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Neil, Ken
Languages: English
Types: Unknown
Pointing out en route that the Spanish verb for ‘reify’ is, cosificar, to ‘thingify’, Timothy Bewes, in his 2002 Reification or the Anxiety of Late Capitalism, coined the term ‘thingitude’ to take forward, after Lukács, discourse on reification. Bewes employs thingitude to register a possibly productive condition of reification, one which recognises something more than the basic and conventional alienation duly brought about by a concatenation of reified experiences in the face of modern living. \ud Bewes sees thingitude (in the spirit of Aime Cesaire’s usage of ‘negritude’) as more usefully expressive of a “‘poetics of objectification’ arising out of a willingness to name that process as such, and a refusal to accede to its logic.” Thingitude does not rest, then, on a counter position of essence in the face of reification, and thus avoids the bind of inevitable complicity with the “cycle of capitalist accumulation and appropriation”. \ud The illusionistic picturing of the everyday in Photorealist painting can be easily read as an illustration of an all-too-recognisable urban alienation, which might encourage a beholder to feel nostalgic for a ‘warmer’ engagement with the world. On the other hand, the everyday in Photorealism might embody a poetics of objectification which does not counterpoise reification with an intimation of essence or alterity; indeed, such painting, at first glance, works in exactly the opposite direction through its own demonstrable reification of phenomena by way of mechanistic mark making. \ud This paper, then, analyses American Photorealist paintings as touchstones in an exploration of thingitude and seeks to discover a poetics in line with Bewes which reveals a philosophical pragmatism at the heart of Photorealism which can, in turn, temper normative assumptions about reification and capitalism.

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