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Questions on the Merleau-Ponty Reading

I received the following email from Nicky concerning Friday’s reading of Merleau-Ponty which she was unable to attend, any feed back/other comments, from those present?

Eye and Mind

I found this piece of writing difficult to understand as Ponty wove his argument around the inconsistencies of Cartesian models of perception and thinking to explain the operation and significance of painting.  The Chapter from ‘The world of Perception’ was very helpful in its presentation of a more condensed and clear statement.

His theories about the metaphysical significance of painting are based on his concepts of the nature of perception—as the ‘dehiscence of Being’    ‘whereby the visible makes present a certain absence, its rear side, its inside, its past’  So painting is the attempt to express or make visible anew ways in which the visible world forms itself to our eyes.  Thus painting may convey the perception of the outward appearance of ‘things’—in a manner that is independent of assumptions.  Like the experience of seeing, the direct perceptual experience of things or paintings is of great value, distinct and separate from a process of analysis.

In Ponty’s discussion about perception he seems to be so preoccupied countering the Cartesian model that the roles of memory, the imagination and intellectual deduction in painting appear to be dismissed.  Certainly modes of perception are the conduits along which experiences enter our minds, but once inside instead of being absorbed on a blank slate they are interpreted, thought and felt about and compared to previous personal experiences and anecdotal ones of others.  I think this happens in the process of painting to, rather than the painter’s hand operating simply a conductor ‘which reaches the support and engulfs it.’

The main area that I would have liked to hear people discuss is that of the nearly exclusive linkage that Ponty forms between painting and perception.  I certainly don’t claim to have a complete grasp on understanding his ideas, but this aspect rests uncomfortably within me.  What do the others think?



May 30, 2009 Posted by | Reading 3, reading group | , | 3 Comments

Eye and Mind, Merleu-Ponty. Jude’s reading for Group 1 Friday 29 May

Click on this link for the Group 1 text selected by Jude for the next reading group on Friday 29 May.

Eye and Mind Merleu-PontyMMP text

May 6, 2009 Posted by | Reading 3, reading group | , | Leave a comment