Today's sample of the uncanny valley, where human-like objects become disturbingly like people, is the reborn baby doll movement. Infocult reader Andrea draws our attention to this budding practice, whereby artists reshape dolls to closely, eerily resemble human babies. The excellence of this painstaking craft lures us to the brink of humanity, as with the Hunny Buns Nursery offerings, or this ad from Newborn Expressions:
The discourse around these products insists on aping babydom, as one does not buy a doll, but adopt one (example: Doll Haven). "Reborn" becomes a new verb, as babies, or dolls, are "reborned" (example: "Come Reborn A Doll With Us!", from Secrist).
Reborn dolls are fairly popular, based on casual Googling. eBay lists 1899 offerings under "reborn dolls".
There's another creepy aspect to this idea, in the violence visited on these dolls in the course of their transformation. Sampling from one leading tutorial, we can extract a horrific thread:
A word of caution: I've never had a problem with bruising before, but some people have found the color gets darker and darker over time (even months later)....
[R]eplace the eyes by cutting the socket from inside the head and gluing the eye in place....
Turn your hair dryer on hot and aim at one of the doll's eyes, holding it very close. When you think the area is hot enough, wedge a small, flat-head screwdriver under the eye and try to pop it out. If it won't work, heat the area again until it does. Repeat on the other eye.
Lastly, the deep sadness and longing expressed by this market is heartbreaking. As are the faces of these "reborned" bolls - example from Reborn Request:
Coda from Kleist, "On the Puppet Theater" (1811) (Philip Miller trans):
"We see how, in the organic world, as reflection grows darker and weaker, grace emerges ever more radiant and supreme. – But just as two intersecting lines, converging on one side of a point, reappear on the other after their passage through infinity, and just as our image, as we approach a concave mirror, vanishes to infinity only to reappear before our very eyes, so will grace, having likewise traversed the infinite, return to us once more, and so appear most purely in that bodily form that has either no consciousness at all or an infinite one, which is to say, either in the puppet or a god."
"That means," said I, somewhat amused, "that we would have to eat of the tree of knowledge a second time to fall back into the state of innocence."
"Of course," he answered, "and that is the final chapter in the history of the world."
(thanks to Little Talking Andrea)