Seeing Concepts Seeing
An image is a strange thing.
It is something we see, sure. There it is! Look at that image!
But it is not just an object, not just something that is seen. An image is a seeing, as well, a way of perceiving the world. So when I look at, say, a painting of Van Gogh's sunflower, I'm not just seeing a sunflower; I'm not just seeing Van Gogh's painting: I am seeing this way of seeing a sunflower.
When I look at those insane sunflowers, I am suddenly privy to an entire style of making sense of the world. I am seeing a metabolism at work, the way sunflowers and light and paint and canvas went in a system — let's call that system Van Gogh — and came out the other side.
But it's not just that I'm seeing this metabolism as if it were at a distance: I am experiencing that world view, literally seeing the world that way. Suddenly, I am Laura Mars and my eyes are Van Gogh's.
Now, I want to say that a concept is an image in this sense: it is not just something we see but is itself a seeing. This seeing is part of me, no doubt, but like the eyes in Laura Mars' face, this concept travels between people. As it goes, it literally remakes the world, redistributes it, makes sense of it anew according to its logics.
We make concepts much in the way we make any image such as a painting or photograph. We gather elements together and assemble them just so. This is to say, then, that concepts don't come prefrabricated; they need to be made (most do; some come prefab as cliches, just as images often come as cliches, too).