it the case that this referent is something imaginary, in the
sense in which, for example,
Sartre and a certain phenomenological tradition
understand it, and does access to the referent necessarily pass
mean to say that the referent is exterior to the sign;
but there are several modes of exteriority. It is perhaps
in the nature of exteriority that the problem is to be found.
In painting you have landscapes, portraits, interior
subjects, allegorical motifs, abstract compositions, etc. Take
for example Poussin; this
is a remarkable example, because he constantly intermingles
Christian figures, pagan figures and landscapes. The demand for
meaning comes here from the intermixing of multiple referents,
some of which are literary,
others naturalistic, with a sort of mutual contamination,
because nature becomes both pagan and biblical and, reciprocally,
the mythological and biblical figures are invested in nature. To
return to the connection with language, it is not without a
certain verbal culture that we can grasp this type of work.
Would it not, then, be necessary to pose the question in
another way: Can we
imagine the arts among beings which do not have language?
Is it the case that only beings that can signify with
words and phrases are able to have the idea of the iconicity of
the phantasmic, of its referential value, not only as internal
signifying, but in relating to something else?
is ultimately the limit case.
Most musicians in fact are not into language, they are
into the organization of sound.
is perhaps the relation between the signified and the sound that
is the limit case.
but it is also necessary to take all the arts together. There is
music because next to it there is painting, theater, etc.
In the symphony of the arts there are gradations where
language goes decrescendo, from the novel, the theater, the
story, down to music, passing by way of painting, sculpture and
the intermediary arts. There will always remain in language this
superiority, that it permits us to speak about
music. Are there arts, then, including music, without the
reflexive capacity of language, which is trying to give names to
these moods (humeurs) of
which we have spoken?
Indeed our emotions are also the product of a great
literature of naming, of exploring as well as structuring the
passions, as Descartes and Spinoza have emphasized, which
consists not only in naming them, but also in putting them into
an order and eventually of deriving them within the framework of
a grand system.
is what you would call “refiguration,” which expresses the
capacity of the work of art to restructure the world of the
reader, auditor, or spectator in upsetting his horizon,
contesting his expectations, remodeling his feelings in
reworking them from the inside , which you name so rightly
“the biting power of the work on the world of our experience.”?
not this work absolutely parallel in language to what is done
outside of language by the arts not transcribable into language,
like music basically, but also, in different degrees, painting
and sculpture? The
possibility of “speaking about” belongs doubtless to the
character of significance attached to verbal signs and
non-verbal signs and to their capacity to be interpreted
makes us think perhaps by making us speak.
The work of musical critique basically helps us to
comprehend not only how a work is structured, but how it
structures the feelings, and to attempt to name the feelings
thus created: what
is it in our language, we ask ourselves, that would be the
closest approach to the singularity of that feeling?
Janacek says in essence that where the word is lacking music
begins, where words cease, one sets oneself to singing . . .
is again a manner of speaking, for it is also a mark of language
that words are lacking: it
is a matter of a lack in language.
Perhaps all the arts are also lacking in one fashion or
in the creative impulse, which is what we call the ineffable,
the unformed, which is only partially exhausted by the forms.
Forming is both an advance, but at the same time a
failure with respect to what wishes to be said.
Something demands to be figured, composed, structured.
could take names from other registers of the human sciences,
like ethics, the religious, etc.
It would remain untranslatable into any other type of
language which would not be one of those.