By Grace of Broken Skin

Radical Philosophy Review 12 (1/2):289-313 (2009)
I address the question of the origins and historical meaning of art. Analyzing suggestions from Marx, Derrida, Winnicott, and Todorov, I claim that art doesn’t simply represent conscious, historical events but is also the continuing presentation of the prehistorical break-up of our “original” human family. Indeed, perpetuating yet distancing this archaic scene of community and violence in tension, art performs this mediation not just in history but also as history, as a secretive historiography of splitting and meaning-making. To this end, I analyze some tribal tattooing and scarring practices. Literally carving a world of symbolic significance out of our disidentification with mother nature and with each other in turn, art speaks hieroglyphically of persistent primitive loss.
Keywords art  aesthetics  continental philosophy  psychoanalysis  violence  development  loss
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DOI 10.5840/radphilrev2009121/218
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