Advenience

Advenience” is a wonderful term used by the inimitable Roland Barthes in a book called Camera Lucida, which incidentally happens to have been getting a lot of press these days. Barthes launched off on the word when he was looking at a set photographs and noticed that some pictures struck him or jumped out at him –– and others didn’t. And so he asked: Why this photo? What is it about this picture and not that picture? How come this ‘speaks to me’? Barthes ended up calling this quality of ‘calling out to you’ quality advenience. "This picture advenes, that one doesn’t." [p.19]

Latin ad - venire; adventus. To come, arrive. The root word is relatively common enough, known to many Christmas-celebrating Christians by way of the 'advent calendar', the ritualized, chocolate-guzzling reenactment of the expectation of Christ's original advenience. (His second advent, apparently, advenes only to the faithful.)

But most usually it is an event in ones life, the most common event of consciousness, the advent of an event. (Question: what does advenience mean for those theories which are so invested in intentionality?)

Advenience marks the advent of certain experiences. Certain qualities or features compel the observer: and from there a certain shared adventure takes place between the person and what advenes, the adventure of a new perspective or the use of a particular aspect –– the very same way one ventures to put something this or that way instead of in any other fashion. One might also then call it part of judgement –– or perhaps to to some degree “inspiration”. (At the very least, for me, this word “inspiration” advenes here.)

This is a uniquely useful concept –– something suitably non-phenomenological and poetically everyday –– to introduce going into things here. Advenience figures prominently in shaping our approach, the direction we’re heading, the first look at what we’re investigating. Where there is an aspect to pay attention to, there is its advent; where there is the use of a particular part or picture, there is/are adventure(s). It will be a particularly useful touchstone when it comes to talking about the various parts of diagrams which stick out to people; when we speak of when an interpretation or conclusion comes to light; what it is for there to be something which appears useful or important; and, conversely, what it is for something not to appear to a viewer but rather hide in the background.

Advenience frames the entire problematic: or analogously, it here provides for us our starting gate. (There is a certain human clarity to this figurative rationale.) Off to the races, then.

(Naturally, the word does not require this much in the way of explanation... but the resonances which surround the word should prove useful in the way of poetic development. In any advent, I find it a rather opportune idea to introduce at the beginning, given that what'll be visible on this site will be what has particularly struck my eye.)