The Culture of the Copy: Striking Likenesses, Unreasonable Facsimiles
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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
to commune and talk in like manner. When I was sad he would give me comfort, and I would do likewise unto him; but now I have nothing but dolour of the bearing so heavy a burden, dead, cold, and decaying on my back, which takes all earthly pleasure from me in this present life.”8 Some of this is apocryphal, but the story lingers, companion to accounts of Lazarus and Joannes Baptista Colloredo, joined at the navel and baptized as two souls in Geneva in 1617. John the Baptist was a parasite; he
obstruct. Pressures to fuse have also been pressures to refuse parts of oneself inconformable to cultural expectations of gender roles, or to defuse legitimately rebellious parts of a Culture of the Copy pages_10.indd 72 11/4/13 3:15 PM DOPPELGÄNGERS 73 gendered life. Some feminist therapists propose instead to move those with MPD in the direction of Siameseship and networks of “connectedness.”97 Behind disputes over the diagnosis and treatment of MPD lies the problem of power. Are
known by. Women have worked out their own meanings, their own sense of FIT, through dressmaker’s forms and womannequins. This is scarcely to say that women require the artifice of a shop window. It is to say that women’s portraits of themselves (like the many self-portraits by painter Judith Leyster, wife to Molenaer) have been and can be liberating. 36 Visible since the fourteenth century, dolls with the newest coiffures and dresses were sent from fashion centers in France, Flanders, and Italy
belated American war effort. Thayer went over to assist the British and fell ill from, of all things, exposure. Returning to New Hampshire, he died in 1921, one father of what was by then called “camouflage.”4 Camouflage has a compound paternity and a complex maternity. Its swift baptism during the Great War lay at the juncture of several historical shifts in Western answers to questions about visuality: To what extent can we trust to our eyes for the truth? What should we make of a cultural
range of cosmetics applied by thespians, shop girls, and society ladies, painted faces were painted faces.13 What then of the green faces on banknotes and stamps, when they turned up in paintings by William Harnett and John Haberle in the 1880s in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia? Well, despite his protest that “I do not closely imitate nature,” Harnett in 1886 was arrested for counterfeiting. His $ paintings were impounded by the Treasury Department, whose agents were cold on the trail of a