By Daniel Cottom
During this pathbreaking examine, the ancient courting among nineteenth-century spiritualism and twentieth-century surrealism is the root for a common exam of conflicting routine in literature, artwork, 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 global inside of, the 2 offer a provocative body for reading the struggles inside smooth tradition. Cottom argues that we needs to conceive of interpretation when it comes to urgency, wish, fierce competition, and impromptu deviation if we wish to know the way issues come to endure that means for us. He demonstrates that even if Victorians keeping seances and surrealists composing manifestoes have been so much silly, that they had a lot that used to be necessary to assert concerning the existence (and demise) of cause.
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Extra info for Abyss of Reason: Cultural Movements, Revelations, and Betrayals
In this respect, although the parallel is by no means exact, one might compare this treatment of spiritualism to the reception given Gustave Courbet's art at about the same time. Courbet, too, was often castigated for the supposed vulgarity of his work, which, like the claims of the spiritualists, was deliberately fashioned to oppose established notions of propriety. And just as many spiritualists saw their faith as part of a general movement of reform, so did Courbet conceive of his art in terms of socialist beliefs.
However, the new impetus toward professionalism, as it was coupled with an increasing demand for widespread and scientifically grounded systems of education, gave this complaint about exclusionary practices a focus that was at once more specific and more wideranging in its application. 50 Both recognized that modern spiritualism challenged the very organization of meaning in modern life, which was coming to be determined by the relations between a nation's system of education and its other institutions.
The issue was the power of meaning. What "spirits" would be allowed to have meaning and what would their designated media be in this modern age, when the spirits of science, of reason, of progress, and of various other agencies were accepted with much less controversy than the spirits of the dead? "61 To scientists' demands for competent and expert witnesses, though, spiritualists responded with demands for the recognition of the respectability of their witnesses. Of Faraday's critical letter on this subject to the Times, Elizabeth Barrett Browning commented that it simply ignored the facts — a contention that is unassailable, as Katherine H.