Constellation Week 2: Things



Ingold describes hylomorphism- the idea that when making something, you first have an image in mind, then proceed to impose that idea on the material to create that image. He notes that some scholars have suggested that if you have the idea, you already have the thing itself, and that on the extreme end of things, that the physical finished product is just a copy. Of course, a maker must take into account the limitations of that material, and knows that simply having an idea does not make an object; processes are just as important as the design, and knowing the way the materials you’re working with behave is vital.

Ingold further states that things which are not man-made are a ‘gathering together of the threads of life’ which is what makes it a thing, rather than an object. An object is something that is meant for only its purpose, design purely with function in mind. But even these objects are really things, as we are unable to control every aspect of them: a wooden table might rot or split, or fabric fray. Based on Heidegger’s work, he suggests that objects are defined as being separate from their surroundings, whereas a thing has interaction at it’s core. ‘thing thinging in a worlding world’

He describes everything as being a thin thread, weaving through the world, and suggests that then a thing is a combination of these threads, tying together in a ‘parliament of lines’.

As part of the lecture, we were asked to map out some of our own belongings in such a way, including processes, being used, damage, and being cleaned.

Hodder’s work suggests that we, as humans, become ‘trapped’ in the cycle of caring for things. We rely on things to be functional when we need them, but the things rely on us to be functional too: as humans we must maintain them. Walls need tending to stay upright, and a mirror needs cleaning to be used properly by us. But even further, things have a reliance on other things. A wall is a combination of different things: mortar and brick. It also relies on the ground to stay upright, and good weather so as not to wear it away.

He states that things ‘do have a primary agency….because they have lives and interactions of their own.’

(I was absent for this lecture)


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