Literary Theory

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

By Daniel Cottom

During this pathbreaking research, the historic courting among nineteenth-century spiritualism and twentieth-century surrealism is the root for a basic exam of conflicting events in literature, artwork, philosophy, technological know-how, and different components of social existence. simply because spiritualism delved into the area past humanity and surrealism used to be based at the international 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, hope, fierce rivalry, and impromptu deviation if we wish to know the way issues come to undergo which means for us. He demonstrates that even if Victorians preserving seances and surrealists composing manifestoes have been so much silly, that they had a lot that was once worthwhile to claim in regards to the lifestyles (and dying) of cause.

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

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Participants in both movements asserted that the world was with them, and still with them no matter how many persons said otherwise, no matter how irrational such movements might seem. To measure the significance of these movements by an intellectual convenience such as "historical context" or "the judgment of history" is then INTRODUCTION 21 to beg the question, for their greatest provocation was to propose that the world of reason, as it was commonly understood, was a construction relevant only to an extremely limited domain of human experience.

Institutions were confounded —church, home, clinic, laboratory, court of law —as angels spoke to humankind, issued information and regulations, blessed sensitive individuals with the power of healing, solicited experiments and testimony, and claimed to represent natural law as surely as Michael Faraday's theory of electromagnetism. Varieties of discourse were promiscuously exchanged: sacred, sentimental, philosophical, conversational, literary, you name it, all tossed higgledy-piggledy together in spiritualists' speeches, tracts, books, and newspapers.

Like others of the romantics, Walter Scott subscribed to reason and yet exploited irrational superstitions to provide his work with the frisson of romance; and as modern spiritualism was making its existence known, George Eliot was treating the supernatural as an entirely historical phenomenon and thus making it the subject of psychological study. As even this cursory inventory should be sufficient to indicate, spiritualism was not upsetting simply because it played fast and loose with traditional conceptions of the supernatural.

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