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April 24, 2005


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John Reeve

I wonder if a childs engagement in playing with an item allows the item to exist within the structure of play in ways that it cannot for those outside of play...

I wonder if, for children, a doll is not a play_thing_ so much as a non-self-directing other.

I wonder if our lack of investment in these dolls leads us to view them only in terms of their instrumentality, when others who are invested in the toys would view them differently.

Could it be that these dolls, especially in terms of the 'net doll culture of adults relating to plastic figurines, enfigure a part of the private that has not been eroded by emancipation projects-- that for those invested in the dolls, there remains an entity that can be pointed to in the same way that non-emancipated wives or slaves could have enfigured the echo of the private voice in a classical public? ... or infant children? ...cats? ...iPods? ...musical instruments? ... entites previously thought to have no voice but which, within whatever remains of private space, still remind us that others invest in objects that we don't consider []?

This is a bad comparison, because after emancipatory projects, formerly private voices reveal that they have been public all along (or that the distinction is only symbolic?)-- but there are members of my houshold who can produce the signs of private community membership, but who definitely do not call for emancipation (i.e. my cats and young children).

I'm not sure about a public/private distinction as a method of thinking about our different relationships to toys might mean, but I suspect that bit of difference is where the answer to your questions could be found-- there are groups who do not see these plastic figures as solely surface...

...though that might just be a strange symptom.

(sorry to ramble[], but I'm sure that you're aware by now that attracting an audience of odd folks is a hazard of blogs)


Amazing--I love the way you talk about different kinds of investment in the dolls and the idea of a non self-directing other as a kind of repository of voicelessness. I wish I had something fabulous to add, but I don't--your points are quite insightful and compelling. They also made me think of puppets--which I have a 'thing' for--and the theme of puppetry and inhabitation in Being John Malkovich.

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