What Color Is the Sacred? by Michael Taussig

What Color Is the Sacred?

byMichael Taussig

Paperback | May 1, 2009

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Over the past thirty years, visionary anthropologist Michael Taussig has crafted a highly distinctive body of work. Playful, enthralling, and whip-smart, his writing makes ingenious connections between ideas, thinkers, and things. An extended meditation on the mysteries of color and the fascination they provoke, What Color Is the Sacred? is the next step on Taussig’s remarkable intellectual path.

Following his interest in magic and surrealism, his earlier work on mimesis, and his recent discussion of heat, gold, and cocaine in My Cocaine Museum,this book uses color to explore further dimensions of what Taussig calls “the bodily unconscious” in an age of global warming. Drawing on classic ethnography as well as the work of Benjamin, Burroughs, and Proust, he takes up the notion that color invites the viewer into images and into the world. Yet, as Taussig makes clear, color has a history—a manifestly colonial history rooted in the West’s discomfort with color, especially bright color, and its associations with the so-called primitive. He begins by noting Goethe’s belief that Europeans are physically averse to vivid color while the uncivilized revel in it, which prompts Taussig to reconsider colonialism as a tension between chromophobes and chromophiliacs. And he ends with the strange story of coal, which, he argues, displaced colonial color by giving birth to synthetic colors, organic chemistry, and IG Farben, the giant chemical corporation behind the Third Reich.

Nietzsche once wrote, “So far, all that has given colour to existence still lacks a history.” With What Color Is the Sacred? Taussig has taken up that challenge with all the radiant intelligence and inspiration we’ve come to expect from him.

About The Author

Michael Taussig is professor of anthropology at Columbia University and the author of several books, including Walter Benjamin’s Grave and My Cocaine Museum, both published by the University of Chicago Press.
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Details & Specs

Title:What Color Is the Sacred?Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.9 inPublished:May 1, 2009Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226790061

ISBN - 13:9780226790060

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Part One          Into the Image

1. The Face of World History

2. Licensed Transgression

3. Where Stones Walk like Men

4. Color as Crime

5. Color Walks

6. The Diver

7. Could a Cat Be a Whale? 000

8. In the Time of Lapis Lazuli

9. Polymorphous Magical Substance

10. Plasma

11. A Beautiful Blue Substance Flows into Me

12. The Red Butterfly

Part Two          Color in the Colony

13. Administration by Bluff

14. Walking through Fire

15. Sailing through Color

16. Body Paint

17. The Instrument of Ethnographic Observation

18. Color and Slavery

19. Redeeming Indigo

20. Opiation of the Visual Field

21. Sex Appeal of the Inorganic

Part Three        Color in Proust

22. Crossover Men

23. Techniques of the Body: What We Falsely Call Life

24. An Hour is Not Merely an Hour

25. Cardiac Fatigue

26. What Is the Color of the Profane? 000

Part Four          Color in Coal

27. Creature of the Lightless Depth

28. As Colors Pour from Tar

29. Colored by Weather

Acknowledgments

Notes

Bibliography

Index