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By Bill Brown

From the pencil to the puppet to the drone—the humanities and the social sciences proceed to experience a wave of curiosity in fabric tradition and the realm of items. How may still we comprehend the strength and determine of that wave because it shapes varied disciplines? Other Things explores this query by way of contemplating a large collection of objects—from seashore glass to cellphones, shoes to skyscrapers—that have involved various writers and artists, together with Virginia Woolf, guy Ray, Spike Lee, and Don DeLillo.

The ebook levels around the literary, visible, and plastic arts to depict the curious lives of items. starting with Achilles’s defend, then monitoring the object/thing contrast because it seems to be within the paintings of Martin Heidegger and Jacques Lacan, invoice Brown eventually makes a speciality of the thingness disclosed by means of particular literary and creative works. Combining heritage and literature, feedback and concept, Other Things offers a brand new approach of figuring out the inanimate item global and where of the human inside it, encouraging us to imagine anew approximately what we suggest by way of materiality itself.

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The nothing around which the vase is thrown becomes nothing only in its relation to the something that the vase itself becomes. ”41 But for a moment, here in the Ethics, the other thing makes words. Rather, the making of the object (by hand) is the making of signification, the instantiation of oppositional structure that will enable language to enter the world. What is especially important about this story of “the first of such signifiers fashioned by the human hand” is that the object “is in its signifying essence a signifier of nothing other than of signifying as such” (120).

Only by casting a useful object that is in no way beholden to its use can Heidegger theatricalize the other thing, the eventfulness of the thing. “Thinking in this way, we are called by the thing as the thing” (“T,” 178). ”30 You could say, then, that Heidegger’s lecture (where he himself points out how “Sci- 31 32 Chapter One ence’s Knowledge . . [has] annihilated things as thing” [“T,” 168]) simply fills up that room. I’m inclined, however, to point to a non-Â�Kantian context for assessing the mystico-Â�religious dimension of Heidegger’s inquiry.

Group identity can be fortified by the thingness of some object: ritual food, a totem animal, a national flag. And an object can appear in the subject position; indeed the dynamic can be understood most readily through an interobjective relation. Imagine a toy truck beside a magnet that suddenly affixes itself to the truck. From the magnet’s point of view (if you will) the object qua object is beside the point: it doesn’t matter that the truck is yellow and blue, that it is three inches tall, that its wheels are black, that the girl playing with it calls it a truck.

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