You could probably tell that already by the way the angels trumpeted their joy down from heaven. I was about to admit defeat and resign myself to recreating all those notes from all those books…
That’s Ernie’s ‘don’t care’ face. To be fair, he doesn’t care about anything other than if he is getting a walk, when his food will appear, if that paper bag you’re holding is a toy for him to tear apart, and please don’t take his goddamn ball and throw it away from its carefully secured position again. This is apropos of nothing, I am just feeling too lazy to go and take a photo of something relevant. Also, Ernie is handsome.
Which is kind of relevant. My first lot of notes are taken from Guntar Figal’s Aesthetics as Phenomenology: The Appearance of Things. This quote really struck me: That which complements is that which allows something to be whole. The context is something like the prevalence of art being part of human culture in all its different variations from before we even developed language means we can say it is an activity that complements humanity, and as such has allowed us in various ways to be whole. I’m simplifying, you get the gist.
Some more quotes I pulled out to think about in terms of the PhD:
What speaks for art, therefore, is more than pleasure. One should rather speak of delight. Even the most serious of artworks, in all they demand of their viewers, can exhilarate in such a deep way that dealing with them affects one’s entire life-attunement. The experience of these works can even provide energy; one carries one’s burdens more lightly, one feels newly adequate to the demands of life, if anything because one has experienced that there is something beyond those demands.
To become involved with artworks is not to be informed of something, but to be touched in an originary way and displaced into a state of elemental openness: art provokes wonder – in all forms that wonder can take – from joy to irritation. If it is so, then art displaces one into that attitude that Aristotle described as the origin of philosophical observation. Art, like all astonishing things, is wondrous in its lack of self-evidence. With artworks, something is revealed that was not known without them. They displace one into wonder because they allow an ignorance to appear.
Bolded text mine. I wrote underneath this that it is a special kind of ignorance, that art is insight, though exactly what I meant by that is now anyone’s guess. Note to self, write longer notes. Still, I remain taken with the idea that art displaces one into wonder because it reveals an ignorance, something that we did not know, and likely did not know that we did not know.
I wrote down a few things about play and art also – I was interested in the play aspect because that what I feel is happening right now with the visual diary, and I’m quite interested in the idea of it as a necessity to insight, not a childish self-indulgence (I may have terribly self-interested reasons to promote the former over the latter). It’s also something akin to the idea that making is thinking? I think you need both quotes to understand something of what Figal is saying, so I have put them together. Sorry for the philosophical jargon, I have found that philosophers, like lawyers, have a tendency to try to make things super clear by being obtuse.
Once play no longer simply occurs and is played as occurrence, but instead becomes art, there is a ‘turning’ that Gadamer calls the ‘transformation into structure’. Through this transformation, play gains ‘its ideality’ … What is now experienced is the ‘truth that remains’.
While a game can be played in obliviousness and without observation of others, the ‘structure’ (the object) is there to be experienced and understood.
I thought these ideas connected well to concepts in autoethnography, and am currently working my way through the book Critical Autoethnography, edited by Boylorn and Orbe. A lot of the ideas ares kind of ordinary self-evident background; autoethnography as a cultural analysis through personal narrative, for instance, and as both method and product that speaks from, for, and to the margins.
Personal note: I was super uncomfortable with the idea of speaking either from, for, or to the margins. I’m too privileged, have too many options and resources, to feel in any way sidelined to a margin. Perhaps a career margin, but otherwise, I’m not sure where I would place chronic neuropathic pain on the margin/border/liminal spectrum. I’ll let you know when, if, I ever figure it out.
(I keep differentiating between inflammatory or mechanical pain and neuropathic pain because I find them qualitatively very different beasties and would take the former two options a thousand times over the latter. I need to explore why that is more, I think. Something to do with the shifting, ghostly, taunting and constantly constant nature of neuropathic pain. It feels separate from me somehow, visited on me, as opposed to the clearly corporeal nature of inflammatory and mechanical pain.)
Scholars have used multiple stand points to situate their stories and lives, to call out positions of privilege and expose moments of vulnerability.
Again, bolded text mine. It was the and in that sentence that caught my interest, gave me perhaps one of Figal’s moments of wonder as revealing an ignorance. Pain, as noted, makes you vulnerable, (indeed the word vulnerable itself implies a wounding), and centering an entire PhD around your own pain will most certainly engender more than a few moments of vulnerability. I’m not thrilled about that, but I realised when I read the above sentence in Boylorn and Orbe’s introduction, that I also do cherish it. I tried to think of a different word than cherish, because weird?!, but it best describes what I mean, in that I both appreciate the idea and am willing and able to defend it.
I think Figal was also describing a certain vulnerability when he spoke of those who experience art as being touched in an originary way and displaced into a state of elemental openness. What is allowing oneself to be touched, what is any kind of openness, if not also vulnerability? Perhaps you can’t experience the sensory and motor damage of repeated bouts of brachial neuritis for yourself (and lord may you never), but also, perhaps, if I am open enough, honest enough, skilled enough in developing play into structure, what is left may in some way provoke a connection, an experience, yes, perhaps even a delight. And through that delight, an ignorance exposed and an understanding formed; a complement to our respective experiences of life.
And that which complements is that which allows something to be whole.