The matter of the imaginary
Objects as symbols of daily life
Editors: Fabio La Rocca & Antonio Tramontana
Objects define the boundaries of our daily life. They reveal a constant in our anthropological root while building up the fenced area of our life. In their being technologically advanced and witnesses of the age of globalization, objects seem to play always the same script: they go with the gesture, they lead it and they give a preestablished direction to the richness of expressions of our body substance (Leroi-Gourhan). This is an anthropological issue that is, however, interwoven with the generation of social forms if we take into account that objects are as a knot of an endless network of exchanges and relations among different personalities that meet around the object itself (Simmel). Sub specie aeternitatis, but also historical matter. Technical and cognitive competences find their expressivity in the reign of the objects: a kind of general intellect gathering around its substance and that finds also ways of opposing the will of its producer and/or user (Marx). Objects are not only the crystallization of a gesture, or of a social knowledge. Into an object are concentrated desires and hopes, memories and feelings, dreams and utopias (Benjamin). Last but not least, objects are signs that, in their referring to one another, create a single global system that surrounds us daily.
However, objects seem to be more than the mere sum of the parts through which they are built. Notwithstanding the multifarious ways of studying them, they always keep a certain degree of excess that escapes the world of knowledge.It seems that there is an obscure matter next to the touched object, to the object that resists, next to the object that drives and wraps us, next to the numinous components of the objects and next to the existential richness of the object. This obscure matter is not possible to get and, still, it does not die. But there is even more than this. By rephrasing Durand, it seems that there is a symbolic component ontologically and chronologically preceding the materiality of the object itself.
In containing substance and symbols, in gathering together convenience and dream, in composing the rationality of function and the irrationality of desire, objects do stand as melting points of the complexity of human beings and they find in daily life the scenario for the emergence of those things. When applied to objects, the lens of the imaginary may represent the gateway to access the untameable excess of substance, a viaticum to access the dark side. When looking at an armchair or a car, a gadget or a body prosthesis, a book or a piece of cutlery, a glass or a smartphone, in considering each of these objects a symbolic image having a materiality, it is possible to get in touch with that “universal symbolic language through which we give a shape to feeling, images, ideas and actions” (Wunenburger). Objects thus become the “matter of the imaginary” and it is with them that we are lead into the generative process of social meaning that is determined in daily life. In this perspective, objects are energetic entities that push the collective behaviour to take on unprecedented shapes: we are gathered together or separated on the base of the deep emotive dimension rooted in the symbolic component contained in objects. On the other hand, the investigation of the ‘removed’ gets harder and harder when it becomes less accessible, that is the bigger our exposure to that materiality is, the smaller our ability to investigate the invisible qualities of objects. The more objects crowd our life, the less we manage to get in touch with their imaginary component.
This is our proposal for im@go next issue: a journey in the exploration of daily daydreams via the study of the invisible order of today’s time. A journey into enter the viscerality of things and to rediscover the symbolic dimension contained in objects used in our daily life.
Proposals may be submitted in Italian, English, and French, and sent simultaneously to: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
Deadline for the submission of abstracts: February 10th, 2019
Notification of abstract acceptance: February 27th, 2019
Preliminary papers to the editors: April 14th, 2019
Revised peer-reviewed papers to the editors: June 10th, 2019
Publication: June 2019