Tag Archives: visual literacy

writing and image

au printemps

The struggle of writing against the image – historical consciousness against magic – runs throughout history. With writing, a new ability was born called ‘conceptual thinking’ which consisted of abstracting lines from surfaces, i.e. producing and decoding them. Conceptual thought is more abstract than imaginative thought as all dimensions are abstracted from phenomena – with the exception of straight lines. Thus with the invention of writing, human beings took one step further back from the world. Texts do not signify the world; they signify the images they tear up. Hence, to decode texts means to discover the images signified by them. The intention of texts is to explain images, while that of concepts is to make ideas comprehensible. In this way, texts are a metacode of images.

Flusser, Philosophy of Photography

How would McLuhan respond to this? He might be ok with the idea of struggle. He might be good with conceptual thinking born of writing, as an abstraction from senses. This might be a trace to the spectacle, too, as writing and the writing stand in for the world.