Friday, 31 August 2012

Reaching a Brick Wall: More on Metaphor

So in a previous post, I considered the idea of metaphor as 'cross domain mapping'. Metaphor involves not simply seeing one thing in terms of another, but seeing one area or domain in terms of another, for example time as space: 'Who knows what lies ahead of us' and 'Let's put that behind us' rest on the same habit of interpreting time as space. Thus  a common underlying conceptual structure can generate several metaphors. This underlying structure can often be expressed as a proposition, for example (Lakoff's) difficulties are impediments to movement, as in "we've reached a brick wall"; or Purposes are destinations, as in "we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel".

But it seems to me that if we take the last two examples, the significant thing about these metaphors is not the way they conceptualise one domain as another. To elaborate, 'we've reached a brick wall" is about the affects of frustration, blockage  and exasperation; 'seeing the light at the end of the tunnel' is about the audible relief, the anticipation of freedom. In each case the metaphor is seeking out the object-equivalent of the affect. We begin with exasperation, frustration, or whatever, and seek out an object that carries the outline of this affect. The choice of object is in this sense secondary - i.e., whatever outlines the frustration is adequate, whether it be a brick wall or something else. That the metaphor involves equating 'purposes with destinations' is true enough but this is subordinate to the communication of affect.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

"Metaphor is the Trope Of Resemblance" ??

“Metaphor is the trope of resemblance par excellence” says Paul Riceour, and adds that for Aristotle metaphor is 'abbreviated simile'. 

“I heard a scream of brakes” So, the actual noise of the brakes is replaced by a human noise. The actual noise resembles the human noise. Hence, the metaphor posits a resemblance. But although the actual sound may be like a scream, what the metaphor does, and perhaps more importantly and more invisibly, is transfer an affect – i.e., fear, the startle and shock when we hear a scream, the sense of imminent danger. It seems to me that the transference of an effect or affect from one thing to another is typically more significant than the claim to resemblance. To take a couple of commonplace examples. You sit down to mark a pile of exam scripts and say “i’ve got a mountain ahead of me”. This is not so much an ‘abbreviated simile’ asserting that the paperwork is like a mountain, in terms of positive attributes (very high etc). Instead, it invokes the slog, the sense of concealed heights successively emerging, of seeming impossibility, involved in scaling a mountain. Or again: “On leaving the house i was ambushed by the smell of urine.” We are not comparing urine to a band of robbers in terms of predicates or properties. It’s the sense of recoil, unpleasant and sudden surprise. It’s that affect, that reaction that we’re trying to isolate. The emotion associated with one object is "carried across" to another. To call someone a reptile, doubtless, is largely about communicating the particular kind of repulsion he/she provokes, less than the attributes of the individual. 

If metaphor isolates certain perceptions, effects, affects attached to an object and transfers these to another, all this in turn presupposes of course that objects are pre-inscribed with accompanying affects, perceptions, and corresponding reactions. Objects are packets of sensations and responses, which is why the description of an object is almost always an invisible outline of an emotion or state of mind. 

Beckett: Watt

Slightly surprised to find Beckett was a doodler:

More here:

n.b., a very brief snapshot of Beckett in this interview with Christopher Logue:

How did you meet Samuel Beckett?
Beckett let Dick Seaver have the manuscript of Watt. Word spread that it was a work of genius and incredibly funny. One evening we all went to Dick’s room and we passed the manuscript around and read bits out loud and it was incredibly funny. Dick and Alex decided to publish it in Merlin and anything Beckett would give us. He was tall and very good looking. He wore a windcheater with a huge fur collar and looked like an eighteenth-century intellectual aristocrat. He was a rare phenomenon—a writer who was also quite saintly. He was extremely generous, always giving money away to everyone in need, including me. He had natural integrity and was not a bit vain in the worldly sense of the word, though he was very proud of his writing.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Another Note on Expression


“Expression consists for us in incalculability. If I knew exactly how he would grimace, move, then there would be no facial expression, no gesture.”

There is a sense in which a grimace or wink (for example) are part of a code of expression – so, for instance, they are commonly understood, and can be represented iconically. They are in this sense 'calculable'. But a smile or wink that simply conformed to the accepted code would be expressionless (mechanical). It is a condition of expression that some ‘disturbance’ of this code must take place. This disturbance of the code (by affect) is part of what is meant by individual expression. But there cannot of course be disturbance without the code.
Once again expression requires predefined shapes but only in order to surpass them. Expression lives in the disturbance not the code.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Metaphorical Outlines

In this post, I suggested that fiction is able to release the 'metaphorical outline' of things because of the absence of a real-world referent. This passage from Bruno Schulz, for example, surely has such an outline* as it would not if it were a passage of autobiography:
For, once you had entered the wrong doorway and set foot on the wrong staircase, you were liable to find yourself in a real labyrinth of unfamiliar apartments and balconies, and unexpected doors opening on to strange empty courtyards”
Authors of course rely on the metaphorical outline even – or especially – when their writing is not obviously figurative. Simply to describe a dark bank of cloud, without commentary or adjectival overload, is to suggest something ominous, something impending. This outline is not something the author throws onto or lends objects by clothing them in descriptive epithets. It is already impacted into the object.

This is not because there are floating archetypes that objects 'embody', but rather because objects are first of all caught up in our worldly paths and projects. We never never have access, presumably, to the cloud ‘in-itself’. It is already - as soon as named - enclosed in the web of human significance. The metaphorical outline is something that attaches to the object through practise and convention.

The writer is, more often than is recognised, someone who glosses this outline, makes it legible rather than imparts it. 

* By 'outline' I don't mean that things become 'just metaphors' and lose their ordinary sense. The 'ordinary' sense is still primary, but has a second life, as it were, a metaphorical shadow. 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Fictional Worlds: Novels, Theatre and Cinema

In a previous post I suggested that objects in fictional worlds are indefinite, co-extensive with their description, not open to question ('What kind of tree is the tree in Waiting for Godot, How high?)

Cinema is I suppose the opposite of this in some ways. It constructs fictional worlds using real-world objects and people. We can of course measure and examine the buildings in Bicycle Thieves. What is fictional is the relations between these things, and more generally 'what happens' in the film. Or rather, 'what happens' has both a real-world basis and a fictional counterpart. At the real-world level, an actor takes a bike leaning against a wall and and rides it along the street. On a fictional level, a man steals a bike.

Can one visit the City of Bicycle Thieves or only the Rome where the film was set? Perhaps this is not a clear distinction. But take the example of, say, Solaris. It is not possible to visit the space ship, for that is precisely the fictional object. The equivalent real-world object is the stage set used by Tarkovsky. One could say that in Bicycle Thieves, the real-world city is the stage set for the fictional 'object', the unnamed city of the film. The one fits the other like a glove, or nearly. Similarly in  Inspector Morse, the real-world Oxford is the stage-set for the fictional Oxford of the program. Of course there is never an exact fit. Morse steps through one college entrance and emerges in the quad of another half a mile away. Editing means that the two spaces are contiguous only on film. Time and space - in the sense of the implied spatial relations between places, the time taken to traverse certain spaces - are fictional.

Theatre is presumably different again. On can describe Simon Russell Beale in minute detail but one has not therefore described Timon. Timon remains an imaginary object only signified by Beale. (By contrast, perhaps, the Terminator and Arnold Schwarzenegger are indissociable, some people even voted for the former.) No number of actors will ever exhaust Timon, very obviously. And the same is true of costume dramas, which, as has been pointed out in comments, must give a real habitation to fictional objects. Dickens' staircase will never be 'filled out' by any actual staircase, only signified

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Dreaming without 'Meaning'

In Freud, the mechanisms of dreaming, such as condensation and displacement, are ways of smuggling in meaning. Freud’s is still very much a meaning-focused theory of dreams. 

It seems that historically, thinking about dreams supposes them to be the encryption of some content. In most analyses, the formal properties specific to dreaming are regarded only as the secret clasp to be prised open in search of the truly valuable, the meaning.

It seems to me that these formal properties are worth looking at in their own right. The first thing that strikes me about dreams is the presence of radical novelty, even in the tiniest details. An example from last night. A curved length of carved and burnished wood, forming part of a sideboard or dresser. The wood is inlaid with distinctively formed lettering. This object, this length of wood with its peculiar signature, is not from childhood or anywhere else. Put it this way: it has been designed by the dream.

The images – or things – in a dream are often characterised by novelty and by design. They are not representations of things that have been ‘met with’ in waking life and then cut and pasted into the dream. The dream is not a collage, however intelligent.

This is by no means the default understanding of dreams. There are rather long-standing ways of thinking of dreams as:
  •   ‘froth’, ‘scum’ or detritus. The dream is made out of threadbare and discarded odds and ends that we were unable to assimilate in waking life. The dream merely siphons these into its whirligig of unreason.
  • Dreams as ‘mere shadows’ – as the counterfeit, unsubstantial representations of the more solid waking world.
Rather than dreams being the simulacra, the attenuated forms and copies of what lies elsewhere and previous, the dream-world consists of things newly fashioned and without citable precedent, conceived and executed by the dream itself.

The intricacy, detail, symmetry of these ‘representations’ entails what we would elsewhere presuppose to be a concentrated intelligence. (Suppose I had the skill to draw or paint such an image, or create it as a computer graphic. It would take considerable time to craft it. Would I have conceived it to begin with even? But the dream conceives and crafts it at once.)

I seem to recall Hegel saying that the dream is a form of thinking (rather than some confusing amalgam of sensible shapes). But it is ‘picture thinking’. Yet is this really true, at least in the way Hegel means it? Does not picture thinking use conventional shapes -  pictograms and ideograms – to represent objects or concepts? The dream does not use such pictograms and ideograms. Firstly, it produces highly detailed, often strikingly new, objects. These are charged with a striking singularity, as if to say ‘this particular thing’ not ‘this category of things’. These objects do not confront us as re-presentations. The dream object does not form part of some alphabet of ideas. It does not appear straightforwardly as the signature of an idea. If dreams constitute a ‘language’ then this should make us reconsider what we mean by language. Dream images and scenarios have thickness and efficacy of their own which is not simple translatable into the 'meanings' they 'represent'.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Motifs of Anti-Intellectualism: The 'Compensation' Theory

Review of Deleuze in the LRB: "A sickly, asthmatic boy, he grew his nails long because of a skin disease which left his fingertips painful to the touch, and he wore a scarf all summer. ‘It was like visiting Marcel Proust in his bedroom,’ a friend recalled. Philosophy became his refuge.."

Why did ill-health not simply enable philosophy, make possible a different relation to the world? Or might there simply be no meaningful relation? No, for the reviewer, philosophy is seen as a kind of ‘compensation’, a bolt hole into which the philosopher retreats in order to make the most of a forced exclusion.

For many, philosophy opens up the world anew, there is the gathering excitment of discovery and the whole 'fascination of what's difficult'. But no, here it is seen only from the point of view of what it flees. Normality, health, social integration. Philosophy consoles Deleuze for the absence of these things.

It seems to me that such 'consolation' or 'compensation' theories, if they can be called that, are an all too familiar motif in reviews of writers, philosophers and 'intellectuals', esp in England. The philosophy or writing is never the prime mover, as it were, but prompted by - and redressing -deficiences in other ('normal') areas.
A constant sense of vulnerability as a result of physical frailty and weak eyesight leads him to cultivate a mental space where he focuses on the language his companions use, at once feeding on them and keeping himself detached.
 This from a review of James Joyce's biography, where the writing becomes a rather pityful theatre where personal defects are dramatised and resolved, a series of Pyrrhic and imaginary victories over real conditions. On Ulysses:
Jung would say at once of Ulysses that it displayed a schizophrenic use of language – discontinuities, coded messages, superimposition of different levels of discourse, every kind of imitation, pastiche and distraction – such that the predicaments of the two Joycean alter egos at the core of the novel, Stephen’s troubled relationship with his father, Bloom’s difficulty responding to his wife’s betrayal, are all but submerged under wordplay, extraneous information and mythical parallel
Joyce emerges as a contemptible character, an emotional weakling, the emperor of his own typewriter, making words obey his call as the world would not. Now, it's not that Joyce didn't have personal failings. That's not at all the point. But firstly, why can't it be that the writing or thinking leads the way, dragging the life in its wake, often selfishly, yes, but still: the personal failings are in part a function of the focus on writing. But no, time and again, the writing or thinking lags behind various familial and personal 'deficiences'. It walks with a limp.Writing or thinking never seem to be the first choice, only the consolation prize or symptom of a failure to achieve health or normality.

Finally of course, it matters not how Deleuze stumbled on philosophy. Or at least, the origin does not in any way taint his ideas. To think that ideas are somehow inevitable tainted or compromised by their origin is simply the old 'genetic fallacy' resurfacing. Nor would any biographies or or reviews of biographies of Joyce be written if his writing were only a place of symptoms and imaginary resolutions. It is precisely what is more than these aspects of the work that are of enduring interest. Literature might begin in the foul rag and bone shop but surpasses it too. The critic who doesn't address the surpassing is really just dealing in dross.

As the blog title suggests, I do think that the 'compensation' theory of writing and thinking is a staple of anti-intellectualist discourse, but I will continue the point in another post.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Emotion and Expression (Sartre)

"Emotion is not separable from the actions that express it, and in daily relations with the 'love object', actions often precede emotion and engender it". Jean Paul Sartre, Family Idiot, iii, p. 23.

Sartre is talking about the infant Flaubert in particular but also human relations generally. Gustave mimes - or performs - emotion in order to provoke it in the parent:
 A child who is bored suddenly takes it into his head to throw himself into his parents arms; it is not the overflowing feeling of tenderness that provokes him to it, but the future joy he will experience with their kisses.
But 'overflowing tenderness' performed, perhaps copied from a sibling or parent, can later become 'overflowing tenderness' experienced. The performance was the shape, the outline, into which the actual emotion can grow.

I remember as an infant I would very often mimic the facial expressions of my parents. Not for fun or spite. If I saw anger or concern I did not full understand these emotions, but hoped, by getting into their skin, by re-producing their external form, to feel a version of them. And I think it worked - and still does. The facial or gestural outline of an emotion will carry that emotion in its wake.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Memory and affect.

Memory tends to separate image and affect. One of my earliest memories is going through the hospital doors to see my newly arrived baby sister. But it is little more than an image, coloured and retouched, no doubt, by its repetitions in memory, encrusted with remembrance. 

What about how the world appears to a three year old, the categories which frame and divide the world of appearances: big things vs small things; Mummy-Daddy vs Other People?  And  what does ‘hospital’ or 'birth' mean to a three year old... someone who does not yet know where babies come from, for whom babies must be something like a miracle, the hospital itself, a vast white cold space. These escape recollection, because of how the recollecting self has evolved. 

Imagination can try and arrive there, using the usual labours of approximation. But the actual three year old’s world cannot consciously be retrieved. But perhaps it is still lodged within, awaiting a jolt from outside, or a revelation from inside, from dreams.

What dreams drill down into is not memory, which as we ordinarily speak of it is organised by the present; rather they drill down through and into the layers of our antecedents, our antecedent selves. Fragments of past selves, past perceptions, past affects, lodged in strata, cut off from our present ‘I’, but released when it sleeps.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

A Note On Philosophical Language

The task of thinking is – not always, certainly, but often - to force words out of their customary meanings in order that they might function in new ways and generate new kinds of thought. 

And whilst it is true that philosophers need a certain inherited language in order to get thinking started, it is also the case that this inherited language frequently carries with it the assumptions they are trying to analyse, to ‘parse’, to get underneath. 

When philosophers begin, for example, to challenge the subject/ object distinction, the very language they use can presuppose what they are attacking. Language can be forced into paradox. This is why what philosophers write can often appear as nonsensical, because the ideas appear to be contradicted by the very language in which they are couched.

Certain terms will be used in scare quotes, metaphorically, in a significantly new yet not arbitrary sense. Philosophical writing will require the reader to 'get' not simply individual words or sentences but the direction of thought, in order for the words to be intelligible. It is like a script written in invisible ink, that will reveal itself only to those reading the text from a certain angle – like the skull in Holbein's Ambassadors. Those reading literally or uncharitably will be lost. Instead, the reader must be on guard, alert to the different directions from which sense, meaning, will approach. This is of course something we do all the time with poetry and fiction. Not that philosophy is like poetry and fiction, but it is, or can be, similarly at a distance from the language we are used to.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

A Note on Metaphor and cognition

 George Lakoff discusses metaphor as what he calls 'cross domain mapping'. One conceptual field is read in terms of another.  Time is understood in terms of space – “let’s face the future” “let’s put that behind us” etc. Emotion is read as temperature - someone is 'warm' or 'cold'. This is, broadly speaking, a cognitive operation: Metaphor helps us know one ‘domain’ by reading it in terms of another.  Conversely, we might argue, for example, that thinking of time in terms of space blocks our true understanding of time – it is miscognition, or misrepresentation.

But perhaps metaphors are shaped not only by their cognitive adequacy, but by the forms of life which they enable, facilitate and produce. The Greeks practised the art of memory. As part of this, it was useful to conceive of memory as a library, with different categories of mnemonic object ‘located’ in different rooms. Yes, this involves seeing a mental faculty as the interior of a building. But the point of this was not at all to better conceptualise what memory was really like (ie correct cognition), it was to improve one’s memory. Conceptualisation was subordinate to function.

Or again, thinking of the past as ‘behind’ us helps organise our relation to the world - thinking of the past as infront of us and the future as that dark place behind us, into which we reverse, might be part of a radically different organisation of life. The metaphor is not simply an attempt to conceptualise time but to organise our life within it. As so often, metaphor needs to be understood not in terms of ‘how well does it grasp its object’, but in terms of ‘what does it make available’, how does it help us get around.  

Metaphor is typically embedded in a particular form of life , which it helps expedite.

Sartre: sentences

In War Diaries, Sartre discusses 'appropriation'. Firstly, his lack of desire to own objects, to appropriate things materially. He is indifferent to the usual object-expressions of the personality. He sees the desire to own things as a desire to represent yourself, to embody yourself through stand-ins and symbols. He is self-sufficient, and so does not need such embodiments.

But then he goes on to say that he appropriates the world not materially but by thinking, by extracting its meaning. Hence, he appropriates its essence. But he must then transmute it into a second material form, the sentence. The sentence for Sartre is a kind of monad: it captures or reflects the world but remains at the same time a self-sufficient object:
This possession consists.. in capturing the world’s meaning by sentences [..] the sentence which captures satisfies me only if it itself an object; in other words, if the meaning of the world appears in it, not in its conceptual nakedness but via a material. The meaning must be captured with the aid of a capturing thing, which is the aesthetic sentence: an object created by me and existing by itself alone.
 In childhood, as described in Words there is a slightly different sense of the transmutation of thought into matter. 
Nothing disturbed me more than to see my scrawls little by little change their will-o'-the-wisp gleam for the dull consistency of matter: it was the realization of the imaginary. Caught in the trap of naming, a lion, a captain of the Second Empire, or a Bedouin would be brought into the dining room; they remained captive there forever, embodied in signs.I thought I had anchored my dreams in the world by the scratchings of a steel nib.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

What is a Fictional Object, What is a Fictional World?

What follows is just a brief note as a prelude to other posts.

If someone tells you about the staircase in their house you might reasonably ask how many stairs the staircase has. But when we read, In Little Dorrit "Mr. Flintwlnch, therefore, wormed himself up the staircase" it makes no sense to ask how many stairs this staircase has, just as it makes no sense to ask how much Hamlet weighs. This is because the fictional object is co-extensive with its description. It has no attributes other than those described.

With real-world objects there is always something about them surplus to description. It is always meaningful to ask how many stairs a staircase has or how much someone weighs. Fictional objects cannot be questioned or expored in this way.

We might further say that a fictional world is, put simply, a narrative or description wherein the people, objects and events have no real world referent.

An objection might be:

Suppose a novel begins "On the 5th September 1949, he walked down Charing  Cross Road'. Clearly this referes to a particular time in a real city. Fine, but the actual real-world London of 5th September 1949 was not a London containing those events, and the novel does not therefore refer to that world.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Subject and Object: or, What is Expression ii?

'Even our physical life, and still more the world of our spiritual aims and interests, rests on the demand to carry though into objectivity what at first was there only subjectively and inwardly, and then alone to find itself satisfied in this complete existence. Now since the content of our aims and interests is present first only in the one sided form of subjectivity, and this one-sidedness is a restriction, this deficiency shows itself at the same time as an unrest, a grief, as something negative. This, as negative, has to cancel itself […] The individual in his essential nature is the totality, not the inner alone, but equally the realization of this inner through and in the outer.'

Hegel, Aesthetics.

Expression does not simply transfer what was 'inside' onto what is 'outside'.  What is 'inside' is deficient, partially known and incomplete whilst it is still only 'inside'. The inside is virtual, the outside actual. The inside intends the outside.

The customary division between subject and object typically overlooks how the subject is only fully disclosed and known through the object, and so follows in its wake.

Expression - the 'carrying through into objectivity' - always both surpasses and surprises us. 

Friday, 3 August 2012

Proust: Memories as Places

Proust, The Fugitive:

The name of Brichot recalled to me the close of that same evening when he accompanied me home and when I had seen from the street the light of Albertine’s lamp. I had already thought of it many times, but I had not approached the memory from the same angle. For, if our memories do indeed belong to us, they do so after the fashion of those country properties which have little hidden gates of which we ourselves are often unaware, and which someone in the neighbourhood opens for us, so that from one direction at least which is new to us, we find ourselves back in our own home. [Italics added]

The notion of memories as a series of places, which are permanently and profoundly embedded, which remain independent of my intention, not requiring any act of will to maintain them, and which are subject to time not in the same way that I am. It is these memories which we stumble upon, or which, at certain junctures, will rise into visibility, dripping with nostalgia and evening sun, like a piece of inner space.
Such memories are places inside us to which we gravitate in dreams, or against which we knock when a particular smell or taste brings us there.

They are impregnate with feelings but not simply those projected by our own current ego; rather do they contain fragments of previous, past feelings which have broken off and assumed their own life, their own rate of growth, part of us, yes, but autonomous too. Such memories are evidence that such past selves have refused to die, and have gone on planting, cultivating their own patches of ground inside us, without us knowing– ‘us’ being that little sliver of present consciousness to which we give the convenient name ‘I’. Indeed, such memories continue to live or develop (much as we talk of developing a photo) in the face of our neglect or amnesia, waiting patiently in the recesses of dreams, indifferent to discovery. 

Metaphor and Fictional Worlds

Imagine the description of morning in the last but one post is the start of a novel, part of a 'fictional world'. What this means, firstly, is that you have detached the description from a referent. It is not longer a description of an actual morning, an actual cafe, a specific time and place etc. The 'steps' and 'doors' and 'trays' no longer refer to those experienced by an individual in real life.

What difference would it make to the reader? It seems to me that you would be more likely to see it as a  metaphorical vehicle as well as a description of a place. You would be more likely to see it as an evokation of possibility as well as a description of a city morning. As soon as you jettison the real-world referent, the metaphorical content becomes visible.

We can perform a reverse thought experiment with a fictional work, for example Elizabeth Bowen's Last September. Elizabeth Bowen produces a whole poetics of space in which the merest descriptive detail has a dual life as a metaphoric vehicle and marker of some larger class-consciousness. The great high windows of the Irish Big House at once suggest Enlightenment, the cool eye of the aristocrat, yet are typically curtainless, subject to incursion from without. The demesne is well cultivated, walled and enclosed, embodying certain enduring values of privacy and order. But this security and closure contrasts embarrassingly with the impoverished open landscape of the peasantry and tenant farmers outside the gates, heightening the sense of alienation. All around the demesne, in Bowen's Last September, the "orange bright sky crept and smouldered", like some coming revolution. The Big House became the focal metaphor of an Irish Proetestant Ascendancy increasingly menaced by the empowerment of Catholic Ireland.

Now if we read such descriptions of curtainless windows and smouldering skies in her letters or autobiography, we are less likely to see a metaphorical outline. They are too anchored to a real person and a real time. It is by freeing description from actual space and time that the metaphoric outline emerges.

And by contrast, you are always more likely, when reading descriptions of objects and situations in a novel to perceive, or be at least dimly conscious of a metaphorical outline. In other worlds this outline becomes visible when you've jettisoned any real-world referent. It becomes available for metaphor.

But my point is that fiction does not impose this metaphorical outline, by a kind of decree. The 'metaphorical outline' must be there to begin with, silently or implicitely, in the beginning, when still anchored to a real-world referent. Fiction simply undoes the anchor, releases it, brings it to visibility.

Things already have a metaphorical outline embedded in them.