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Fossils Have a Hard Life: Apropos of the Image [1982]

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 November 2022

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Summary

1 - To begin by saying that images are not seen (by the self ).

Image takers visit me here, on a regular detour in their paths.

They leave their contraptions someplace else—I’m not entirely sure where—such that their hands are to be found at the ends of their arms, their hands, and there you have it.

They’re not very old; I am.

I tell them stories, stories full of images. They can't take the images; it's not that I prevent them from doing so, but that the images are illuminations. They have a camera. They need images that move.

What I say to them is that the images they seek are on the screen, just like a painter's work is on the canvas. There is the canvas; that's where the painting is. It's not seen. It waits, and always will. Painters have said this. No one believes them.

This is what I say to the image takers:

– ‘Images are not seen (by the self ).’

This hardly helps them make progress; how can they take what is not seen (by the self)? They’re not out of the woods yet.

I tell them the story of a mate of mine.

He and I were the same age. In 1937, I found him sitting on the floor of the small flat

I lived in, its window opening onto the Place d’A., the square in a small town in the Nord of France where there was an asylum and I was the teacher at this asylum. There was a class of children who were slow. I told them stories.

I had lived with the mate who was sitting there, right under the window, his back against the wall, for months and months among the dunes by the North Sea. He had enlisted in the Brigades and gone to Spain. And as for myself, I taught children who were slow.

There was a jocular air about him, as always, which didn't hide the fact that he appeared a bit weighed down. He said to me:

– ‘It's nearly finished over there… .’

I thought he had come to stay. He told me he was an officer and that he had been wounded three times.

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Publisher: Amsterdam University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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