The Culture of the Copy: Striking Likenesses, Unreasonable Facsimiles

The Culture of the Copy: Striking Likenesses, Unreasonable Facsimiles

Hillel Schwartz

Language: English

Pages: 480

ISBN: 1935408453

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Culture of the Copy is a novel attempt to make sense of the Western fascination with replicas, duplicates, and twins. In a work that is breathtaking in its synthetic and critical achievements, Hillel Schwartz charts the repercussions of our entanglement with copies of all kinds, whose presence alternately sustains and overwhelms us. This updated edition takes notice of recent shifts in thought with regard to such issues as biological cloning, conjoined twins, copyright, digital reproduction, and multiple personality disorder. At once abbreviated and refined, it will be of interest to anyone concerned with problems of authenticity, identity, and originality.

Through intriguing, and at times humorous, historical analysis and case studies in contemporary culture, Schwartz investigates a stunning array of simulacra: counterfeits, decoys, mannequins, and portraits; ditto marks, genetic cloning, war games, and camouflage; instant replays, digital imaging, parrots, and photocopies; wax museums, apes, and art forgeries -- not to mention the very notion of the Real McCoy.

Working through a range of theories on biological, mechanical, and electronic reproduction, Schwartz questions the modern esteem for authenticity and uniqueness. The Culture of the Copy shows how the ethical dilemmas central to so many fields of endeavor have become inseparable from our pursuit of copies -- of the natural world, of our own creations, indeed of our very selves. The book is an innovative blend of microsociology, cultural history, and philosophical reflection, of interest to anyone concerned with problems of authenticity, identity, and originality.

Praise for the first edition

"[T]he author...brings his considerable synthetic powers to bear on our uneasy preoccupation with doubles, likenesses, facsimiles, replicas and re-enactments. I doubt that these cultural phenomena have ever been more comprehensively or more creatively chronicled.... [A] book that gets you to see the world anew, again." -- The New York Times

"A sprightly and disconcerting piece of cultural history" -- Terence Hawkes, London Review of Books

"In The Culture of the Copy, [Schwartz] has written the perfect book: original and repetitive at once." -- Todd Gitlin, Los Angeles Times Book Review

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without homage. Its fealty is not to matter but to light. Like the engineering blueprint, photocopying bears a platonic relation to substance. Taking all in all, patently indiscriminate, it demands spotless originals, free of thumb smudges, wisps of hair, any of the embarrassments of bodiliness. Copying↔as↔reenactment follows close upon anatomy; copying→as→appropriation surveys the empyrean. 48 Electrographic copying is all the more heavenly, originating with tiny stars that appeared mysteriously

longer be a grave surprise, but still they spring upon us compelling questions about our distinctness as individuals in a society of duplicates. From initial images on sonogram monitors, twins carry with them the age-old drama of a compound self and a modern legend of sisterhood sundered, brotherhood bereft. Midwife to the modern legend was Dr. Arnold Gesell, meditating upon twins in 1922. If one fetal twin were stronger than the other, he wrote, its sibling might degenerate into a “vegetative

orangutans, chimpanzees). Linnaeus in the mid-eighteenth century reserved his order of Primates for sloths, monkeys, great apes, orangutans (“tailed men”), and homo sapiens, but well before and after Linnaeus, apes were mixed up with monkeys and monkeys enchained with human beings. While parrots have been exalted as a risen humanity, simians have been taken for a primitive or fallen humanity. They have been the monstrous races inscribed upon empty regions of maps; the hairy wildmen and wildwomen

since the 1870s, when the Scottish neurologist David Ferrier adopted monkeys as paradigmatic experimental subjects, examining the physiology of the Culture of the Copy pages_10.indd 140 11/4/13 3:15 PM S E C O N D N AT U R E 141 (their, our) brain. Such animal experiments always allege that particular animal cells, organs, systems, or behaviors are similar enough to allow for extrapolation to humans. “I shall prove,” wrote Claude Bernard in 1865, “that results obtained on animals may

the nightmarish hallucinations, amnesia, deafmuteness, tremors, and dizziness of the new disorder of shellshock were sometimes suspect as the creations of terrified men, the symptoms of such malingering or “sinistrosis” reflected in a left-handed way the tactics of camoufleurs: mimicry, decoy, obliterative gradation, masking, disruption, and dazzling. War trauma and war trompe l’oeil were of a piece. 35 Unclear were the origins of that “confusing and baffling name Camouflage, that has been

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