DUE Jan 30, 2012 – Stewart and two collections

Assignment,Readings — Ali Momeni @ 5:44 pm
  1. Read the Prologue and first chapter On longing by Susan Stewart (1984)
  2. Conceive, collect and curate two miniature collections




  1. (1) I find it intriguing and convincing that we as human beings are especially fascinated by the miniature world because it is an area we cannot see, yet it still exists and we are aware of that. “That the world of things can open itself to reveal a secret life–indeed, to reveal a set of actions and hence a narrativity and history outside the given field of perception–is a constant daydream that the miniature presents.” (from page 54)

    (2) Children like toys because (according to the reading) the toy world projects the world of everyday life(models reality) but it miniaturizes it. However, at the same time it haunts us perhaps because of the possibility that toys can come to life. (Mechanical ones frighten us the most since it can function independently). This reminded me of Toy Story and how I used to like the movie, but at the same time after I got back home, I feared that my toys would come alive while I was gone. I think my fear came from the fact that these objects that I thought I had full control over could actually do things on its own. There’s something really daunting about the fact that these seemingly small, innocent objects could be thinking and moving just like us.
    (page 55-56)

    (3) While reading The Miniature chapter, I found it interesting how at one point in history miniature books were considered an essential accessory–an indicator of social status even. This appeared to be very ironic and at the same time disappointing for me because using these small books merely as jewelry kills the significance of the conceptual and scholarly/informative aspects of the books.
    (from pages 38-41)

    Comment by Kathy — February 1, 2012 @ 1:18 am
  2. I find it interesting that at first people printed small books for their convenience, how easy they were to carry around. However soon it became a competition or skill about who could most artfully make the miniature piece. Miniature things are not only about the change in perception, but also an interesting understanding that it is much more difficult to make an exquisite replica of something small rather than a replica of it being the same size. (page 39)

    I also find it interesting that it is said so quickly that there are “no miniatures in nature, the miniature is a cultural product” (page 55). I would like to disagree with that. I see miniatures everywhere in nature, however I don’t see them as artful and intentional manipulations as humans make them. In nature, miniatures are things with faulty genetics, stunted growth, or other difficulties that arose during their growth. People can be unintentional miniatures, there are some even more miniature grapes, and trees that don’t nearly reach their full height. So while I don’t think that miniatures in the natural world are intentional like they are in the human world, I do believe that miniatures exist in the natural world.

    It is interesting how the taming of a lion is likened to that of the taming of the fleas in the flea circus. It is mentioned that the flea tamer gives blood, while the lion tamer avoids it, and how fascinating it is to observe a numerous force that we cannot even see. There is something truly terrifying about an invisible and numerous force; as terrifying or more so than the jaws of a tiger. I find it interesting that people were not more afraid of the flea circus. People have a tendency to fear what they cannot see. Even if that something is smaller than them, like the bacteria that form an infectious disease. (page 56)

    Comment by Sarah — February 1, 2012 @ 3:37 pm
  3. 1. I found it interesting how Stewart describes how children and childhood is like a miniature all in itself. Stewart states “the world of childhood…presents in some ways a miniature and fictive chapter in each life history.” (page 44). When I was a kid, an even still today, I have always been interested in miniature things, thinking they are cute and adorable. I would always collect them and put them in a little box, but always end up losing them.

    2. When I think about the miniature, I think of a small world, where things that may seem large are really just quite small. This world would be for a bug or mouse. Stewart also talks about a world like this when talking about “The History of Sir Thomas Thumb”. (page 46).

    3. When Stewart mentions “The Nutcracker” and other stories where the toys come to life, I also think back to my childhood. When I used to play with small toys I lived within my own little world and pretended that they were alive. I had quite the imagination back then. (page 55)

    Comment by RikaKeener — February 1, 2012 @ 3:47 pm
  4. 1– The first paragraph on page 14 about reading really rang true to me. Defining reading as something that “does not count in time; it leaves no trace; its product is invisible” is a completely new perspective for me. I find somewhat mystifying and magical to describe reading in this way. The ephemeral nature of reading versus the invisible permanence of it is truly special.

    2– Reading the section on Micrographia reminded me of a book I found when I was about 7 or 8. At first it seemed silly comparing a tiny book to a jewel and regarding it as “talisman to the body and emblem of the self” (41), but the more I thought about it the more I recognized how exciting and secretive it was when I found the book. It’s interesting how personal micrographia is. I’m thinking maybe it is because things that aren’t ours always seem more enticing, and the miniature size of these books certainly don’t look like they are meant to be read or owned by a human?

    Comment by Jessica — February 1, 2012 @ 6:21 pm
  5. 1. On page 43-44 where Stewart describes the how the miniature creates a scene that because of its scale almost exists in an alternate reality is really interesting to me. The idea that because it is so small and so familiar but at the same time different creates this perfect breeding ground for the imagination makes it very easy to create a narrative.

    2. It’s also very interesting that by becoming smaller the scale of fantasy about the miniature actually increases. On page 46 talks about how the miniature can make the context remarkable in cases where it otherwise would not. By becoming smaller a larger picture can be observed and an effect of that may be the notability of some overarching theme that may have been absent before.

    3. On page 69 Stewart talks about how the miniature represents an experience that can be manipulated an controlled which is interesting because the often in reality we think of experiences as things that happen to us, things that we do not have complete control over.


    Comment by cleardye — February 5, 2012 @ 3:59 am
  6. One: On page 61, when Stewart calls the dollhouse ‘the locket or the secret recesses of the heart’, I was very intrigued. Oftentimes an object a person owns can give someone an indication of their personality, but to possibly own something that could expose even your darkest secrets is rather unsettling in a way.

    Two: On page 65, Stewart also mentions the idea that ‘the miniature does not attach itself to lived historical time’. This is something I can somewhat agree with, as the miniature has always created a sense of frozen time. However, I would mention that while the miniature is divorced from historical time, the viewer is not, and therefore for the viewer the miniature may change. (e.g. looking at a miniature when you are a child and when you are an adult should be slightly different at the very least.)

    Three: Another thing I thought was interesting was the idea of the tableau as a concept, and actually describing the miniatures. There seems to be a paradox where focusing in on the miniature creates a greater sense of detail + focus, such as Raymond Russel’s descriptions of his water bottle (pg 49). I feel that this may be because the scope of the miniature physically is small, it allows for a much greater sense of the unknown and therefore more mental vastness.

    Comment by Crystal — February 6, 2012 @ 6:18 am

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