OM - Guilherme Ghisoni

Seeing the world aright

The philosopher Wittgenstein, in a letter to the publisher of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus Ludwig von Ficker in 1919, mentions that, although his book is a philosophy treatise on logic, the central point of the book is ethical. In my view, the centrality of ethics in Wittgenstein's book is present in the way the work aims to give a correct view of the world. Wittgenstein states in the final aphorisms of the book that whoever understands him and overcomes its propositions will "see the world aright."

In this perspective, I believe that all art is ethical. All art (however abstract or formal) aims to give a correct view of the world. There are different perspectives and different cultural realities. Different works of art are different ways of seeing the world. In each of the possible perspectives, art gives us a correct way of seeing the world in that perspective.

Another way for ethics to be present in Wittgenstein's Tractatus is through the delimitation of the language. In the letter to von Ficker, Wittgenstein states: "My work consists of two parts: one that is present here [in the book], plus everything that I have not written. And it is precisely this second part that is important." There is what lies beyond language - the unspeakable, the ineffable. It is what lies beyond language, that would be the most important thing. The book, from this perspective, would give us the path to the ineffable.

I believe it is possible to insert Wittgenstein into a tradition of authors that we can generally classify as a form of negative theology. One of my favorite authors of this tradition is Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. In his The Mystical Theology, Pseudo-Dionysius writes about a Silence, beyond all that can be known, in which resides what highest and absolute. This Silence would be like a light that is so luminous that it reveals itself to us as a darkness, accessible only to those who know how to close their eyes.

In meditation we can find the experience of this ineffable silence. There is a time in the practice of meditation in which words cease and we reconnect us with something beyond words. The attempt to express this photographically is recurrent in my visual research. It is this search that led me to the works of OM.

As a professor and researcher of philosophy most of what I do is writing articles, lectures, projects, conferences, and much of what I write today is about philosophy of photography. I had the idea of superimposing on some of my photos some of excerpts from my own texts on philosophy of photography, with exactly one thousand words. In each image, I made a cut in the text to show what is visible beyond words.

Contemplation of what is beyond words would be, in the Wittgensteinian perspective described here, the ethical telos of art.

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