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Distributed for HAU

Capturing Imagination

A Proposal for an Anthropology of Thought

Translated by Catherine V. Howard, Matthew Carey, Eric Bye, Ramon Fonkoue, and Joyce Suechun Cheng

Distributed for HAU

Capturing Imagination

A Proposal for an Anthropology of Thought

Translated by Catherine V. Howard, Matthew Carey, Eric Bye, Ramon Fonkoue, and Joyce Suechun Cheng
We have all found ourselves involuntarily addressing inanimate objects as though they were human. For a fleeting instant, we act as though our cars and computers can hear us. In situations like ritual or play, objects acquire a range of human characteristics, such as perception, thought, action, or speech. Puppets, dolls, and ritual statuettes cease to be merely addressees and begin to address us—we see life in them.
How might we describe the kind of thought that gives life to the artifact, making it memorable as well as effective, in daily life, play, or ritual action? Following The Chimera Principle, in this collection of essays Carlo Severi explores the kind of shared imagination where inanimate artifacts, from non-Western masks and ritual statuettes to paintings and sculptures in our own tradition, can be perceived as living beings. This nuanced inquiry into the works of memory and shared imagination is a proposal for a new anthropology of thought.

386 pages | 95 color plates | 6 x 9 | © 2018

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: On Living Objects and the Anthropology of Thought
Kūkai’s Vision

Levels of Cognition

Anthropology and Pragmatics

Ethnography and Thought

Chapter 2: Primitivist Empathy: Intensifying the Image and Deciphering Space

The Stakes of Formal Borrowings

Carl Einstein, or Immobile Ecstasy

Primitivism without Borrowing: Imaginary Filiation

Iconography and Gaze-Games

Chapter 3: The Universe of the Arts of Memory

An Exercise in Methodology

Amerindian Arts of Memory: A Case Study

Pictography and Memory: A Model

Eponymous Animals: Northwest Coast Visual Culture

Pictograms and Andean Khipus

Principles of Mnemonic Encoding

Chapter 4: Authorless Authority: Forms of Authority in Oral Traditions

Evidentials, Pragmatics, and Artifacts

The Fang Mvet: Singer, Song, and Harp

Rethinking the West African Nail Figure

The Complex Artifact

Chapter 5: Giving Voice: When Images Speak

Speech and Ritual Images

Here-Now-I: Demonstrative Images and Speech Acts

Kolossoi and Kouroi; or The Pragmatics of Images


Chapter 6: Becoming Patroclus: Funerary Rituals and Games in The Iliad

The Image Through the Text: Identification, Hierarchy, and Prefiguration

Funerary Games as Quasi-Rituals

Reflections on Funeral Rituals among the Wari’

The Universe of Object-Persons

Chapter 7: The Anthropology of Abstract Art

Claude Lévi-Strauss and the Anthropology of Art

Principles of Analysis: An Example from Kandinsky

Visual Strategies in Abstract Art

Chapter 8: Chimeric Space: Perception and Projection

The Visible and Invisible in Works of Art

Perception and Projection in the Gaze

Symbolism and Transitional Space

Chimeras and Ambiguous Images

Wayana and Yekuana Iconography: Chimeras in the Amazon


Chapter 9: The Semblance of Life: The Epistemology of Western Perspective

A Science of Description: Imitare and Ritrarre

Models of Truth

Poetry Without Words or Blind Painting?

The Counterfactual Image

New Meditations on a Hobby Horse

Perspective and the Anthropology of Images

From Presence to the Active Gaze

The Witness-Figure and Capriccio

Chapter 10: On Irrefutable Hypotheses

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