Unraveling the Identity of the Line in Culture: Dominant Lines in the Temporal-Affective Structure of Late Modernity

By Sharday Mosurinjohn.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: August 26, 2014 $US5.00

What if, in the first place, the world were made up not of things, but of lines? In what has been heralded as the first book to explore the production and significance of lines, anthropologist Tim Ingold (2007) contends exactly that, with the novel implication, therefore, that to study people and things is to study the lines they make and are made of. Lines may be everywhere, but in this paper I argue that becoming aware of patterns in their cultural manifestations reveals a metonymic connection between the concepts of line, time, and mind. If this is true, then theorizing some of the key practices and tropes that bring them to our attention together can help us perceive the links between a number of cultural forces that have transformed the temporal rhythms and interior lives of contemporary subjects living under permanent speedup and proliferating choice. Among the practices and tropes I consider, the one I choose to focus on in this paper is drawing. After making a case for the shared identity of line, time, and mind in drawing practices, I sketch a portrait of two concepts—choice and boredom—that highlight the affective consequences of the way time has been manipulated in service of a range of modern ideals and processes. I then briefly survey some ways the line is used in processes of ideation in various fields of work in order to suggest how we might actually mobilize the line as a heuristic device for grappling with the problems raised in the preceding section. I conclude by reflecting on what the metaphorics of the line more broadly reveals about the rhythms of late modern temporality and the affective paths we take to navigate through it.

Keywords: Line, Drawing, Late Modern Temporality, Choice Overload, Boredom

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 4, Issue 4, August 2014, pp.113-125. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: August 26, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.033MB)).

Dr. Sharday Mosurinjohn

PhD Candidate, Cultural Studies, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada