no. 4

“For many, the familiar presence of things is a comfort. Things are valued not only because of their rarity or cost or their historical aura, but because they seem to partake in our lives; they are domesticated, part of our routine and so of us. Their long association with us seems to make them custodians of our memories; so that sometimes, as in Proust, things reveal us to ourselves in profound and unexpected ways. Yet all this does not mean that things reveal themselves, only our investments in them. And those investments often carry with them a melancholy in the very heart of comfort...what we have here is a manifestation of Freud’s death drive: a moment of longing (one of many) for an anterior state of things, the state indeed of being a thing. For the death drive, as Freud postulates it, arose as a conservative resistance to the rise of consciousness in matter: 'In this way the first instinct came into being: the instinct to return to the inanimate state’ (Beyond the Pleasure Principle 38)" (3-4)

Schwenger, Peter. The Tears of Things: melancholy and physical objects. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006.

Dispatches from the Library is a diary in words and images from my artist residency at the Bard Graduate Center Library in New York City. Bard Graduate Center is a graduate research institute which explores new ways of thinking about decorative arts, design history, and material culture.