The Dream of the Moving Statue

The Dream of the Moving Statue

Kenneth Gross

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0271029005

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


We live among the images we have made, and those images have an uncanny life. They seduce, challenge, trap, transform, and even kill us; they speak and remain silent. Kenneth Gross's The Dream of the Moving Statue offers a far-ranging and probing exploration of how writers, artists, and filmmakers have imagined the power and life of statues, real and metaphoric, taking up examples from antiquity to modernity, from Ovid, Michelangelo, and Shakespeare to Freud, Rilke, and Charlie Chaplin. The book is about the fate of works of art and about the fate of our fantasies, words, and bodies, about the metamorphoses they undergo in our own and others’ minds.

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divine reality larger than itself. If the biblical text seeks to lay bare the erring origins of a false belief, it is also true that the magic, the demonology, and cosmic wisdom of its enemies is something that text bluntly fails to know, or knows only as something that at best parodies, at worst blocks, the starker interventions of Yahweh, the negotiations of his covenant and law. 4 Yet there are places in the text where, despite this reduction, the suppressed enchantment returns. There are

does not mean that one is reduced in turn to some facile relativism, as if such texts proved simply that one person's god is another person's idol. Even a "mythicizing" text like Daniel still inhabits and recalls the severe critique of idolatry that -49- unfolds throughout the Hebrew Bible. This tradition appears strenuously to reject the literalizing circuit of idolatrous worship, its binding of the worshiper to a regressive yet politically manipulable sense of a god's fullness or presence

Red-in-red repetitions never going Away.... 26 This is one of Stevens's most haunting depictions of the statue as demonic blocking agent, a statue deathly even in its unnatural beauty and nourishment, and I am tempted to end this section here. But before closing I want to turn to a text that brings together rather more fully some of the issues I have been discussing—a passage from William Blake's powerful allegorical epic Milton ( 1804). This text too -61- uses the fantasia of the

of a statue to begin with. The peace and terror of the figures are tropes of the peace and terror of sculpture. The Perseus is particularly striking in this regard, since the victor has taken from the victim's supine, violated body a severed part, a trophy or ornament, which in its separation from the trunk yet becomes a weapon that threatens to turn those who look at it to stone. It is a head whose reflective, unpained gaze remarkably mirrors the downcast, lovely face of Perseus himself. We

denies the world—or, rather, recreates it as lost in order to secure its own seduction—and a self-emptying fixation on phantasmic images that have yet been granted a purely objective, external status. That is to say, in Agamben's terms, the imagination always inhabits a space between the poles of Narcissus and Pygmalion. 12. See Nicholas Abraham and Maria Torok, " Introjecter-Incorporer, Deuil ou Mélancolie," in Destins du cannibalisme, Nouvelle Revue de Psychanalyse 6 ( Fall 1972): 111-22;

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