Art History Unstuffed. Jean-François Lyotard and the Figural, Part One

Art History Unstuffed

Jean-François Lyotard and the Figural, Part One

was posted on June 6, 2014

 Although it is the last significant book by Lyotard that was published in English, Discours,Figure (1971) was his first important work. He was among several French philosophers who wrestled with the fact that philosophy was laced with rhetorical “figures” which gave philosophy a visual character, alien to writing or discourse.

 The task of discourse is to represent, and, in taking up that task, language tautologically assumes that representation is possible. This assumption of control over language is linked historically to the invention of perspective in the Renaissance, a visual system of lines that “represented” space. But in order for language to represent, heterogeneous elements, such as the Figure or the Figural, had to be suppressed, written out of language, as it were.

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