Update: a note about our classifications

By |

Last month, in an update, I explained our Significant Object categorization scheme: a FOSSIL is an object that bears witness to a vanished era or way of life (including childhood); an object that played a role in a crime or memorable public event is EVIDENCE; a TOTEM is an object from the natural world — animal, vegetable, or mineral — that is a tutelary spirit; while an object that has magical power, is lucky, or is alive is a TALISMAN. The excellent cartoon stories we’ve published this week offer fine examples of three of these categories.


In Josh Kramer’s story, a human captured and observed by aliens won’t attempt to eat the fake banana with which they’ve provided him. Kramer’s story has transformed this insignificant object, purchased for 25 cents, into EVIDENCE. Bid here. Bidding is now at $26.00


The narrator of Nomi Kane’s story recounts a six-year-old’s idyllic memories of her favorite uncle, who gave her an alien toy during a visit more fraught than she’d realized at first. That is to say, it’s a FOSSIL. Purchased for 49 cents, the toy is currently selling for $16.50. Bid here.


In Betsey Swardlick’s story, a child substitutes a Dilbert stress toy for a baby Jesus figure in a homemade Nativity scene. Why? Because the stress toy had been flattened by a car — but “not even the compressing force of a station wagon could keep Dilbert from regaining his rightful rotundity.” That is to say, the object died and came back to life — like (the grownup) Jesus did. Swardlick’s narrative has transformed an insignificant squeeze toy purchased for 25 cents into a TALISMAN. Bid here. Now selling for $15.50.

Our thanks again to James Sturm and his many talented students at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont!


Joshua Glenn is an editor, publisher, and a freelance writer and semiologist. He does business as KING MIXER, LLC. He's cofounder of the websites HiLobrow, Significant Objects, and Semionaut; and cofounder of HiLoBooks, which will reissue six Radium Age sci fi novels in 2012. In 2011, he produced and co-designed the iPhone app KER-PUNCH. He's coauthored and co-edited Taking Things Seriously, The Idler's Glossary, The Wage Slave's Glossary, the story collection Significant Objects (forthcoming from Fantagraphics), and Unbored, a kids' field guide to life forthcoming from Bloomsbury. In the '00s, Glenn was an associate editor and columnist at the Boston Globe's IDEAS section; he also started the IDEAS blog Brainiac. He has written for Slate, n+1, Cabinet, io9, The Baffler, Feed, and The Idler. In the '90s, Glenn published the seminal intellectual zine Hermenaut; served as editorial director and co-producer of the pioneering DIY and online social networking website Tripod.com; and was an editor at the magazine Utne Reader. Glenn manages the Hermenautic Circle, a secretive online community. He was born and raised in Boston, where he lives with his wife and sons. Click here for more info.

4 thoughts on “Update: a note about our classifications

  1. Pingback: Ladies and Gentlemen: The Data | Significant Objects

  2. Pingback: Categorical Imperative | Significant Objects

  3. Pingback: Announcing the SO Challenge: Spot the Patterns! | Significant Objects

  4. Pingback: 13 Ways of Looking at a Doohickey | Significant Objects

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *