“Leiris was, before anything, a tireless witness to lived experience.”*

*Sasha Frere-Jones, writing in December 2020.

Image: in the Giacometti Courtyard, Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght, near Saint-Paul de Vence, France.

From: Rosebery – Statesman in Turmoil (2005), by Leo McKinstry:

“…Rosebery’s successes had also completely won over the permanent officers in the diplomatic service: after dining with Charles Hardinge, Head of Chancery at the British embassy in Paris, Edward Hamilton informed Rosebery: ‘He tells me that he and the service at large are better pleased with their present Foreign Secretary than they have ever been before. Indeed, you seem to be a sort of fetish amongst them.’ Sir Rennell Rodd, who enjoyed a long diplomatic career, wrote in his memoirs that Rosebery ‘has always remained to me the ideal master to serve’.

Rosebery also had a strong supporter in the Queen, who basked in his courtly charm…”

…it was Rosebery who had made a fetish of diplomatic secrecy…”

From: Feminizing the Fetish: Psychoanalysis and Narrative Obsession in Turn-of-the Century France (1991), by Emily Apter:

“In his discussion of commodity fetishism, Karl Marx spoke of an object’s hidden value – its fetish character – as a “secret”: “Value, therefore, does not stalk about with a label describing what it is. It is value, rather, that converts every product into a social hieroglyphic. Later on, we try to decipher the hieroglyphic, to get behind the secret of our own social products; for to stamp an object of utility as a value, is just as much a social product as language.” Marx’s conception of the fetish as socioeconomic hieroglyphic and opaque verbal sign emerged, in the course of my writing, as curiously compatible with Freud’s sense of the strangeness of fetish consciousness: a state of mind divided between the reality of noncastration and the fear of it all the same. Both enigmas, in turn, seemed to arrange themselves around a “third term.” Michel Leiris (distilling his impressions of Giacometti’s neoprimitivist sculptural artefacts) identified his own embattled, Eurocentric fetishism – that mimetic “objectivised form of our desire” – with an ethnopsychiatric condition of “affective ambivalence”:

I love Giacometti’s sculpture because everything he makes is like the petrification of one of these crises, the intensity of a chance event swiftly caught and immediately frozen, the stone stele telling its tale…”

Pacilli et al. wrote in J Soc Psychol of Jan-Feb 2013:


Individuals often hold ambivalent attitudes (i.e., positive and negative attitudes at the same time) toward groups and social categories. The aim of the present research was to examine the differential effects of affective and cognitive dimensions of ambivalence on the (amplification of) responses towards a minority group. We asked 188 students from the University of Perugia to read a short description of a fictitious group of immigrants. After expressing their affective and cognitive attitudes toward the target group, participants received positive, negative, or no supplementary information about this group. Discrimination was assessed by asking participants to allocate to the target group a percentage of a financial support fund for poor people (both Italian and immigrant) living in their regional area. As expected, we found that only affective ambivalence amplified either negative or positive responses toward the group.”

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