The Space Between
My text in this chapter is Roman Jakobson's essay " The Statue in Puskin's Poetic Mythology" ( 1937), or rather, to be more specific, the semiological account of the origins of the fantasy of the living statue presented in that essay. 1 Though this account emerges out of a broader analysis of the life and writings of Pushkin—in particular the poet's troubled negotiations with state authority and his ambivalent attitude toward his own fame—we can consider it to a degree independently. Especially if one is prepared to feel the figurative weight of Jakobson's theoretical terms, and ready as well to read them somewhat against the grain, this essay can give us a better purchase on some of the paradoxes and perversities of the animation fantasy.
One basic premise of Jakobson's essay is that the fantasy of the statue's animation is not elicited by a statue alone, no matter how lively its appearance, how subtle its imitation of human gesture, motion, gaze, and so on. The fantasy is not a projection of perfected mimetic illusion. Rather, it is generated by the real or imaginary situation of a living person standing before the statue. Belonging properly to neither, the idea of animation translates the relational life that emerges in the space between the two. The fantasy responds to the way one moves around or glances at the thing; the way the statue one regards accommodates one's body, or demands that one's body accommodate it; the fantasy reflects the way one models, attacks, or touches the statue, copes with its silence, or supplies its lacks; the
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Publication information: Book title: The Dream of the Moving Statue. Contributors: Kenneth Gross - Author. Publisher: Cornell University Press. Place of publication: Ithaca, NY. Publication year: 1992. Page number: Not available.
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