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fig.14—posing figures under ground; grinding posers into figs


 The relation of figure to ground flips the image in fig.14 between one vase and two faces. The faces appear as positive if in a “negative space”—but when you see the white vase as a figure, the red space is its ground. The terms “positive” and “negative” provoke similar oscillations—from overt denotations to covert connotations: e.g., (1) conventionally, positive denotes addition and connotes good while negative denotes subtraction and connotes bad; (2) graphically, positive denotes figure and connotes dark while negative denotes ground or space and connotes light; (3) logically, positive denotes affirmation while negative denotes negation; and in logic, there is no connotation! Thus the picture gets yet tricky as we seek to qualify and quantify the distinction of inside spaces seen by the “mind’s eye” from outside spaces seen through ocular orbits: e.g., (4) ontologically, positive denotes something, presence, actual, and existence; negative denotes nothing, absence, virtual—and, as virtual, either nonexistence, inexistence, or insistence.

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fig.15—enclosing figures disclose ground; vice­-versa


“A proposition, a picture, or a model is, in the negative sense, like a solid body that restricts the freedom of movement of others, and, in the positive sense, like a space bounded by solid substance in which there is room for a body.”—Wittgenstein, 1921


 By cutting negative figures into the positive ground of his mind, Wittgenstein exposes the imbalance by which the apparent mobility of physical objects tips the apparent stability of mental objects. His first figure discloses a body, while his second encloses a void; if we turn his figures inside­-out, do we void his ground of bodies? As a positive figure, a body restricts the movement of other bodies; as a negative ground, a solidly bounded space has room for a body. Discursive intellect ad­-equates the space of mathematics, logic, reason (sense) to that of aesthetics, ethics, emotion (nonsense). Within virtual spaces of meaning, unbounded ranges of nonsense make sense given bounding conditions of actual bodies.

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