The Treachery of Images

The Treachery of Images (French: La Trahison des images) is a 1929 painting by surrealist painter René Magritte. It is also known as This Is Not a Pipe.

The painting shows an image of a pipe. Below it, Magritte painted, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”, French for “This is not a pipe”.

— René Magritte

The painting is sometimes given as an example of meta message conveyed by paralanguage, like Alfred Korzybski’s “The word is not the thing” and “The map is not the territory”, as well as Denis Diderot’s This is not a story. One interpretation is that the pipe in the painting is not a pipe, but rather a drawing of a pipe.

This is not a pipe. Then what is it? As the interpretation mentioned above says it is a drawing of a pipe, or is it more than that? Maybe the statement is a metaphor in itself,

[This] is not a pipe

The image is an illusion of a pipe created by oil on stretched canvas painted in the shape of a pipe. The painting of the pipe is not tangible and hence is can’t be used.

For instance, when we purchase a mug, it is in a box and can’t be used similarly the pipe in the painting can’t be used. The mug in the box is just a piece of ceramic as the pipe in the painting is just an illustration.

As per the above-given definition of the mug, it is an object which is used to drink from on the contrary as per the definition of the pipe, the pipe in the painting can’t be used for smoking tobacco.

This is not a pipe, this is a status symbol.
This is not a pipe, this is intellect. | This is not a pipe, this is a mystery.
This is not a pipe, this is power.
This is not a pipe, this is an instrument.
This is not a pipe, this is leisure.

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