Monday, October 18, 2010

And SHIFT...

That rare, amazing moment when you realize that what you're reading has fundamentally changed how you think about things? Happened to me tonight. It started as casually flipping through an Inter-Library Loan while my class wrote their mid-terms, and ended with me sitting in the classroom after everyone had left to finish the section I was reading, and wishing it wasn't borrowed, because I was itching to annotate. Obviously, not the only person to have that impulse, as there was already marginalia.

The book: Jones, Andrew (2007) Memory and Material Culture. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

The passage:
We take for granted the survival into the present of artefacts from past. Indeed, the discipline of archaeology would be impossible without the survival of such artefacts. What is the implication of the durability or ephemerality of past material culture for the reproduction of societies in the past? ... [R]emembrance is a process made apparent to the experiencing subject by the continual and dynamic encounter between the subject and the material world he or she inhabits rather than an abstract and dispassionate transaction between the external world and the mind. This opens up the possibility of thinking about memory differently. Rather than treating memory as a function of the internal processes of the human mind, we might consider memory to be produced through the encounter between people and the material world.
All kinds of good stuff about the dynamic production of memory and meaning between people and things (things take an active role in his approach). I haven't finished reading the book yet (barely started), but I have fireworks going off in my head.

This has happened to me twice more over the last couple of years. Once reading Judith Bennett's History Matters: Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism and once reading Mary Daly's Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism. I'd bought a copy of Daly's book, but had borrowed a copy of Bennett's. I hadn't cracked it for more than 5 minutes when I ordered my own copy, lest I vandalize a library copy. My copy is now massively annotated and dog-eared. Interestingly enough, these events have not been isolated incidents, but are linked by a series of people, places, and events. I've been reading crazy-wildly lately on all sorts of topics* but these are the works that set something off.

* All sorts of topics include: the history of death; ritual concealments; fine metal refining; soils for growing tobacco; the prevalence of pig in certain foodways assemblages; colonial distilling; memory; landscapes; the Progressive era; contact period tribal organization in parts of the Mid-Atlantic; public archaeology; critical archaeology; etc. Dude, no wonder I'm tired...

1 comment:

Ink said...

Oooh, the elusive "*That's* what I'm talkin' about" moments. Love them.

And who says research isn't fun and amazing! ;)