Throughout Bennett’s chapter “A Life of Metal,” I was rather inspired by her comment: “Humans, inexplicably, are ‘excited’ by what we otherwise believe to be ‘altogether inadequate stimuli’” (Bennett 61). Such a statement brought me back to the lecture Jeffery Cohen gave on stone. Moreover, it made me think about the seemingly inexplicable attraction we, humans, have with the world matter.
Going by the idea that “apparently dead things” have a sort of “neutral sexuality,” I thought about how this idea is manifest in the world we live in (61). Not very long after, it became almost frighteningly apparent how intimate we are with the material world. Now, it can easily be argued that humans have an overwhelming affection for objects, but when we look at this material lust through the lens of Bennett, it becomes clear there is a vitality, an energy that drives us to need them and be close to them.
However, it seems that although this vitality could be witnessed in just about every object humans create, the most pure form of it comes through in natural, unaltered materials. One such example that came to mind, was countertops. Yes, the surfaces that are found in kitchens everywhere. However, it seems that every aspiring homeowner dreams granite or marble countertops, which brings to mind a seemingly logical question: why? Is it simply due to their asthetic beauty, and if so, why are they more beautiful than a manmade material? Or, is it because they provide a touch, or a feel, that seems so steadfast and genuine that we are almost left in a state of awe and respect their silence. All of these reasons may be correct, but I think they ultimately show how the inorganic has an immovable —almost primordial— grip on our us, that maintains an intimate bond with ageless materials.
Jeffery Cohen’s lecture, in class yesterday, was such an incredible experience. I was very surprised at hearing how in-depth, important, and emotional the field of “thing theory” can be. However, of all the topics discussed during yesterday’s lecture, the one discussion that captivated me was the analysis of Laüstic, which seemed to fully embody what we have been covering, in this course.
I was intrigued about what Dr. Cohen said about things being forced into new forms against their will. In this case, I thought it was interesting how we saw the nightingale’s own vibrance being suppressed by it dying, and also, I was moved by what Dr. Cohen said about the idea of ethical concerns with forcing this dead creature into becoming a piece a vibrant matter, according to the wishes of its human murderers. Such a view of the nightingale seemed to truly shed light on what Bennett has been saying all along in Vibrant Matter, and that is, we need to garner a more ecological and ethical view on our treatment of things.
Although the nightingale’s death does seem to evoke a kind of sadness and contempt for those who reshaped its vibrance, I would argue that its beauty is still preserved and carries on. When we think about how the nightingale was, in essence, at the wrong place at the wrong time, the very act of turning it into something of a saintly idol seems to evoke a sense of respect and reverence for a being that would have otherwise been discarded and forgotten about. However, by becoming a symbol of the two adulterous lovers, it seems that its vitality is increased and even saved from a short appearance in the story of forbidden love.
Therefore, I would agree with Cohen’s assertion that we should have an ethical concern for something that has had life its life, or vitality, taken from it, but I would say that in the case of Laüstic, something far more beautiful emerges through the act of reshaping a material’s vibrance.