6 Jul 2014

Spiegelman. ch1. of Maus I, “The Sheik”


 

by Corry Shores
[
Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

[Central Entry Directory]

[Graphic Literature, entry directory]

[Spiegelman’s Maus, entry directory]



Art Spiegelman

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, vol.1


Ch.1
The Sheik


1.9.1


Brief Summary:

Here we learn how Vladek, a Czech Holocaust survivor, moved to Poland to marry Anja, a wealthy Jewish girl, in 1939.



Summary

 

Art Spiegelman visits his father Vladek to interview him about his experiences as a Holocaust survivor. With Vladek is his second wife Mala.

1.11.3Art indicates that he wants to hear Vladek’s stories so he can draw them in a comic (the present one). Art wants to begin with how Vladek met his first wife, Anja, who is Art’s mother.


Vladek explains that he was selling textiles, and he was young and handsome. Woman were chasing after him.

1.12.8He took one lover, Lucia, but he did not want to marry her, partly because she did not come from a well-off family. Nonetheless, she was obsessed with Vladek.

1.15.2One holiday when visiting family, Vladek’s cousin suggests he meet a rich and clever girl, Anja. They do so and like each other very much.

1.16.1
They spoke frequently on the phone and wrote each other letters. Lucia finds out and desperately tries to hold onto Vladek, but he leaves her for good.

1.17.6

Anja’s family were millionaires. One time when Vladek visited them for dinner, he snuck into Anja’s room and discovered a bottle of pills. He investigated what they were, and learned they were for nervousness. Later he moves from his home in Czechoslovakia to her home in Poland. Before leaving, Lucia literally falls to the floor begging Vladek not to go.

.20.3 to 6

Lucia then sends a letter to Anja, saying that Vladek had a bad reputation in Czechoslovakia for having many girlfriends that he is just marrying Anja for her family’s money. Vladek explains that really Lucia cannot let go of him. He moves to Sosnowiec, Poland in 1936 and marries her 1937.


At this point, Spiegelman cuts back to the interview scene with Art and Vladek in the present. Vladek asks for the Lucia material to be left out, because it is personal and unrelated to the Holocaust. Art insists that this personal side is precisely what is needed.

1.23.2 3

Art promises not to include such private material. [We might note here the shot-counter-shot dialogue pattern. First we see things from Vladek’s perspective, and all the while Art is saying that he wants to humanize the novel with Vladek’s most personal stories. Then it cuts to Art’s perspective, now looking objectively at Vladek, all while Art talks about telling Vladek’s story. Moves between panels are similar to montage cuts, and they likewise force our minds to make inferences and connections. Here we move from subjective to objective, which is itself just another’s subjectivity. Spiegelman is juggling these views, on the one hand getting us to see and feel what Vladek experienced, while also on the other hand getting us to look objectively at his life and experiences so we can better pass judgment on the situation. The animal depictions might function similarly. If the people were drawn more photo-realistically, we might feel repulsed by the gruesome imagery. So rendering them as cute animals allows us to increase our proximity to their experiences. However, their animal form makes them seem foreign to us somehow. We do not normally identify with animals in a very personal way. So as well their animal forms serve to grant us a more objective judgment based on an intimate understanding of their inner lives.]





Spielgelman, Art. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, vol 1. New York: Pantheon Books, 1986.




 

Spiegelman. prt A. Opening material of Maus I


by Corry Shores
[
Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

[Central Entry Directory]

[Graphic Literature, entry directory]

[Spiegelman’s Maus, entry directory]



Art Spiegelman


Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, vol.1


Opening material


Summary


Art Spiegelman, the author of Maus, interviews his father, a survivor of Nazi concentration camps. We might think of it as a documentary. It is similar to Claude Lanzmann’s documentary film Shoah (1985) in that neither one gives much direct objective evidential material (like footage or photographs), but both depend rather on subjective testimonial from those who lived through the Holocaust. [from Thompson and Bordwell’s Film History: “Claude Lanzmann's Shoah (1985), a nearly nine hour study of the Nazis' extermination of the Polish Jews, recalls Alain Resnais's Night and Fog in studying bland contemporary landscapes that were the sites of unspeakable cruelty. Here, however, no stock footage takes us into the past; Lanzmann presents | only what he called ‘traces of traces,’ interviews with witnesses, Jewish survivors, and former Nazis.” (582-583)] So we will learn not just about the events but as well about the real human experiences directly affected by them. One interesting difference is that Maus is drawn, which means the experiences are processed subjectively yet again, this time through an artist who will depict affective experiences, rendering the events in his own way. On the one hand, we might see this as a distortion of the actuality of the events and thus a subtraction to its documentary value. However, we said that Shoah demonstrates another sort of documentation, namely, the preservation and communication of emotional and affective experience. In that sense, the cartoon format of Maus may in fact prove just as effective as film. And since cartoon art is known for being able to be more expressive, in that it often shows the inner workings of the characters through expressive outer iconic representations, perhaps the graphic literary medium can be even more effective than film for the purpose of subjective documentation.


Here in this opening material, Spiegelman prepares us for the harsh and dark human truths that his father’s survivor’s tale will teach us. Art is recalling a childhood event when he suffered cruelty from his peers. He was roller-skating with some play-friends, and they race ahead, saying “Last one to the schoolyard is a rotten egg!” Young Art’s skate breaks, and he lands on the sidewalk, hurting his leg. Here the pain is given iconically with the star and line squiggle, accompanied by a distressed look in Art’s face.

1.1.4d

Art goes home crying to his father, who is sawing a plank of wood. After he asks his son why he is crying, Art says:

1.4.2

His father is struck by Art using the term ‘friends’ and he replies:

1.5.4 5

In the rest of the narration, Art is in his middle age, interviewing his father, whose stories are depicted graphically. We will see how Art’s father and other Jews were treated as subhuman, in a sense, like animals or worse. But the Nazi savagery is as well a sort of ‘behaving like animals’. And the Jews were not only treated like animals. They were as well signified as such specifically in propaganda and more generally in the Nazi’s ‘regime of signs.’ Spiegelman’s Maus in a way is like a small machine working in the larger machine of signs and significance, but sending disruptive shockwaves into it. The language is still largely the same. Jews are rodents, and like rodents they are highly vulnerable to predators and they burrow, scurry, and hide in recesses. But Spiegelman keeps all of these meanings that are inferential to the imagery, yet he makes a small but significant change. The Jews are mice and not rats. They have all the powers of other rodents, but not the negative connotations. This could be one way that Spiegelman is overturning the Nazi’s regime of inferences. Rats we might detest, but mice instead are cute and their cartoons can evoke our sympathies. Think of Mickey, for example. Spiegelman inserts practically the same image, following the same rules of representation, but he inverts the imagery’s inferences and affections. As we continue through this great work, we will ask if we might find in Spiegelman’s ‘strategy’ of representation a ‘minorization’ of the major language of Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda. We furthermore will wonder if the graphic literary medium is already poised to play a minorizational role in the larger context of the more established major art forms like film and literature. Lastly, we will wonder if Maus might be an example of ‘becoming-animal’, not superficially because the people are depicted as animals, but in the Guattari and Deleuze sense of preventing fixed significations and inferential values.  When we consider the treatment of the Jews, we can infer from their behavior the implied (and stated) message that Jews are subhuman. But by re-engineering the machinery of their inferential system, Spiegelman reverses the message, seeming saying that the Nazis, by lacking humanity, would not necessarily fulfill our definitions for a human being, at least morally speaking. This might be ‘becoming animal’ in the sense of evading determinations and refashioning them to produce new inferences.



Spielgelman, Art. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, vol 1. New York: Pantheon Books, 1986.


Thompson, Kristen, and David Bordwell. Film History: An Introduction. 3rd edition. Boston: McGraw Hill.



24 Jun 2014

A Rough Deleuzean Analysis of Gal Volinez’ “HI Brit”


by Corry Shores
[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]
[Central Entry Directory] 

[Logic & Semantics, Entry Directory]


I came across the following video (through Deleuze scholar Rockwell Clancy’s facebook feed). If you have not seen it, I think you might be amazed for reasons that could be further examined. [Best seen on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTByHbjgz8k#t=27]
"HI Brit" by Gal Volinez


[If the above embed does not work, try this one:]
video

The following is highly experimental and is meant to serve as the starting mistakes for a larger project currently under development.

This project examines Gilles Deleuze’s ‘Logics’. We have two “logic” books by Deleuze, Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation and The Logic of Sense. I believe that Deleuze’s Cinema 1 and 2 comprise a third logic book, what we might title The Logic of Signs. All three ‘logics’ share the common logic of affirmative synthetic disjunction [I discuss this further pp.204-205 of "In the Still of the Moment"]. Informally, in Deleuze’s logic, incompatible states of affairs are given as forced together. There are 'tensions' between them on account of their contrariety. More formally speaking, say that term B is not term A. Now note that when A is conjoined with not-A, we have a contradiction. But  there is no ‘sense’ or meaning resulting when A and A are conjoined self-redundantly. However, there is significance when information is non-redundant with itself, and thus introduces contradictory combinations. We find in the world both A and B at once (in contradictory states of affairs between one instant and the next, for example) which means we find A and not-A in combination. We have a contradiction that is real, true and meaningful [and such a logic of contradiction is useful for accounting for change and becoming]. I mean meaningful in a number of ways:


In the Logic of Signs / the Logic of Sensibility:
Synthesis of Contradictory Structures
[What are the basic structures that make relations sensible?]

Prelinguistic, signalitic meaning [in the sense of pre-linguistic signs. See Deleuze Cinema 2, chapter 2. For this, we examine structures that create the pathways or tendencies by which specific terms will relate in meaningful ways].

There are basic structures that relate series of terms under certain modes of conjunction. For example, Deleuze shows how perceived variations of depth in film can be conjoined with variations of time in the story. The co-presence of different spatial points then implicitly suggests the contradictory co-presence of temporally distinct moments of time. More specifically, the temporal relations ‘before’ and ‘after’ are given in depth of field shots. Let's look quickly at some relevant scenes in Orson Welles' Citizen Kane. The film is largely composed of flashbacks from people who knew Kane. In one case it is his second wife, who enjoyed singing but never aspired to be a professional, and she was never gifted enough to be one in the first place. When she is being interviewed about Kane's past, the camera as you can see in the clip below starts from high and seemingly moves down onto the wife, as if we are falling through the depths of time by probing into her memories of the distant past.

video

So because the camera motion and flashback editing are moving us an extent similarly through both space and time, we have already a structuring principle of visual depth equaling temporal depth. What we then see first is Kane's wife being trained for professional opera singing. Despite her hopeless failings and unwillingness to continue, Kane is maniacally driven to make her a star, partly by using the influence of his newspaper to promote her. We will see a frantic montage with superpositions of intense imagery and with music that will build to a climax, then ending in darkness and silence. This sequence is a portrayal of the harsh intensity of the flow of time during her period of rehearsal and performance, ending in her suicidal breakdown. So first we are given an impression of time in its thickness as an intense and overfilled continuous flow. All the while, time is taking its toll on the wife, wearing her down and breaking her body and spirit, seemingly to her demise. Then we see Kane burst in on her, rescuing her from death. For Deleuze, this scene is important in its juxtaposition to the prior linear sequence. In the suicide scene, Kane stands at a distance from his wife, with a gulf of visual depth between them. The wife looks decrepit, showing the signs of the time that all the while Kane had been ignoring in his mania. Kane must face the time that has passed; he sees those hectic months all at once, at a distance, in their purified empty form. But as we said, visual depth already had a temporal meaning. We make sense of this scene because the depth tells us that Kane must face the period of time that he was destroying his wife, and cross through it rather than ignore it.

video

[If the above does not work, try this alternative:]

video 

We might at this point note the connection Deleuze makes between Peirce's notion of the icon and the idea of 'analogy by isomorphism'. [My discussion of that connection is here.] We have two structures each of their own domain, namely, the structure of spatial extension and the structure of temporal extension. We might say that visual depth is an iconic presentation of temporal depth, as there is an isomorphic (one-to-one) relation between variations in distance in the one domain to the variations in time in the other. It is for this reason that visual depth is a 'sign' for temporal depth, with that temporal depth then providing a new series of relations to import into the spatial visual domain so to open an additional layer of meaning in the imagery and story line. Returning to our example, Kane does recognize the damage he did to his wife by exposing her to so much that harmed her. But his response is no better, and still shows a profound insensitivity to her needs. Previously she was flooded with damaging activity, with critical people interjecting in her life and breaking her morale. Afterward he does the opposite, still to her detriment. He isolates her, giving her too much space, and in a sense trying to create a protective 'empty' period in her life, like the vast deep emptiness of Kane's palace where she is locked up and socially isolated. In a sense, Kane does not really change as a person, despite the warning signs saying that his obsessively controlling character is damaging to the person in his life that he loves the most. In the end his wife leaves him. Kane then trashes her bedroom, walks through a hallway of mirrors, and sometime later dies saying 'Rosebud'. Rosebud is the name of his sled, and it serves to mark his transition as young child when he suddenly goes from poverty to immense inherited wealth.  With the idea of visual depth and time already established in our minds, we then can use that schema for understanding that final mirror scene. So temporal variation can be mapped onto visual depth. In the mirror scene, Kane is projected infinitely into the vast depth between the mirrors. But he is the same, a repetition of a unvarying character. His development halted when he obtained his wealth, and he has tragically remained unchanged throughout the depth of his life. [In the clip below, the mirror scene is recalled by another witness.]


video




Logic of Sensibility in Volinez' Spears Video

Before drawing any inferences about what we see, and before the sense data can come into any additional relations, we first notice a basic structural feature in the video. There is often a lot of visual depth in the original video, now forming a background to the flat plane inserted on its surface. The new frame is sized and composed so to appear as though it occupies one of the levels of depth in the broader image, looking like a movie screen standing up some distance into the field of visual depth of the scene.

 


There are even instances where he inserts his image onto mirrors to replicate a reflection.


 

The basic content of the overlaid image is often made so that it seems to extend past its boundaries into the background.

 
 

Here are some notable moments where the actions in the box are coordinated with the extremities of Spears' motions.


video

There is also a scene where he is made to seem as though his two-dimensional image moves through the three-dimensionality of the background. I include it with the original for comparison.


video

There is also a scene where he adjusts the color of the inner frame to match the background.


video

There also seem to be shots that would be too problematic to replicate, perhaps because of a difficult high angle. In these cases and in some others, he places a red dot over top of Spears. But to make that technique more seamless, he at times puts a red dot over his own face, perhaps only to equalize the instances.




 
 
However, despite these efforts to maintain the junction of the two series of moving images, there is still a strong tension between them. No matter how matched the images are, it still appears as though the overlaid image is two-dimensional and its surroundings three-dimensional. In some cases the match is noticeably off (perhaps intentionally), and in other cases the inserted image extends outside the frame of the background, reinforcing its two-dimensional overlaid look.







So while our eyes are forced to place the two series of images together, they are strongly incompatible. They are a cross-over of two different worlds, a two-dimensional one and a three-dimensional one. This is the basic structural feature that will create the basis for how the two series of terms relate differentially and meaningfully. In other words, this structure combines distinct series from separate domains, and by forcing them together, provides the conditions for the sensibility of their differential relations.



In the Logic of Sensation / the Logic of Sensitivity:
Synthesis of Contradictory Sense Data
[How do the structures of relation bring together contradictory sense-data in an informative way?]

Affective meaning: Significant sense data. Our five senses provide us with data about the world around us (and within us). Yet, we do not find  meaning in redundancies in sense information. In fact, our nervous systems 'desensitize' themselves to constancies of sensation [see Marieb and Hoehn, Bateson, and Bergson]. We are more sensitive it seems to differences and incompatibilities in sense data when the information does not ‘compute’ and calls for our closer attention. Consider being in a warm room during a cold winter day. After a while, we get cozy, and we begin to sense things other than the room's temperature. But when we go outside into the frigid cold, we are instantly very aware of the change in temperature. It is a difference that makes a difference. It tells us to change our behavior, to cover our exposed skin and hurry to our destination. So affective meaning is sense data that ‘tells’ us something even before we consciously interpret it. And the data here are not just for example the warmth of the room and the cold of the outside air; rather, the experience of the difference between them is itself the significant datum, the difference that makes a difference. [See this entry for more on Bateson's definition of information as 'difference that makes a difference.']

To analyze how the structural features of the image bring about contradictory sensations, let's take an example from Deleuze's Logic of Sensation, the painting Figure at a Washbasin, 1976 by Francis Bacon.


Francis Bacon. Figure at a Washbasin, 1976
(Thanks www.artnet.com)

Often times in Bacon's paintings, there is a shape enclosing a figure. This is a structural feature that organizes the 'forces' in the painting. In some cases, the forces are acting dually against one another, and in certain instances they might give the impression of interchanging in-and-out flows. In this painting, the circle may seem to be closing in on the body, squeezing it. But the figure then pushes outward on the circle, as it seems to be flexing as though resisting and pushing back on that pressure. And also, he seems to be evacuating and escaping the confines of the circle through the drain.





(Thanks fotos.org)

The structural feature of the painting, the enclosing circle, combines incompatible forces, namely those pressing in and those pressing out. These forces intersect and collide in the figure's body, making it shake and spasm. We have the sensation then of a motion over and above the simpler two. We have two unidiretional motions, and the third non-directional vibrational motion which is a disjunctive synthesis of the other two. [For more on Deleuze's analysis of the diastole/systole rhythm in this painting, look toward the end of this entry.]



The Logic of Sensitivity in the video

In the music video, we are also given this impression of a back-and-forth dance between the overlaid frame and the background. The box at some times tightens around the inserted dancer, while at other times he seems to push the boundaries outward. We do not get the impression of spasms in the video like we do in the painting. What we have instead it seems is a more erotic play of encroachment and retreat, and this comes not from the content of either series but in the interaction between them. Here are some instances where we see the box's boundaries in motion.


video






In the Logic of Sense / the Logic of Explanation:
Synthesis of Contradictory Inferences
[We draw inferences from the given data. How do contradictions between series of inferences themselves have inferential value?]

Dramatic/literary/explanatory meaning. [Warning: this portion is problematic and vague.] A story is a series of rabbits out of hats, by which I mean, the events unfold without scientific predictability. If we could deduce the whole tale all the way down to its conclusion only from first hearing the beginning lines, then we would not need to follow along with it. Narrative events in a way are meaningfully connected but not logically implicit in one another. The tension between one trend in a story and a new divergent line beginning after a sudden twist has dramatic power to it. Consider an Aesop fable, 'The Fox and the Grapes':


A hungry Fox saw some fine bunches of Grapes hanging from a vine that was trained along a high trellis, and did his best to reach them by jumping as high as he could into the air. But it was all in vain, for they were just out of reach: so he gave up trying, and walked away with an air of dignity and unconcern, remarking, "I thought those Grapes were ripe, but I see now they are quite sour." [from Project Gutenberg]

Perhaps one way we mentally obtain explanations is by finding significance in differences between series of inferences in the story. In our example, we seem to have two pairings of inferences, with one set preceding the fox's change of mind, and another following that shift.

Inference series A:
The grapes are desirable.
The fox is determined to eat them.

Inference series B:
The grapes are not desirable.
The fox is not so determined to eat them.

The difference and tensions between these series make sense if we add the dramatic moment. There is an aleatory point, a moment of uncertainty when the meanings shift [for more on narrative bifurcation, see pp.211-218 of "Still of the Moment"]. We might even say it is a moment of self-forgery [see this entry on the topic of self-development and the power of falsity]. The fox pretends to be the same self, but really he has changed, going from a determined creature to a less ambitious one. But he externalizes this change by revising the inferences of his world though his modifying the value of the grapes.

Sadly I do not have a stronger methodology than this, but let's still experiment with it in the video. The main idea again is to look for inferential series and more importantly the contradictions between them, and asking what is the added significance of those contradictions.



Logic of Sense in the music video

[The warning continues to apply in the following.] Here we do not have a linear story. But we do have the inferred information from two series, that from in the box and that from outside it. We sometimes catch brief glimpses of Spears' obscured erotic body-presentation and movements. The background dancers reflect that, even when she is hidden. We can tell she has a slender and curved body. We might be led to draw certain inferences from this about female sexuality, for example, that it can be expressed by moving in a certain seductive way and by having a particular body-shape. Yet, even within the visible box the male dancer makes motions, gestures, and facial expressions that seem still somehow entirely fitting with this conventional view of feminine sexuality. In fact, we might even find his performance even more passionate in that regard. Here are some comparisons of particular expressions. You might find that Spears' movements seem more forced and mechanical.


video

So in the overlaid video, there is a tension between the series. Series A (of the background) leads to the inferences the main dancer is a slender woman moving seductively. Series B (of the overlaid foreground) makes us directly infer that the central figure is a large man also moving seductively. There is a series of tensions between the unfolding of these inferences, and the series combine all while strongly insisting on their incompatibility and contrariety. That tension could lead to inferences not found within either series, for example, possibly that there is no strong basis to distinguish male and female sexuality in the way that music videos might normally suggest, and it also might call into question the normal standards for the sexuality of women's appearance and self-presentation. The video is sexier with the large man, because he expresses eroticism more effectively with his more natural movements and facial expressions. This may not be the most interesting way to interpret the differential tensions between the two series of inferences. I chose it because it seemed the most obvious.




Works cited and presented:

Gal Volinez. [Volinez Spears] "HI Brit"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTByHbjgz8k

Britney Spears. "Work Bitch"
[BritneyspearsVEVO]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pt8VYOfr8To

Francis Bacon. Figure at a Washbasin, obtained gratefully from:




9 Jun 2014

Priest (12.4) In Contradiction, ‘… And Its Consequences’, summary

 

by Corry Shores
[
Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

[Central Entry Directory]
[Logic & Semantics, Entry Directory]
[Graham Priest, entry directory]
[Priest’s In Contradiction, entry directory]


[The following is summary. My own comments are in brackets, but please consult the original text, as I am not a logician. All boldface and underlining are my own. Proofreading is incomplete so mistakes are still present.]



Graham Priest


In Contradiction:
A Study of the Transconsistent


Part III. Applications

Ch.12. The Metaphysics of Change II: 
Motion


12.4 … And Its Consequences



Brief Summary:

Priest’s dialetheic Hegelean account of motion solves many of the problems created by the Russellean orthodox (‘at-at’) account of motion. For example, the orthodox account says that motion is made up only of states of rest, which is counter-intuitive. The Hegelean account however allows us to say that the object is both in a location and not in a location at the same time, and thus always is in a state of motion. It would even seem that time itself is structurally self-contradictory. For a dialetheic account, this does not mean that it is therefore non-real. Rather, it allows time to be both inconsistent and real.



Summary

 

 

Previously Priest accomplished the following.

The Hegelean state description of a body in motion, with its notion of the spread of locations at any time, makes quite precise Hegel’s claim that to be in motion is | to occupy more than one place (in fact a continuum of places) at the same time, and hence both to be and not to be in some place. It therefore renders quite rigorous his account of change. Moreover, the important defect of the account that I mentioned at the start of the last section, namely that it is unclear how the account relates to the canonical mathematical representation of motion, is clearly overcome. An equation of motion, x=f(t), still captures the idea that at time t the object is at f(t). It is just that there is more to change than this. It might be elsewhere too!
[179-180]


Priest’s Hegelean account solved some of the problems he found with the orthodox account. Recall for example that it implies motion is constituted only by states of rest, and it is never actually in a state of motion. This seemed counter-intuitive. The Hegelean account allow for a moving body to occupy multiple locations for a single time point, so it does not have this problem. [180]


Also recall that in Zeno’s paradox of the arrow, the arrow was said to be in only one position at one time. Given the spread hypothesis, we can have the object in multiple locations for one time point. [p180]


Some things still need to be explored regarding the spread hypothesis. Nonetheless, we know it is preferable to the Russellean account. [180] Priest also notes that quantum indeterminacy might be explained using the spread hypothesis [for details see 180-181]


In fact, we might even say not only are objects in motion in two places at the same instant, but we might also say that time itself is structured as self-contradictory, with one moment occupying multiple time-points.

Let me end this chapter with one final application of the Hegelean account of change, where the change in question this time is not motion. Take any point of time, say, midnight on 1/1/2000. Then at this time ‘It is midnight on 1/1/2000’ is true. For a continuous period before and up to this time ‘It is not midnight on 1/1/2000’ is true. Hence by the LCC, this is true at midnight too. Thus, at this time it is both midnight on 1/1/2000 and not midnight on 1/1/2000. This application of the LCC is somewhat moot. It is not completely clear that ‘It is midnight’ and similar temporal claims describe states of affairs in the required sense of the word. But assuming that they do, the fact that such contradictions are produced, together with the Hegelean account of change, gives an exact and plausible sense to the obviously true and non-trivial claim that time itself is in a state of change or flux. This commonsense view has given all sorts of problems to the Russellean account of change. For, on the orthodox account, the view that time is itself in a state of change amounts to the banality that at one time it is one time, and at another, another. This has prompted a variety of responses of varying degrees of incredibility, from the view that time is not in a state of flux, to the view that there are ‘‘hypertimes’’. The contradiction theory of change solves the problem cleanly and swiftly.
[181]


[Priest then raises the question of whether the spread hypothesis applies to either or both time understood as indexical temporal ‘A series’ and as non-indexical temporal ‘B series’. For details, see p.181.]


Some philosophers have concluded that time itself is inconsistent. But they further conclude that this means time is not real. Dialetheic logic, however, allows time to be both inconsistent and real.

A number of people have argued that time in itself is inconsistent. Many of these, such as the idealists Bradley and McTaggart, thought that for this reason it should be consigned to the realm of appearances, or of non-existence—though exactly what this means is not so clear. Dialetheism allows time to be both inconsistent and real.
[181]

 

 


Citations from:

Priest, Graham. In Contradiction: A Study of the Transconsistent. Oxford/New York: Clarendon/Oxford University, 2006 [first published 1987].

Priest (12.3) In Contradiction, ‘The Hegelean Account of Motion’, summary

 

by Corry Shores
[
Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

[Central Entry Directory]
[Logic & Semantics, Entry Directory]
[Graham Priest, entry directory]
[Priest’s In Contradiction, entry directory]


[The following is summary. My own comments are in brackets, but please consult the original text, as I am not a logician. All boldface and underlining are my own. Proofreading is incomplete so mistakes are still present.]



Graham Priest


In Contradiction:
A Study of the Transconsistent


Part III. Applications

Ch.12. The Metaphysics of Change II: 
Motion


12.3 The Hegelean Account of Motion



Brief Summary:

In the Hegelean account of motion, we would think of there being a spread of moments to which the object occupies a spread of spaces. This duration is quite small and tight around a certain time point. Hegel’s view is that the position of the moving object is indiscernable at some moment, and so could be at one of many places in the same tiny moment.



Summary

 

 

Previously Priest examined the orthodox, Russellean, ‘at-at’, cinematic account of change. We found that it leads to the strange conclusion that motion is comprised of no more than states of rest. Now Priest will examine alternate accounts of motion, in particular Hegel’s.

[M]otion itself is contradiction’s immediate existence. Something moves not because at one moment of time it is here and at another there, but because at one and the same moment it is here and not here . . .
[Hegel (1840), vol. 1, ch. 1, sect. C4., quoted in Priest 175]

Hegel means that although an moving object will be at different places at different times, it is necessary as well that at specific times it be in different places.

Hegel is not denying that if something is in motion it will be in different places at different times. Rather, the point is that this is not sufficient for it to be in motion. It would not distinguish it, for example, from a body occupying different places at different times, but at rest at each of these instants. What is required for it to be in motion at a certain time is for it both to occupy and not to occupy a certain place at that time.
[175]


This account has not been well received, because it defines motion by means of contradiction. It is also not clear how exactly to relate this account with our more scientific and mathematical methods for calculating motion. However, the orthodox account of motion seems to be built into the formulas of calculus.

Thus, an equation of motion, x = f(t), just seems to encode the idea of the occupation of different places at different times: it merely records the correlation. By contrast, Hegel’s view seems to have no bearing on the matter.
[176]


[Hegel reasoning for this seems to be that the object is at a single position at a single time, but near it are positions and times so close that we are unable to localize the body.]

The reason is roughly as follows. Consider a body in motion—say, a point particle. At a certain instant of time, t, it occupies a certain point of space, x, and, since it is there, it is not anywhere else. But now consider a time very, very close to t, t'. Let us suppose that over such small intervals of time as that between t and t' it is impossible to localise a body. Thus, the body is equally at the place it occupies at t', x' (≠x). Hence, at this instant the body is both at x and at x' and, equally, not at either. This is essentially why Hegel thought that motion realises a contradiction.
[176]


Hegel also explains why we cannot localize the positions in an instant. It is because they fall along a continuum, and neighboring points along a continuum merge.

Hegel gives a reason why a moving body cannot be localised. The reason derives from his view of the continuum. Essentially, it is that in a continuum distinct points themselves merge. Thus, the reason why we cannot localise a body to t is just that t itself is not ‘‘localisable’’. As he puts it,
{quoting Hegel (1940)}

[W]hen . . . we admit that time and space are continuous, so that two periods of time or points of space are related to one another as continuous, they are, while being two, not two, but identical . . . [M]ovement means to be in this place and not to be in it, and thus to be in both alike; this is the continuity of space and time which first make motion possible. 
{end quote}

And again:
{quoting Hegel (1930)}

[When a body is moving] there are three different places: the present place, the place about to be occupied and the place that has just been vacated; the vanishing of the dimension of time is paralysed. But at the same time there is only one place, a universal of | these places, which remains unchanged throughout all the changes; it is duration existing immediately in accordance with its Notion, and as such it is Motion.
{Priest 176-177, quoting Hegel, firstly “Hegel (1840), vol. I, pp. 273, 273–4 of the translation;” and secondly “ Hegel (1830), p. 43 of the translation. The italics are original.”}


Hegel held some interesting ideas that we might want to further pursue, for example the 18th century notion of the variable point and the contradictory unity of the discrete and the continuous. But for now, Priest will formulate Hegel’s main insight as “the Spread Hypothesis”. [177]


Spread Hypothesis
[heading is bold in Priest’s text]

A body cannot be localised to a point it is occupying at an instant of time, but only to those points it occupies in a small neighbourhood of that time.
[177]


Although this might seem like a strange concept to use in physics, we already know that strange things happen at the scale of Planck’s constant. [177]


Priest will articulate the spread hypothesis using the tense logic semantics he previously described. [177]


[In the following, Priest will first formulate the Russellean at-at account, which holds that a moving body cannot be in two places at the same time. The formulations he will give are basically saying that if a moving object is found in its mathematically determined location at a specific time, then this is true, but if it is not there, it is false. Recall that v is the function that assigns truth/falsity values (0/1 values) to the given proposition (stating the object’s position). The body is called b. The proposition has the structure ‘b is at point x’, which can be expressed as the relation Bx. The function determining the objects position is x = f(t). We might read the two formulas as (1a) the statement ‘b is at point r’ is true (at time t) if r equals the value that the function produces for that given time. And, (1b): the statement ‘b is at point r’ is false (at time t) if r does not equal the value that the function produces for that given time.] The following formulation we will call the “Russellean state description”:

Now, consider a body, b, in motion. Again to keep things simple, let us suppose that it is moving along a one dimensional continuum, also represented by the real line. Let us write Bx for ‘b is at point x’. Let us also suppose that each real, r, has a name, r. This assumption is innocuous. It could be avoided by talking in terms of satisfaction rather than truth. I make it only to keep the discussion at the propositional level. Let the motion of b be represented by the equation x = (t). Then the evaluation, v, which corresponds to this motion according to the Russellean account, is just that given by the conditions:

image
[177]

Priest draws a diagram to depict it. As we can see, only the proper time/place coordinate for f(t) is true.

Priest.InContradiction.p178

 

[In the next formulation Priest describes the Hegelean account of motion. It seems he is saying that we need to think not just of single time points but as well time points surrounding in a set of time points here called θt. It also seems to be saying that although there are different instants in this set which correspond to different locations, if these instants are included in set θt, which surrounds specific point t, then it is true that the object is in these other locations. Specifically the formulations might be read (2a) the proposition ‘b is at location r’ is true if within the spread of moments around t (that is, in set θt), there is at least one time point which when used in the function produces that value for r. And (2b) the proposition ‘b is at location r’ is false if within the spread of moments around t (that is, in set θt), there is at least one time point which when used in the function produces a value that is not r. So while θt might be the set of time points around t, there is also the resulting ‘spread’ of spatial locations corresponding to all those time points. This set Priest calls Σt. In the diagram we see how this spatial spread matches the temporal spread, and that only those falling within those spread are true. Another concept Priest uses is ‘degenerate’ which seems to mean that a set of locations corresponds to a single time point and not a set of time points, but please consult the text to be sure, p.178.]

The appropriate state description for the Hegelean account will, of course, be different, incorporating, as it does, the spread hypothesis. In accordance with the hypothesis, there is an interval containing t, θt (which may depend not only on t but also on f) such that, in some sense, if t' ∈ θt, b’s occupation of its location at t' is reproduced at t. I suggest that a plausible formal interpretation of this is that the state description of b at t is just the ‘‘superposition’’ of all the Russellean state descriptions, vt', where t' ∈ θt. More precisely, it is the evaluation, v, given by the conditions

image

Let us call this the Hegelean state description of the motion. Suppose we write Σt for the spread of all the points occupied at t, i.e., for {f(t') | t' ∈ θt}. If Σt is degenerate, that is if Σt={f(t)}, then the Hegelean state description is identical with the Russellean one. If it is not, then, as may easily be seen, the condition on the righthand side of (2b) is satisfied by all r, and we may depict the Hegelean state description as follows

Priest.InContradiction.p178b
[178]

[Priest then discusses the contradiction that would arise if Σt were not degenerate, which I think means that there are many locations corresponding to just one time point, but I am not sure. Perhaps the contradiction he describes is that for one time point, the object is in many places, but that means it is both in one certain such place and not in it during the same instant. But suppose that the object remains in one position within Σt. This does not lead to a contradiction and in fact describes a state of rest. It is even compatible with the Russellean description of rest (being at the same place throughout different times). However, even with all points in Σt being the same, there can still be a contradiction. This would happen if the moments surrounding very near the given time point (or θt) extend beyond the scope of , and thus the object will be again both in one location in that temporal spread and not in that location. But, since the temporal spread θt is very brief, “this unstable state of affairs can never last for very long.” He then introduces the idea of the derivative df/dt. It seems like he is saying that since the object does not move far enough to register an assignable value greater than 0, and thus finitely speaking does not change assignable locations, hence making it not a contradiction. But please consult p.179 and check.]

As the picture shows, if Σt is not degenerate, then at t a number of contradictions are realised. For all r ∈ Σt, 1 ∈ vt(Br ∧ ¬Br). Σt may be degenerate for one of two reasons. The first is that θt may itself be degenerate. That is, θt={t}. The other is that, though θt is not degenerate, f is constant over it. Now θt is not, in general, degenerate (or the Hegelean account collapses into the Russellean one). It is quite plausible to suppose that its length depends on the velocity of b, so that the faster b is going the more difficult it is to ‘‘pin it down’’. At any rate, provided θt is non-degenerate, if b satisfies the Russellean conditions of motion at | t (namely that at arbitrarily close points of time it is to be found elsewhere), then contradictions will be realised at t. If, on the other hand, a body occupies the same spot at all times in θt, St will be degenerate and no contradiction will be realised. It is possible (for all I have said so far) for a body to satisfy the Russellean conditions for rest, that is, to occupy the same place over a period of time, and yet for a contradiction to be realised during that time. This will happen at t if θt extends beyond this period of constant position. But since θt is very small (maybe in the order of Planck’s constant?) this unstable state of affairs can never last for very long. We might even suppose that if df /dt=0 then θt is degenerate. Now, if f is constant for a period around t, then df /dt=0 at t. In this case, therefore, no contradiction is realised at t.
[178-179]


[Priest finishes by noting that we might need to know whether or not  θt extends beyond t or if t is the least upper bound of θt. This is a problem, because it might imply there can be backwards causation. Priest provides a solution. Please see page 179 for details.]

 


Most citations from:

Priest, Graham. In Contradiction: A Study of the Transconsistent. Oxford/New York: Clarendon/Oxford University, 2006 [first published 1987].


Or otherwise indicated, from:

 

Hegel, G.W.F. (1830) Philosophy of Nature, English translation by A. V. Miller, Clarendon Press, 1970.


Hegel, G.W.F. (1840) Lectures on the History of Philosophy, English translation by E. S. Haldane, Kegan Paul, 1892.