The Pleasure in Drawing

The Pleasure in Drawing

JEAN-LUC NANCY
TRANSLATED BY PHILIP ARMSTRONG
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 128
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x02tz
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  • Book Info
    The Pleasure in Drawing
    Book Description:

    Originally written for an exhibition Jean-Luc Nancy curated at the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon in 2007, this book addresses the medium of drawing in light of the question of form--of form in its formation, as a formative force, as a birth to form. In this sense, drawing opens less toward its achievement, intention, and accomplishment than toward a finality without end and the infinite renewal of ends, toward lines of sense marked by tracings, suspensions, and permanent interruptions. Recalling that drawing and design were once used interchangeably, Nancy notes that "drawing" designates a design that remains without project, plan, or intention. His argument offers a way of rethinking a number of historical terms (sketch, draft, outline, plan, mark, notation), which includes rethinking drawing in its graphic, filmic, choreographic, poetic, melodic, and rhythmic sense. If drawing is not reducible to any form of closure, it never resolves a tension specific to drawing but allows the pleasure of drawing to come into appearance, which is also the pleasure in drawing, the gesture of a desire that remains in excess of all knowledge. Situating drawing in these terms, Nancy engages a number of texts in which Freud addresses the force of desire in the rapport between aesthetic and sexual pleasure, texts that also turn around the same questions concerning form in its formation, form as a formative force. Between the sections of the text, Nancy has placed a series of "sketchbooks" on drawing, composed of a broad range of quotations on art from different writers, artists, or philosophers.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-5095-0
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Translator’s Note
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Preface to the English-Language Edition
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    J-L.N.
  5. Form
    (pp. 1-4)

    Drawing is the opening of form. This can be thought in two ways: opening in the sense of a beginning, departure, origin, dispatch, impetus, or sketching out, and opening in the sense of an availability or inherent capacity. According to the first sense, drawing evokes more the gesture of drawing than the traced figure. According to the second, it indicates the figure’s essential incompleteness, a non-closure or non-totalizing of form. In one way or another, the worddrawingretains a dynamic, energetic, and incipient value that does not exist in words likepainting, film, orcinema. By contrast, words like...

  6. Idea
    (pp. 5-9)

    But what is it, then, that we callform? It is imperative to take up this problem, sincedrawingrepresents par excellence the element of form, or a form—and, as we have suggested, not only within the domain of the visual arts but in all artistic domains, since in all these domains one can discern a register, element, or valence to which the idea of drawing lays claim—without being simply a metaphoric use of the term.³

    Leonardo da Vinci writes: “These parts [of music] are constrained to arise and to die in one or more harmonic tempos which...

  7. Formative Force
    (pp. 10-14)

    Drawing is therefore the Idea—it is the true form of the thing. Or more exactly, it is the gesture that proceeds from the desire to show this form and to trace it so as to show the form—but not to trace in order to reveal it as a form already received. Here, to trace is to find, and in order to find, to seek a form to come (or to let it seek and find itself)—a form to come that should or that can come through drawing.

    In the sense of a project or intention, thedesign...

  8. The Pleasure of Drawing
    (pp. 15-19)

    Due to its nature, no doubt, drawing is represented, experienced, and experimented with as a compulsion, like the effect of an irresistible impetus. Valéry writes that drawing constitutes “perhaps the strongest temptation of the mind,” and a number of painter’s lives show a precocious and often overwhelming compulsion to scribble, draft, trace, sketch out, or outline (right up to the “priapism of drawing” to which Greuze refers when speaking of Saint-Aubin).⁹

    A phrase by Vasari about the young Michelangelo summarizes what he and other authors of the “lives” of painters repeat about so many other artists, sometimes with abundant detail:...

  9. Forma Formans
    (pp. 20-24)

    Homo, animal monstrans—animal designans. Thisdesignationresponds to what our culture callsmimesis. Mimesis is neither a copy nor an imitation that reproduces. It reproduces, in the sense that it produces the form (i.e., the idea or truth of the thing) again—in other words, like new—which is also to say, indissociably, it re-produces the emotion by which this truth not only distinguishes itself but also marks, imprints, and makes itself.

    To be sure,mimesisis no less dependent on a system of simple reproduction. Once the gods possess entirely human bodies and once the actions of heroes...

  10. From Self Toward Self
    (pp. 25-30)

    But in this intimate combination of the two gestures of birth and ostension, the one can never separate from the other—birth cannot simply remain an interminable process (a mark must be traced), nor can ostension simply present a formed or closed form. Thestatus nascendiorstatus formandi—thisstatusthat has no stable state and that remains incessantly metastable—never stops preceding and extending itself beyond itself. It began “before” and it will continue “after” what allows itself to be identified as the present of its presentation. Formed form summons a new formation; the Idea makes demands on...

  11. Consenting to Self
    (pp. 31-36)

    There is no art without pleasure. This does not mean that art is foreign to strain, anxiety, or pain in all values of the word. But it does mean that art always proceeds from a tension that searches for itself [se recherche], that enjoys reaching out, not in order to reach the goal of relaxation but to renew this tension infinitely, which also means that pleasure’s (ex)tension carries with it displeasure, or that this distinction itself is blurred.

    The emotion to which we have previously referred is none other than that by which tensionforms itself, just as form reaches...

  12. Gestural Pleasure
    (pp. 37-43)

    That classical aesthetics was an aesthetics of pleasure should not lead us to believe that pleasure has no place outside aesthetics. In truth, no aesthetics is exempt from a pleasure principle (whether related or not to Freud’s “pleasure principle,” which indeed we will have to address). Provided that one takes care to distinguish satisfaction—and even more, contentment, repletion, and relaxation—from the pleasure of desire, from an intensity that seeks itself and revives itself, one cannot fail to discern this pleasure, however dissimulated it might have become beneath technical, signifying, political, or philosophical theories. One would no longer speak...

  13. The Form-Pleasure
    (pp. 44-53)

    To address more directly the pleasure at issue, let us draw on an analysis from Freud’s work on the subject of aesthetic form. What is at issue is in no way a question of entering into a psychoanalysis of art. On the contrary. But it happens that Freud—as we will see, in spite of himself—offers us an invaluable resource.22

    Freud establishes at the least a parallel, and at the most a continuity, between sexual pleasure and aesthetic pleasure (as we will see, indecision on this point stems from the underlying difficulty that he encounters). (Meaning at least—let...

  14. The Drawing/Design of the Arts
    (pp. 54-58)

    Allow me to add here a brief remark that will expand on several scattered notes in the previous pages concerning the plurality of the arts. What Freud has allowed us to designate as a counterpoint played out, according to a sexual score [partition], between different registers—“stages,” “senses,” and “zones”—ends up as playing a type of fugue or canon between artistic fields. In their relations of simultaneity and succession, of correspondence and distinction, in their mutual references and metaphors, or in the metonymy which makes them all express “art” (this singularity that is so difficult to decipher), the arts...

  15. Mimesis
    (pp. 59-65)

    There are two fundamental attitudes towardmimesis, in other words, toward this notion for which we retain the Greek word in order to avoid any confusion with imitation, with simple and (as one often says) “servile” imitation. Indeed, the distinction between servility and mastery constitutes the axis that separates the two attitudes: either mimesis is subordinate to a model, or it dictates its law to it. From this, one can immediately draw a starker opposition between an imitation doomed to remain a vain reproduction and an enhancement whose inventiveness lessens the importance of the model in favor of that of...

  16. Pleasure of Relation
    (pp. 66-72)

    If this is the case, and if there is pleasure there, it is because pleasure in general is tied to a relation, to the perception of a relation or to its enactment, two possibilities that, no doubt, intersect or even come together. Pleasure is in the relation that tends toward its prolongation or its repetition, just as displeasure tends toward suspending and rejecting the relation. One finds pleasure or displeasureat[à] such and such a form, such and such an encounter—that thing or eventmakesorcreatespleasure for us, wetakepleasure in it. Pleasure is indissociable...

  17. Death, Sex, Love of the Invisible
    (pp. 73-80)

    If pleasure stems from the relation of the thing to itself—as itself, and as this “its self” is not given once and for all, nor conforms to any use of the thing—then this pleasure is always a new version of the relation of the thing to its own appearance and disappearance. In effect, whether this “thing” consists in the representation of an object or a body from the perceived world, or whether it remains in a form without reference, what matters in it is the movement that detaches it from the formless [informe] in whose ground [au fond]...

  18. Ambiguous Pleasure
    (pp. 81-89)

    Signs of an ambiguity essential to pleasure have appeared on several occasions in the preceding pages, over and beyond the diversity of meanings that the wordpleasurecan convey. This ambiguity should be addressed directly.

    Pleasure is either calming or stimulating. For Plato, there is pleasure through the suspension of pain, and there is pleasure through the increase of enjoyment. For Aristotle, the pleasure [agrément] of recognition and protective distance with respect to the hideous object go hand in hand. For Freud, lowering tension and form extended toward such a decrease should be associated. Derrida’s reading of Freud emphasizes to...

  19. Purposiveness Without Purpose
    (pp. 90-97)

    The formula with which Kant characterizes the specificity of aesthetic judgment—that is to say,purposiveness without purpose—remains the matrix for all investigation into the subject of the beautiful or art. “Aesthetic judgment” here designates the judgment that declaresbeautifula reality (thing or work) insofar as such a judgment is primarily considered not in its actual use but in its a priori possibility. It is not about the implications of my decision to declare, for example, such and such a film “beautiful,” but of the general condition that allows me to speak of the “beautiful” (instead of saying...

  20. The Line’s Desire
    (pp. 98-108)

    The line that divides and draws a form is similar to the arrow fired by a bow. The bow’s tension is discharged in an instant, in a release of forces. But the relaxation of the bow manifests itself in the release [jet] of the arrow, as the relaxation of the sexual organ is expressed in orgasm [le jaillir], where the organ itselfrises up[s’enlève], in all senses of the word.45The released arrow does not go toward any target; it only releases itself and its trajectory [sa lancée].46German saysEntwurf, sketch [jetée], first draft [premier jet],initial sketch...

  21. Notes
    (pp. 109-116)