Roy Sorensen, Seeing in the Dark: The Philosophy of Shadows, Oxford University Press, 2008.
Fascination with shadows begins in infancy. We innately gravitate towards principles for understanding objects and often extrapolate them to shadows. Shadows are treated as honorary physical objects.
Developmental psychologists regard these overextensions as clues to “folk physics.” Just as linguists figure out the innate grammar of tense construction from the child’s use of”runned” and “goed,” psycologists hoped to figure out the scheme for objecthood and causality from mistakes children make about shadows. Shadows are the irregular verbs of object perception.
Children rapidly acquire a fold physics that allows them to predict the behavior of middle-size objects fairly accurately. (Otherwise, toddlers would not be intrigued by magic tricks.) Children are much slower to acquire a comparable understanding of shadows — even though the shadows almost always accompany objects. Surprisingly, many children younger than nine cannot predict on which side of an object a shadow will fall when told where the light source will be. This ignorance survives the attention children lavish on shadows. Children are opinionated about shadows and emotionally involved with them. they commonly believe shadows emanate from their bodies. (When asked to make their shadows move around a room, six-year-old children rotate their bodies.) Children believe that shadows persist in the dark and are made up of a smoky substance. Shadows give a black eye to the empiricist. [p. 9-10]
Timothy Morton, The Ecological Thought, London: Harvard University Press, 2010
Masculine Nature fears its own shadow — subjectivity itself. It wants no truck with the night of the world . . . [p. 82]
Michel Foucault, ‘Fantasia of the Library’, Language, Counter-memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews, Donald F. Bouchard & Sherry Simon (trans.), New York: Cornell University Press, 1977.
[On reading The Temptation of Saint Anthony, Flaubert’s] friends were enraptured by the “richness of his vision” (François Coppée), “by its forest of shadows and light” (Victor Hugo). [p. 89]
John Douglas Millar, Brutalist Readings: Essays on Literature, Berlin: Sternberg, 2016.
If conceptual writing was anything it was a depleted replay of Conceptual art masquerading as institutional critique of a literature it could not define. A shadow of a shadow of a shadow. [p. 79]
Samuel Beckett, The Lost Ones, Samuel Beckett (trans.), New York: Grove Press Inc. 1972.
No other shadows then than those cast by the bodies pressing on one another wilfully or from necessity as when for example on a breast to prevent its being lit or on some private part the hand descends with vanished palm. [p. 40]
Nicolas Bourriaud, introduction to The Mattering of Matter: Documents from he Archive of the International Necronautical Society, Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2012.
. . . in order for any message to carry real force, it must negotiate a danger zone, cross a frontier, transgress a prohibition. On this subject, Michel Leiris evoked the corrida, “the shadow of a bull’s horn” hanging over the act of writing, which is consequently placed under the sign of a mortal threat, a personal endangerment. [p. 18-19]
Clarice Lispector, The Passion According to G.H., Idra Novey (trans.) London: Penguin, 2014.
Like me, the apartment has moist shadows and lights, nothing here is abrupt; one room precedes and promises the next. From my dining room I could see the mixtures of shadows that were a prelude to the living room. [p. 22]
Mark Dorrian, ‘Adventures on the Vertical’ Cabinet Issue 44, 2011-2012.
In his book The Voice in Cinema, Michel Chion examines the powers of what he calls the acousmêtre–the voice that is heard but whose source cannot be located within the image. As such, it forms, Chion writes, “a special being, a kind of talking and acting shadow.”
Susan Sontag, ‘Against Interpretation’, Against Interpretation and Other Essays, London: Andre Deutsch Ltd, 1987.
To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world — in order to set up a shadow world of “meanings.” [p. 7]
Jorge Luis Borges, The Book of Imaginary Beings, Andrew Hurley (trans.), New York: Viking, 1967.
To see the most lovely landscape in the world, a traveler must climb the Tower of Victory in Chitor. A winding staircase gives access to the circular terrace on top, but only those who do not believe the legend dare climb the tower. On the stairway there has lived since the beginning of time a being sensitive to the many safes of the human should known as A Bao A Qu. It sleeps until the approach of a traveler and some secret life within it begins to glow and its translucent body begins to stir. As the traveler climbs the stairs, the being regains consciousness and follows at the traveler’s heels, becoming more intense in bluish colour and coming closer to perfection. But it achieves its ultimate form only at the topmost step, and only when the traveler is one who has already attained Nirvana, whose acts cast no shadows.
• Mark Ford, Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams, London: Faber and Faber, 2000.
As Alain Robbe-Grillet noted in his 1963 essay on Roussel, his works are characterized by a ‘total transparency, which leaves neither shadow nor reflection behind it’. [p. xxii]
. . . Roussel’s openness in La Saine to drift and contingency does exert a peculiar kind of fascination. Towards the end of Act II a character called Clotilde Park explains to an acquaintance, Nicourt, how she enjoys watching the play of dust motes in sunlight, in terms that clearly reflect Roussel’s experience of la gloire [his profound experience of inspiration].
I had thought deeply/While watching this long space full of light/Seething with activity . . . I am, besides, in the habit/ Of engaging in deep, endless meditations;/ I would remain thus, without feeling hungry,/ Thirsty or tired for inconceivable amounts of time./ Each grain of dust quickly became untraceable/ As soon as it passed beyond the line where the beam of light/ Finished, and entered into shadow. [p. 72-73]
In his essay ‘Énigmes et transparence’, Alain Robbe-Grillet relates the pure ‘deathlessness’ of Roussel’s fiction to its mysterious lack of chiaroscuro: Roussel’s stories, Robbe-Grillet suggests, ‘eave neither shadow nor reflection behind them.’ Cocteau similarly argues that Roussel’s style leaves ‘no intriguing shadow’ but creates a kind of pure ‘illumination’. Revelling in the Egyptian sunlight, Claude appears on the very verge of discovering the ‘pays de re[grave]ve’ of Roussel’s fiction, the shadowless realm in which every aspect of existence is transfigured into narrative, ‘tout come un roman’. [p. 92]
• Henri Focillon, The Life of Forms in Art, New York: Zone Books, 1989. Introduction by Jean Molino.
. . . the products of a single culture at a single moment harmonize “in a profound and shadowy unity,” [p. 15]
• Etel Adnan, Paris, When It’s Naked, Sausalito: The Post-Apollo Press, 1993.
The champions have been skiing under an intense snow fall. I looked at the screen covered with white-in-motion, as if it became an electron microscope. It drew me into it, my tired mind spinning and going sideways, which I had to keep pulling back into what became a moving nothingness. But nothingness and I are long-time friends, and it was one of the most meaningful hours of my life. The snow continued to come in diagonals, and between the diagonals where other lines made of snow, falling, modulating the air as they were modulating my vision. Between all these diagonal lines I was able to perceive shadows, white shadows, so to speak, separating the falling threads. [p. 84-85]
My friend was much attracted to the agonies of incarceration, and died imprisoned in a sickness. He lived what he had imagined. What happened? I think that he was ruled by the imagination which is everyone’s shadow. When the mind reaches the imagination’s deepest end, the imagination gives in but remains intact and active. Then our mind, under the pressure of unleashed impulses, shatters all the interdicts we know into bits and pieces. The imagination feeds then on these pieces as flames on fuel. The mind, left without its shadow, ends up walled in into itself, into its own hell. [p. 114-115]
• Steve Van den Bosch (in Nico Dockx & Clara Meister (eds.), A Poem A Day calendar, published by Bruno Devos in collaboration with Curious.
, so perhaps shadow is enough light. [29/01]
• Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven [http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178713]
And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!
• Gillian Wylde, The Nabokov Papers, a project by Kate Briggs and Lucrezia Russo, Acklam: Information As Material, 2013
A as in shadow theory-isms. “dust rufflers”, “bed skirts”, or gathered drapery. [p. 82]
• Briony Fer, ‘Poussière /peinture: Bataille on painting’, Bataille: Writing the Sacred, Carolyn Bailey Gill (ed.), London: Routledge, 1995.
Dust and its network of associations are woven through Bataille’s writing on modern painting, in particualr his writing on Miró , Masson, Picasso and Dali. . . I am concerned with the ways in which this constellation of metaphors around dust relates to Bataille’s view of the origins of modern painting in a psychic scenario of sexual difference, a scenario which does not so much illuminated as deal in shadows. My interest is in Bataille’s sense that obscurity — as it is played off against insight and enlightenment — is a condition of modern painting. It is a question of how dust, as a metaphor, can migrate from waste, from matter, to ‘dust in your eyes’ and a blurring of sight and of meaning, where meaning is necessarily opaque and impervious to light. [p. 154]
• Hal Foster et al., Art Since 1900: Modernism Antimodernism Postmodernism, second edition, London: Thames & Hudson, 2011.
Very early on — and [Robert] Smithson directly borrowed from this tradition — the laws of entropy was applied both to language (the way words empty out when they become clichés) and to the displacement of use-vaule by exchange-value in an economy of mass production. The final book of the nineteenth-century French novelist Gustave Flaubert, Bouvard et Pécuchet, one of Smithson’s favorites, already merged these two lines of enquiry in recounting the growth of the entropic shadow being cast on our lives and our thought under the conditions of capitalism. [p. 549]
• W. G. Sebald et al., The Emergence of Memory:Conversations with W. G. Sebald, Lynne Sharon Schwartz (ed.), London: Seven Stories Press, 2007, [quoted from The Rings of Saturn]
The invisibility and intangibility of that which moves us remained an unfathomable mystery for Thomas Browne too, who saw our world as no more than a shadow image of another one far beyond. . . And yet, says Browne, all knowledge is enveloped in darkness. What we perceive are no more than isolated lights in the abyss of ignorance, in the shadow-filled edifice of the world. We study the order of things, says Browne, but we cannot grasp their innermost essence. [p. 114.]
. . . the dominant event [in Sebald’s After Nature] is the solar eclipse of 1502, a “catastrophic incursion of darkness”:
on the first of October the moon’s shadow
slid over Eastern Europe from Mecklenburg
over Bohemia and the Lausitz to Southern Poland,
and Grunewald, who repeatedly was in touch
With the Aschaffenburg Court Astrologer Johann
will have travelled to see this event of the century,
awaited with great terror, the eclipse of the sun,
so will have become a witness to
the secret sickening way of the world,
in which a phantasmal encroachment of dusk
in the midst of daytime like a fainting fit
poured through the vault of the sky,
while over the banks of mist and the cold
heavy blues of the clouds
a fiery red arose, and colors
such as his eyes had not known
radiant wandered about, never again to be
driven out of the painter’s memory. [p. 130]
• Luce Irigaray, Marine Lover of Freidrich Nietzsche, Gillian C. Gill (ed.), New York: Columbia University Press, [date?]
BAPTISM OF THE SHADOW [p. 3]
• David Berridge, The Fluxus President, Rhos-on-Sea: Dark Windows Press, 2012.
Was that tall shadow Ban Ki-moon? [p. 47]
• Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Star, Giovanni Ponteiro (trans.), Manchester: Carcanet Press.
• Charles Bernstein’s Showtime, quoted in Marjorie Perloff, Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century, University of Chicago Press, London, 2010.
and jump quickly
the paths into
pricks are points on a
you back behind the stares
where shadows are
• The book of Jonah, King James Authorised version, 4:5.
So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.
• Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, London: Routledge, 2001.
. . . and rendering to Roussel a small part of what is still his due, I use the word ‘table’ in two superimposed senses: the nickel-plated, rubbery table swathed in white, glittering beneath a glass sun devouring all shadow . . . [p. xix]
• Joseph J. Tanke, Foucault’s Philosophy of Art: A Genealogy of Modernity, London: Continuum, 2009.
the movement Foucault is discussing refers to the process by which, from the Classical age onwards, the artist is linked with his or her work and forced to serve as its ground of truth. Foucault is here sifting the soil by which the life, the psychology, and the intentions of the artist form a shadow, exterior to the work itself, which must be traversed if one is to access to [have] access to the work. [p. 38]
• John Williams, Stoner, London: Vintage, 2012.
Sometimes, in his attic room at night, he would look up from a book he was reading and gaze in the dark corners of his room, where the lamplight flickered against the shadows. If he stared long and intently, the darkness gathered into a light, which took the insubstantial shape of what he had been reading. And he would feel that he was out of time, as he had felt that day in class when Archer Sloane had spoken to him. The past gathered out of the darkness where it stayed, and the dead raised themselves to live before him; and the past and the dead flowed into the present among the alive, so that he had for an intense instant a vision of denseness into which he was compacted and from which he could not escape, and had no with to escape. [p. 14-15]
• Henri Lefebvre, Rhythmanalysis: space, time and everyday life, Stuart Elden & Gerald Moore (trans.) London: Althone, 2004.
… the concept of rhythm, hence the rhythmanalytical project, emerges bit by bit from the shadows.’ [p. 9]
• Catherine Clément, Syncope: The Philosophy of Rapture, Sally O’Driscoll & Deirdre M. Mahoney, London: University of Minnesota Press, 1994.
. . . we will cheat with the shadow’s shadow. [p. 23]
There was only one way [for Socrates] to put himself in accord with the daemon’s strange signal: start again with a new discourse, cancel out the first one, and speak about love again, in the shadow of the plane tree, philosophizing it. [p. 37]
• Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, (c. 60 BC)
“Observe what happens when sunbeams are admitted into a building and shed light on its shadowy places. You will see a multitude of tiny particles mingling in a multitude of ways…
• Rosalind E. Krauss, The Optical Unconscious, London: MIT Press, 1994.
… in the 1926 picture The Virgin Chastising the Infant Jesus before Three Witnesses (A.B., P.E., and the Artist), [Max Ernst’s acknowledgement of his interest in Freud’s case studies] is dropped in as a kind of private witticism, in the shadow of a bird cast onto the garments of the Virgin. [p. 63]
I enter the picture as a cast shadow, cast because, dumbly, I get in the way of the light. And because I get in the way of it, I cannot see it. The point where it would be, if I could see it, is held for me by a marker, a placeholder, a structural substitute. This is the automaton, the readymade, the thing the gap both produces and hides behind. This is what marks the point in the optical system where what is thought to be visible will never appear. [p. 88]
Both the animism of primitive peoples and the narcissism of the infant, [Freud] notices, populate the world with extensions of themselves, with projections in the form of doubles or cast shadows (shades). [p. 177]
• Michel Foucault, Manet and the Object of Painting, Matthew Barr (trans.) London: Tate Publishing, 2011.
Rather than penetrating into the picture, the light is outside, and it is outside precisely because the viewer is on a balcony; we must assume that the midday sun strikes the balcony head on, strikes these figures here, on the point of eating away the shadows; and you notice these large white layers of the dresses in which absolutely no shadow is drawn, just a few sparkling reflections; consequently no shadow, and so eery shadow is behind, because, by the effect of back-lighting of course, one cannot see what there is in the room; and instead of having a light-dark picture, instead of having a picture where light and shadow mix together, you have a curious picture in which all the light is on one side, all the shadow on the other, all the light is from in front of the picture and all the shadow is from the other side of the picture, as if the very verticality of the canvas separates a world of shadow, which is behind, and a world of light, which is in front. [p. 70]
• Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker, London: Picador, 1982.
Lorna said, ‘Nimbel you ever seen any dog peopl?’
Nimbel said, ‘O yes Ive seen them times a nuff.’
Lorna said, ‘Whatd they look like then?’
Nimbel said, ‘They throw a wite shadder dont they. Everybody knows that.’ [p. 16]
I seen some 1 move a way from the far wall then I seen like a wite shadder on that old conkreat wall. Like when you make a fire agenst a stoan and it gets black all round where the flame ben oly just where the flames been there its bernt clean. This wite shadder wer in the shape of a figger you cudnt tel if it ben man or woman it wer just some 1 stanning with legs a part you cudnt make out no arms parbly the hans ben covering the face. [p. 72]
• Georges Didi-Huberman, Images in Spite of All: Four Photographs from Auschwitz, trans. Shane B. Lillis, London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.
. . . the cropping of these photographs is a manipulation that is at the same time formal, historical, ethical, and ontological. The mass of black that surround the sight of the cadavers and the pits, this mass where nothing is visible gives in reality a visual mark that is just as valuable as all the rest of the exposed surface. That mass where nothing is visible is the space of the gas chamber: the dark room into which one had to retreat, to step back, in order to give light to the work of the Sonderkommando outside, above the pyres. That mass of black gives us the situation itself, the space of possibility, the condition of existence of the photographs themselves. To erase a “zone of shadow” (the visual mass) for the sake of some lucid “information” (the visible testimonial) is, moreover, to act as though Alex were able to take the photographs safely out on the open. It is almost to insult the danger that he faced and to insult his cunning as résistant. The cropping of these pictures was no doubt believed to preserve the document (the visible result, the distinct information). But instead, their phenomenology was removed, everything that made them an event (a process, a job, physical contact).
This mass of black is nothing other than the mark of the ultimate status by which these images should be understood: their status as visual event. To speak here of the interplay of shadow and light is not the fantasy of the “formalist” art historian: it is to name the very structure of these images. [p. 35-36]
Let us take a fresh look at the four photographs snatched from the hell of August 1944. Is the first sequence not permeated by the deficiency of information? Shadow all around, a curtain of trees, smoke… [p. 45]
• Jacques Rancière, Preface to The Proletarian Nights, London: Verso, 2013.
Why has the philosophy of intelligentsia or activists always needed to blame some evil third party (petty bourgeoisie, ideologist or master thinker) for the shadows and obscurities that get in the way of the harmonious relationship between their own self-consciousness and the self-identity of their ‘popular’ object of study? Was not this evil third party contrived to spirit away another more fearsome threat: that of seeing the thinkers of the night invade the territory of Philosophy.
• Pierre Cabanne, Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp, New York, 1971.
I executed the cast shadow of the bicycle wheel, the cast shadow of the hat rack . . . and the cast shadow of the corkscrew. I had found a sort of projector which made shadows rather well enough, and I projected each shadow, which I traced by hand, onto the canvas. Also, right in the middle, I put a hand painted by a sign painter, and I had the good fellow sign it. [p. 60]
• Bushy to the Queen in Shakespeare’s Richard II
Each substance of a grief hath twenty shadows,
Which shows like grief itself, but is not so;
For sorrow’s eye, glazed with blinding tears,
Divides one thing entire to many objects;
Like perspectives, which rightly gazed upon
Show nothing but confusion, eyes awry
Distinguish form: so your sweet majesty,
Looking awry upon your lord’s departure,
Find shapes of grief, more than himself, to wail;
Which, look’d on as it is, is nought but shadows
Of what is not. [II, ii, 14-24]
• Slavoj Žižek, How to read Lacan, London: Granta Books, 2006.
[Shakespeare’s Richard II] starts to perceive his kingship as an effect of anamorphosis, a ‘shadow of nothing’; however, getting rid of this insubstantial spectre does not leave us with the simple reality of what we effectively art – it is as if one cannot simply counterpose the anamorphosis of charisma and substantial reality, as if all reality is an effect of anamorphosis, a ‘shadow of nothing’… [p. 70]
• Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows, Stony Creek: Leete’s Island Books, 1977.
I have written all this because I have thought that there might still be somewhere, possibly in literature or the arts, where something could be saved. I would call back at least for literature this world of shadows we are losing. In the mansion called literature I would have the eaves deep and the walls dark, I would push back into the shadows the things that come forward too clearly, I would strip away the useless decoration. I do not ask that this be done everywhere, but perhaps we may be allowed at least one mansion where we can turn off the electric lights and see what it is like without them. [p. 42]
• Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson & Robert Galeta, London: Althone Press, 1989. [p. 124]
Resnais has often declared that it is not characters that interest him but the feelings that they could extract from them like their shadows, depending on which regions of the past they are placed in. Characters are of the present, but feelings plunge into the past. Feelings become characters, as in the painted shadows in the sunless park (Last Year in Marienbad).
• Walter Benjamin, One Way Street, quoted by Susan Buck-Morss in The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project. London: MIT, 1991. [p. 19]
Our feelings, dazzled, flutter like a flock of birds in the woman’s radiance. And as birds seek protection in the leafy recesses of a tree, so our feelings take flight into the shaded wrinkles, the awkward gestures and invisible blemishes of the body we love, where they can lie low in safety.
• Arkady & Boris Strugatsky, Roadside Picnic, London: Macmillan Publishing, 1977.
I didn’t like the look of that cover. Its shadow wasn’t right. The sun was at our backs, yet its shadow was stretching towards us. Well, all right, it was far enough away from us. It seemed OK, we could get on with our work. But what was the silvery thing shining back there? Was it just my imagination? It would be nice to have a smoke now and sit for a spell and mull it all over–why there was that shine over the canisters, why it didn’t shine next to them, why the cover was casting that shadow. Buzzard Burbridge told me something about the shadows, that they were weird but harmless. Something happens here with the shadows. [p. 25]
• Julia Kissiner, When Shadows Cast People, Peperoni Books, 2010.
• Peter Sloterdijk & Hans-Jürgen Heinrichs, Neither Sun Nor Death, 1, Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2011.
Words, for him, are creatures of the shadows, symbols of lack–to write means to adopt the appearance of an unknown face. [p. 98. on Edmond Jabès’ The Little Book of Unsuspected Subversion]
• Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1, London: Athlone, 1992.
The parts of the set are now intensive parts, and the set itself is a mixture which is transmitted through all the parts, through all the degrees of shadow and of light, through the whole light-darkness scale. [p. 14]
• Gilles Deleuze, Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation, London: Continuum, 2004.
Bacon has often said that, in the domain of Figures, the shadow has as much presence as the body; but the shadow acquires this presence only because it escapes from the body; the shadow is the body that has escaped from itself through some localized point in the contour. [p. 16]
The shadow escapes from the body like an animal we had been sheltering. [p. 21]
• Hadley Freeman, ‘Go on, Werner, give us a smile’, Guardian, Saturday 5th March 2011
Herzog and his third wife, Lena, live in L.A. Herzog concedes this is a surprising choice of residency for him, not least because he hates sunshine: “I am always trying to find the next shadow.” [p. 27 – 29]
• The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection, Paris: Semiotext(e), 2009
Everywhere, a new idea of communism is to be elaborated. In the shadows of bar rooms, in print shops, squats, farms, occupied gymnasiums, new complicities are to be born. [p. 15]
Freedom is no longer a name scrawled on walls, for today it is always followed, as if by its shadow, with the word “security.” [p. 85]
• Antonin Artaud, ‘Theatre and the Plague’, The Theatre and its Double, trans. Victor Corti, London: Calder Publications, 1993.
[of the plague victim] His stomach heaves, his insides seem to want to burst out between his teeth. His pulse sometimes slows down until it becomes a shadow, a latent pulse, at other times it races in accordance with his seething inner fever, the streaming wanderings of his mind.’ [p. 10]
• Richard Brautigan, ‘Won’t You Come Home, Bill Bailey, Won’t You Come Home?, The Hawkline Monster, London: Jonathan Cape, 1975.
Meanwhile, down in the laboratory above the ice caves everything was very quiet except for the movement of a shadow. It was a shadow that just barely existed between forms. At times the shadow would almost become a form. The shadow would hover at the very edge of something definite and perhaps even recognizable but then the shadow would drift away into abstraction. [p. 125.]
The shadow was a buffoon mutation totally subservient to the light… [p. 129.]
The light possessed unlimited possibilities and took a special pride in using them. Its shadow was disgusted with the whole business and trailed, dragging its feet reluctantly behind.
Whenever the Hawkline Monster left the laboratory, drifting up the stairs and then slipping like melted butter under the iron door that separated the laboratory from the house, the shadow always felt as if it were going to throw up. [p. 130]
• W G Sebald in ‘Le Promeneur Solitaire: A Remembrance of Robert Walser’, introduction, The Tanners, trans. Susan Bernofsky, New York: New Directions, 2009.
‘How is one to understand an author who was so beset by shadows…’ [p. 4.]
Walser must at the time have hoped, through writing, to be able to escape the shadows which lay over his life from the beginning, and whose lengthening he anticipates at an early age, transforming them on the page from something very dense to something almost weightless. [p. 12.]
• JG Ballard, The Atrocity Exhibition, London: Flamingo, 1993.
At times, when Xero approached the forlorn group sitting on the embankment, his shadows formed bizarre patterns on the concrete, transcripts of cryptic formulae and insoluble dreams. These ideograms, like the hieroglyphs of a race of blind seers, remained on the grey concrete after Xero had gone, the detritus of this terrifying psychic totem. [p. 31]
• W. B. Yeats, The Dreaming of the Bones
Why does my heart beat so?
Did not a shadow pass?
It passed but a moment ago.
Who could have trod in the grass?
What rogue is night-wandering?
Have not old writers said
That dizzy dreams can spring
From the dry bones of the dead?
• Thomas Bernard, ‘Breath: A Decision’, in Gathering Evidence, trans. David McLintock, London: Vintage, 2003.
I had been given a large quantity of drugs in addition to the penicillin and camphor, and these had brought an improvement in my condition, at least as far as my powers of perception were concerned. The shadows of people and walls and objects slowly transformed themselves into real people, real walls, and real objects. [p. 222]
• Michel Foucault, Raymond Roussel
…this gentle shadow that makes things visible from beneath their surface and their mask and allows one to speak about them, isn’t this from their birth, the proximity of death, of death that unlines the world like the peeling of fruit? [p. 156]
• Georges Perec, A Man Asleep, trans. Andrew Leak, London: Harvil, 1999.
You follow across the ceiling the sinuous lines of a thin crack, the futile meandering of a fly, the progress – which it is almost possible to plot – of the shadows. [p. 141-142]
• Giorgio Agamben, ‘Potentiality for Darkness’, Potentialities:
Collected Essays in Philosophy, Stanford University Press, California
“… if potentiality were, for example, only the potentiality for
vision and if it existed only as such in the actuality of light, we
would never experience darkness (nor hear silence, in the case of the
potentiality to hear). But human beings can, instead, see shadows (to
skotos)…” [p. 181]
• Gilles Deleuze, ‘Spinoza and the Three Ethics’, Essays Critical
“In Spinoza, on the contrary, everything is light, and the Dark is
only a shadow, a simple effect of light…” [p. 141]
• Riza Negarestani, ‘Remarks on Depth and Darkness’ http://www.cold-
• Mario Perniola, Art and its Shadow, Continuum 2004.
• Jacques Ranciere, ‘The body of the Letter: Bible, Epic, Novel’, in
Flesh of Words, Stanford University Press, 2004.
“…the episode of Peter’s denial enters this figural economy that
perceives in the prophecies and stories of the Old Testament
“figures” of the story of salvation, prefigurations or “shadows” of
things to come, shadows become truths by the becoming-flesh of the
divine Word.” [p. 75]
“This alone testifies to the truth of the “shadows” or figures of the
Old Testament.” [p. 84]
• Gilles Deleuze, ‘What is an Event?’, The Fold, Althone, London 2001.
Following the physical approximation, chaos would amount to
depthless shadows…, [p. 77]
• Gilles Deleuze, Bergsonism, New York: Zone Books, 1991.
… In neither example is it a case of saying that problems are like
the shadow of pre-existing solutions… [p.16]
• Victor Ieronim Stoichita, . A short history of the shadow, London: Reaktion, 1997.
• Wallace Stevens, ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.
• Antonio Negri, The Savage Anomaly: The Power of Spinoza’s
Metaphysics and Politics, University of Minnesota Press, 2000.
Nothing: phantasm, superstition, shadow. [p. 220]
• Jean-François Lyotard in ‘Newman: The instant”, The Inhuman, Polity, 1991.
…shadows […] may be ‘terrible’ in that they announce that the
gaze, the other, language or life will soon be extinguished. [p. 84]
• Georges Bataille, ‘The Notion of Expenditure’, Visions of Excess:
Selected Writings 1927 – 1939,
[poetry] condemns [the poet] to the most disappointing forms of
activity, to misery, to despair, to the pursuit of inconsistent
shadows that provide nothing but vertigo or rage. [p. 120]
• Michel Serres, ‘The Troubadour of Knowledge’, University of
Michigan Press, 2003
Each person maintains an amorous rapport with the two corresponding
dancers who border the space that each understands as part of his
destiny, but since the two others, as well, have a relation to the
two shadows that frame their space, in front of them, no one sees
anyone or speaks to anyone and no one answers them: this chain of
supplications produces the multiplication of the need to supplicate.
Epistemology and pedagogy meet, just as they did before, in the
centre, in exclusion, pain, violence, and poverty; the problem of
evil crosses knowledge. See the shadow. [p. 45]
As Kepler taught us, we believe that at the common centre of the
world the universal sun of knowledge and reason shines, but that the
shadow is dispersed in the second foci of diverse planets… [p. 46]
• Michel Serres, ‘Genesis’,
Or else–I’m not sure which way it points–the child Poussin in the
green boughs, Porbus at the main branching, and the old painter with
the diabolical look in the deep shade at the roots–looking like he’d
emerged from the dark shadows of Rembrandt. [p. 10]
• From a piece by artist Hreinn Fridfinnson, Serpentine Gallery, Summer 2007.
I dreamt that I was on the farm where I was born and raised. My father (who is dead) and I were working in the homefield, collecting hay. We were going to transport the hay to the stables. It was rather dark outside, but quite warm. When we had loaded the wagon, my father disappeared, but his shadow was left behind and I knew that I was to apply it to the hubs of the wagon wheels to make them run more smoothly. Then I was to attach the wagon to the horses with strings made of light which had shone down through the sea. Then I woke up.
• Friedrich Nietzsche, Why I am so Wise, London: Penguin (Great Ideas
It was 1879 – I relinquished my Basel Professorship, lived through the summer like a shadow in St. Moritz and the following winter, the most sunless of my life, as a shadow in Naumburg. This was my Minimum: ‘The wanderer and his shadow’ came into existence during the course of it. I undoubtedly knew all about shadows in those days. [p. 9 – 10]
• Giorgio Agamben, ‘Genius’, in Profanations, New York: Zone Books, 2007.
Horace is no doubt right to suggest that there is, in reality, one Genius who changes – by turns candid and shadowy, sometimes wise and sometimes depraved. In other words, what changes is not Genius but our relationship to him, turning from luminous and clear to shadowy and opaque. [p. 16]
• W. G. Sebald and Jan Peter Tripp, Unrecounted, London: Penguin 2005, [p. 43]
• Michel Foucault, ‘Of other Spaces (1967), Heterotopias’.
In the mirror, I see myself there where I am not, in an unreal, virtual space that opens up behind the surface; I am over there, there where I am not, a sort of shadow that gives my own visibility to myself, that enables me to see myself there where I am absent: such is the utopia of the mirror.
• Raymond Queneau (quoted by Georges Perec at the beginning of W or The Memory of Childhood, London: Harvill, 1996.
That mindless mist where shadows swirl, how could I pierce it
• Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, What is Philosophy?
This is what we call the Event, or the part that eludes its own actualisation in everything that happens. The event is not the state of affairs. It is actualised in a state of affairs, in a body, in an experience, but it has a shadowy and secret part that is continually subtracted from or added to its actualisaton: in contrast with the state of affairs, it neither begins nor ends but has gained and kept the infinite movement to which it gives consistency. [p. 146-7]
• Enrique Vila-Matas, Bartleby & Co.
(The narrator has written a letter to himself, imagining it to have come from ‘Derain’, who give advice concerning ‘Bartlebys’ that could be included in the book of notes on Bartleby’s in literature.) Include Marcel Duchamp in your book about Bartleby’s shadow. Duchamp knew that shadow personally. He made it with his own hands. [p. 57]
In reality Scapolo is frightening, because he walks straight through a terrible zone, a zone of shadows which is also where the most radical of denials has its home and where the blast of coldness, in short is a blast of destruction. [p. 65.]
• Reza Negarestani, ‘Machines are Digging: Porous Earth and Emergence’
The Unground is a shadow outside of time and space.
• Alain Badiou, Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, Hallward, (trans.) London: Verso, 2001.
[The human animal] has succeeded in harnessing to the service of his mortal life his own peculiar ability – his ability to take up a position along the course of truths such that he acquires an Immortal aspect. This is what Plato had already anticipate, when he indicated that the duty of these who escape from his famous cave, dazzled by the sun of the Idea, was to return to the shadows and to help their companions in servitude to profit from that by which, on the threshold of this dark world, they had been seize. [p.59]
• From ‘Madness and Repetition: The Absence of Work in Deleuze, Foucault, and Jacques Martin’, by Eleanor Kaufman, published in Deleuze & Guattari: New Mappings in Politics, Philosophy and Culture, London: University of Minnesota Press, 1998.
Foucault’s very language resonates with the trill of the double: “lining unlined, there is no longer anything but a silence, a look, slow motion gestures that unfold in the empty space beneath the masks”; or, “tear that unlines the double and immediately restores it to its marvelous unity”; or still, “it is a question of the same figure of a language split in two, inside of which a visible scene, produced by this distance’s single call, takes up its abode”; and, finally, “this gentle shadow that makes things visible from beneath their surface and their masks and allows one to speak about them, isn’t this from their birth, the proximity of death, of death that unlines the world like the peeling of fruit?” [p. 232]
• Octavio Paz on Adolfo Bioy Casares quoted by Suzanne Jill Levine in her introduction to Bioy Casares’ The Invention of Morel.
The body is imaginary, and we bow to the tyranny of a phantom. Love is a privileged perception, the most total and lucid not only of the unreality of the world but of our own unreality: not only do we traverse a realm of shadows; we ourselves are shadows.
• Adolfo Bioy Casares‘ narrator in The Invention of Morel, Ruth L. C. Simms, (trans.), published by New York Review of Books, 2003
Although I have been making entries in this diary at regular intervals, I have not had a chance to work on the books that I hoped to write as a kind of justification for my shadowy life on this earth. [ p. 20]