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Tag Archives: The Tremendous World I have inside my head

Art: The Watch that Ticks Fast?

Found posted over at antagonist, this recounting of something Kafka said in passing on Picasso:

Recalling a visit with Kafka to an exhibition of French painting, Janousch reports that, in answer to a comment he made on on Picasso’s “rose coloured women with gigantic feet” which was to effect that Picasso was a “wilfull distortionist” Kafka replied: “I do not think so… He only registers the deformities which have not yet penetrated our consciousness. Art is a mirror, which goes ‘fast’, like a watch – sometimes”.

(from The Tremendous World I Have Inside My Head by Louis Begley)

Its odd that when you work to uncover an idea such as that which I excavated from Spinoza’s Letter 17, here: Spinoza’s Scheme of the Prophetic Imagination and here Omens of the Future: Intellection and Imagination, one stumbles upon it an even more extraordinary form. Here in the image of the fast clicking watch we have a romantic condensation of just that thought that governed Spinoza’s reasoning on affects of the future. And more, it was my unstated desire to suggest that indeed such a logic could underwrite some of the powers of art and political visioning. (It should be noted that Kafka has at least a tentative connection to Spinoza through the Jewish Prague circle with included Einstein: The Prague Esprit de Spinoza and Einstein’s Inception of General Relativity.)

But Kafka’s diagnosis of Picasso’s powers of depiction are eruptive. It is not merely the future that comes through the fast-ticking lens of the artist, but deformities which have not yet penetrated our consciousness. Amazing. Like long delayed stars’ light the great contortions of what we cannot imagine present themselves, and possibly those beauties. What seems conferred by art is a possibility from the potential of affects which totalize the soul, selected out through a logical intimacy with the times. What we CAN feel draw from the yet imagined possible of what we WILL feel.