the treachery of images

Foucault, while discussing René Magritte’s La trahison des images, argues in his book This is not a pipe that the incongruity between the pipe and its legend illustrated his position, stated elsewhere, that “[neither words nor the visible] can be reduced to the other’s terms: it is in vain that we say what we see; what we see never resides in what we say. And it is in vain that we attempt to show, by the use of images, metaphors, or similes, what we are saying…” [p.9]. Thus, he argued, the drawing (and the series of paintings by Magritte that it inspired) strips us of the certainty that the pipe is a pipe, and “inaugurates a play of transferences that run, proliferate, propagate, and correspond within the layout of the painting, affirming and representing nothing.” [p. 49]

Read the interesting review of the book at Irreal Cafe (and buy at Amazon)

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