Blog Post

Painted by Death

Prudence Whittlesey is doing a series of paintings of philosophers and I sat for her before the show began. Her paintings of Jane Bennett and Graham Harman were incredible. She caught how Jane looks like she is on fire, and how there is vision coming out of Graham's eyes. Whittlesey is slated to do Badiou some time this week (I think).

I realized when she was painting me, holding me with her eyes in that way she does, and letting the paint do its thing and have its agency on the paper, and letting the paper speak too, that after I die, I think I'm going to be in a studio being painted.

The painter is Death. She is trying to get a likeness. I think that I'm being judged. Or condemned. Or joined. Or danced.

Death has always been trying to get a likeness of me, I notice, since I was born. If she ever got the ultimate, perfect likeness of me, that would be the death of me. A perfect translation. My essence would coincide with my appearance, and I would be dead.

When I arrived at the New School, I felt peeled open and eaten, in a nice way.

But untangling 100' of ethernet cable? Now that is hell.

Timothy Morton's picture
Timothy Morton is Professor of English (Literature and Environment) at the University of California, Davis. Professor Morton's interests include literature and the environment, ecotheory, philosophy, biology, physical sciences, literary theory, food studies, sound and music, materialism, poetics, Romanticism, Buddhism, and the eighteenth century. He teaches literature and ecology, Romantic-period literature, and literary theory. He has published nine books and sixty essays, including The Ecological Thought (Harvard UP, 2010) and Ecology without Nature (Harvard UP, 2007).