Modernism and Magic: Experiments with Spiritualism, by Leigh Wilson

By Leigh Wilson

This examine provides a brand new account of the relation among modernism and occult discourses. whereas modernism’s engagement with the occult has been approached through critics because the results of a lack of religion in illustration, an try and draw on technology because the basic discourse of modernity, or as an try to draw on a hidden heritage of principles, Leigh Wilson argues that those discourses have at their center a mystical perform which remakes the connection among international and illustration. As Wilson demonstrates, the classes of the occult are in accordance with a paranormal mimesis which transforms the character of the reproduction, from inert to very important, from useless to alive, from static to lively, from powerless to powerful.

Wilson explores the cultured and political implications of this courting within the paintings of these writers, artists and filmmakers who have been such a lot self-consciously experimental, together with James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Dziga Vertov and Sergei M. Eisenstein.

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Modernism and Magic: Experiments with Spiritualism, Theosophy and the Occult (Edinburgh Critical Studies in Modernist Culture)

This examine provides a brand new account of the relation among modernism and occult discourses. whereas modernism’s engagement with the occult has been approached via critics because the results of a lack of religion in illustration, an try to draw on technological know-how because the fundamental discourse of modernity, or as an try to draw on a hidden heritage of principles, Leigh Wilson argues that those discourses have at their middle a mystical perform which remakes the connection among international and illustration.

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Extra resources for Modernism and Magic: Experiments with Spiritualism, Theosophy and the Occult (Edinburgh Critical Studies in Modernist Culture)

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If magic were not in error, if it were truth, as Tylor states in the epigraph to this chapter, it would no longer be magic. Magic and error are synonymous. Magic is a description of error. For both Adorno and anthropology magic is necessary in order to clearly distinguish between truth and error. For anthropology, the matter of the world is made safe, is made useable for its categorising drive by seeing as erroneous any suggestion that such matter be itself an agent. ) but in dialectical materialist analysis.

The effects of his work prove that such ethnological facts are: real, and vital, and have to be accounted for. It is not too much to say that a perceptible movement of public opinion has here justified the belief that the English mind, not readily swayed by rhetoric, moves freely under the pressure of facts. (Tylor 1920: viii) Here, facts have their own vitality; what they produce precisely are the very effects at a distance that are attributed to magical thinking. At the same time, as we have seen, what distinguishes the scientific method, within which Tylor wishes to situate anthropology, from magic is the nature of experiment, in which objects/facts are subject to the penetrating gaze of the detached observer, but not to an internal animating force.

B. Tylor argues in his Primitive Culture, first published in 1871 and running to six editions by 1920: ‘Had occult science been simply framed for purposes of deception, mere nonsense would have answered the purpose, whereas, what we find is an elaborate and systematic pseudo-science’ (Tylor 1920: 134). indd 23 23/10/2012 14:37 MODERNISM AND MAGIC too, in The Golden Bough, sees magic as a structure of thinking, as science is a structure of thinking; not only that, but magic and science, unlike religion, are concerned with a systematic investigation of the matter of the world: Wherever sympathetic magic occurs in its pure unadulterated form, it assumes that in nature one event follows another necessarily and invariably without the intervention of any spiritual or personal agency.

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