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 to draw on technological know-how because the fundamental discourse of modernity, or as an try and draw on a hidden background of rules, Leigh Wilson argues that those discourses have at their middle a paranormal perform which remakes the connection among international and illustration. As Wilson demonstrates, the classes of the occult are in keeping 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 classy and political implications of this dating within the paintings of these writers, artists and filmmakers who have been so much self-consciously experimental, together with James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Dziga Vertov and Sergei M. Eisenstein.
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Additional resources for Modernism and Magic: Experiments with Spiritualism, Theosophy and the Occult (Edinburgh Critical Studies in Modernist Culture)
Jolas’s distancing of himself and his magazine from formal politics can be seen in this light. It is not politics which can remake the world, it is poetry, because only poetry can remake the world magically. Poetry, a term used by Jolas to mean any art which powerfully recreates the world rather than just reproducing ‘the photography of events’ (p. 178), is inherently magical. As he argued in a later article: The poet passes from the natural order of things into the supernatural.
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. Thus, its fundamental conception is identical with that of modern science; underlying the whole system is a faith, implicit but real and firm, in the order and uniformity of nature.
For Adorno, as for Tylor, magic’s central characteristic is error. While magic may point to crises in capitalism, it misreads them. If it no longer misread them, it would not be magic. The twin danger of magic and positivism is, of course, precisely that which Adorno warns Walter Benjamin against in their important exchange of letters in the second half of the 1930s. These letters contain issues central to debates about the relation between capitalism, aesthetic form and Marxist critique. The general consensus since has been that Adorno won that particular argument (see Adorno et al.
Modernism and Magic: Experiments with Spiritualism, Theosophy and the Occult (Edinburgh Critical Studies in Modernist Culture) by Leigh Wilson