“A specific photograph…is never distinguished from its referent…”*

Illustration above: “Mets Ça Dans Ta Pipe”. Halyna Romanivna Didycka, Professor French, Spanish, Latin at Wayne State University: “Examples of this expression crop up from the early 19th century and are presumed to derive from the belief that pipe-smoking is a good aid to thought.”

From Wikipedia:

“The Treachery of Images (French: La Trahison des images) is a 1929 painting by surrealist painter René Magritte. It is also known as This is Not a Pipe and The Wind and the Song. Magritte painted it when he was 30 years old. It is on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The painting shows an image of a pipe. Below it, Magritte painted, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”, French for “This is not a pipe”.

The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture “This is a pipe”, I’d have been lying!

— René Magritte

The painting is sometimes given as an example of meta message conveyed by paralanguage, like Alfred Korzybski’s “The word is not the thing” and “The map is not the territory”, as well as Denis Diderot’s This is not a story.

From: Camera Lucida (La Chambre Claire) (1980) by Roland Barthes:

“*…By nature, the Photograph (for convenience’s sake, let us accept this universal, which for the moment refers only to the tireless repetition of contingency) has something tautological about it: a pipe, here, is always and intractably a pipe. It is as if the Photograph always carries its referent with itself, both affected by the same amorous or funereal immobility, at the very heart of the moving world…The Photograph belongs to that class of laminated objects whose two leaves cannot be separated without destroying them both: the windowpane and the landscape, and why not: Good and Evil, desire and its object: dualities we can conceive but not perceive (I didn’t yet know that this stubbornness of the Referent in always being there would produce the essence I was looking for)…”

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