Here’s the list of moments I’ve kept waffling on about in my essay and presentations. I use the word moment because I think the best way of looking at this history is to break it down in to a few snapshot moments. I don’t like the word moments that much but can’t think of anything better. I’m not saying these will defnitely be the ones I’ll use, but they’re what I’m looking at for the moment.
1 – The Beginning of Time
The moment before the Big Bang. The moment when there was nothing. Or was there nothing? What is nothing anyway? Is nothing possible? The history of language begins here, in an oblique way, just like everything else does. I also think it raises good questions that are quite central to a consideration of the word all. Like the ones above, for example. This is here partially in response to Andy’s suggestion of looking at the opposite of all. Check the first two paragraphs of my blog post of March 3rd for more thoughts on that. While I don’t think none and nothing are opposite to all (necessarily) they clearly need consideration.
2 – The Dawn of Meaning
A moment similar to the one in 2001 Space Odyssey when the ape throws the stick in the air. I can’t fully represent this part of history, just like Kubrick couldn’t, but I can hopefully create something similar in symbolic terms to 2001. This is the reason why I’ve been looking at Anselm Kiefer. I think he’s good at summoning that kind of earthiness and dealing with that general atmosphere.
3 – The Dawn of Language/Speech/Communication
I gather this is potentially quite distinct from the dawn of meaning. They’re quite tied up at the same time though.
4 – Aristotle’s definitions
Aristotle had a massive influence on western thought when he labelled and defined things, placing them all in boxes. Moshe and Katrin have both spoken of a radically different attitude to such issues in Asia. I was a bit conscious of this anyway because of my (admittedly limited) knowledge of eastern religions. I keep on reading about Descartes having a similar place in the history of western thought too. It’s good to be reminded of it by actual people though. A thought becomes more real somehow when it’s coming from someone you know and you can contextualise it. In making all of these definitions, Aristotle went a long way to giving us the opposite of all that I blogged about on March 3rd. The previous moments can all be sen on quite a mythological level. Here, things stop being mythological. It’s almost as if Aristotle represents an end to myth, with the Greek Gods, Medusa and co coming before him.
5 – Migration
The word all is recorded as having come to England with either the Vikings or the Anglo-Saxons(No-one’s entirely sure which. I may well use this uncertainty). With this in mind I’m reading Norse mythology (Sturluson, S. Translated by Byock, J. (2005) The Prose Edda, London: Penguin Classics). I’m reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales as well.
6 – The Printing Press
The significance of this is obvious. I’ve done an induction on the Letterpress and am thinking I’ll be playing with it at some point.
7 – Post Modernism
As I write this it’s just begun to occur to me that the history of language is a process of definition and redefinition. Derrida questioned the foundations of many of the things we thought we knew about language. He asked us to deconstruct everything, which is a kind of redefinition. A lot of the play with mis use of the word comes in here, I think. This will possibly be a game of deconstruction, teasing out various ambiguities in all’s perception.
I see the earlier moments being abstract, very physical, big and atmospheric. They’ll affect the whole of the piece but they won’t offer that much in the way of intricate ideas and thoughts. They’ll be the most solid thing, physically speaking, about the work but intellectually they’ll be harder to pin down. This is where my immersive installation (see proposal essay) thing will come in to play.
There’ll be more things in the space for the post modern parts, which will be presented digitally, either on screens or projected on top of the older moments. This will make them less physically present but their level of detail and more media friendly, accessible mode will make them easier to digest intellectually speaking.