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

By Daniel Cottom

During this pathbreaking learn, the ancient courting among nineteenth-century spiritualism and twentieth-century surrealism is the foundation for a common exam of conflicting events in literature, artwork, philosophy, technology, and different components of social lifestyles. simply because spiritualism delved into the area past humanity and surrealism was once based at the global inside of, the 2 offer a provocative body for analyzing the struggles inside smooth tradition. Cottom argues that we needs to conceive of interpretation when it comes to urgency, hope, fierce competition, and impromptu deviation if we wish to know how issues come to endure which means for us. He demonstrates that even if Victorians conserving seances and surrealists composing manifestoes have been so much silly, they'd a lot that used to be worthy to claim in regards to the existence (and loss of life) of cause.

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

Sample text

They speak of the 'existence' of external objects," he wrote, which can be more precisely characterized as actual, absolutely particular, wholly personal, individual things, each of them not like anything or anyone else; this is the existence which they say has absolute certainty and truth. They "mean" this bit of paper I am writing on, or rather have written on: but they do not say what they "mean". e. to what is inherently universal. In the very attempt to say it, it would, therefore, crumble in their hands; those who [had] begun to describe it would not be able to finish doing so: they would have to hand it over to others, who would themselves in the last resort have to confess to speaking about a thing that has no being.

Everyday things become the ultimate texts, texts of the ultimate. "39 It might seem paradoxical, then, that outsiders and opponents were wont to seize on the freakishness of spiritualist manifestations: all those speaking tables, writings appearing out of nowhere, bodies possessed by ghostly controls, turtles and freshly cut flowers dropping into locked rooms, departed spirits tugging on gentlemen's trousers. These critics laughed, however, only because the manifestations were not marvelous enough.

It would show the meaning reason could not bear: the meaning of its own social existence and power. To be sure, many people simply concentrated on unmasking spiritualist fraud or, like G. H. 67 The general insistence on the unbearable indignity of the movement, however, indicates that the organization of meaning was an issue more important than the question of how far the phenomena were genuine. Although on one occasion he devised a test to unmask Mrs. Hayden, even Lewes did not really concern himself with the question of truth or falsity: he simply pointed out that proper evidence and scientific procedure were wanting.

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