Titti GarelliLa pagelle (2003 – 2004)

As an undergraduate, I studied Ludwig Wittgenstein’s later works extensively.

W. has a reputation for being demanding, founded on the fact that his first foray into philosophy–the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus–was considered and continues to be considered one of the most singularly visionary/revolutionary philosophical works to emerge in the 20th century.

With such a stunning entry on the scene, you’d expect W. was rather pleased with the reception. In point of fact, he was not. He felt that very few people who professed their affection for the work actually understood fuck all about it; to the point where he all but disavowed the Tractatus and swore off philosophy, opting to become an elementary school teacher in rural Austria.

He returned to philosophy, in time. A goodly number of self-proclaimed experts present him as The Philosopher Who Changed His Mind. Going on to do work that sought to revoke his already monumental contribution to the discipline. I don’t see it that way. The Tractatus is heavily steeped in philosophical form, tone and procedure. The later work seeks to address the ways in which philosophers go wrong in striving to understand philosophy or anything else. What’s so fascinating about it is his tone completely diverges into something that’s half stodgy middle school teacher with the driest ever sense of humor and half trickster therapist.

W’s trip is essentially this: words do not convey meaning in the way a candle gives light to a lantern, words have meaning because of how they are used in the stream of life (in context).

My professor had all these grand notions about me applying W.’s ideas and methods to a comprehensive deconstruction of the creative process. She had me reading Eliot’s Tradition and the Individual Talent alongside Bloom’s The Anxiety of Influence.

It was difficult. I was a full time student at one of the best colleges in the northeastern US who was also working 35 hours a week. The workload was daunting and I chafed under the pressures of this assignment–mostly because I was insistent that in order for something to be good it had to be entirely original.

Garelli’s watercolor (above) is not original. The woman is an exact redention of an erotic French post card circa 1920s. The style is reminiscent of that artist whose name I cannot recall at present who made erotic sketches on ledger pages.

But there’s a clever nod to modern art cognoscenti, in that this woman is reading and has been painted onto an academic report card.

I never wrote that paper applying W’s ideas to the notion of originality in Art. There are a number of reasons for this but I think the most important to convey is that I think it lends itself a little too cynically towards the notion that the passing of time/underlying trends in taste and fashion and privilege determine what constitutes originality more than you know, being original.

The difficulty is that being original isn’t really something you can consciously accomplish. The eye sees without a need to see itself seeing. Or, as the Zen master would offer: don’t put another head on top of the one you already have.

I do think W.’s ideas are useful for analysis and criticism. However, I think too many ‘experts’ want to separate knowing from doing.

The less abstract way of saying it is you’ll jump much farrther with a running start than from a standstill. Doing the work day in and day out is indispensable. It’s hardly easy and rarely involves any sort of ground breaking originality. It’s one foot in front of the other, nothing more and nothing less.

Originality rises not when you seek it out but when in the course of ritualistically doing the work you find something unexpectedly intriguing. An errant thought, a wild hair that leads you far afield and when you look up you find yourself lost in a completely unfamiliar landscape.

The mistake is to search for the originality in the destination instead of realizing the endless and infinite is only open to you while you are moving.

If I were going to write that paper on Wittgenstein and the Creative Process, I’d almost certainly begin it with that line from Heraclitus about never stepping into the same river twice.

Felice Casorati – [↖] Vocation (1939); [↗] Ragazza di Pavarolo (1938); [↙] Reading a Book (193X); [↘] Nude Reader Reclining (1943)

Felice Casorati’s female nudes (c. 1930s) were known as shocking in
their time due to their unusual perspective. Whereas most female nudes
seem to dehumanize the female body by making it a subdued object of the
male gaze, here Casorati’s nudes are disinterested in their observer,
often seen occupied with other tasks like reading, reclining, or just
generally “looking away.” The unusual use of color also aids in turning
the female subject into a sickly/earthly figure whose existence is not
hypersexualized but instead becomes a source of uneasiness or intriguing


I Feel Myself – literotic featuring Georgiana (20XX)

I am reasonably certain this hails from I Feel Myself–the lighting and overhead cam setup are all in keeping with their studio stuff. (If so then the gif has been desaturated and cropped into some #skinnyframebullshit, explaining why neither Google image search or Tin Eye can source it.)

And I’ll have you know that I really did try to practice due diligence by browsing through the first couple of pages of the studio section, but I am impoverished at present and the urge to just break down and subscribe to the site was so strong that I had to X out of the tab before I got myself into trouble by spending money I don’t have.

EDIT: A thousand thanks to wyyoh for sourcing both original and the progenitor of this particular gif.

Perhaps I’ve said it before but given an endless supply of energy and time, I’d run a blog separate from this one focusing solely on the politics of depicting masturbation. There’s a billion reasons I’m so interested in the topic–both related to my own photographic practice as well as my personal experience of sexuality. But if I had to put it in a simple and direct way, I’d probably spout something like: if the purpose of porn is to motivate masturbation, then imagery featuring masturbation is really one of the few things that actually functions in my case the way porn should.

But this image–despite being cropped and desaturated (two things I go out of my way to eliminate from my curation–really effing resonates with me. Yeah, it’s partly that I’m a nerd and a bookworm. So I can totally relate to laying there reading and removing undergarments in nearly an identical fashion to this. But I love how although this is unequivocally performative, it’s unselfconscious. The book and not the voyeur are the motivation.

It’s that last bit that I relate to with such a fierceness. Also, in keeping with the understanding that gender identity and sexual orientation are not necessarily concomitant, the feeling of this pretty much nails how I would foolishly hope people interpret my sexuality and gender identity in a vacuum. (As far as how I’d hope to be seen by a lover, it would be pretty much exactly like the lady on the bottom in this image.)

No wonder I’m terminally single…