By Daniel Cottom
During this pathbreaking examine, the ancient dating among nineteenth-century spiritualism and twentieth-century surrealism is the root for a normal exam of conflicting hobbies in literature, paintings, philosophy, technology, and different parts of social lifestyles. simply because spiritualism delved into the realm past humanity and surrealism used to be based at the international inside of, the 2 offer a provocative body for reading the struggles inside of sleek tradition. Cottom argues that we needs to conceive of interpretation by way of urgency, hope, fierce rivalry, and impromptu deviation if we wish to know how issues come to undergo that means for us. He demonstrates that even if Victorians keeping seances and surrealists composing manifestoes have been such a lot silly, that they had a lot that was once helpful to assert in regards to the existence (and dying) of cause.
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Extra info for Abyss of Reason: Cultural Movements, Revelations, and Betrayals
Ferguson, that "tables, chairs, crockery, carpets and the like are not to be dosed by doctors, nor converted, nor terrified by clergymen, nor reasoned with by philosophers, nor ridiculed by any body. "56 In responding to the accusation of indignity (as Ferguson was in this passage), one might argue that it was actually the spirits' cleverness to recognize that dignity, especially in its professional form, was an elaborate apparatus designed to delude humanity. It is within this crucial conflict over professionalism that it becomes possible to understand why popular stereotypes so frequently highlighted the association between the believers in spiritualism and socialist, feminist, and abolitionist reform movements.
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.
But in this, in truth, is to be found its real motive. For the common understanding thus finds itself in a situation where not even the most learned can have the advantage of it. If it understands little or nothing about these transcendental conceptions, no one can boast of understanding any more; and although it may not express itself in so scholastically correct a manner as others, it can busy itself with reasoning and arguments without end, wandering among mere ideas, about which one can always be very eloquent, because we know nothing about them; while, in the observation and investigation of nature, it would be forced to remain dumb and to confess its utter ignorance.
Abyss of Reason: Cultural Movements, Revelations, and Betrayals by Daniel Cottom