On Images, or the Lack of Them

I had someone ask me today why I never seem to post any pictures on my blog.  She is not nearly the first person to ask this question of me, so I thought that I should perhaps be more explicit about my reasons for this choice.

It is not that I am rejecting the image as such.  I would argue that images are often the most effective and the most appropriate ways to convey ideas, and my interest in film has much to do with a sincere appreciation for how images communicate.  I link to images and films not infrequently for this very reason, and there is even a sense in which this whole blog is more imagistic than literary, since the web presents writing itself as image in ways that I may or may not take the time to discuss at some later point.

What I am rejecting is the image, not in general, but in this particular space.  I am rejecting the image as a way of visualizing this writing, my writing, in particular, and I do this as a way of drawing attention to how the image has come to dominate our modes of communication at the expense of the literary and the verbal.  I am not privileging the literary essentially.  I am only isolating it, in this time and in this place, to a certain degree, to raise the question of what is lost when the visual comes to displace the literary.  I am not advocating that we do without the visual.  I am only suggesting that we consider whether we are employing it in ways that are causing us to become less fluent with the literary.

I am aware, of course, that this gesture is largely a useless one, as our textual and aural media become increasingly remediated imagistically.  I am also aware of the irony involved in advocating a renewed sense of literate textuality through the hyper-visual medium if the internet.  These things do not really concern me, however.  What concerns me is only to model a particular relation to writing that recognizes how our general relation to writing is being subsumed within a broader relation to visuality.  I aim neither to reverse the visuality of our culture nor to reject this visual culture myself, only to open the possibility that a different relation between writing and visuality might still be possible.

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