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But one of them is the unadulterated yet unshakeable feeling that a work of artwork - even a photo or movie set - is more actual than a verbal maschine. Rather than extricating myself from this (largely unacceptable) differentiation between the topicality of the fine arts and the virtually universal nature of literalism, I have adopted it; I have gained the impression that one of the forces of literalism is exactly how it can describe and direct meetings with works of arts that cannot or cannot coexist, or how it can restore actual works of arts in virtually unlimited states.
References can act as a lab in which we test reactions to non-realized or non-realizable works of artwork, or in which we embedded actual works in imaginary circumstances to follow their impact. Traditionally, the literal answer to a non-verbal work of artwork is the ecphrastic verse - a verse that uses linguistic arts to deal with a vision.
Whereas the ekphrasic verse is partly assessed by its descriptiveness, what it depicts can be pure notion. For example, the classical example of ecphrasis - the depiction of Achilles' sign in Homer's The Iliad - is so extensive that it is no longer real; no real sign could contain all these details.
This makes perfect meaning because the sign was made by a god.) The narrative, while purporting to breathe extra live into the visible, often goes beyond that: words can describe a sign that we cannot really make, that we cannot even do. Or look at another canonic example of ecphrasis, John Keats' urn to a Greek urn' (1820), in which we find a narrative of an impossibility of musical expression triggered by mediation on a sculptural form:
My point is that ekphrastical literary is often a virtuous form: it depicts something that cannot be done given the limits of the real world. At least for me at the present time, the novel, not the verse, is the preferred shape for the kind of virtualism I am writing here. The novel is a basic curricular shape, a category that is assimilating, arranging and dramatising meetings with other genres: poetics, critique and so on.
In my novel The Atocha Station, 2011, for example, I recorded parts of an scholarly essays I wrote about John Ashbery and a verse from my first volume of poems; the novel I'm working on now includes meetings with Donald Judd's boxing in Marfa, Texas, as well as parts of a new Ephrastic verse that Jules Bastien-Lepages's 1879 paintings, Joan of Arc, treat.
The majority of Echophrastic poems - though certainly not all - focus on how verses can describe a particular work of artwork, even an impossibility, in a vivid way; I'm attracted to an Echophrastic narrative that works at a greater distance and cares less about the detail of the subject than about the overall context in which the meeting occurs.
It allows you to place this meeting in the lifetime, time and date of a person's personality and not only to describe a lighting condition in a photoallery, but also what the person has been reading, eating or smoking, what he or she has been thinking about that particular dawn or dusk, what protests he or she has given on his or her way to the museums, etc.
A novel is a work of artwork in which you can put other artworks - either actual or imaginary - into a multitude of boldly described man-made settings to test a character's reactions. It can also understand how a work of artwork is remembered and spread to other areas of a figure's experiences, such as in Marcel Proust's reference to "Le petit pán de mur jaune" (The little spot on the golden wall) in "À la recherche d'temps perdu" (In Search of Lost Time, 1913-27).
Its absorptive power and virtual nature make the novel a test site for aesthetical experiments and reactions. Brillant books like T.J. Clark's The Sight of Death in 2006 - "An Essay on Artwriting," in which he documents his encounter with two paintings by Nicolas Poussin over a six-month period at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles - have as much in common wiht fiction as with most traditional arts reviews.
Clark's The Sight of Death is in part a convincing work because it avoids the idea that an imagery can ever be seen at once or objective - the illusions on which much "non-fictional" artistic writing is founded - in order to present a museum-like meeting in and about time.
Clark's diary also contains several ekphrasic verses, as if to recognize the receptivity of intonation. Of course Clark is strictly busy with two actual screens, but the novel is a place where such an experimentation in artistic composition can take place before the mere presence of artwork itself, where an encounters between individual and/or artworks that are not or not realizable can take place.
However, we could also organise a kind of "speculative fiction" around digital art: The banishment of the "literary" - the temporary, the objective - from the fine arts was a great (albeit unsuccessful) criticism of the twentieth centuries. Those artistes - like Judd - who were moving away from conventional mediums to actual object and actual spaces, continued the kind of virtualism I describe in literature.
The ejection of the visual from the subject heightened the former's power: now the subject could resume it together with its observer. Literal virtualism became the spirit of the present, which drives certain painters mad, drives them conceptually. Maybe one can imagine the growing interest of modern painters in literature as a wish to reintegrate the force of the visual into their work.
So, what is the strength of the visual? Clune, a young writer of brilliance, arguments in his authorial book Against Time ( 2013 ) that certain authors "invent artificial technologies, imagine shapes to slow down time in neurobiology by transcending the intractable limits of the mind. That' s nothing the literal genre can actually achieve - Keats' imagination cannot be used.
Instead Clune writes: "The modus is ekphrastical. The authors make pictures of more mighty pictures; they develop technologies to imagine better technologies. Like an aircraft constructor investigating a bird's wing," the author of the Virtuell examines the " "life to transcend its borders. While Clune focuses particularly on depicting works that conquer time, we can generally say that the virtually virtuous nature of literary work allows her to generate pictures of impractical technique - to open a realm in which the fine arts can wish and think beyond the persistent limitations of her work.
Rather than justifying the (often competing) relation between the similarities of spoken and written arts - Ut ictura posesis - I think that the most fruitful relation is when authors leave the real to the artist.