Taking Things Seriously: 75 Objects with Unexpected Significance

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Princeton Architectural Press, Aug 23, 2007 - Art - 176 pages
We all have something in our lives that while not obviously valuable, is displayed as though it were a precious and irreplaceable artifact. Inquire about the object's provenance and you'll likely be treated to a lively anecdote about how it came into your host's possession. Keep digging, and you might even crack the code of what the thing really means.

Taking Things Seriously is a wonder cabinet of seventy-five unlikely thingamajigs that have been invested with significance and transformed into totems, talismans, charms, relics, and fetishes: scraps of movie posters scavenged from the streets of New York by Low Life author Luc Sante; the World War I helmet that inoculated social critic Thomas Frank against jingoism; the trash-picked, robot-shaped hairdo machine described by its owner as a chick magnet; the bagelburned by actor Christopher Walken, moonlighting as a short-order cook. The owners of these objects convey their excitement in short, often poignant essays that invite readers to participate in the enjoyable act of interpreting things. You'll never look at the bric-a-brac on your shelves the same way again.

 

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
9
hairdo machine
20
soda bottle
22
dirt pile
24
rubber pig
26
procelain hands
28
bagel
30
sand clown
32
cupcakes
98
marble
100
wooden santa
102
artichoke
104
terminal map
106
computer cabinet
108
paperweight
110
desk lamp
112

helmet
34
tshirt
36
lighter
38
pinecone
40
drinking glass
42
fluffy creature
44
pencil sharpener
46
insulator pegs
48
cheese box
50
exciter
52
sugar egg
54
voodoo doll
56
mussel shell
58
phone terminal
60
grammyfoam
62
bear lamp
64
dashboard knob
66
wooden horse
68
electric saw
70
skillet
72
bobby pins
74
stick
76
sampler
78
cigar box
80
inflatable doll
82
light bulb
84
couch arm
86
death mask
88
green man
90
nail clippings
92
anatomical model
94
glass jar
96
vase
114
pie tin and rock
116
novelty camera
118
ceramic frog
120
table lamp
122
life ring
124
towel
126
bank
128
whippets
130
head
132
doll
134
bookplate
136
table
138
unicorn horn
140
animal figurine
142
rubber stamp
144
large trophy
146
crazy duck
148
family portrait
150
soaky toy
152
scrapbook
154
bread
156
baseball mitt
158
turtle tail
160
practice bomb
162
poster scraps
164
plastic dog
166
sunglasses
168
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Page 7 - And some certain significance lurks in all things, else all things are little worth, and the round world itself but an empty cipher, except to sell by the cartload, as they do hills about Boston, to fill up some morass in the Milky Way.

About the author (2007)

Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer and editor at the Boston Globe.

Carol Hayes is an award-winning designer and artist. She lives in Brooklyn.

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