Subscribe Strange things happen in Thoreau: sand starts moving like water, stones vibrate with life; extinct species return; pine trees cry; fish become trees; men grow grass out of their brains; men, not gods, walk on water; like animals and with them, men also walk on four legs; they talk to fish and birds; birds migrate back to life after they have been seen dead; humans migrate into birds; birds migrate into other birds; humans migrate into other humans; two persons come to inhabit one body; two bodies come to be inhabited by one person. How are we to understand such strangeness? The generic characteristics of all of his writings— A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers is a memoir, Walden is autobiography, the Journal is a record of perceptions and thoughts, while the natural history essays are structured according to the logic of scientific writing of the day—require that we treat their content not as fiction but as truth, and their utterances not figuratively but declaratively, as testimonies. Yet, his declarations are sometimes so eccentric, they so radically blur the distinction between what is possible and what is not, between miraculous and natural, that one must raise the question of whether to take them seriously. Reported in newspapers as events observed by reliable witnesses, examples of the miraculous—vibrant and nebulous matter observed in the moment of creating new life, toads raining down from populated clouds—assume the status of the factual. More generally, the articles demonstrate that to an antebellum American the divide between fantastic and real was less distinct that it is to us postmoderns, which imposes the requirement that the faithful historian of ideas respect this blur.
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It all depends on great reading that generates both attention to language and good writing and thought. It is, in the end, the art of paying attention. Department of English and Comparative Literature He differentiates objects as entities that depend on human recognition and appropriation, and then in return enact reification, as opposed to things, which can exist with or without humans, in landscapes that are not anthropomorphic.
The canoe either becomes sacred, or is integrated into the floor of churches to be part of the life of the living. But I also want to think that when people think about consuming they think about the lives of beings other than humans, and do their best to respect them, maybe not even consume. Objects are known through their market value or exchange value, which makes them, in Marxist terms, little fetishes.
Where did I read that? But could a thing contain human to human relations that are non-economic? But whatever we do to them, we are also, by the moment we start acting on them on them — on our affects or our sensations or our perceptions — touched by them.
What emerges is a Melville who is materialistically oriented in a radical way, a Melville who thinks about life forms not just in the context of contemporary sciences but also ontologically.
It is fueled by an intense obsession with not just the world of things but with what that collection would make to the world of the collector. Even a creative production can be commodified and made into an object. The tree sacrificed for a canoe is just one of many examples — these cosmologies can teach us a lot about possible way of lives of things that would not be capitalist objects.
Sometimes, ethical acts can be ways to mark yourself or to be in a certain way, in a more concrete and unified way. Self is constantly being re-negotiated through not just some interiority that, say, psychoanalysis posits with some unconsciousness then that kind of presses on us and wants to get out, but through the brajka encounters and external world. So you can say, you live in a capitalist society and there are only so many place people can shop for clothes, which is true.
It is rather to say that things start happening to us much before we actually became aware of their happening to us, and then we can then think about whether we can act against them to react to them.
As you were talking about the subject-object relation, you seem to suggest that the process through which things become objects is through language grafting that meaning onto them. In the context of perpetual consumption, does the thing-object distinction present us with a more ethical way to relate to the things we consume? But I know you think a lot about moving away from the self or reducing its boundaries.
And that interaction, again, will change you. Once at Columbia she began to investigate the broader influence of Edwards, which led her to Emerson. Self is something that is not something that exists in some kind of formed, stable, fixed interiority into which all of this exteriority comes and I kind of process it, but keep it under control. But where do we exercise control? Finally, as a result of the readings collected here, Melville emerges as a very relevant thinker for contemporary philosophical concerns, such as the materialist turn, climate change, and post-humanism.
Your example of the canoe, an extension of a tree, is imbued with meaning from natural life. Here, there is a set of questions that is absolutely related to capitalism, most obviously the way we consume energy, enacting geological brania, climate change, all kinds of stuff to the Earth.
Emerson would always say that we find ourselves in a certain mood. That answers to a lot of arsc I have about the way I relate to objects and sort of store myself in objects in my room. She finds that when she teaches this cluster of authors, her students get extra-involved. For that reason, they cannot exist but in relation to a subject or an owner.
Those are, in fact, affects that work in us and re-work us before we can even figure out the kinds of changes that have been initiated in us. In her latest book, Bird Relics: I think many people realized, a long time ago, what some theorists do not realize today: What is the opposite of commodifying art? Most obviously, we have to think about fair trade, we have to think — a lot of people think about — health issues, organic food, responsible growing.
A Final Appearance with Elihu Vedder: That brings to mind the contemporary art market, in which people collect art objects to store wealth and accrue value. Emily Dickinson, the Archive and the Lyric. Thoreau visits estate sales and tries to salvage certain things from the property of people he never met and did not know. I have a tactile relationship to the surface of the paper and so I almost have this little ritual of choosing which paper is right for which sentence, which chapter — it breathes arsicc energy into my thinking, and I write better.
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Faculty Profile: Branka Arsic
It all depends on great reading that generates both attention to language and good writing and thought. It is, in the end, the art of paying attention. Department of English and Comparative Literature He differentiates objects as entities that depend on human recognition and appropriation, and then in return enact reification, as opposed to things, which can exist with or without humans, in landscapes that are not anthropomorphic. The canoe either becomes sacred, or is integrated into the floor of churches to be part of the life of the living. But I also want to think that when people think about consuming they think about the lives of beings other than humans, and do their best to respect them, maybe not even consume. Objects are known through their market value or exchange value, which makes them, in Marxist terms, little fetishes.
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