Monday 1 February 2016

Picture Post No. 9: Balloons Floating into the Philosophical Dimension

'Because things don’t appear to be the known thing; they aren’t that what they seemed to be neither will they become what they might appear to become.'

Posted by Tessa den Uyl and Martin Cohen

Al-Azhar mosque, Cairo
Photo credit: AP via Guardian

Human beings have long been trying to explain the unknown. We have constructed grand theories, separated doctrines and invented names all in a bid to create systematic order out of the  unknown. In the process, we have been so enthusiastic in our examination of the mysterious and so hopeful to tame our reality within our notions of proof, that even when our logic no longer fits, we still believe it is present. After all, building edifices upon that lack of proof, just like proving stories  never happened, can be even more powerful than finding evidence for those that actually did.

In this image, perhaps the child’s innocent play shows in a single gesture the impossibility of stepping outside our essential humanity.

This girl and the balloon are so completely embedded in life itself that it is difficult not to recognise in the image this human urge to investigate. Yet, in the human search for knowledge, the tendency to  build walls has never outreached that clarity this girl and the balloon hand back to us.

When does something become intelligible?

Is there some kind of archaic intuition that determines when a relation becomes timeless within a spatial dimension? Could the girl and the balloon  have been pictured like this in front of a row of policemen,  or a church, in the desert - or even in Cairo's  busy traffic Instead,  the balloon seems to descend like another world that the girl is waiting to receive.



Thomas O. Scarborough said...

It seemed loaded with meanings this. Some of them, I would tremble to explore.

A few things seem clear, one of them that childhood represents "our essential humanity". Yet does it? And in what way? Can one separate the child from a powerful network of influences in which it is already involved? Its mannerisms. Its social impulses. The very words which it speaks. Some of which reach back many centuries? What if the "archaic intuition" is the thing we most need to fear?

Just some impulses for this week's "reflection" ...

docmartincohen said...

Thank you, Thomas. Well, y'know, I kinda shy away from images like this, precisely because children relate to the world on a more direct level - but Tessa felt as you say too that it contained many messages worth exploring. I felt ultimately that this picture works because the messages are so subtle.


We did try to track down the photographer for a proper credit but so far haven't been able to, by the way.

Tessa den Uyl said...

Men has recognised symmetry in nature and from that observation formulated questions. Can a three legged cat still walk? What is the purpose of symmetry? We have mathematics, architecture (....) and ascribed purposes because we observed.

The symmetry of the architecture is beautifully pictured here with those shades reflecting on the wall of the mosque, revealing light reflections that offer us a discovery of the architecture that is actually hidden from the outlines of the picture. Light and shadows: image, and in this image, if one takes the freedom to step away from direct literal interpretation, the girl and the balloon appear as being on a stage. This picture gives us a plural 'in-living' of the image, that is rare.

If one is willing to accept this vision, and in regard to your observation Thomas, I would question whether a child who sees this image, muslim or not, focuses rather on the girl and the balloon or the references of the architectonical structure? For a child, play is experience and the adult frames that play and experience so the child will fit the adults world. In a way it is monstrous, for a child (being very negative) serves the decor of the parents. (The parents the decor of society, society the decor of the powerful etc.) If intelligibility is based on this process, we are doomed to stay into Plato's cave? The stage doesn't offer beyond what we can see and believe what we see? Are we still afraid of shadows? In a way we are, suspense in films is still playing around with this element to bind spectators to the screen. We believe while not believing. We exit the cave to come back to it. Maybe, turning back into the cave is maintaining culture. (I understand this might sound offensive).

There are human traits that move beyond culture that are recognisable, something basic to that recognition is experience itself previous of framed information. Might that be called archaic intuition? Why, as children, it is so much easier to stay in wonder? I do think that a child is able to detach from powerful networks, and in that sense enters the philosophical dimension in its most natural form. Now if one sees this picture and 'glues' the girl into the literal interpretation of the decor, that possible experience of wonder has died instantly. We didn't even give it a chance and in a certain way, we don't give the girl a chance for she becomes pictured. Then what are we doing? Are we exiting the cave and drag everything we find 'outside' back into it? Is this a paradox of the word adult?

Are we still observing? Daily life is so full of gifts, but do we still see? Are we attached or detached from life?

Perig Gouanvic said...

I witnessed a line drawn by different elements of the picture, and decided to do like others, not knowing really what I'm doing... I added the golden spiral :

Perig Gouanvic said...

(Golden_ball.png (Image PNG, 700 × 467 pixels))

Unknown said...

It's a lovely picture, which does make one wonder due to its multiple dimensions - the action, the light and shadow, the achitecture. No wonder it causes various thoughts. To know is part of humanity; a simple proof of this is that, although men are biological, at every moment, there are much more people reading news paper than having sex.

Thomas O. Scarborough said...

Stunning, Perig. How did you figure that out? ;-)

Tessa den Uyl said...

Nice observation Perig, thank you. I wonder whether this is some kind of proof that there are images in which we can all recognise ourselves?

docmartincohen said...

Yes, the eye does respond to these 'golden' patterns! "Things" are not "the known thing"... And, Tesa, you are right too, the scene is exactly like that of a stage..

Tessa den Uyl said...

I wish our educational systems would focus more on the potency of images. Images can bring dialogue that alone with words is not possible to evolve in the same way and move perception to other levels of consciousness.

Post a Comment