47. “Interstices of void”

…Plato was well aware of the fact which Aristotle urges as a flaw in his theory, namely that it is impossible for all his figures to fill up space with entire continuity. In the structure of air and water there must be minute interstices of void; there must also be a certain amount of void for the reason that, the universe being a sphere it is impossible for rectilinear figures exactly to fill it up.

– John Cook Wilson: ‘On the Interpretation of Plato’s Timaeus’, 1889

Mr. Reinhardt is a puzzler. His tenacity over so long a period in the service of an increasingly tight premise is admirable. But the logical application of this premise (apparently, that by infinitely painstaking selection and discarding an artist may extract an irreducible essence from color and geometry, the bases of painting) has led him, , as it did not lead Mondrian, close to the discovery that essence but a void may lie at the end of his search.

– John Canaday: ‘Art, Running the Gamut’, New York Times, 21 October 1960

John Canaday, art critic of The New York Times, writing in 1960 of Mr. Reinhardt’s search for severe purity, said it “has led him, as it did not lead Mondrian, close to the discovery that essence but a void may lie at the end of his search.

– New York Times: ‘Ad Reinhardt, Painter, is Dead’, 1 September 1967


50. “Structure mere successiveness into patterns”

We need ends and kairoi and the pleroma, even now when the history of the world has so terribly and so untidily expanded its endless successiveness. We re-create the horizons we have abolished, the structures that have collapsed; and we do so in terms of the old patterns, adapting them to our new worlds. Ends, for example, become a matter of images, figures for what does not exist except humanly. Our stories must recognize mere successiveness but not be merely successive; Ulysses, for example, may be said to unite the irreducible chronos of Dublin with the irreducible kairoi of Homer. In the middest, we look for a fullness of time, for beginning, middle, and end in concord.

– Frank Kermode: ‘Sense of An Ending’, Oxford University Press, 1967

For if what Kermode persistently refers to as merely successive, “real” time were in itself but another fiction, then he would be committed only to a study of various orders of fiction rather than to a study of fictions as changing responses to a hypothetically changeless and formless reality. And fictions may be sense-depriving as well as sense-making.

– Leo Bersani: ‘Variations On a Paradigm’, New York Times, 11 June 1967