Underlinings (#17)

Nicola Masciandaro on ‘Image Speed Intelligence’:

How might art’s level of attunement to this speed influence the inhuman future of the image? There is a story about the 18th-century Sufi poet Bulleh Shah which provides a fitting initial reference point for musing over these questions. It concerns the power of the line, perhaps the most pervasive type of image and that which best demonstrates the subtle, neither-there-nor-not-there being of image in general. “[A]s a child he was very backward. By the time the other children had mastered the Arabic alphabet, he hadn’t learned the first letter. His parents took him away from school and left him to himself. He ran away to the desert or jungle . . . and spent his whole time in trying to understand the meaning of this single letter ‘a’ which also stands for the number ‘one’. After twenty-five years he returned to his childhood school and took his place in the class he had left. The same teacher, an old man now, asked him what he wanted. He said he had come for his second lesson. To humour this madman the teacher asked him to write his first lesson on the blackboard. He did so; and the whole wall split in two.”

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