Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses by Michael Taussig

By Michael Taussig

In his such a lot bold and entire paintings to this point, Michael Taussig undertakes a background of mimesis, the perform of imitation, and its relation to alterity, the competition of Self and different. Drawing upon such assorted assets as theories of Benjamin, Adorno and Horckheimer, study at the Cuna Indians, and theories of colonialism and postcolonialism, Taussig indicates that the background of mimesis is deeply tied to colonialism, and extra particularly, to the colonial trade's building of "savages." With research that's lively, unorthodox, and infrequently breathtaking, Taussig's cross-cultural dialogue of mimesis deepens our figuring out of the connection among ethnography, racism and society.

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262--6]) Thi s reco gnition ahers the \lerr percept o f rccog nino n, entailing rran sformanon of the recognizing self. " (263) Everyt hing in th is some rsaulting explosion of hisroncal rime blascing th e homogeneity of abstr act identity hinges on this singul ar act of recognition , t he energy and consequences of its flsshlik e cha racte r. In trying to figure it out, my own Bow of thought is brought to a halt hy the following passage, where this complex move ment of recognition o f pa st in present is rendered as th e unique property of recogni zing Similarity- which for Benjamin, as is dear from his essay "On the Doctrine o f th e Simila r," is the exercise of the mimetic facult y.

Yet the fact remains tha t th e structural logic of analogy demands this mimetic assumption of similitude, just as does science itself-if we are to follow Tambiah's cruci al usage of G. E. R. " Frazer's multi tud e of examples or magical charms, fetishes, and practices offers d ramatic testimony to the ma tching of the N 'O bod ies, the effigy and th at which me effigy rep resents. Taki ng exa mples from reports of the lare nineteenth-ce ntu ry Cambridge expedition to t he Torres Strai ts, h azer cited the sor cerers or Jerv is Island who " kepr an assort ment of effigi es in stock ready to be operated on at the req uire••__ ment of a custome r.

Isn't this the image that captures the similitude that a Frazerian reading would seem to require? It lies not so much in the association of ideas as concepts, but in the association of images of sadness and anger. the sense of loss as well as the sense of initiative, in this scene of the wom an smoking up a storm cro uched over the fl ames o f what now becomes the simulacrum of her crippled co njugal relatio nship-c-rhe cut halt-candle side by side with her flickering stub, followed b y stamping on the fallen ash and the vicious curses-cdeadly words.

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