject finds ways to integrate what at first seems to lie outside itself. But during the ongoing course of this process, the subject changes, to the point that the subject can be considered only a term for the process that it accomplishes. 

Read More

analytic/synthetic

For Logical Positivists, such as A.J.Ayer, the only statements that can be verified are those that are analytic. According to Ayer, they cannot be confirmed or refuted by facts of experience, and "do not make any assertion about the empirical world, but simply record our determination to use symbols in a certain way."

Read More

Anthropic Principle:

The Anthropic Principle: explains the existence of cosmological facts by noting that only certain conditions could have evolved life in the universe: It is doubtedlessly correct that the universe in which we live is the kind of universe whose laws allow, at least in certain of its neighborhoods, for the emergence of creatures like us. 

Read More

aporia

For the Athenians, the nomadic Scythians were aporoi. While the Athenians valued authochthonous birth, the Scythians had absolutely no attachment to any place and were always somewhere else. For the imagination of urban Greeks, nomadism was the indelible mark of the Scythians' distance from civility, the sign and substance of an alien existence, the quintessence of otherness. (see also war machine

Read More

art historical

In the late nineteenth century, with the rise of a philosophically oriented art history, the philosophical issues of how we perceive space gave way to the psychological problem of how we come to take delight in the characteristics of formand space. The philosophical art historians sought the "basic principles," (Grundbegriffe ) underlying the creation and appreciation of art, and their historical transformations. 

Read More

assemblage

The French terms of both agencement and dispositif used by Deleuze and Guattari are usually translated as assemblage. An assemblage is a "site at which a discursive formation intersects with material practices" (Jonathan Crary, Techniques of the Observor, p. 31) It is "simultaneously a machinic assemblage and an assemblage of enunciation" (D+G, Thousand Plateaus, p. 504)

Read More

bachelor machine

bachelor machine

The term "bachelor machine" was first used by Marcel Duchamp around 1913 in connection with pieces of work that would later be assembled in the Large Glass of 1915-1923. (Also known as the bride stripped bare by her bachelors, even) For Duchamp, the term refers specifically to the lower portion of the glass, the realm of the bachelors, which contains, among other things, the chocolate grinder, the cemetary for uniforms and liveries -- Priest, Delivery Man, Gendarme, Cuirassier, Policeman, Pallbearer, Footman, Stationmaster and Page Boy -- and the témoins oculistes. The Large glass consists of two distinct realms, the realm of the bride above, and the realm of the bachelors below, both desiring and imagining one another without any possibility of mutual comprehension. (one is here reminded of the real / imaginary distinction and the discussion of cyberspace)

Read More

being / becoming

For Cassirer, " Form thinking" belongs to being, while "causal thinking" belongs to becoming. But strict knowledge is only possible of the always-being. That which is becoming can only be described, if at all, in the language of myth. Or rather, myth is already familiar with both the question of the "what" and the question of the "whence." "It sees everything that it grasps (the world as well as the gods) under this double aspect." (The Problem of Form and the Problem of Cause, in The Logic of the Cultural Sciences, p. 87) 

Read More

consensual hallucination

The term "consensual hallucination" is Gibson's (from Neuromancer), who is generally credited with coining the term Cyberspace. "What seems so alluring about the half-formed promise of VR technologies is the ideal of a world of one's own that one can share with others through consensus but that one can enter or leave at will ... that brings with it a certain guarantee of pleasure without danger." (E. Grosz, Anybody) 

Read More

continuity/discontinuity

continuity/discontinuity

For Georges Bataille, (sexual)"Reproduction implies the existence of discontinuous beings." (Erotism, p.12) Each being is distinct from all others, including its parents, who are distinct from each other. For Bataille death means the continuity of being and is brought into play by reproduction. Death is the end of discontinuous being, of the being formed at the moment when the discontinuous entities of sperm and egg unite to form a new continuity, when two become one, and a new entity is formed from the fatal fusion. The fascination with both reproduction and death is the dominant element in Eroticism

Read More

critical history

In The Critical Historians of Art, Michael Podro distinguishes questions that are "archaeological" from "critical" questions. The latter, which address the role and nature of concepts of art, "require us to see how the products of art sustain purposes and interests which are both irreducible to the conditions of their emergence as well as inextricable from them." (pxviii)

Read More