The Thing

Things go beyond being an object. The tangibility of the latter dispels when it becomes a thing. For a thing is all that has an entity, whether spiritual or corporeal, natural or artificial, physical or metaphysical. When Diderot and D’Alembert organised the Encyclopedia their intention was to explain the world through science, thus closing the door on the compendia that explained reality from a religious or metaphysical point of view. The Enlightenment, then, became an object. And we intent to recover the Thing. So, our predecessor and mentor is Pliny the Elder who, around 23 B.D., created his Natural History in which he spoke of Things.

In the second-half of the 19th century some books began to spread, all under the same title: ‘Lessons on Things’, which intended to bring scholars closer to knowledge through images, and thereby make them see the world around them. They were eminently graphic books and to a certain extent the start and introduction of visual culture.

The origin of words have significance, and their etymology is insightful. In Spanish, the word for ‘thing’ is cosa, which comes from the Latin causa (‘cause’). And it was already used in the sense of ‘thing’ in the Colloquial Latin of Gregory of Tours’ Salic law. And Cause is the principle from which something is made. So objects are motives, not causes. Motive is the specific and particular reason that drives us and perhaps what forces us to act, the Object.

In this opuscule we will reveal a multitude of Things, causes and motives, in other words, also objects. Our intention is not encyclopedic, but miscellaneous, for here, science is but another metaphysic, a new unifying religion based on objects. And we will speak of Things.

Illustration: Autorretrato naturalista (Naturalist self-portrait), by Micharmut