Keeping it Real

An interesting set of coincidences happened recently, all to do with the strange category of realism and its relationship to the real. Freud would insist that coincidences are precisely the wrong ground upon which to discuss “realism,”  since an unlikely recurrence of the same element is, if memory serves me, a classic example of the…

Cut Off: Amputation and Agency

Roanne Kantor What does it mean to feel cut off? What is the relationship between this feeling, a feeling of alienation and non-belonging, and the physical act of separation implied by the medical procedure of amputation? Last month I was inspired by Kristina’s review of Anatomy of a Soldier, in which an injured soldier comes…

Twin Studies

Back in September, I found myself in a small community just outside of Ithaca, NY, in the company of several colleagues from Cornell. We were there to participate in community’s annual “Fun Run.” I use the term “fun” here with some reservations, defining it provisionally and according to terminology that was current when I ran…

Natural Symbols: Some thoughts on interdisciplinary communication

As the weather changes in the fall, I often suffer from a bit of sleep-onset insomnia. Recently at night I’ve found myself reaching for Mary Douglas’s 1970 slip of a book, Natural Symbols, whose high-structuralist insights into cosmology can have a wonderfully somnolent effect. Jokes aside, I’m fascinated by Douglas’s central assertion that symbolism arises…