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This is Not a Pipe (Quantum Books) [Paperback]

M Foucault
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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There is a newer edition of this item:
This is not a Pipe 25th Anniversary Edition (Quantum Books) This is not a Pipe 25th Anniversary Edition (Quantum Books) 5.0 out of 5 stars (1)
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Book Description

1 July 1992 Quantum Books
What does it mean to write "This is not a pipe" across a bluntly literal painting of a pipe? Rene Magritte's famous canvas provides the starting point for a delightful homage by the French philosopher-historian Michel Foucault. Much better known for his incisive and mordant explorations of power and social exclusion, Foucault here assumes a more playful stance. By exploring the nuances and ambiguities of Magritte's visual critique of language, he finds the painter less removed than previously thought from the pioneers of modern abstraction - "confronting them and within a common system, a figure at once opposed and complementary." Foucault's brief but extraordinarily rich essay offers a startling, highly provocative view of a painter whose influence and popularity continue to grow unchecked. "This is Not a Pipe" also throws a new, piquantly dancing light on Foucault himself.

Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; New edition edition (1 July 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520049160
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520049161
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 12.8 x 0.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 968,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"This essay not only proposes a new understanding of Magritte; it also constitutes a perfect illustration and introduction to the thought of the philosopher himself, France's great wizard of paradox."--"New York Times Book Review

About the Author

One of the most important theorists of the twentieth century, Michel Foucault's (1926-1984) many influential books include Discipline and Punish, The Archeology of Knowledge, The History of Sexuality, and The Discourse on Language. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I have used this book for a comparison of Magritte and Baldessari and it has served me extremely well. Not only is it a fascinating read but also a great introduction into Foucaultian theory which is - if you read "The Order of Things" for example - usually written in the best obscurantist's tradition.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great quick introduction to Foucault 9 July 2000
By Yaumo Gaucho - Published on Amazon.com
No, Foucault is never easy. He sometimes even writes in Foucault-ese. But the intellectual payoffs are well worth it. Seeing him approach a single painting -- which you can look at while reading the book -- is much less taxing than seeing him dissect huge topics such as the history of prisons or the history of sex. Sure, those bigger Foucault tomes carry immense rewards all their own... but for a good, stimulating, and challenging (but not TOO challenging!) introduction to Foucault's philosophy of seeing and of naming, this is a great read.
Perhaps this book is a better choice for philosophy or lit-crit fams than art / art history fans. The "artistic" value of the painting is really of not much importance to Foucault; he is more concerned with its self-referentiality, its use of meaning and names, and so on.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Art theory + semiotics + Foucault = you will like it! 5 Jan 2009
By Orysya Hachko - Published on Amazon.com
I really enjoyed the book. It is art theory, semiotics and Foucault in the same plate. Based on the analysis of Margitte's "This is not a pipe", he argues that modern art became autonomous from the language that lied buried in representational realism. While Klee and Kandinsky used abstraction to destroy syntax of the traditional (XV-XIX c.) visual art, Margitte used literalism to undermine itself.

It is not an easy reading but since you have picked the book (for whatever reason you did so), I believe you will enjoy it. Take your time, don't swallow it all at once, consume the words along with the images in the back of the book and I bet you won't regret it.

My favorite quote: "A day will come when, by means of similitude relayed indefinitely along the length of a series, the image itself, along with the name it bears, will lose its identity. Campbell, Campbell, Campbell, Campbell."
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Language is a Prison 26 Dec 2000
By Seth A. Doolin - Published on Amazon.com
I read this in college while studying semiotics and surrealism, yet the message of Foucault should not be relegated to the exotic and extreme "isms" of academia. I found "Pipe" to be a marvelous and playful illustration of the tryanny of language and the Orwellian control of thought which follows. Readers of Postmodern thought, Zen, Marxism, Film Theory, Psychoanlysis, and Modern Art will find moments of illumination throughout.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars intermixture of thought, play, and literary drum 'n' bass 31 May 2001
By martin de leon - Published on Amazon.com
This essay entitled "This Is Not A Pipe" is a fascinating excursion into the intriguing art of the great 20th C. Belgian painter. In this essay Foucault blurs the space between the critic and the subject being criticized. His thorough analysis inculcates his own hypertextual "isms" and replicating terminology that adequately reciprocates Magritte's offbeat beauty. From Foucault's view of what he considers the two principles that ruled painting (European painting?) from the 15th C. to the 20th C., to the relationship between resemblance and similitude, the mystery and static of a Magritte painting is transported onto the pages of this book. Ultimately this text is an interesting display of the interplay between text, image and the elements inculcated in the analysis thereof.
12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Treacle"? 30 Jan 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
"If you are looking for a quick read"? What are you doing with Foucault when there's always another Tom Clancy? If you think that looking at pictures precludes thinking about them, then this book isn't for you.
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