Make piles, polylogue

“We rarely see a photograph in use which is not accompanied by language.”

— Victor Burgin
In W.J.T. Mitchell, Picture Theory, 1994, p. 282

“…where perception of objects is concerned, the world, [Gerald] Edelman likes to say, is not ‘labeled,’ it does not come ‘already parsed into objects.’ We must make them, in effect, through our own categorizations: ‘Perception makes,’ Emerson said, ‘Every perception,’ says Edelman, echoing Emerson, ‘is an act of creation.’

Both the immune system and the nervous system can be seen as systems for recognition. The immune system has to recognize all foreign intruders, to categorize them, reliably, as ‘self’ or ‘not self.’ The task of the nervous system is roughly analogous, but far more demanding: it has to classify, to categorize, the whole sensory experience of life, to build from the first categorizations, by degrees, an adequate model of the world; and in the absence of any specific programming or instruction to discover of create its own way of doing this.”

— Oliver Sacks
“Making up the Mind,” review of Gerald M. Edelman, Bright Air, Brilliant Fire, in
The New York Review of Books, April 8, 1993


“The young child takes the first step toward concept formation when he puts together a number of objects in an unorganized congeries, or ‘heap,’ in order to solve a problem that we adults would normally solve by forming a new concept.”

— L.S. Vygotsky
Thought and Language, 1936 / 62

“Projection (expulsion, scattering, casting-out) and containment (burial alive, trapping) are two poles in the creative rhythm of the ego.… This dual rhythm is much protracted during a severe crisis in the young child’s development. I am referring to the emergence of anal disgust at the age of about eighteen months, when the first anal stage yields to the second stage. Before the child has learned anal disgust he will freely scatter his excrements as part of of his own valuable substance… The emergence of disgust serves to re-differentiate the body zones. The anal zone becomes debased.… Disgust greatly reinforces the ego’s tendencies towards containment.

— A. Ehrenzweig
The Hidden Order of Art, 1967

“There are definite ways, I believe, of stimulating the sociological imagination:

On the most concrete level, the re-arranging of the file, as I have said, is one way to invite imagination. You simply dump out heretofore disconnected folders, mixing up their contents, and then re-sort them. You try to do it in a more or less relaxed way. How often and how extensively you re-arrange the files will of course vary with different problems and with how well they are developing. But the mechanics of it are as simple as that. Of course, you will have in mind the several problems on which your are actively working, but you will also try to be passively receptive to unforeseen and unplanned linkages.…

— C.Wright Mills

“On Intellectual Craftsmanship,”  The Sociological Imagination, 1959

“Proust collected and treasured the photographs of his friends, giving his own in exchange on numerous occasions. While in the army, he took such pride in discovering his new role as a soldier that he once took pictures of his uniformed self to a dance and passed them out to friends. [His housekeeper] Céleste recalled in her memoirs the chest-of-drawers filled with photographs ‘of his mother and of friends and of relations but also of women he’d known and sometimes admired.… He often asked me to get them out for him. But it was chiefly in his memory that he rummaged. Then you could see that his thoughts were following a kind of underground track, as if he were organizing everything into images before putting them into words. His eyes became motionless, and I said nothing waiting for him to return from his internal journey.’”

— W.H. Adams

A Proust Souvenir: Period Photographs by Paul Nadar, 1984

“The delight of photographs consists in their ability to grant us a socially sanctioned engagement with our instinctual selves, unaccompanied by actual risk…

An observer of photographs (the term includes us all) is not some kind of voyeur manqué, but has become, just the same, a person made sensitive to an expectant of certain visual opportunities that no previous art form could furnish. Some of these opportunities are indeed masturbatory and rape-like, but the majority of them kindle more diffused needs that link people together, through their reflexes as well as their obsessions.”

— Max Kozloff

Photography and Fascination, 1979

Freud on categorization as the first step in theory making

Maria Cardinal onher mother’s control of her category formation (her collages)

Foucault on aphaisic’s difficulty in “making piles”

Lakoff on category formation

Alfred Schutz on typifications

“…in [Gerald] Edelman’s view little else [beyond a certain amount of sensory and motor ‘givens’] is programmed or built in [in the human infant]. It is up to the infant animal, given its elementary physiological capacities, and given its inborn value, to create its own categories and to use them to make sense of, to construct, a world — and it is not just a world that the infant constructs, but is own world, a world constituted from the first by personal meaning and reference.

Such a neuro-evolutionary view is highly consistent with some of the conclusions of psychoanalysis and developmental psychology — in particular the psychoanalyst Daniel Stern’s description of ‘an emergent self.’ ‘Infants seeks sensory stimulation,’ writes Stern.

‘They have distinct biases or preferences with regard to the sensations they seek.… These are innate. From birth on, there appears to be a central tendency to form and test hypotheses about what is occurring in the world … [to] categorize … into conforming and contrasting patterns, events, sets, and experiences.” Stern emphasizes how crucial are the active processes of connecting, correlating, and categorizing information, and how with these a distinctive organization emerges, which is experienced by the infant as the sense of a self.”

— Oliver Sacks
“Making up the Mind,” review of Gerald M. Edelman, Bright Air, Brilliant Fire, in
The New York Review of Books, April 8, 1993

“Lacan describes the infant’s fascination with his mirror image … as the ‘spatialization’ necessary for a position in language by which the subject is able to communicate.”

— R. Coward
and J. Ellis
Language and Materialism: Developments in Semiology and the Theory of the Subject, 1977

“I suggested that one of the essential properties of consciousness was the metaphor of time as a space that could be regionized such that events and persons can be located therein, giving that sense of past, present, and future in which narratization is possible…

[History] is impossible without the spatialization of time that is characteristic of consciousness.…”

—Julian Jaynes
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, 1976

“How does a mind achieve this spatialization of time?”
— Roger Shattuck
Proust, 1974

“The photograph is a thin slice of space as well as time.”
— Susan Sontag
On Photography, 1977

Insert Proust on laying things out in photographs before putting them into words.

“The alternative use of photographs which already exist leads us back once more to the phenomenon and faculty of memory. The aim must be to construct a context for a photograph, to construct it with words, to construct it with other photographs, to construct it by its place in an ongoing text of photographs and images. How? Normally photographs are used in a very unilinear way -- they are used to illustrate an argument, or to demonstate a thought which goes like this:



Very frequently also they are used tautologically so that the photograph merely repeats what is being said in words. Memory is not unilinear at all. Memory works radially, that is to say with an enormous number of associations all leading to the same event. The diagram is like this:

  \    |     /
   \   |    /

    /   |   \
   /    |    \

If we want to put a photograph back into the context of experience, social experience, social memory, we have to respect the laws of memory. We have to situate the printed photograph so that it acquires something of the surprising conclusiveness of that which was and is…

But any photograph may become such a ‘Now’ if an adequate context is created for it. In general the better the photograph, the fuller the context which can be created.
Such a context replaces the photograph in time — not its own original time for that is impossible — but in narated time. Narrated time becomes historic time when it is assumed by social memory and social action. The constructed narrated time needs to respect the process of memory which it hopes to stimulate.

There is never a single approach to something remembered. The remembered is not like a terminus at the end of a line. Numerous apporaches or stimuli converge upon it and lead to it. Words, comparisons, signs need to create a context for a printed photograph in a comparable way; that is to say, they must mark and leave open diverse approaches. A radial system has to be constructed around the photograph…”

—John Berger
“Uses of Photography, (for Susan Sontag),” 1977

“It is the understanding of the lateral correlations which stays the Imaginary, because this understanding founds the concept.”

—Anika Lemaire
Jacques Lacan, 1970 / 77