Archaeologies of Vision: Foucault and Nietzsche on Seeing by Gary Shapiro

By Gary Shapiro

While many recognize that Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault have redefined our notions of time and heritage, few realize the an important position that "the endless relation" among seeing and announcing (as Foucault positioned it) performs of their paintings. Gary Shapiro unearths, for the 1st time, the entire quantity of Nietzsche and Foucault's situation with the visual.

Shapiro explores the entire variety of Foucault's writings on visible paintings, together with the speculation of visible resistance, the idea that of the illusion or simulacrum, and his interrogation of the relation of portray, language, and tool in artists from Bosch to Warhol. Shapiro additionally indicates via an excavation of little-known writings that the visible is a tremendous topic in Nietzsche's concept. as well as explaining the importance of Nietzsche's research of Raphael, Dürer, and Claude Lorrain, he examines the philosopher's realizing of the visible measurement of Greek theater and Wagnerian opera and gives a strong new examining of Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

Archaeologies of Vision can be a landmark paintings for all students of visible tradition in addition to for these engaged with continental philosophy.

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He suggests that when we are asleep (or even when we close our eyes while awake), "the brain produces a host of light-impressions and colors, probably as a kind of afterplay and echo of those effects of light which crowd in upon it during the day . " Since we cannot tolerate a mere chaos of impressions, we are unconsciously compelled to organize these random data into "definite figures, shapes, landscapes, moving groups. What is actually occurring is again a kind of inferring of the cause from the effect; the mind asks where these light-impressions and colors come from and supposes these shapes and figures as their causes: it regards them as occasioning these lights and colors because, by day and with eyes open, it is accustomed to finding that every color, every light impression does in fact have a cause that occasions it .

33) . I will also be suggesting that we can read Zarathustra as the story of the eyes, al­ though one with a rather different focus than Bataille's. With this hint, we can proceed to see how it is that Nietzsche might be taken seriously as a theorist of vision. Like other philosophers, thinkers, and writers, Nietzsche constantly speaks of knowing, be­ lieving, realizing, and other cognitive activities in terms of a language or rhetoric of vision. The habit is so deeply rooted that we seldom notice it in ourselves or others; we fail to see what we are doing, even when it is right before our eyes.

There never was such a firm bedrock of visual impressions that would have served as the basis of inferences, whether conscious or un­ conscious, everyday or philosophical. Consequently, the thing in itself "is worthy of Homeric laughter. " Visual interpretation and imagina­ tion, Nietzsche might say in more recent j argon, goes all the way down. The title of a late Nietzsche text, Twilight of the Idols, evokes a time of day that involves subtle shadings and chiaroscuro; it is the Zwielicht or Diimmerung that might provide an alternative to the all­ too-bright and illusory light of the Enlightenment.

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