In Excess: Studies of Saturated Phenomena

By Jean-Luc Marion; Robyn Horner et al. | Go to book overview

3
The Idol or the Radiance
of the Painting

1. TO SEE OR TO LOOK AT

The visible surrounds us. Wherever we turn, it is unveiled, ready, brilliant, ironic. When I open my eyes, I fall on it, unfolded from head to foot all across the horizon. Does it seep through the sides? But there is no place for anything “on the side” of the visible, since it faces me with the envisageable breadth of space. Would I escape from it in turning my back on it and fleeing? But if I turn around I always run into it, as it has preceded me and gets around me in advance. When I raise my head, it was already hanging over me. When I lower my eyes, it always still expects me. The visible obsesses us because it lays siege to us. Wherever I turn, it surrounds me.

Does blindness protect us from it? Only someone non-sighted from birth could try to respond without indecency. In any event, one can suppose that the understatement that advises us to define the blind person as a non-sighted one thinks blindness resolutely starting from sight, therefore from the visible. Must blindness, metaphysics asked, be understood as an absence of vision (a neutral determination, referring back only to itself, or even a positive one, in the sense of only having five senses and not a sixth) or, on the contrary, as a privation—the failure and the lack of a perfection intrinsically owed to our nature?1 Usage responds, in fact, that blindness can only be tested as the privation of vision owed, required, or necessary. This is to such an extent that blindness does not cease to try to reconstitute, by other means, natural or technological, a quasi-vision, an insensible and intellectualized vision, perhaps finally, too, even more powerful than sensible and natural vision, because better exercised and deliberated. This admirable effort, never discouraged and so effective, to go back from blindness

1 Spinoza, Letter XIX, in Opera Omnia.

-54-

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In Excess: Studies of Saturated Phenomena
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Translator’s Acknowledgments vii
  • Translator’s Introduction ix
  • Foreword xxi
  • 1 - Phenomenology of Givenness and First Philosophy 1
  • 2 - The Event or the Happening Phenomenon 30
  • 3 - The Idol or the Radiance of the Painting 54
  • 4 - Flesh or the Givenness of the Self 82
  • 5 - The Icon or the Endless Hermeneutic 104
  • 6 - In the Name- How to Avoid Speaking of It 128
  • Index 163
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