Pen names as character identities? As meta narratives? What about META EDITS?!
Lévy-Bruhl helps us to understand why statues and figurines were treated in this way, without resorting to a notion of irrationality defined (in our Western manner) by a failure to draw the proper dividing line between animate and inanimate objects. In Greece in particular, matter itself could have an ambiguous status. To give a specific example, or some highly educated thinkers such as the late seventh/early sixth-century BCE philosopher Thales of Miletus, stones that had magnetic properties were thought to contain souls…It is not hard to see how magnetic stones that attracted to iron fillings, in the absence of an available electromagnetic theory, could be thought to be animate – in other words to contain a soul. Reality as we know it in the mechanical, casual Western view, with its sharp dividing line between organic and inorganic matter, is collapsed in Thales’ view of the magnet…”
“Greeks harbored many different beliefs about dead souls, and scaled them in different ways, from heroes who rested at their leisure in the Elysium fields and the Isles of the Blessed, to an altogether different sort of underworld community whose anger was beyond human appeasement.”
“The shocking and bizarre nature of an epileptic seizure, as every Greek who knew Herakles’ own sufferings could attest, was so extraordinary that it almost begged for divine explanation. But to the Greeks, the fact that a divinity could invade a human body was a familiar experience, most famously illustrated in the case of the Pythia at Delphi being invaded by Apollo who thereby provided her with an oracular voice. In this case Apollo’s divine visitation was invited and controlled and unlike a sudden epileptic seizure, where it was not even clear which divinity might in fact be present…. The Greeks construed an epileptic seizure in terms of divine invasion, and in anthropological terms this kind of cultural phenomenon is called possession. The issue now for the patient, however, according to the author of On the Sacred Disease, was to determine which divinity was responsible for the possession.”
[I am interested in the marginalia. The editing. The revisions. How this affects our perceptions of growth and change and time. This video addresses it well.]
‘Our imaginary identification with so alien a creature as a moving statue or an automaton can be profoundly satisfying, partly because that identification may spare us diverse anxieties about our place in the world, in our own bodies, about the proper location of the human. The freedom entailed by that identification lies not just in the idea of a turn against the blockage or oblivious figured by the stone, but in the fact that the living statues, for all its motion, yet tends to remain a statue, untroubled and unselfconscious (or at least we hope it does). Yet if the living statues does not disappoint us by becoming all too human (as Shaw’s Eliza Doolittle disappoints her “creator”), the fiction of animation is also likely to remind us of how alien and how disruptive of what we think of as the human are our vital energies, how catastrophic, petrifying, or mechanistic a form the entry into life can assume. Indeed, it suggest the ways in which the fantasy of the animated statue may constitute an implicit critique of our optimistic pictures of human desire, and of our wish that desire and the human could peacefully occupy the same space. The living statue may remind us that there is never any fixed space between.’
‘…Placing the question about the consciousness of stones thus in relation to the automaton fantasy, it starts to seem as if the desire to invite the inanimate into the space of the human conceals or mirrors a desire to push the human into a space of the inanimate. The face of objects granted a more than ordinary life becomes the face of Medusa.’
From The Dream of the Moving Statue by Kenneth Gross