This was made all the more visceral, palpable, when listening to music. In high school, then college, it was music that literally gave my vision voice. Even the name of the band that most excited me— Throwing Muses — articulated what I saw.
Academically, I was bored for most of college. Eventually, I read Foucault and Derrida and Gadamer and got excited — mostly by Foucault for he seemed to understand the infinite complexity of the archaeology of knowledge.
But it wasn't until late grad school, on the verge of writing my dissertation — I thought it was going to be on irony and Kierkegaard —, that I read Deleuze's The Fold and Merleau-Ponty's Sense and Nonsense. And, suddenly, all those images I'd had since I was young came to the fore, found voice like never before.
There's a great moment in Bergson where he says the key to understanding a philosopher is seeing, in an intuitive flash, that philosopher's image of the world. All the words — the thousands of pages, the elaborate argumentation — are spent trying to articulate that image.
There is something almost Platonic about this — the idea that can't be spoken. But it's in fact fundamentally different from Plato: the philosopher does not have an idea of the world but, rather, intuits how the world goes: he has an image, not an idea. But what he sees is not just visual — it is operational, aural, affective, incorporating invisible as well as visible elements.
And the philosopher's failure to articulate his image once and for all is not because it exceeds language per se but because the image is infinitely complex and, well, we're not very adept at operating with words (we make them finite when they need to be infinite). Deleuze and Guattari, in many ways, are the most thorough in trying to articulate the mad images they see.
This is what is so arresting about a certain experience of art: sometimes, you see an image and it's shocking: It literally sees what you see, more or less. For me, it was Miro, Klee, Pollock and then Matthew Ritchie, Julie Mehretu, Sarah Sze.
A philosophy, then, is not a set of beliefs. It is not what we consider true. Philosophy — or at least this image of philosophy — is before truth: it is the image we see when we close our eyes and open them again.