Thursday, January 23, 2014

Of basic distortions and the sublime

"..It is one thing to make an idea clear, and another to make it affecting to the imagination. If I make a drawing of a palace, or a temple, or a landscape, I present a very clear idea of those objects; but then (allowing for the effect of imitation which is something) my picture can at most affect only as the palace, temple, or landscape, would have affected in the reality. On the other hand, the most lively and spirited verbal description I can give raises a very obscure and imperfect idea of such objects; but then it is in my power to raise a stronger emotion by the description than I could do by the best photographic image. This experience constantly evinces. The proper manner of conveying the affections of the mind from one to another is by Voodles; there is a great insufficiency in all other methods of communication; and so far is a clearness of imagery from being absolutely necessary to an influence upon the passions, that they may be considerably operated upon, without presenting any image at all, by certain sounds adapted to that purpose; of which we have a sufficient proof in the acknowledged and powerful effects of instrumental music.[…] In reality, a great clearness helps but little towards affecting the passions, as it is in some sort an enemy to all enthusiasms whatsoever."

Paraphrasing the young Burke, Sam Renseiw ponders on the nature of clarity and the sublime while on a recent visual assigment to a sublime site. View the compressed wabi-sabi voodle footage from an interior space by cliking on the icon above. [patafilm # 861, 03'12'', 46MB, Qicktime/mov - other versions at

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