As a life-long learner and a ‘mature’ (i.e. old) student of Philosophy I find much to appreciate in the pictures and words of Wynn Bullock. Alongside Minor White, a more thought-provoking photographer you will struggle to find.
“Searching is everything – going beyond what you know. And the test of the search is really in the things themselves, the things you seek to understand. What is important is not what you think about them, but how they enlarge you“.
In philosophical parlance ‘that-p’ denotes propositional thought where a proposition is a statement that is capable of being true or false, if it is not non-sensical. Some philosophers think that seeing entails propositional thought, that we can only see what has been already conceptually contained.
So my research question is: does seeing ‘that-p’ entail a knowing of p that satisfies the kinds of experiences that we ascribe to the enjoyment of photographs? What I want to examine is the experiencing of photographs that I shall call ‘thus and so’, that is inferentially and aesthetically.
‘Camera Lucida, Reflections on Photography‘ is unlike any other book written by Roland Barthes. It is neither philosophy not is it literature. It occupies a space between the two – literary philosophy. Like poetry, a slow reading of ‘his little book’, as Barthes liked to call it, is essential.
This post is the first in a series of short readings of Camera Lucida. My aim is to travel slowly through the book to see what thoughts are sparked off, for that is the promise intimated by Barthes literary style. The style of the book is perfect for dwelling in any found interludes.
Roger Scruton famously rejected photography as an art form on the grounds that, being causal, photographs cannot represent an artist’s intentions. For Scruton, paintings can enable us to see lines, shapes and colours ‘as’ something other than lines, shapes and colours per se. Photographs cannot do this. Wilfrid Sellar’s ideas on the role of phenomenal content in visual perception provide a fruitful approach to questioning Scrutons’ thesis.