Solid Objects and the Stuff of Thought

It’s nice to see some of my old work becoming available on the internet, especially when there’s no pay wall. So here’s a link to the published “selected papers” from the 14th International conference on Virginia Woolf, which took place in 2004 at the University of London. Look for my contribution–“Woolf, Fry, and the Psycho-Aesthetics of Solidity”–on page 244 of the PDF document.

My paper deals with Ernest Jones’s psychoanalytic theories, collecting, and Woolf’s wonderful short story, Solid Objects. I’ve always been fascinated by Woolf’s friendship with Roger Fry, and there’s a bit of that in this paper, too.

John Ruskin, “How to Draw a Stone”, from
The Elements of Drawing

If nothing else, if you haven’t already, please read Solid Objects.  Here’s my favourite quote from one of my favourite stories:

“Looked at again and again half consciously by a mind thinking of something else, any object mixes itself so profoundly with the stuff of thought that it loses its actual form and recomposes itself a little differently in an ideal shape which haunts the brain when we least expect it.”

For me, this quote gets at the heart of art history–or at least my version of it.