Kevin Briggs Photography

Antithesis

Kevin Briggs

It’s not difficult to detect that many of my color abstract photography works have a philosophical theme. The catalyst for philosophy constituting the foundation of a number of such works harkens back to my undergraduate and graduate studies in philosophy (particularly political philosophy), a time I remember with great fondness because of how such studies enabled me to form much of the bedrock of not only my personal and political perspectives, but my artistic ones as well.

At first glance, antithesis seems a rather negative connotation to assign to any work. Yet my raison d’être for such a moniker is directly related to the fundamental principles inherent in all human existence.

Now don’t worry, this blog post will not be a mini-treatise in the Hegelian dialectic, for example, which is a philosophical methodology in which a conceivable proposition (the thesis) is fundamentally opposed by an equally plausible and apparently contradictory proposition (the antithesis) with the communal contradiction being reconciled by a third proposal (the synthesis). (Got that?)

No, the following very brief thought exercise is much more straightforward and yet every bit as profound, perhaps even more so.

“Antithesis” (the artwork) was created in association with the overarching thought that it is only possible to know the reality of something by knowing its antithesis, or its opposite. One cannot comprehend anything without understanding — or at least being exposed to — its opposite.

For instance, it is impossible to understand the concept of health — the true and enduring health of the body or mind — without knowing its opposite, even sickness. It is impossible to see the light for what it truly is and in all its vivid embodiment — in brilliance, radiance, in sheer energy, etc. — without having abided in darkness. It is impossible to know genuine pleasure without having experienced antithetically genuine pain.

If one engages in even a fleeting or rudimentary examination of their own existence, they will see that this is veritably the case. Alas, how could it be otherwise?

Only as a result of our experience with that which is antithesis is it possible for us to see things as they really are. 

Yet it must be remembered that simply experiencing antithesis — in all of its myriad and seemingly unending forms — is not enough, in and of itself, to truly comprehend that which is real as opposed to that which is not; other principles of comprehension must come into play, of course. 

Nevertheless, what is absolutely true is the fact — and the power of antithesis can be found first and foremost is that it is indeed just that, a fact — that it is absolutely impossible for us to be truly cognizant beings without it.

All cognition, i.e. true awareness, is completely dependent upon the principle of antithesis. We cannot be truly sentient beings without it. We can only truly see something when we have been forced (to whatever extent) to see (and know) its opposite.