«Thesis presented to the Faculty of Arts of the University of Zurich for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by Mark Staff Brandl of USA and ...»
In regard to painting this meant that as a photographer one should learn from it rather than try to imitate it, as was common...at the time...." 4 Now "new" media — anything new — may be glorified merely for the fact of technological newness. We in the art and literary worlds have too often only memorized the idea of a "burden," creating for it an illusory existence.5 Paintings and novels are quintessentially antithetical. They incorporate, use and criticize. They have achieved a condition of being perpetually "genres undermined."6 Painting and the novel are artistic disciplines and forms which have a history of sabotaging themselves. They are in a constant state of crisis. This makes them fertile ground for the application of my metaphor(m) theory and for testing the broadness of the extended text concept. I have stated this in the odd passive construction so common to art critics, speaking of what "painting" or "the novel" does, when clearly that is a metonymy — it is painters and authors who do things, which then exist embodied in paintings and novels. Painters and novelists are deeply involved in a dialogue with and against the past.
...I cite again the Emersonian difference, which is to say, the American difference: a diachronic rhetoric, set not only against past tropes, as in Nietzsche, but against the pastness of trope itself, and so against the limitations of traditional rhetoric.7 Peter Halter, "Paul Strand: An American Modernist," in Aspects of Modernism: Studies in Honour of Max Nänny, ed. Andreas Fischer, Martin Heusser and Thomas Hermann (Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 1997), p. 255.
Needless to say the discussion of this problem and the pervasiveness of the term burden is due to W.
Jackson Bate's book, The Burden of the Past and the English Poet. Unfortunately few contemporary creators seem to have direct knowledge of this wonderful book and its complex and important argument.
W. Jackson. Bate, The Burden of the Past and the English Poet (New York: Harvard, 1970; paperback New York: W. W. Norton, 1972).
Martin Heusser, The Gilded Pill: A Study of the Reader-Writer Relationship in Robert Burton's "Anatomy of Melancholy" (Tübingen: Stauffenberg, 1987), p. 103.
Harold Bloom, Agon: Towards a Theory of Revisionism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982;
paperback, 1983), p. 32.
Metaphor(m) and the Expanded Text Concept 192 I would purport that in our period this is the condition of the awake perceiver everywhere. Bloom's insight is deep, and it is Emersonian, but by no means is this limited to one country as he presumes. The pastness of trope must be wrestled with and overcome. Each painter and novelist must struggle with his or her daemon, who is the angel, who is the attendant spirit (from Latin, genius), perhaps even genie: the precursor, god and self. Space is fought for and won with blood, not avoided with new toys incorporating dead ideas. This ineffable spar is the only way to occupy the holy ground of the other, finally creating one's own sacred space. As I discuss in Chapter Seven, I believe this struggle should now be reinterpreted, away from Bloom's oedipal, joust-like view and be visualized as a critical public dialogue, modeled on call-and-response. All the same, the necessary exertion remains.
Traditional forms and formats now have aspects of new media and vice versa. Notions are best transported to other realms in order to facilitate the greatest concentration: in other formats, within contrasting aesthetic objects and in surprising relationships. Rudolph Arnheim has shown that the forces of composition themselves, especially as gestalts, have psychological force, hence convey meaning. Structure can embody disparate, complicated, even contradictory meanings. 8 Cognitive science and metaphor theory have expanded and grounded Arnheim's insight.9 Painting and the novel have been in a permanent state of crisis for a minimum of several hundred years. What more could one ask for as a difficult, challenging and rewarding fray?
The Pictorial Turn
Although various literary theories have been the prevailing creative force behind most recent aesthetics, the tide may be changing once again, as I discussed earlier in this dissertation. Visually-generated tropes of thought are entering into a dialogue with the dominant literary and verbal metaphors of thought. W. J. T. Mitchell contends in his book Picture Theory, that a new "turn" — the "pictorial turn" — will supplant the study of cultural phenomena as we have known it under the sign of the "linguistic turn." He models his phrase after Richard Rorty's term for this dominance of verbal metaphor. This is amazing coming from Mitchell, one of the leading theorists today and the editor of Critical Inquiry, certainly one of the chief propagators of literary theories of the verbal-Deconstructivist bent.10 Obviously good news for painters, this could additionally herald a rebirth of theoretical interest in the novel (and in novelists). The academic critic is the unacknowledged ideal creator of the Deconstructivist critics, those revealers of all hidden tropes other than their own. The author may be dead but the reviewer is not. Painters, even conceptually oriented ones, are suspect for all the obvious reasons: sensuality, insufficient fashion consciousness, and so on. Novelists similarly simply create works which are too messy, with their realseeming dialogue, multiple characters, visual descriptions, mood evocation and — most frustrating — their continuous, frustratingly non-ironic pointing to life, even in and through the novel's own meta-existence. As Mitchell writes though, what he sees as a turning away An excellent discussion of such complexity in the uses and perception of the inherited form of the Blues is in Fritz Gysin, "African American Modernism and the Construction of the Blues," in Aspects of Modernism: Studies in Honour of Max Nänny, (Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 1997).
As in most of the essays in Mark Turner, ed., The Artful Mind: Cognitive Science and the Riddle of Human Creativity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).
W. J. Thomas Mitchell, Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994; paperback, 1995).
Metaphor(m) and the Expanded Text Concept 193 from a purely textual basis, from "[l]inguistics, semiotics, rhetoric, various models of 'textuality' "11 will not be "a return to naive mimesis, copy or correspondence theories of representation, or a renewed metaphysics of pictorial "presence"...."... It is the realization that spectatorship (the look, the gaze, the glance, the practices of observation, surveillance, and visual pleasure) may be as deep a problem as various forms of reading (decipherment, decoding, interpretation, etc.) and that visual experience or "visual literacy" might not be fully explicable on the model of textuality."12 Mitchell's book, published in 1994 has not had since then quite the influence many of us had hoped for at first. It appears that the linguistic turn is rather firmly academically entrenched, and although weakened, it has not been replaced by a new form of tropaic visuality, but rather modified into a kind of social-event literalness.13 More promising, I feel, is how Doelker has anticipated, even gone beyond the pictorial turn. Widen Mitchell's perceptive comments to include the mixed, multi-strand and integral entities that are at the heart of Doelker's work, and one has a potential "turn" of startling consequences. Philosophy has long portended an aesthetic turn with the increase in stature of aesthetics, the philosophy of art, once almost ignored, to a position of crucial importance, impinging on ethics, metaphysics, epistemology and philosophy of mind. Visual art since Duchamp has led the way from mimesis and personalism to questions of the ontology of art. Post-Duchampians (by which I do not mean neo-Duchampians) and Post-Joyceans are expanding this in new philosophical directions, such as epistemology, the hermeneutics of meaning, and theories of creativity, metaphor, social philosophy and more. Cognitive linguistics is highly visually oriented, especially in its emphasis on embodied experience in its metaphor theory. This may have been one of its initial attractions to me. The novel, with even more deaths and resurrections than painting in a far shorter span of existence, has fought a battle on all sides.
One theorist in the poststructuralist pantheon senses the world-shaking metaphor(m)al possibility of novels: Michael Bakhtin. His enabling "dialogical" view of art was discovered through deft reading of Fyodor Dostoevsky.14 In fact, in a (post-) postmodern world, perceptional abilities and artistic disciplines are interwoven.
"One polemical claim of Picture Theory is that the interaction of pictures and texts is constitutive of representation as such: all media are mixed media, and all representations are heterogeneous; there are no "purely" visual or verbal arts, though the impulse to purify media is one of the central utopian gestures of modernism."15 All media are multi-strand, to use the enlightening terminology of Doelker.
Metaphor(m) Recently there have been major breakthroughs in understanding tropes. Especially in the last two decades, major cross-disciplinary communication has been cultivated concerning the connection between poetics and thought in general. My approach is inspired by the continuing work on conceptual metaphor, primarily by scientists studying the brain. There are other contributors besides neuroscientists, though, to the cognitive revolution, that is, to the study, analysis and application of trope to thought. These contributors include other schools of psychology, literary and cultural theorists, philosophers (especially from aesthetics and the philosophy of mind), artificial intelligence and computer experts, scholars of religion, scholars of literature, and even a few creative writers and artists. The line of reasoning animating all of this is that trope is the basis of thought, thus language, not the other way round. Add the insight adapted from Doelker and Mitchell that all media are now multi-strand media and we have a new concentration on the human power of figurative imagination, which inspires new observations and strengthens some old contentions of artists and authors.
These theories grant my metaphor(m) notion a substantial bedding in the individual creator, as the result of a subjective contest with social and moral dimensions based in embodied cognitive tropes. To Bloom's agonistic "why," in particular, my theory of central trope attempts to wed the "how." Artists and authors create for themselves new metaphors to live by, which perceivers can then also use to think with and live by. This desperate battle to go beyond the merely formal aspects of one's inherited position relies most of all on the sheer will to build the trope of one's existence. These are the tools to turn (the source of the word trope), twist, bend and break the metaphors until one thereby has built one's own.
In all artworks there must be a deep-seated reason for using techniques. There must be "earned" purposes and desires behind new text forms. In too much art, but especially "media" art, the techniques are used only because of their faddishness. Form and metaphor are used automatically and feebly. Two pop song writers have caricatured this situation well. It is especially obvious in their field. "Why don't you do like everyone else....None of this long lost art, this archaic stuff — go out and buy something," sings Dan Bern.16 "I've got nothing to say and twelve ways to say it," sings Jimmer Podrasky.17 Extended text forms, while latent in most genres today, are melded into the substance of authors' and artists' metaphor (m)s in the best works. One procedure to accomplish this is to force forms of art to struggle, paralleling the efforts of creators themselves. Wassily Kandinsky discusses this in Concerning the Spiritual in Art when he celebrates the encroachment of the various arts on one another, proposing making use of this tendency as an invaluable modus operandi. His famous comparison of abstract art to music is contained in these passages. He suggests that all the arts can learn from one another and press their own individual boundaries, "despite, or perhaps thanks to, the differences between them...."18 Instead of seeking the Holy Grail of purity as Modernism did, (Post)-Postmodern painting and novels appear to be learning, as Kandinsky suggests, to extend antithetically. As non-trendy forms they have an especially free reign to expand philosophically. Thanks to the dissonances
between their techniques, their perceived functions and their actuality, they can effectively press the extended text concept into their metaphor(m)s, thus achieving deeper resonance.
Painting and the novel are concretely embodied thought.
The Extended Text Concept If the pictorial turn, or some similar visual centrality, comes to pass, we will have to replace the word text in Doelker's concept, but certainly not the insight behind "extended." By text he means the aesthetic object under consideration, which demands its own form of interaction and interpretation, "reading." He traces the term back to its root in weaving or a cable, which brings evocativeness back to a word which now seems too solely reminiscent of school books. Although text is itself a trope delimiting our perception, whether we call this idea extended text, extended system, extended form, extended virtu or extended image, it is clear that the adjective is most important. I intend the word text here to be inclusive of all art objects, including books, paintings, installations, TV shows, comics, computer artworks and more.
The following two-thirds of this chapter will apply metaphor(m), through examples of novels and paintings exhibiting it, to a handful Doelker's many Kulturtechnik-ideas from within his extended text analysis. He has given us a topology and taxonomy that cries out for honing on individual concrete manifestations. Let us go through several key sections of Doelker's thought, applying my concept to each and seeking out concrete examples in visual art and novels where the notions apply: extended literacy at work
Simple text. This is one simple technical form which displays one direct reference.