We can think of images as making objects visible. Little remains of an image without objects or without subjects fragmented in a role, transformed into objects.
Accordingly, any object is an emissary of the culture that produces it, as well as the incarnation of the verifiable history of its owner’s existence. That means that the mere existence of an object awakens a discourse within the person who notices it, the owner or the creator of the object. This short discourse only exists in the person’s mind, while, with regards to the imaginative process, the mind travels along the subjective road of the memories of past stories related to similar objects and their owners.
For instance, let’s think about two objects, any two, and immediately a relationship will be awakened. That is because the need to find sense that guides any observer always tries to relate the meaning of such objects, putting them in place, in a common time and activity; that is to say, in a story. A relationship, in fact, is a story, a story that will speak of how the symbolic meanings of those objects are linked to each other, what hypothesis of dialogues will be between them, and which meaning will subordinate the other. As soon as those links start to be thought of, the complex story of them is captured, as Barthes would say, by a myth.
The myth, as was also presented by Levi-Strauss, is the form commonly used to anticipate the future. It can be thought of as an instinct of knowledge which tries to find certainties by simplifying existent or non-existent experiences of similar situations, thus transforming it into a cause and effect. This is why the person has the illusion of reading what will happen in the future, just by reading images.
The myth, in this case, deceives us all when we see objects covered with sense, since the objects will continue to be still, whereas for us the embodiment of a formula, of an advice and the questioning to which the theme of the myth submits us, will remain.
On the other hand, by bringing a specific theme to the observer’s attention, the reader of those objects is fragmented by the tension which such an object generates when being read. He responds with one of his multiple faces with which he introduces himself in society, where he can be, react or respond to his role as a father, citizen, public servant, transgressor, etc., but always with relation to the “something” that the discourse of the object features. This defines our apparent condition of difference with respect to the others and triggers our own condition of being object to something.
For that reason, we can understand objects in relation to our identity, because they play their part by anchoring the association of ideas (Barthes). They have a structuring place in the formation of the ego, given that the good and bad fundamental objects, the primitive objects through which all the analytic deduction takes place, are the materialisation of meaning.
In this manner, as Lacan says, “the whole process of learning the reality on the part of the individual, is mainly prepared and founded by the essentially hallucinatory and phantasmal constitution of the first objects, classified as good or bad objects; giving these a first fundamental relation which, in the continuation of the life of the individual, will result in the main types of forms of individual relation with reality. Thus, we reach to the conclusion that the individual’s world is made up of his fundamentally unreal relation with objects that are the reflection of his fundamental pulses”.
For example, for a child a toy is a representative of an instinct or an attitude. It is an object that through introjections and projection gives him the possibility to mediate with the exterior world. By duplicating the exterior world, it gives form to the relationships of the child with the people that are important to him, and at the same time it gives him the freedom to experience relationships within his fantasies.
However, the other side of the social life of the objects is that they also function as integrating objects. As Melanie Klein presents it, a certain degree of division or identification with external objects is “essential” for the social integration and, as Zizek would say, to be part of a community that share things in common.
Synthesising, the power of the object’s soul will lie only in relation to the place in which it connects with the interior world of the observer, more than in an apparent value or power in itself. Those objects will continue to be anaesthetised, impassive in time, being the property of one or another person, because in the end nobody dies so poor as to not leave any object behind.
© Sebastian Guerrini, 2009