Monday, September 7, 2009

That elusive object of objectification

Note on phantom objects

We can't say it's not the case that every object is a phantom. Phantomness could be one of the things which interests us, or not. When the phantom object was recently suggested as a theme by the Leeds surrealist group, the Surrealist group in Stockholm responded, as it often does, with the idea to invent a game around it. If nothing else so for the very need of avoiding all these irrelevant or relevant, banal or innovative, arbitrary personal associations, and let surrealist method have the casting vote. Candidates were lining up, so much could be dismissed (candidates here referring to ideas not persons). We didn't spend much time looking up exactly which objects Breton had in mind if he mentioned phantom objects in "Crise de l'Objet" or if Dalí gave them a particular place in his theory of paranoiac-criticism, we felt the concept merited a more active contribution than that. There are other surrealist games about phantom objects. Perhaps "L'Un dans l'autre" is about phantom objects. We wouldn't want to be reinventing L'Un dans l'autre. Or perhaps its more about analogy in general. Isn't the phantom object something different and far more specific than just any object residing in another object in accordance with the principle of analogy? Phantom objects can perhaps be expected to be haunting, simultaneously touchable and untouchable, residing in everyday objects, such as the unmentionable horror making the prospect of putting your down hand down the rotten treestump so dreadful in Hugh Sykes Davies' 1936 "Poem", one of the most luminous contributions from english surrealism historically. But we wouldn't want to be reinventing his lovecraftian paranoia. Previously we have in Stockholm been working with "the mnemonic function of objects" and the "objectification of morals". We don't know if those are about phantom objects. There is a particular aspect of being which lets objects disregard their utilistic function and become available as imaginative objects, to join the preparations for real playing. Phantomness becomes metonymic as the elusiveness of that concept represents the elusive particular type of being we associate with phantoms, but talking linguistics is not the point. Instead, we have a habit of ending up discussing methodology. It appears like very much of the activity of the surrealist group in Stockholm is a perpetual delaying of formulating conclusions, by means of an unrestricted increasal of theoretical problems involved as well as dream and chance material into the apparently simplest of questions. We can't say it's not a poetic quest, even though some will be repelled by the shamelessly analytical framework occasionally employed. For six months we have been pondering how to devise a game involving phantom objects.

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