The Order of Things + The Miniature

October 13, 2011

Why must we constantly feel the need to place an order upon things? It seems human beings find comfort in the ordering system as a means by which to make sense of the universe we live in. A structure, a grid, an organisation, an institution; our understanding of order and reasoning is influenced by the varying institutions we partake in, whether it be the university, the workplace, the hospital, family, friendship, marriage, etc.

The human sciences is an example of placing an ordering system on the universe, to define life through a microscopic lens only to discover further orders within orders. A constant infinity of epistemology. Through the analytic microscope, we find a miniature network of organisms that represent our universe at large. Within Susan Stewart’s chapter of ‘The Miniature’, On Longing 1993, we find again a means by which to make sense of our world through representation. Stewart provides us with examples of models, the miniature book, the toy, the miniature adult/ the child, the dollhouse; all these modes of representation places the viewer in exteriority, causing one to reflect upon the subject familiar to us and once again seek to make sense of the universe we live in.

No direct answer is given and/ or can be given, as suggested by Foucault in ‘The Order of Things’ 1970. The ordering of things is constantly shifting from one period to another; an underlying episteme that seems to guide scientific discourse. We then seek to rearrange this order, to escape the habitual and the routine, to step outside of the grid and look at the subject from a different perspective. But we can only step outside this grid if there is certainty of a grid to begin with, and to acknowledge you are exterior to the grid only confirms your existence within the grid prior. To rearrange order brings us back to Deleuze’s ‘Control Societies’; the ability to implement a power and logic upon the familiar and unfamiliar.

However we should not try to find an origin of the human sciences, a single point or treatment at the same level, but acknowledge its complexity and approach it with different methods and at different levels; to investigate the ordering system and how/ why it is implemented within our every day.


Naomi Brennan

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