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Originally written for an exhibition Jean-Luc Nancy curated at the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon in 2007, this book addresses the medium of drawing in light of the question of form--of form in its formation, as a formative force, as a birth to form. In this sense, drawing opens less toward its achievement, intention, and accomplishment than toward a finality without end and the infinite renewal of ends, toward lines of sense marked by tracings, suspensions, and permanent interruptions. Recalling that drawing and design were once used interchangeably, Nancy notes that "drawing" designates a design that remains without project, plan, or intention. His argument offers a way of rethinking a number of historical terms (sketch, draft, outline, plan, mark, notation), which includes rethinking drawing in its graphic, filmic, choreographic, poetic, melodic, and rhythmic sense. If drawing is not reducible to any form of closure, it never resolves a tension specific to drawing but allows the pleasure of drawing to come into appearance, which is also the pleasure in drawing, the gesture of a desire that remains in excess of all knowledge. Situating drawing in these terms, Nancy engages a number of texts in which Freud addresses the force of desire in the rapport between aesthetic and sexual pleasure, texts that also turn around the same questions concerning form in its formation, form as a formative force. Between the sections of the text, Nancy has placed a series of "sketchbooks" on drawing, composed of a broad range of quotations on art from different writers, artists, or philosophers.
Jean-Luc Nancy is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Université Marc Bloch, Strasbourg. Among the most recent of his many books to be published in English are Corpus; The Ground of the Image; Listening; On the Commerce of Thinking: Of Books and Bookstores; and The Truth of Democracy (all Fordham).
Philip Armstrong is Associate Professor in the Department of Comparative Studies at The Ohio State University.