Nicole Raziya Fong / Six Surfaces of a Various Nature

From Issue 3.48: 50th Anniversary Issue 3/3 (Fall 2022)

87. The difficulty of imagining it (or of filling out the picture of it) is in knowing when one has pictured that. I.e. the indefiniteness of the request to imagine it.

88. The difficulty is, therefore, one of knowing what we are supposed to consider as the analogue of something that is familiar to us.

—Ludwig Wittgenstein1


                A morning in May in which I became capable of “seeing” 
                tulips. Previously obscured from a balcony or stair, tulips 
                from a window began to appear and spread out onto the 
                streets below.

                Some morning, in May, I had actual cause to “see”— 

                One might have said:

                “It’s spring, of course there are tulips everywhere.” 


                “Look how luminous the tulips have become!”

                Further, by way of explanation:

                “I am only capable of distinguishing between images as 
                a subject in the midst of their difference, alternatively 
                appearing the same and unalike.”

                The means by which one becomes capable of seeing past 
                a surface (that which continually relocates itself in past 
                similitude or difference), or the material process in which 
                a red becomes increasingly saturated over time until 
                there is no such thing as “red” any longer, just a singular, 
                restrained darkness set increasingly upon itself—

                A blue tulip does not exist here.


                The image of a tulip, flowering or beginning to flower, 
                in a room or a garden outdoors, as reflected in a mirror   
                or painting, otherwise seen as colourless, as in a dream 
                or analog depiction. “One can see tulips”, and so the 
                variousness of the image is recalled.

                If we suppose it to be a simple and straightforward task to 
                extrapolate, recall or imagine colour in the absence of any 
                visual aid, it must be an equally intuitive matter to assume 
                we can concretely know something beyond the surface of 
                that which we see, even as our seeing becomes trapped in 
                its perpetually occurring passage.

                I never want to complicate an image so much as add layers 
                to its complexity—feed into its variousness.

                The thrall of certain flowers which appear momentarily 
                red or blue at adjacent moments in time. During the day, 
                cast beneath violet shadow. When cloudless light drifts 
                through a curtain, pale lilac.


                Another side to the image.

                Beneath the pale light of the evident, some evening in 
                May, I came to view tulips as being scattered within 
                variousness. The garden I had forestalled the previous 
                year had already bent into the realm of shadow. Already 
                had I abandoned any memory of it. 

                Tulips are finite. Neither may they be partially 
                preserved. Existing in the momentary, they appear to me 
                purely as a surface.

                Defeated, their petals fall to the floor. 

                A canvas has now reshaped them.


                Surface, considered gradually knowable on
                the basis of pure assumption, remains most 
                changeable and therefore unclassifiable by way 
                of its colour. Still, it is this aspect of any surface 
                which remains assumed, unquestioned until 
                one has cause to look closely at it.

                “One can see tulips.”

                That we can imagine something to be true, and so 
                come to believe in its veracity, while maintaining no 
                tangible evidence of it being this or any other way:

                “One is seeing tulips.”

                To start over (begin again) “some evening in May”—

                “One has seen tulips.”


                The improbable nature of a tulip being that which 
                is already ripening or lit from within, now having 
                been set on a countertop or table, or imagined 
                from within a painting of its semblance—

                To propose understanding as to the permanent 
                nature of a surface, one must begin at an assumed 
                point of recognition. Such a state relocates itself 
                indefinitely; any resulting image may resemble 
                what temporalities have come before but can never 
                itself form a full representation.

                One does not extract an image so much as return it 
                to its various nature. The allegory of an image by 
                day, momentary in stature, or numinous when lit 
                from within.


                That I hold so much belief in “things” 
                That the garden is “beautiful to behold”

                And the distinction underlying the stability of the 
                Structure gestures towards its permanence

                By way of undermining it— 
                So what if surface calls out?

                I do not need to answer it.
                So what if this rune appears indecipherable?

                I have not yet signed my name. 
                Variousness is a relative endeavour.

                I had never seen such a beautiful blue before.

  1. From Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Remarks on Colour (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), 27.

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