“The cognitive life of things is about things in motion; it is about hybridity, fluidity and genuinely interactive relationships between brains, bodies and things” (Malafouris & Renfrew 2010:9).
It has become common to conceptualize motion, movement and change as something fluid, not just in archaeology. I have been guilty of that myself. Time and space flows we are told when we describe motion. But is it really so? Are we not just confusing the state of intensity of a certain object (i.e. water) with its motion? Sure, liquid water flows if it is set in motion (but it does not automatically flow, it needs some intensity to get it started). However, water in gas form is moving even more than in its liquid state. Water in its solid form can also move, such as a glacier, albeit at a lower intensity. So why is the motion of a “solid” object seen as an example of fluidity? Getting from one location to another is not to “go with the flow” because that implies that the flow preexist the object under discussion. Time and space emerge from the objects and there is therefore no fluidity in another sense than when we describe a property of a liquid state of an object.
Even more problematic is fluidity as a metaphor for change. If I tear a piece of paper into two parts, I am stuck with two solid objects and there has never been anything near fluidity in the process of tearing. One object has become two objects. We do not need a metaphor of fluidity to describe this process.
Malafouris, Lambros and Colin Renfrew (2010). The Cognitive Life of Things: Archaeology, Material Engagement and the Extended Mind.In The Cognitive Life of Things: Recasting the boundaries of the mind. Lambros Malafouris and Colin Renfrew (eds). Cambridge: McDonald Institute Monographs, pp. 1-12.