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The Lives of ObjectsMaterial Culture, Experience, and the Real in the History of Early Christianity$
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Maia Kotrosits

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226707440

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226707617.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

Objects Made Real

Objects Made Real

The Art of Description

(p.23) 1 Objects Made Real
The Lives of Objects

Maia Kotrosits

University of Chicago Press

This chapter sets the theoretical foundation for the rest of the book. It pauses on instances of the liveliness of things as they appear in various ancient narratives, in order to reflect on fantasy, reality, and the art of description in antiquity, as well as the contemporary fields of anthropology, literary studies, and history. Description in these fields has provoked grappling with the agency and autonomy of the objects they wish to chronicle, as they wax and worry over the extent to which one can be in contact with—and then represent—reality. Ovid’s narrative of Pygmalion, a sculptor whose own art is so life-like that it becomes real, is a cautionary tale inasmuch as one imagines that description “brings things to life,” only to end up being a source and instrument of narcissistic gratification. The chapter ends asking how fantasy and object-relations in psychoanalytic theory might illuminate tangled relationships with the real and suggest earnest ways to represent reality.

Keywords:   ekphrasis, Clifford Geertz, Gospel of Peter, Donald Winnicott, Melanie Klein, Jessica Benjamin, Jacques Lacan, the real, literary studies, anthropological description, Pygmalion

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