Posted: May 27th, 2011 | Author: | No Comments »


In the “Origins of Language” Renee Magritte displays a single promontory jutting out of a body of water under a bright sky scattered with nimbus clouds. Focusing on the promontory, one notices the isolation of the platform in what may be an endless expanse of water. The image appears to be a sort of logical puzzle in which one is forced to fill in the gaps. The positioning of the elements themselves poses questions, and encourages a narrative to be developed to explain what is presented.

From what vantage point is the viewer seeing this platform? One feels an urge to inject humanity into the scene, to see themselves, perhaps, staring out from the frame, perched on a rock in utter solitude. As much as the painting seems to accomodate a fictitious narrative, or emotionally parallel our own isolation as individuals, to be so eager to draw symbols is literally seeing what is not there. The very awareness of yourself, the painting, the lonely image, answers in part the question of language and the ability to philosophize, emote, and ponder the strange and fantastic. Whether you know the title of the piece upon seeing it is irrelevant insofar as your innate capabilities of language. The painting engages your senses and produces language whether internal or external. In this way Magritte makes one use language as opposed to merely explaining its origins, though some have tried that too: The Biblical account of the Tower of Babel seems a feeble attempt in comparison.

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