Future Politics / The Line in the Middle


Lomax, Yve. ‘Future Politics/The Line in the Middle’ Writing the Image (London: I.B.Tauris, 2000) 39-53


I, like many others, have searched for a point of certainty. yes, I hoped to find it and I was innocent or arrogant enough to think that I could find it, but I could never have found it. But still I searched. I journeyed. I felt that whilst it remained missing I too would be missing something.

At times I felt keen: I was a sleuth; I observed and took note. I felt confident that I was on the right track. I had my theories. At other times, however, I felt a wretched creature, ridden with guilt and an overwhelming sense of inadequacy. I was all over the place. I felt scattered.


I searched through books. I wrote many lines. I scratched around. I chased after words. I tried to pin down concepts, but butterflies in the wind, they remained only metaphors. One metaphor only left to another: I was never to find their roots.


Was the very possibility of reaching the point of the missing term excluded from the start? Had the missing term ever existed before its barring? The bar, I feared, concealed nothing at all. The prohibition was a fraudulent frontier which only simulated a territory beyond. It was that signifier of lack, that mark of absence, which constituted the ‘presence’ of the missing term.

From now on nothing remains independent  of its representation within representation. Nothing comes before, everything comes after. We are living in a ‘post-‘ world, a world without a solid centre or fixed reference point: a world without origin. The presence of a point of certainty has ceased to shine.

The means no longer follows a line which comes between – in the middle of – two fixed points or poles. We fear there is no beginning, no end.

No longer can we assume a linearity which brings the future straight into perspective. History is going nowhere; it has ceased to march to the same tune.

From now on nothing remains natural beyond the frame. Every exit from the frame is already framed; the outside is already inside.

We are living in an artificial world, a most unauthentic world. The nature of truth is in the end constituted by fiction. Metaphor has no true and literal origin. The world has become wholly one sided. Nothing remains genuine. Images of images. The copies endlessly flow. We have lost a world where we can truly tell the difference between the original and the copy.


Who amongst us can say, with all certainty, that the image is a surface, a front or facade, beyond which there is a higher or deeper level?


History no longer advances along a straightforward line, yet are we doomed to return to the circle?

Without beginning or end, the line in the middle remains open to breaking into and becoming other lines. No, not a question of fragmentation, of a whole which has been shattered to bits; rather, a question of the movement of lines which by way of breaking constantly make another line.


Searching for the whole, or the essences of things, has always sent me around in circles. The difference between either/or has always trapped me in a vicious circle.


A ‘thing’ only becomes a thing by way of its involvement with other things: a moving map with many entrances and exits. We can only ever know something partially. We can never stand apart: we too play a part.

Uncertain parts are not hidden secrets awaiting discovery, nor are they underlying essences which require revelation or liberation, nor are they mysteries, ‘irrational forces’, in need of the correct interpretation. On the contrary: they are the multiplicity of lines into which a partial line is capable of breaking.

An involvement is such a multiplicity.


Are we to say that time always follows a straightforward line? One, two, three: there is no absolute time. Time also also warps. [sic] Think of how it stretches. Time isn’t a single one line. The motion, the flow, of time isn’t always the same.

History is always in motion. Mutation. History is always altering its direction; it is made up of many different speeds. History no longer advances along a progressive line; it no longer follows a linear line which adds up to a ‘better time’.

The historical subject no longer works.


It may be said that the future is indeterminate, but this isn’t to assume that it doesn’t exist, that it is lacking: it is to say that the future doesn’t ‘naturally’ or ‘numerically’ follow on from the present. It isn’t to assume that anything goes, that all is arbitrary. I am thinking that the future is also a fiction: something which is made, fabricated, calculated and broken. The vision of the future isn’t necessarily in sight.


Perhaps the world has no image, least of all as a ball. To say this, however, isn’t to assume that images play no part. Indeed, it isn’t to say that they bear no relation to reality whatsoever, that they have drifting off in a nebulous state. Far from it. Images play a crucial part. Images do affect. They form many different involvements which the photograph forms. Images do change the world. A question of their partiality.

All those films, videos and photographs are never simply windows on the world or mirrors of the soul. Yes, think of when the image ceases to oscillate between the two poles of objective representation and subjective expression. The documentary image has no more a direct link to the real hard stuff than does the expressionistic image has to the sensitivity of the soul. It isn’t a question of a just link; it’s just a question of the absence of a link.

Images don’t stand between us and reality. the image is neither a divide nor a link. Images are not substitutes which stand in for things in their absence. Images are not substitutes for a ‘living memory’, and neither are words.


The gallery, the cinema, the book, the visual image, the photograph, the concept or the media: these are not closed spaces or containers with definite insides and outsides. Open rings. Which is to say that it is never a question of locating an alternative space. There is no other space which remains untouched, least of all what is named, beyond the frame, nature.

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