Download Abyss of Reason: Cultural Movements, Revelations, and by Daniel Cottom PDF

By Daniel Cottom

During this pathbreaking research, the historic courting among nineteenth-century spiritualism and twentieth-century surrealism is the foundation for a basic exam of conflicting pursuits in literature, artwork, philosophy, technology, and different parts of social existence. simply because spiritualism delved into the realm past humanity and surrealism used to be based at the global inside, the 2 offer a provocative body for analyzing the struggles inside sleek tradition. Cottom argues that we needs to conceive of interpretation when it comes to urgency, wish, fierce rivalry, and impromptu deviation if we wish to know how issues come to endure that means for us. He demonstrates that even if Victorians conserving seances and surrealists composing manifestoes have been so much silly, that they had a lot that used to be worthy to assert concerning the lifestyles (and demise) of cause.

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Extra resources for Abyss of Reason: Cultural Movements, Revelations, and Betrayals

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2 And the tables did still more. Their actions were a language; and so they came to symbolize "the 'movement,' as it has been called,"3 of modern spiritualism. Spirits had chosen the table as an organ of speech. 22 ON THE DIGNITY OF TABLES 23 Customarily viewed as objects of economics, aesthetics, utility, diversion, tradition, or even theology (in the case of church artifacts), the tables of this age demanded a different kind of attention. After 1848, as Professor De Morgan joked in the preface to his wife's book, "London and Paris were running after tables in a new sense,"4 not to gamble at them but to gambol with them.

Although from an opposing standpoint, Emerson offered a very similar characterization of reason, in relation to which, he argued, spiritualism appeared as an alien, vulgar, destructive, and notably feminine "gypsy principle": The insinuation is that the known eternal laws of morals and of matter are sometimes corrupted or evaded by this gypsy principle, which chooses favorites, and works in the dark for their behalf; as if the laws of the Father of the universe were sometimes balked and eluded by a meddlesome Aunt of the universe for her pets.

46 The spiritualist rejection of faith went beyond orthodox religion, aesthetic privilege, and scientific belief. It was a threat to the very notion of culture, and at just the time when it had become peculiarly vulnerable as a result of middle-class questioning of the traditional liberal arts as the foundation of knowledge and values. It threatened culture by insulting one of the most dramatic developments in nineteenth-century social history: the incipient professionalism of science, medicine, education, and the arts.

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