Monday, 26 February 2007

Unsynthesised manifold

And while we're reading Greer, just a reminder of the time she was knuckle-rapped by some Plain English people about her use of the term unsynthesised manifold and responded splendidly. I admit that I didn't know the term myself, which rather belies her optimism about reasonably educated Guardian readers. She says:

Most reasonably educated Guardian readers would, I faintly hope, have recognised the phrase "unsynthesised manifold" as an English version of a basic concept in Immanuel Kant's Critique of Judgment, first published in English in 1790 and familiarised in Britain by the work of Coleridge and just about anybody else who writes about aesthetic theory.
And if you're as disappointingly - and, I faintly hope,untypically - ignorant as I am, here's her definition of the phrase:

The "unsynthesised manifold" is, in the original sense, everything that is out there, regardless of whether we perceive it or not. As we can't sensibly talk about matters of which we are unaware, we can use the expression more usefully to describe the endless flood of undifferentiated sensory data we accumulate throughout our waking hours. Our conscious and subconscious attempts at organising this stuff and getting it to make a kind of sense are attempts at synthesis. Because of the way the brain routinely edits and translates the raw data, what we perceive is not reality itself but a model of reality as encoded by our individual software, even before we start trying consciously to make sense of it. Most of what we perceive evades conceptualisation, and is neither dreamed nor recollected, though sometimes we can fish it out under hypnosis.

So now we know.

1 comment:

Vanessa Gebbie said...

So, applying logic to her assertions....

If ‘we accumulate’ data of any sort, it must have been ‘perceived’ in whatever minuscule fashion.

If it is only throughout our waking hours that this data is accumulated, it presupposes it has been collected via sight, touch, smell, taste or auditory means.

Unless there are other means of which I, being uneducated in such matters, am unaware.

( Using ‘unaware’ in the passive sense which appears to be what she is doing above.)

Add Nietsche’s ‘active forgetting’.

Artists imagine. That is calling upon a lifetime of unsynthesised data, which is synthesised as part of the creative process, producing original ‘takes’ on the ‘ordinary’.

So might it be simpler to cut the crap and simply say he had a vivid imagination, which led him to produce something original?

or am I missing something earth shatteringly obvious?