Stephen Inggs’ Object relations –- an archive of personal stories giving meaning to objects

Last year Stephen Inggs invited colleagues and friends from a wide array of disciplines at UCT to choose and write about an object significant or meaningful to them in some way. The result is a highly personal, enchanting collection of mini-essays wherein, as Inggs’ states, “the contributors trace the power of objects that connects them to ideas, to people and to their pasts”. These essays, or rather, stories, provide new meaning to a host of different (often banal and overlooked) objects, and draw attention to the broader role objects have in our lives. As Inggs writes, “Objects have this curious habit of entering our lives and act as a conduit affecting our thinking and feelings – we conduct our lives in relation to objects and our actions are mediated by them.”

In her prelude to the book, Pippa Skotnes speaks of how simple, often overlooked objects are transformed when we look at them “with new eyes” – an effect achieved in Object relations by attaching objects to stories. Each story is paired with a photograph of the object – providing “visual mnemonics for the essays.” The essays, only a page or two long each, share an honest, intimate writing style. The essays are so saturated with character that each imparts not only new meaning to the specific object chosen, but a sense of having gotten to know each author personally – each voice baring with it a different personality, set of experiences and personhood from the last.

I have attached a pdf of the first mini-essay in the book — to read it, click here . The mini-essay, only a page long, is titled “Letter from my father” and was written by neuropsychologist, Prof Mark Solms (on a side note, see our post “Introducing UCT’s first MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)” if you wish to participate in Solms’ free online course about the mind).
A second essay from the collection will be posted in few weeks. For those interested in taking out the book from the library, it is available at the Hiddingh Hall library as well as at upper campus (in the main library and the African Studies library) at shelf number: 701.17 OBJE.

All quotes in the above text come from Object relations (Inggs, 2014)

Photograph: Stephen Inggs’ office – taken from Object relations