20 February 2016

On Eco

This morning I learned that we lost a great literary and philosophical mind with the passing of Umberto Eco at 84. 

I have long been a fan from afar of Eco's, never someone I would list as my favorite author, but formative in my early academic thinking, particularly his beautiful book On Ugliness, which is an embarrassment of richness of images and ideas on our relationship with ugly things (death, bodily functions, horror, etc.)

His loss is sad, but go forth and embrace all of his work and thinking...

I'm revisiting my favorite work this morning:

The work is a curation of passages from literary and social theory works alongside beautiful images from classical and modern art, architecture, and ephemera centered on a specific theme.  Eco adds editorial remarks in each section.

Of particular interest is the chapter on the Uncanny.  The thinking on that concept and in that chapter was fundamental in my academic thinking on Gunther von Hagens' BodyWorlds exhibition.  The artistic presentation of death is an exquisite example of Freud's and Eco's discussion of the concept of the Uncanny (unheimlich).  Presenting a thing that is, inherently, familiar (our own bodies) in a way that causes discomfort, uncertainty questioning what we know we know.

I highly recommend picking up a copy.  Go borrow it from your local library!

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