Auerbach Figura Essay

Auerbach Figura Essay-67
As Jakub Zdebik says of Gilles Deleuze’s take on Michel Foucault’s use of this term: The diagram is not specific, but it is a pure abstracted function—so it can pass from one system to the next without the need to follow any similarity of form and it can intermingle with other functions, giving two incongruous systems their respective operative fields.

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Frederik Stjernfelt, by contrast, defines the diagram in accordance with the thought of Charles Sanders Peirce: “a skeleton-like sketch of its object in terms of [rational] relations between its parts.” In the sewing pattern, the body is without flesh.

It is a skeleton of thought, a mathematical machine.

But we might also understand these images as devices of figuration, and more specifically, perhaps, as figures of thought., the anonymous author differentiated “Figures of Diction” (4.19-46) from “Figures of Thought” (4.47-69); while the former are identifiable in the language itself, the latter “belong in the pragmatic or situational and functional dimension of language”—that is, in the utterance (perhaps, we could say, the practice or labor of expression).

But over time, the term took on new meanings, expressing “something living and dynamic, incomplete and playful.” The word became “quite unplastic” as it emerged in the overlap between different senses—seeing and hearing—as figures of diction and figures of thought overtook formal shapes.

Labor and its identity within the industrial-capitalist mode of production, in 1827, is figured within these diagrams. Hence, Karl Marx suggests that work at the loom becomes, within the capitalist mode of production, a merely formal activity, a concrete example of “abstract labour.” The textile industry exemplifies the mediated relationship between the worker and her labor in a capitalist economy.

In other words, textiles were, for Marx, figures of the capitalist mode.

It is a mathematically derived schematic, a diagram in the technical sense.

But Auerbach notes that in “Lucretius’ doctrine of the structures that peel off things like membranes and float round in the air,” the word Thus, figures are at once plastic, technical, conceptual, and linguistic formulations.

(The terms often overlap and are somewhat interchangeable here; the point is that they all provide schematic presentations of a material process.) The present text is a draft, a kind of map for a future project that will study how the field of textile production began, in the proto-industrial workshops and mills of the sixteenth century, to codify textile practices and to render them repeatable.

Consider an example: a page of weave drafts for twill patterns, from the , published in Scotland in 1827 by a certain John Murphy.


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