This is my response to Smithson’s essay, “Language to be Looked at and/or Things to be Read”

It might help to put these on when you read Smithson’s essay:

Language operates between literal and metaphorical signification, not meaning. I take this to mean the operability of language, its functioning location (meaning its scale) is somewhere between the literal signs (meaning the symbols are referring to something literal, like “Rock!”) and the metaphorical signs (meaning the symbols, “dead letters” or, “dead sound-waves”, are a first-layer metaphor of something physical, like an egyptian hieroglyph, or a cave painting.) The power of a word is contingent upon context, in the broad sense, meaning the sentence, paragraph, essay, book, room, etc.. The “partially resolved tension of disparates”, meaning, I think, that the power of a word – it’s degree of communicability – is contingent upon the seperated, incompatibility of the context (as defined above), where the word is either muted by this dissolution or insatiated with power. It is the disparates of language, the inseperability and incompatiblity of of words (“concepts”) that creates depth in the language. A literal word, or a metaphor will “pop out” of the otherwise mute background words, because of the incompatibility of the words, or “concepts”. I would ask, how does language have any power at all if the similarities are already resolved?  There would be no need to speak.  It is, as I described above, an unresolved disimilarity, making the perception (the illusion) of resolved similarities, into an paradox, where at one and the same time, the language is both dissimilar, and illussorily similar. The illusory part is how we understand language. The former, unresolved dissimilarity, is the enantiomorphic talking – the aesthetic perception talking. Congruity, an aesthetic perception of language, not an illusory reading of language, is forced into an incongruent spatial power-play of words. Smithson is both percieving language enantiomorphically as a heap of physical “dead letters” and an illusory reading of language as a morphologically meaningful sieries of “alive letters”. This is why you’re confused about it. Maybe if you read the essay with this paradox of language being both enantiomorphically percieved, and morphologically read at the same time, you may gain some insight on it.


I think it’s interesting how we can map in three dimensions using the xyz coordinate plain, with two-dimensional analytical thought. I attribute this to the scale at which the mind works when calibrated to language. By “scale” here, I mean a “zoom scope” like on a camera that focuses in on a set of problems – this is the scope we “three-dimensionalize” two-dimensional things in. By this, I mean that the scope is focused on two dimensions (i.e. subject / verb agreement … y must = x etc.). This two-dimensional mind follows rules very well. “Do this not this, and then do that, and not that. Upon completion of that, do those, then those, then you will have a three-dimensional cube”. The resulting “three-dimensions” are a product of two-dimensional thought that operates on a different scale. The three-dimensional cube on a page, is then seen as a two-dimensional map with an illusory “three-dimensional” object on it. how one percieves this illusion, is with the eye and ear – that scale – not the analytical, rule following mind. Both make us human, but the former scale is more human, while the latter “lower” scale is more machine… hence the cyborg. We are all cyborgs. 

When looking at the cube, it shifts from front to back in three dimensions off of the page.  It is the power of the unresolved incongruencies that shove a side either to the front or the back.  The tension between the disparate angular lines, and the perpendicular lines causes the cube to move from front to back.  Some lines gain more power than others in a constant struggle for power amongst the unresolved disparates.  If it were resolved, it would be a set of two-dimensional “dead lines”.

Climb Back Up the Ladder

January 13, 2009

Stable Two-Dimensional Animated Three-Dimensions


I hope for immediate access to the scale of experience. I think (and I’m not alone on this) we are getting further from experiencing the scale of the eye and the ear, as one “descends”, or “ascends” the ladder of the analytical, technological mind – the two-dimensional mind. Language seems to strengthen the analytical mind that almost pulverizes the eye and ear to a death. This is to say, only, that we are moving away from the experiential scale of the eye and the eear – not to say becoming closer to the “thing-in-itself”. The experience of the enantiomorphic eyes and ears are in an inextricable, paradoxical relationship between the expressive power of the “thing out there”, and the expressive power of the eye and ear (and even the analytical mind for that matter). This makes experience, an inseperably intertwined “loopy” or spirialing paradoxical seizure, or apprehension (not an understanding) of expressive-impressiveness. It is both expressed, and impressed at the same time. The analytical mind rejects these paradoxes of the eye and ear, because it is calibrated to another scale(s). These scales are rendered uni-directionally causal. 

The articles “the”, “is”, “has”, as well as present tense nouns like, “runs” “walks” etc… create, I think, a belief in stability, and present moments that could be frozen.  This, however, is a result of the technological scale that language operates in.  It is not the scale of the eye and ear.  It is the scale of the analytical mind.  The freezing of moments into two-dimensional pictures of memory, has scaled the mind down to a place where the cybernetic exists – a place far from the senses, that makes us cyborgs.  We are human-machine, because of the practical power of the analytical two-dimensional maps.  They have nearly destroyed all belief in reality.  The project of art and peotry is to bring back a lost belief in reality – a lost scale.

Robert Smithson, Enantiomorphic Chambers

The minds of some, in the “mania for literacy” (Smithson) is a frozen picture of memory, where anything that causes an animation, or even a tug into another spatial dimension is something to be weary of. It is intellectual agoraphobia at “play” here with the open spaces of the enantiomorphic (or “non-morphed, unchanged, letting be abstract”) chamber of displaced reflections. These frozen two-dimensional pictures are “filled”, or pasted with fictional anthropomorphic two-dimensional facts-of-language. Literacy is bounded by rules, and one abides by those rules. The syntactical “sifting through”, or reading of language is a “structure” that is “erected” not by the poly-dimensional scale of the eye and ear, but the uni-directional scale “beneath” the “dead letters”, or “meaningless sound-waves”. Language, if read through the technology of logical two-dimensional pictures only works at a uni-directional causal scale. This is the level of literacy that has caused the actual (or the “foreground”) to move beyond the horizon of the enantiomorphic seizures of this “eye and ear middle scale” into an unseen dip over the infinitely approaching, never obtainable horizon. These frozen two-dimensional pictures of the mind are a result of the fictionally internalized God-of-reason. The uni-directional causality of the scales above and below sense perceptions are the lattices of where technology was erected into three-dimensions. The micro and macro scales of physics are multi-dimensional, unidirectional short films, where the film reel, screen, and projector are not accounted for. In other words, the pictures of other scales are neglecting the poly-directional paradoxical “causation”of experience.

This neglect of the enantiomorphic three-dimensionally displaced reflections has caused the scale of literacy to become “actuality”. It has resulted in the round earth to become a potentially infinite flat earth. The ground we walk on as literate language-followers is a fictional two-dimensional “surface” far removed from the actual (or the “real”, or “foreground”). The actual is beyond the horizon of thought, in the three-dimensional enantiopmorphic reflections of the scale of the sensationally scattered experience.


“… [Merleau-Ponty] indicates this aspect of time when he notes that “a point of time can be transmitted to the others without ‘continuity’ without ‘conservation’” (Visible 267). These flashings of time in which one moment comes to be joined with others “without continuity” suggests how moments of time become “piled up,” enjambed, as “sudden reversibilities.” The time of aspects of the “inbetween” may be more like a fractal constellation than that of a continuous “spanning” among moments. We may see that it is in this way, even though we may think we are not directly working with machines, that we might have become enfolded in distant mechanical processes that have restructured what our own histories have come to mean to us.” – Glen A Mazis, “Cyborg Life: The In-Between of Humans and Machines”

George Kubler, like Ad Reinhardt, seems concerned with “weak signals” from “the void”. Beginnings and endings are projected into the present as hazy planes of “actuality”. In The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things, Kubler says, “Actuality is … the inter-chronic pause when nothing is happening. It is the void between events.” … The future criss-crosses the past in an unobtainable present. Time vanishes into a perpetual sameness.” – Robert Smithson, “Quasi-Infinities and the Waning of Space”

The “in-betweens” of time, from one moment to another – the criss-cross of time, are possibly what allows for the cyborg. Our ability to follow rules, making tools and using language is our use of the temporal fractals, and not its continuity. The overlapping, “folding over”, criss-crossing of time is an ebbing matrix wallowing somwhere in the elsewheres of the mind. It is, as I see it, a technology itself. The matrix of time is a technology, not much different than a spear, a smudge of paint on a wall, or a computer. It is a design that is also the designer.

The designed-designer of Time, it seems, would look like this:


With a stick drizzling, splattering, and splashing paint onto a canvas, Pollock seemd to paint his temporal fractals.  The stick twists, with the flick of his wrist, into a prosthetic of his aesthetic expression.  The paint becomes “the past, and the canvas becomes the future.  This play of time freezes the past and future into an “unobtainable present”, or an indeterminate certainty that resembles the fractaled past of grey, blue, black, red, and yellow.  The white future, or the “blank canvas” is at play, criss-crossing the fractal of time.  The present is no longer there in this painting.  It is the fractaled matrix of Pollocks past and future.  Pollock, the expressionist, is an agent of the criss-crossing past and future, animated between the past and the future, where time is the “loopy” animator.

To me, it’s violent, joyous – all of the attributive adjectives to humans. It achieves this through an abstract anthropomorphic rendering. That blasts back at you a myriad of fragments that make non-sense. Sometimes there is something thier – a three-dimensional “skull”, and attribute nouns to the adjectives. This spawns the imagination to bound itself into a fictional world of psychosis. These are the power of adjectives – the power of the world in the middle of the Fruedian triad. Language is at work here in this painting. It becomes alive.