week 4 post

by


matt

While there are numerous interesting threads to follow through Gell’s book, the one that struck me the most was his use of interior and exterior as categories that, at least partially, influenced the perception of animacy in objects and people. As much of this class seems to be centered around the blurring of the lines between subjects and objects in an explicitly materialistic mode, it would seem that it is at the level of boundary – of separation – that this blurring should be most focused. Thinking first of subjects, of people, of actors, Gell brings up the use of exuviae as a distribution of the subject – both physically and in terms of agency. This obviously threatens the general concept of bounded personhood by expanding the self beyond the normal limits – the externality of the subject. Gell then performed the opposite task, the internality of the object, by invoking several descriptions of idols being given an internal dynamic through their encapsulation (or the encapsulation of them).

I would have liked to see Gell further threaten the concept of boundedness by looking closer at what he seems to take for granted – the internal of the subject and the external of the object. While Gell is correct in pointing out the danger involved in having our external selves widely distributed (as in the example of his derrière). Isn’t the crossing of the boundaries between our internal into the external an even greater anxiety as it is an even greater threat to our notions of being a bounded entity? Events dealing with boundary crossing (sex, birth, surgery, hallucinations) and materials/objects likewise intertwined (blood, semen, bile, sweat) are fraught with power and danger. Perhaps this is a bit beyond his project, but it seems relevant to ours.

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