An Image does not GO BY.
That’s why Harry Smith in his Early Abstractions, and under his tutelage, Stan Brackhage in his hand-painted films, return “aching speed” to cinema, taking advantage of the rapidity of frame-wise distribution of temporally delivered optical material—to cause, astoundingly, the sustaining of an image in its radically transitory, temporal context. Suddenly, among the phantasmagoria and razmataz of flickering painticules on cellulose, an image sits there—for how long? certainly far less than a second—1/15 perhaps? But against the flutter of 1/24, 1/15 is long enough to enlist optical sensation in the cause of an examination of the nature of duration—an examination that deep physicist David Finkelstein told us touches upon a matter that, if adequately explicated, would bring physics that much closer to a genuine ontology; i.e., that all of physics waits upon an adequate theory of duration.
An image does not go by. Like a word or any other sign, it contrives to suppress the silent susurration of radical time, “the snake that goes by in the grass, but the grass don’t move” or some such remark from Mr. Olson. Also speaks of.
Makers of imagery variously contrive to recoup the sacrificial act (the slaying of time) that initiates their art: the recrudescence of time on the image surface.
Don Byrd proposes this working spectrum: Mondrian … Pollock — The former, intending the utter release from the temporal signature, delivers the viewer all the way over to the real time that sustains the act of viewing because no temporality at all is rendered in the image, therefore the viewer is freed to dwell in the true time that absorbs her; the latter (Pollack) layers various species of temporal representation: the layerings remarkable in themselves, first one pass of the dripping substance, then another; but secondly, the gestural attitude of the great arcs of paint. The viewer returns to her own time only to have it reconfigured by the contrapuntal temporalities of the art.
The Tarots rest upon a history of iconic functionality that culminates in the Alchemical Images of Michael Meier: irreducible symbologies. An essentially Hermetic prolusion. The secret resides in the thing secreted. Recess itself is imaged, but you can’t see how or where. The eye is summarily drawn back into its own secrets, its tentacular relations: as retina to brain, so image to mind.
Where proportion seems, inversions will wallow.
When mind is so convened within the image, the scale of true time recedes to the neurological: neurochemical cyclicities and hyper-cyclicities equipped to hum out the limpidity of sweet open mindspace. Time becomes spanned not by abstraction but concentration. Infinite zones of transparitionality murmur within the inky dots and objects of the Meierian image in pure relation. Note that this is at an extreme remove from optical art where mind vanishes into the sensuosity of the optical affect.
In Emblem Books, the genus of which the Alchemical Images and the Later Tarots are species, thought is created by the relation of images, the syntax of gestures, the symbolic activity of otherwise natural features, such as gravity, say: Saturn tumbling in the sky, his open mouth reaching for the rock whose engulfment by him were the absorption of subsequent phenomena in prior conception. But the whole complex is suspended against gravity, though without the weight of the god and his stone being delivered to levity. Gravity itself is elevated, sustained mid-moment, mid-air, but in the perfect thought of a fact that will not be excerpted, no more than time itself. In Tai Chi Chuan, gravity itself is the principle and possibility of excellent timing. RK: “The sage in his wisdom loves waiting for the right moment,” while the atemporal Platonism of the logical structure of the image is reconfigured within a materially incongruous iconicity. The incongruity is effected without inversion.
Group Theory purports to be the art of abstract symmetry. Its method is inversion. But Bialy inverts these matters: it is the art of inversion; symmetry is its mask, both mocking and mocked. That means that inversion, which will not be trifled with, is liberated from its sovereignty and allowed to proliferate antinomian exuberances.
Skopein: to scope out; eidos: the surface seen that betrays the thing known; and telos, end, as in teletai: the rites that accomplish the disclosure of the mystery. And the fixation of each image has its telos in the screeches of the Erinyes, offended by the fact of image at all, crying for endlessly compensatory images to come. [For we know from G. Spencer-Brown—and this is another working dogma of Dr. Byrd—that that which begins almost symmetrically, propagates asymmetrically increasingly. The demands for compensation accelerate a desperate urgency. It is necessary, quite often, to press control alternate delete, and return, to mix a metaphor, to square one.]
“I am Not That I Am” squeaks across the Abyss. Though negation is no inversion, this negation multiplies its (a)symmetries secreting the most treacherous of equivalences: it scrambles the copula, by a reduplicated first person singular. The Pole About which the Twin Identities Twine: Not That. Or: I Am / Not That / Am I (?) Certainly not.
Or not only that.
The surface of Bialy’s images never fails to entwine the complicit viewer in the impossible chiasm that obtains, says Olson’s one phenomenologist, between any seeing being and the things that she entwines by seeing them.
To see is to be complicit in a double inversion that does not reinvert its initial iteration. (No Double-Negation Elimination need apply.) Invert, secrete, invert again. These properties of deep time make inquiry into Newton’s reassuring equable flux (and even its subtle phenomenal recuperation after the Einsteinian correction) – make inquiry, that is, into whether the thought that Mondrian’s explicit exit (from time) and secret reentrance for the viewer of her own time, were the fundamental story. Was it? Does time turn? And if it does, on a dime? And if it doesn’t, how close a torque to come? Does it fail to turn unless it turn again? And in so small a compass…
And another thing.
Charles Stein, Barrytown, NY, 12.07.2005
The Counting Numbers
But do numbers Count?
By the borders of the Forest, Count Numbers leads his steed where
panthers prowl and other quiet Things lock onto their antitypes.
There are other “kinds” of numbers, but they do not “count,” that is,
you cannot count with them. They simply Loom and Bode.
As these dark rectangles surely Loom and Bode.
At this point I wish to ask a question. Shall I put it to the ethers? Or
to Bialy? And to whom am I addressing that question, and the one after
that? To whom am I addressing THIS question? No matter. The Question
hangs in its own “arrears,” until we GET there, that is, until we ask
Are the little figures in the central stem or popsickle stick, invariant
fixtures of the many asiderials in which THEY bode? Do they suffer
transformation? Composition? What shall we make of their iteration
across these many imageries? They do seem rather angry, to be so
obscurely insisted upon in a visible project that does not allow them
the complexity of their more usual graphic transmutations. They are
lodged in their grim identities and, since in fact it is not their
nature to be fixed in this way, their response is, quite righteously,
more hostile than is their wont. I am the Minkey, you fucker, says the
surly bloke at the bottom rung, and if I am stuck here, I intend to
FOUND an intolerable FORCE. Otherwise, the force founds me, which is
more to my liking, believe me.
The image is, indeed, an arrangement of Rungs, in the Kabbalistic sense,
I imagine, each a level, an ontological solecism-a standard usage in a
non-standard location, for instance-what happens to a world when it is
transposed to another? The arrangement in levels does not succeed in
suggesting a vertical hierarchy, for the upper rungs do not communicate
with those below, except by means of that pesky central column, which
delivers a constancy whose context of invariance is not in the picture.
But the differentiae are gray-scale related, and of comparable
transparency; the darkest rung (I wrote “wrong” for some reason, and
then I wrote “run,” for some reason) is thickest and above, and through
it the central road diverges, ominously. What if, oh ontic voyagers,
the path of ascent were to diverge on the paths above?
The proposition would probably be that each level is a different
“sllab,” if sllabs defer, each eliciting a differently skryable
register. Why not try it?
7906 (Brass Tubing in a Mirror)