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By John Lechte

 With the rising dominance of electronic expertise, the time is ripe to re-evaluate the character of the picture. a few say that there's now not a beautiful photo, merely disembodied details (0-1) ready to be configured. For images, this means religion within the precept of an "evidential strength" – of the impossibility of doubting that the topic was once prior to the lens – is not any longer believable. Technologically conversing, now we have arrived at some degree the place the manipulation of the picture is an ever-present hazard, while as soon as it used to be tricky, if no longer impossible.

What are the main moments within the family tree of the Western picture which would light up the current prestige of the picture? And what precisely is the location to which we now have arrived so far as the picture is worried? those are the questions guiding the reflections during this ebook. In it we circulate, partly 1, from a learn of the Greek to the Byzantine picture, from the Renaissance picture and the picture within the Enlightenment to the picture because it emerges within the commercial Revolution.

Part 2 examines key elements of the picture at the present time, reminiscent of the electronic and the cinema photograph, in addition to the paintings of philosophers of the picture, together with: Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, Jean-Paul Sartre and Bernard Stiegler.

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STRANGER: So, not having real existence, it really is what we call a likeness? THEAETETUS: Real and unreal do seem to be combined in that perplex ing way, and very queer it is. (Sophist 240a10–11; b1–16) Another way of translating ‘real’ and ‘unreal’ here is by ‘being’ and ‘non being’. The effect is to reinforce the unsettling nature of this for traditional logic. The latter impels us to ask how ‘non-being’ can also ‘be’—how it can have a form of being. This, as many commentators have acknowledged, is the key point in the Sophist.

Indeed, in the view of the historians, the issue of the image only emerges in the seventh and eight centuries, and then perhaps because the Orthodox Church is emerging more strongly and the influence of the heritage of the Roman Empire is receding. That is, the issues about icons arose because changes occurred in state structures and society. In almost Marxist fashion, it is changes in the material infrastruc ture which give rise to corresponding changes in the ideal superstructure. For Charles Barber—an art historian specialising in the Byzantine peri od—by contrast, the key to understanding iconoclasm is to be found in the subtle changes in theology relating to the icon.

Or, we should say, Socrates’s philosophy seems to entail a rejection of pleasure. For, as may be seen in the Symposium and in the Phaedo, Socrates himself is not averse to engaging in, or speaking highly of, pleasures of the flesh. The problem is that pleasure seems to close off the possibility of an image of pleasure. It thus seems to be a profound obstacle for the imaginary, rather than its midwife. And if Nietzsche’s claim is accurate, every pleasure is only such because of an actual or potential pain.

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