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Evocative Objects: Things We Think With (MIT Press) Paperback – September 30, 2011
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Original, absorbing, and beautifully written, this collection of essays will forever change the way you look at the objects in your life.(Helen Epstein, author of Children of the Holocaust and Where She Came From: A Daughter's Search for her Mother's History)
A wonderfully evocative (there really is no other word for it) series of meditations on meaningful objects.(PD Smith The Guardian)
Evocative Objects is a collection of great richness and complexity. Reading these essays transforms one"s sense of the most commonplace objects, and prompts us to explore the palimpsest of the past within us.(Jill Ker Conway, President Emerita, Smith College, author of The Road from Coorain)
About the Author
Sherry Turkle is Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT and Founder and Director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. A psychoanalytically trained sociologist and psychologist, she is the author of The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit (Twentieth Anniversary Edition, MIT Press), Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, and Psychoanalytic Politics: Jacques Lacan and Freud's French Revolution. She is the editor of Evocative Objects: Things We Think With, Falling for Science: Objects in Mind, and The Inner History of Devices, all three published by the MIT Press.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is an unexpectedly delightful yet seriously thoughtful book that invites you reexamine your relationship to objects, about which, you seldom, if ever think.
It's a collection of essays written by humanists, designers, scientists and artists--thoughtful individuals--that disclose the fluidity and complexity of being alive by revealing their very personal relationships with objects as mundane as a rolling pin and as banal as comic book superheroes.
Each essay is paired with writings from philosophy, history, literature and theory which resonate with the essay in ways that illuminate both what the essayist is saying and what he or she means.
Each essay, in a very different way, demonstrates why it is a mistake to assume that objects are nothing more than inanimate collections of atoms and molecules. They show instead that objects can be and often are capable of evoking potent emotional responses dealing with grief, fear, loss, love, hatred, abandonment, intellectual curiosity, poverty and existence.
Here's a taste of what's in store for you should you choose to read this book:
From the essay MURRAY: THE STUFFED BUNNY
Before the essay the paired writing offers this: "To get to the idea of playing it is helpful to think of the preoccupation that characterizes the playing of a young child. The content does not matter. What matters is the near withdrawal state, akin to the concentration of older children and adults. The playing child inhabits an area that cannot be easily left, nor can it easily admit intrusions. This area of playing is not inner psychic reality. It is outside the individual but it is not the external world. Into this play area the child gathers objects or some sample derived from inner or personal reality...[Thus] in playing, the child manipulates external phenomena with dream meaning and feeling [And] there is a direct development from transitional phenomena to playing, and from playing to shared playing, and from this to cultural experiences." --D. W. Winnicott, Playing and Reality
The essay is about the experiences of a little girl with an actual stuffed bunny and explores how, at first, she finds it no different from "the rest of the pastel objects" of her world. As you follow the story you learn how the little girl (the author's sister) develops the idea that a she can love a bunny.
Next you come to understand how she deals with the separation anxiety associated with the realization that when she begins nursery school she won't be able to take Murray with her. Later you learn how the little girl infuses Murray with a life of his own in a utopian setting with provinces and capitals and a complicated topography. And finally the author reveals this about Murray: "...he has given me a ringside seat at the performance of Shayna's imagination, even as I remind myself that in fact it was she, as his creator who bought me the ticket to that seat."
This book will make you laugh and cry, say WHAT(?) and oh yeah, I know exactly what that feels like. I found reading it like riding an intellectual rollercoaster that forced me to reexamine not only objects but my relationship with and to them.
The book begins and ends with an essay by Sherry Turkle which adds to the reading experience and further illuminates how and why objects, can and do become powerfully evocative.
I recommend this book without reservation.
I can heartily recommend Turkle's two chapters on photography in Evocative Objects: The Polaroid SX-70 Instant Camera by Stefan Helmreich and Salvaged Photographs by Glrianna Davenport. Turkle's includes these two chapters in a section of the book entitled "Mourning and Memory". My involvement with technology actually began because of my father's career in photography. There were many cameras in our home, 8x10 black and white glossies on most tables. Our family life was more visually documented than most I think, but as "the photographer" my father disappeared behind the camera. Maybe, if you pick up this book, and read these two chapters, you might identify in yourself these feelings of grief and mourning that accompany the photographs. Over the years, I have learned to ration the time I spend with photographs of the past, because they are so immersive and draw me into the image.
It is one of the fundamental insights Turkle's makes in her entire body of work on the social and psychological impact of technologies. Whether it is computers, smartphones, or a glucometer we run the danger of plunging into the world of these evocative objects and stepping out of our more immediate, present lives.