Per Nilsson – Abstract

Encountering Hearts of Darkness

Studies in Visual Arts and Communication – an international journal / June 2014 1(1)

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Opening up Littoral Landscapes
Francis Ford Coppolas film Apocalypse Now  can be read as an allegory concerning how the concepts de-creation and destruction can be related. As an allegory it raises questions about language, images and their relations to a cultural landscape. It also asks questions about art’s status as knowledge, in this case exemplified by such an allegorical reading of the film. In my view art’s merit is first and foremost critical, i.e. it function as a tool for un-masking rigid dogmas that portray themselves as second nature.

One gain of experiencing the film in an allegorical manner is that it provide opportunities for us to understand a fundamental aesthetic sphere first present at the depth of our selves as becoming, a vulnerable sphere easily destroyed even if only in certain senses and from perspectives blind for their own presuppositions. Even if this aesthetic sphere is destroyed from the view of such a perspective, it is not clear if this also means that it is abolished from mankind per se, that is if it would be impossible to regain a profound aesthetic understanding of man and his cultural landscape. In other words, could man loose his depth irreversibly? In fact, our capability of providing new allegories and new vivid metaphors speaks to the contrary. It puts us within an aesthetic, in Jean-Luc Marions words even erotic, realm of possibility, as opposed to the standstill of ideological dogmatic epistemological certainty.

I will relate to such an aesthetic realm as to a littoral landscape, and to the being travelling such a landscape as an amphibian.  This in order to, metaphorically, give attention to the openness that lay bare possibilities of self-fashioning as well as cultural critical transformations through encountering aesthetic and erotic expressions.

Concerning destruction we can here remind ourselves of Nietzsche who detected archaic passions erupting in certain individuals even in an age where resentment had become creative giving birth to destructive values to the world. The aim and purpose of re-active resentment is to abolish and destroy old active archaic passions, more aesthetical than ethical.  As in Nietzsche’s view of extraordinary individuals expressing archaic passions, each allegorical reading is here treated as parole, i.e. as an individual empirical expressive instance of speech as opposed to formal, general and abstract facts of discursive reasoning (Langue).  Here parole focuses the artistic poetic aspect rather than the rational discursive, which means that parole always is within the littoral landscape of the possible rather than in the abstract realm of certainty. Therefore my allegorical reading of Apocalypse Now should be looked upon as an instance of Parole in the same manner as new and lucid metaphors are considered as such. In fact I characterise parole in the manner Albrect Wellmer, while giving a nod to Adorno, characterises the sublime: “The contingent, the meaningless, the absurd, that which is excluded from the world of linguistic meaning because it is disparate or heterogeneous, the nonsensical other side of the world that is disclosed through language.”

This means that, for me, parole goes beyond linguistic poetic expression, also for example into bodily per-formative and visual art but also into expressions of erotic desire. But as far as language is concerned I will hold the position that poetry is a species of parole rather than a species of discursive language, which is the ideological language through which an epistemological reduced world is disclosed.

Thereby I consider poetry to be a presupposition for discourse and capable of de-creating it. Poetry brings language into ambiguity and multiplicity of aesthetic expressions and mediations.  Poetry opens up an aesthetic sphere and mediates its content aesthetically into littoral landscapes inhabited by amphibians that are the receptors of the mediated and who utilise this content in order to make sense of their surroundings.

In a similar fashion Pier Paolo Pasolini utilises the distinction between parole and langue to distinguish between cinema and film: “Cinema is similar to “Langue” while films correspond to “Paroles”; in a strictly Saussurean context this means that only Films (as only Paroles) exist in practise and concretely, while Cinema (as Langue) does not exist — it is simply an abstract and normalizing deduction which has its point of departure in infinite Films (understood as Paroles).”  This implies, when it comes to language that langue is a deduction from all empirical instances of language use and that texts that portray themselves to be langue actually are examples of parole. It also implies that paroles are in effect on a variety of levels in this text, and even though it disguises itself as discursive it remains an instant of parole.

I will in this essay explain the problem with destructive tendencies and also, by way of parole, i.e. by providing an allegory, tell a story of how an aesthetic experience provided by film can transform itself into an individual example of how aesthetic expressions can de-create forces of destruction. It should be noted that even if de-creation not can be generalised, the same does not hold for destruction. In fact, the aim of destruction is complete abolishment of certain non-generalizable phenomena. The resistance I use are, among other things film, stories, allegories and metaphors in a singular, contingent and per-formative fashion. The meaningless, particular and absurd status of aesthetic expression or parole is such only from the viewpoint of an abstract, general and dogmatic epistemology aiming for certainty, which in itself more is an expression of a certain ideology than an expression of science, an ideology which today is globally predominant.