Letter from New York

Chris Carlton

By way of the seemingly arcane, specialized topic of ancient stone seals, an attempt will be made to bring this impression technology to bear on the present. If it is true that during the period while material goods are on display, to use an image from Sohn-Rethel, nature holds its breath, then by making contemporary impressions from stone seals we can see the face of nature turned purple. The talk will cover the transition from a pre-coined to a coined economy by way of the images found in relief on stone-seals, the precursor to the reliefs impressed upon coins. Attention will be given both to naturalistic representation as well as mythological content. What might this imagery tell us about force, obligation, and the preservation thereof? Stone seals are near-perfectly preserved due to their original purpose of producing a repeatable, frozen image. Can we glimpse in the repeatable, frozen image what could take on movement? Or are the earliest stone seals destined to be the last perfectly preserved artifacts of our extinct species?