The Domain of Images

Gilles Deleuze, in his essay “Plato and the Simulacrum,” describes how Plato divides the “domain of images” into two. On the one hand there are iconic copies, which are the true likenesses of the original, and then there are phantasmic simulacra, which have a relationship of semblance to the original. The icons are endowed with resemblance, this is not a correspondence between two external things, but between a thing and an idea. “A copy truly resembles something only to the extent that it resembles the Idea of the thing.” The copy to be recognised as such will be seen as being endowed with the quality of the original. In short, it is the superior identity of the Idea that grounds the claims of the copies, grounding them on an internal or derived resemblance.

The claim of the simulacrum  is “made from below without passing through the Idea.” Thus it is an image of the original, but without resemblance, it is without the quality of the original. It is there as an aesthetic image, i.e. it is perceived and as such gives an effect of the original. It is constructed not on resemblance but on “disparity” and “difference.” The simulacral image avoids “the equivalent, the limit, the Same, or the Like.”

Making the simulacrum appear like what it is an image of, represses it, confines it “within a cave in the bottom of the ocean.”

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Plato’s Failure

Post #24 of my commentary on Heidegger’s analysis of Plato’s Theaetetus, written in the lead up to my exhibition: The Aviary

Heidegger concludes his account of the Theaetetus by outlining what he calls Plato’s failure in interpreting the phenomenon of the pseudes doxa in terms of speaking rather than seeing. This is because dianoia, inner reflection, is understood as a speaking to ourselves about what is before us, and as such founded on logos (discourse).

The mis-taking of pseudes doxa is therefore a failure of the intended predicate, i.e. what is said about the object before us. This leads Plato to grasp the essence of pseudos, un-truth, as the un-correctness of the proposition. Accordingly truth must also have its seat in the logos, rather than unhiddenness, it is thereby understood in terms of the correctness of the proposition. This leads to our present understanding of truth as the “correspondence, grounded in correctness, between the proposition and the thing.” (2)

This goes hand in hand with the conception of doxa as proposition, which means its original dual character as look and view recedes. Rather than being there in the uncertain duality of seeming, the truth and un-truth of what is seen now “simply stand alongside each other, indeed they have opposing directions, they even exclude one another.” (227)

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