[Humanist] 29.743 analogical?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Feb 26 09:12:09 CET 2016

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 743.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Fri, 26 Feb 2016 06:54:00 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: the analogical world

At the beginning of The Miracle of Analogy: A History of Photography, 
vol. 1 (Stanford, 2015), Kaja Silverman addresses ideas of representation:

> In a chilling passage in his 1859 essay "The Stereoscope and the
> Stereograph," Oliver Wendell Holmes not only characterizes the world
> as a picture, whose essence inheres in its photographic
> representability, but suggests that once this essence has been
> extracted, the world itself can be thrown away. “Form is henceforth
> divorced from matter,” this passage reads. “In fact matter as a
> visible object is of no great use any longer . . . Give us a few
> negatives of a thing worth seeing, taken from different points of
> view, and that is all we want of it. Pull it down or burn it up, if
> you please.

Does this not sound familiar, if a bit bolder than many utterances or 
implied notions along this line? Against it and related ideas, she argues 
for a different idea of photography, and so, I think, for what we do with 
our beloved machine:

> photography isn't a medium that was invented by three or four men in
> the 1820s and 1830s, that was improved in numerous ways over the
> following century, and that has now been replaced by computational
> images. It is, rather, the world's primary way of revealing itself to
> us—of demonstrating that it exists, and that it will forever exceed
> us. Photography is also an ontological calling card: it helps us to
> see that each of us is a node in a vast constellation of analogies.
> When I say 'œanalogy,' I do not mean sameness, symbolic equivalence,
> logical adequation, or even a rhetorical relationship—like a metaphor
> or a simile—in which one term functions as the provisional
> placeholder for another. I am talking about the authorless and
> untranscendable similarities that structure Being, or what I will be
> calling “the world,” and that give everything the same ontological
> weight.


Read it tonight!


Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Digital Humanities Research
Group, Western Sydney University

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