Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Philosophy in the Bedroom


William Blake, Isaac Newton (1795, London, Tate Gallery)

I turn my eyes to the Schools & Universities of Europe
And there behold the Loom of Locke whose Woof rages dire
Washd by the Water-wheels of Newton. black the cloth
In heavy wreathes folds over every Nation; cruel Works
Of many Wheels I view, wheel without wheel, with cogs tyrannic
Moving by compulsion each other: not as those in Eden: which
Wheel within Wheel in freedom revolve in harmony & peace.
(William Blake, Jerusalem Plate 15, lines 14-20)


Charles E. Steinheimer, 1950, East Berlin
Young Pioneers getting a demonstration of practical atheism.


Tullio Crali, La Tour Eiffel, 1980

Hence we might speak, among men, of a true Babel complex: Babel was supposed to communicate with God, and yet Babel is a dream which touches much greater depths than that of the theological project; and just as this great ascensional dream, released from it's utilitarian prop, is finally what remains in the countless Babels represented by the painters, as if the function of art were to reveal the profound uselessness of objects, just so the (Eiffel) Tower, almost immediately disengaged from scientific considerations which had authorized its birth (it matters very little here that the Tower should be in fact useful), has arisen from great human dream in which movable and infinite meanings are mingled: it has reconquered the basic uselessness which makes it live in men's imagination. (Roland Barthes, The Eiffel Tower and Other Mythologies, New York, 1979)


Julio Larraz, For you, Anaxagoras, 2003

What is called "birds' milk" is the white of the egg. (Anaxagoras, Fragments, no. 22)


Richard Müller, Philosophers, 1918

CARTESIAN, adj. Relating to Descartes, a famous philosopher, author of the celebrated dictum, Cogito ergo sum—whereby he was pleased to suppose he demonstrated the reality of human existence. The dictum might be improved, however, thus: Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum— "I think that I think, therefore I think that I am;" as close an approach to certainty as any philosopher has yet made. (Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary)


Dali, One Second Before Awakening from a Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate, 1944
Cause is said to generate an effect - which is no more sensible than it would be for one who has never seen a dog except in the pursuit of a rabbit to declare the rabbit the cause of a dog. (Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary)


Felice Casorati, Сonversazione platonica (Platonic Conversation), 1925
For a man to conquer himself is the first and noblest of all victories. (Plato)



 Edward Hopper, Excursion Into Philosophy, 1959

Science and art, or by the same token, poetry and prose differ from one another like a journey and an excursion. The purpose of the journey is its goal, the purpose of an excursion is the process. (Franz Grillparzer) 


Everything happens to everybody sooner or later if there is time enough. (George Bernard Shaw)


René Magritte, Philosopher's Lamp (La Lampe philosophique), 1936


I thought that Hegel would have been very sensitive to this object which has two opposing functions: at the same time not to admit any water (repelling it) and to admit it (containing it). He would have been delighted, I think, or amused (as on a vacation) and I call the painting Hegel's Holiday. (Rene Magritte, 1958)

IDEA, rough

Marcel Duchamp, Network of Stoppages, 1914

In philosophy matters are not simple enough for us to say “Let’s get a rough idea”, for we do not know the country except by knowing the connections between the roads. (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Lecture, 1933)



Christoph Schmidberger, What controls you must not necessarily be a person, 2005

Everybody allows that to make a shoe you must have learned and practised the craft of the shoemaker, though every man has a model in his own foot, and possesses in his hands the natural endowments for the operations required. For philosophy alone, it seems to be imagined, such study, care, and application are not in the least requisite. This comfortable view of what is required for a philosopher has recently received corroboration through the theory of immediate or intuitive knowledge. (Hegel, Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences (1830), Introduction §5) 


 Mi-Mi Moscow, Confucius, 2003
By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be wide apart. (Confucius, The Confucian Analects)

LANGUAGE, origin of

Joos van Ghent, Plato (c. 1474, Paris, Louvre)

SOKRATES: What do you want to begin with? Or should we, just like you, begin
with SUN?


SOKRATES: She could carry this name, because, during her RUN, she separates
things. Also, because she adornes with colors everything that grows out of the
earth so that vision becomes FUN.

(Plato, Kratylos, Sämtliche Werke III, p. 48, own translation)


Bouguereau, Dante and Virgil in Hell, 1850

Dante, Inferno XXVII, The Logician Devil
He must come down among my menials;
the counsel that he gave was fraudulent;
since then, I've kept close track, to snatch his scalp;
one can't absolve a man who's not repented,
and no one can repent and will at once;
the law of contradiction won't allow it.'
O miserable me, for how I started
when he took hold of me and said: 'Perhaps
you did not think that I was a logician!'


 Margaret Bourke-White, Moscow 1941

Russian post-grad students in economics and philosophy, hard at work on their respective theses at the Lenin Library, one of the largest in the world.


Man Ray, The Primacy of Matter over Thought, 1931


Chinese painter (13th century, attributed to Shih K’o). The Second Patriarch in Contemplation (Tokyo, National Museum) depicting Hui-k’o, the second Ch’an (Zen) patriarch (481-593)

A famous story is told about Hui K'o: He approached Bodhidharma and asked to be taught what the essence of dharma is. Bodhidharma said, "You will not believe me."
Hui K'o, in his zeal for enlightenment, then cut off his arm and cried out, "Master, the pain is terrible. My mind is experiencing great pain. Please, put my mind at rest."
Bodhidharma then said, "Give me your mind and I will put it at rest."
After considering this for a moment, Hui K'o replied, "I cannot find it."
"Good," said Bodhidharma. "Then I have given your mind rest."
At that moment, Hui K'o received enlightenment.


Pertaining to a philosophy of the universe invented by Newton, who discovered that an apple will fall to the ground, but was unable to say why. His successors and disciples have advanced so far as to be able to say when.

POWER, Will to

Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing. That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of "world history." (Friedrich Nietzsche, On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense, 1873)


Peter Paul Rubens, Les quatre philosophes ; 1611 Galerie Pitti, Florence

6 books, 5 philosophers, 3 plumes - on and around 1 table.



Hu Ming, Transparent Military, 2007

 Great realism, therefore, does not portray an immediately obvious aspect of reality but one which is permanent and objectively more significant, namely man in the whole range of his relations to the real world, above all those that outlast mere fashion. Over and above that, it captures tendencies of development that only exist incipiently and so have not yet had the opportunity to unfold their entire human and social potential. To discern and give shape to such underground trends is the great historical mission of the true avant-garde. (Georg Lukács, "Realism in the Balance", 1938)


 Man Ray, The Return of Reason, 1923


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, painted 1828 by Joseph Karl Stieler.
If I love you, what business is it of yours? - Goethe


Remigius Geyling, Klimt working on his mural "Philosophy" for the main hall of the Vienna University, 1902

My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.) He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world aright. (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus logicus philosphicus, 6.54)



Regnault, Socrates Dragging Alcibiades from the Embrace of Sensual Pleasure (1791, Paris, Louvre)


Solipsism is the philosophical idea that one's own mind is all that exists. Solipsism is an epistemological or ontological position that knowledge of anything outside the mind is unjustified. The external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist.


Engraving of Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea from "Diogenis Laertii de Vitis, Graeci et Latine" by Marcus Meibomius, 1692 

When Zeno was told that one of his enemies was no more he was observed to be deeply moved. "What!" said one of his disciples, "you weep at the death of an enemy?" "Ah, 'tis true," replied the great Stoic; "but you should see me smile at the death of a friend."


Giorgio de Chirico, The Conversation

Was there a woman in the room before he entered and saw her? Is there a woman in itself?


TIME, abysm of

Mark Tansey, Derrida Queries de Man, 1990

"What seest thou else In the dark backward and abysm of time?" "The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." (Shakespeare, The Tempest)



Alexander & Susan Maris, The Truth in Painting, 2006

Book ash from an unread volume of Jacques Derrida’s "The Truth in Painting" in acrylic medium on canvas.



Colette Calascione, Tickle, 2000 

"In a word, my dear, I am an amphibious creature: I love everything, everyone, whatever it is, it amuses me; I should like to combine every species." (Marquis de Sade, Philosophy in the Bedroom , 1795



Max Ernst, Euklides, 1945

According to Stobaeus, “some one who had begun to read geometry with Euclid, when he had learnt the first theorem, asked Euclid, ‘But what shall I get by - learning these things?’ Euclid called his slave and said ‘Give him three pence, since he must make gain out of what he learns.’”



Jack Spencer, World Watcher

Hölderlin rüttelt ihn. Wach
auf aus dem Seinsschlaf du!
Mensch, Heidegger, was
tatest du? Bei deinem Schwung
hast du einen Stein in die
Vergangenheit geschmettert!

István Vörös, Heidegger als Postbeamter, Wien 2008


Jean Baudrillard, St. Clément, 1987

Driving is a spectacular form of amnesia. Everything is to be discovered, everything to be obliterated. (Jean Baudrillard)
One would have to be like a taxi, a waiting line, a line of flight, a bottleneck, a traffic jam, green and red lights, slight paranoia, difficult relations with the police. Being an abstract and broken line, a zigzag, that slips 'between'. (Deleuze/Parnet, Dialoge)










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