chapter  3
36 Pages

An introduction to fetishism (with a plea for materialism)

A thought of the remainder (a ‘thought of superstition’ in Mazzoldi’s parlance) focuses on the role played by certain objects, elements and materials that may have been displaced as a result of the advent and triumph of the Enlightenment project associated with modernity. Some argue that such a displacement can be seen in modern thought’s tendency to dematerialise the objects, placing in their stead immaterial entities such as beliefs, concepts, norms and world-views whose function would be to stipulate, reproduce, synthesise, command or designate, and whose mode of relation would be merely representative, as in the interplay of signs in a holistic account of language. Others prefer to argue that rather than displaced, the objects associated with the dimension of the haunted, the sacred and the foreign became unplaceable. Thus, for instance, Mladen Dolar states that:

There is a specific dimension of the uncanny that emerges with modernity (. . .) in premodern societies the dimension of the uncanny was largely covered (and veiled) by the area of the sacred and the untouchable. It was assigned to a religiously and socially sanctioned place (. . .) With the triumph of the Enlightenment, this privileged and excluded place (the exclusion that founded society) was no more. That is to say that the uncanny became unplaceable; it became the uncanny in the strict sense.