FREE ELECTRONIC LIBRARY - Online materials, documents

Pages:     | 1 |   ...   | 18 | 19 || 21 | 22 |   ...   | 40 |

«Small, Douglas Robert John (2013) Dementia's jester: the Phantasmagoria in metaphor and aesthetics from 1700-1900. PhD thesis. ...»

-- [ Page 20 ] --

Aside from the humorous suggestion that she lit upon ‘phantasmagoria’ out of simple desperation to find something to call the book, Jewsbury’s justification of the title hinges upon one fact: the variety of the two books’ contents. None of Jewsbury’s writings could be convincingly labelled as grotesque, or even fantastical, but they are, as she says ‘multifarious’. The work is an eclectic ‘scrapbook’ assembled from different forms of writing and she presents it to the reader as something self-evidently disconnected. Significantly though, despite the disconnectedness, the individual essays are of a very conventional character; calling the work ‘phantasmagoria’ does not refer to any strange, delirious or wondrous property on the part of the contents. Instead, it is used merely to convey the diversity of the material on offer. Deprived of hypnagogic associations, we can see that the sense of what it is to be phantasmagorical is here almost synonymous with the idea of a collection; specifically, an incongruous, disjointed collection. To refer back to the OED’s definition of phantasmagoria, we can see that this sense of being a collection is an essential part of that definition. (One grotesque or a single spectacle does not a phantasmagoria make.) What is significant is that Jewsbury uses the word phantasmagoria to convey something very similar to what the word ‘curious’ would once have meant: a disconnected, unsystematic assembly of disparate elements. Indeed, in general, the term ‘phantasmagoria’ had come, by the late Romantic period, to occupy the same semantic space once occupied by the culture of curiosity. The aesthetics of the phantasmagoria mirror the aesthetics of curiosity. In its positive sense, the phantasmagorical conveyed a sense of wonder and astonishment. Even as a spectacle of horror, to be phantasmagorical was to be visually arresting and compelling. The phantasmagorical experience was also inherently the experience of a collection. Like

Maria Jane Jewsbury, Phantasmagoria, Vol. 2 (London, 1825), 305-308.

the curious collection, the phantasmagoria was unsystematic. Order and rational formulation would have reduced its power, and so like its curious predecessor it emphasised juxtaposition, variety, scale and oddity. The last of these essential features of the phantasmagorical aesthetic was its air of unreality. This dream-like, intoxicating dimension of the phantasmagoria reiterates the random, lackadaisical progression of the visitor to the curious collection or the dazed observer of the masquerade. Both the curious and the phantasmagorical contain the sense of an altered reality – a fusion of consciousness and dream.

Like the phantasmagoria, the curious aesthetic was an assembly of singularities; it derived its power from the contradiction of normal certainties and conventional systems of knowledge. From its earliest days, the phantasmagoria was understood to symbolise the breakdown of rational certainties and systematic order.

Even in its infancy, as a satiric representation, it was used to show the world as being composed of ridiculous monstrosities and institutionalised falsehood. Later, it seemed to undermine the validity of rational observation and restrained imagination. Where conventional enlightenment discourse held out the promise of universal vision and comprehension, the power to grasp ‘the full scope of a whole epoch of human intellectual development’,77 the phantasmagoria suggested the collapse of a rational, controlling self. This disruptive quality of the phantasmagorical aesthetic can be seen in its subsequent literary incarnations.

Despite all these points of similarity, there is an important difference between the curious and the phantasmagorical that had a significant effect upon how they manifested themselves. The phantasmagoria was, with a very few exceptions, essentially linked with the imaginative. Not only was the phantasmagoria an imaginative, fantastical experience, but as a metaphor it was quickly internalised and came to articulate something about the nature of imagination itself. The phantasmagorical embodied the shadowy quality of dream or nightmare and seemed to exist on the periphery of consciousness. Unlike curiosity, it never existed as a codified set of cultural institutions; in fact it was actively opposed to such codification.

Curiosity culture had, at least nominally, been founded upon the pursuit of scientific investigation and its fashionable offshoots had been derived from what was regarded as a more authentic form of curious activity. Curiosity, despite its unsystematic nature, Stephen Oettermann, The Panorama: History of a Mass Medium, translated by Deborah Lucas Schneider (New York: Zone Books, 1997), 38.

implied the advancement of knowledge. The phantasmagorical, by being internalised, manifested itself as a particular imaginative literary mode, instead of an obvious cultural activity.

As Castle suggests, the creation of the phantasmagorical metaphor produced a compelling new pattern for describing imaginative activity. It gave rise to the notion of an imagination that could not be restrained by the mind’s own rationalising principles; a mind that might suddenly and tyrannically impose delirium upon itself at any time. Critically though, there were those who regarded this kind of unrestrained, bizarre extremity of imagination as something compelling and seductive, something to be deliberately produced and cultivated. Hawthorn had envisioned producing a metaphorical theatre where his imagination could play out its phantasmagorical antics. Others took this concept far further. The subconscious absorption of the phantasmagorical model of the imagination created the preconditions necessary for a phantasmagorical form of literature. Writers transformed their texts into a conceptual space in which they could exhibit the most extreme products of their imaginations: collecting its most bizarre, exotic or alarming creations. The defining feature of this phantasmagorical literature was that it produced a phantasmagorical impression on the mind of the reader, who was immersed in this textual phantasmagoria and exposed to all its spectacle, multiplicity and intoxicating unreality. In this way, the phantasmagoria provides the impetus for the relocation of the curious aesthetic, and much of its associated discourse, into the realm of the imagination. Eighteenth-century writers had produced fictional versions of the curious traveller and collector for the purpose of satire and social critique; later writers produced curiosities because of the seductive appeal of their very strangeness – the phantasmagorical attraction of the curious. By imitating some of its features and altering others, the phantasmagoria led to the reinvention of curiosity as a specific type of imaginative exercise and aesthetic preoccupation.

Of the writers who cultivated this phantasmagorical quality in their work, one of the first and most influential was Edgar Allan Poe. Poe’s use of the phantasmagorical in his works is sometimes very explicit. In ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’, for example, the word is used twice: once near the beginning of the story to describe the ‘phantasmagoric armorial trophies’ that crowd the interior of Usher’s ancestral home,78 and again a few pages later, to characterise one of Usher’s paintings – a ‘Phantasmagoric conception’ that ‘may be shadowed forth, although feebly, in words’.79 In these examples, the phantasmagoria is invoked as a way of suggesting some disturbing, hallucinatory property in the object under consideration. These phantasmagorical things seem to have the power of sapping the narrator’s sense of

reality, contaminating it with the fantastical images of the mind. He describes how:

–  –  –

The ‘phantasmagoric’ nature of the suits of armour and their accoutrements reflects their power to produce these ‘unfamiliar fancies’. Like the spirits in a phantasmagoria, Poe suggests, they form a huge, claustrophobic multitude which, along with the carvings, the oppressive ‘ebon blackness of the floors’ and the ‘sombre tapestries’, seem to crowd in upon the characters, trapping them in a maddening phantasmagorical space. Again, like the illusions produced by the magic lantern, the subtly unreal quality of the House of Usher seems to be transferring itself into the minds of the characters, gradually infusing them with the fear that they have lost the ability to determine what is real and what isn’t. In this context, the narrator’s repetition of ‘while’ becomes especially disturbing, conveying a desperate attempt to temporise, to hold off admitting his awareness of the strange and unfamiliar actions that are occurring in his mind. This may also constitute a darkly punning reference from Poe, since the narrator and Roderick Usher will, for the rest of the story, try purposelessly to ‘while’ away their time until the final deaths of Roderick and Madeline and the subsequent implosion of their ancient home.

Edgar Allan Poe, The Portable Edgar Allan Poe, ed. J. Gerald Kennedy (London: Penguin, 2006), 129.

Poe, The Portable Edgar Allan Poe, 133.

Poe, The Portable Edgar Allan Poe, 129.

Usher’s paintings generate a similar effect, being both indicative of Usher’s own madness and capable of somehow transmitting something of that madness to the observer. Usher’s friend tells us that ‘If ever mortal painted an idea, that mortal was Roderick Usher’; they convey ‘an intensity of intolerable awe’ as well as ‘a vagueness at which I shuddered the more thrillingly, because I shuddered not knowing why’.81 However, there is a more subtly phantasmagorical quality to both the

painting and Usher’s malady. It can be seen most clearly in the details of the painting:

–  –  –

The most immediately disturbing quality of the picture is the nature of the illumination that it depicts. The light itself appears to be almost tangible, to have a physical presence in the subterranean chamber. The preponderance of liquid imagery used to describe it reinforces this: it is a ‘flood’ that ‘rolls’ through the chamber and ‘bathes’ it. Like the phantasmagorical spirit, this light is at once (or, perhaps, neither, such is its confusing and contradictory status) substantial and insubstantial, at once corporeal and ethereal. The light also has no source; it seems to be emitted from the substance of the chamber itself. Like the watery description of the light, this seems to erode the distinction between material and immaterial natures. Usher’s picture illustrates a frightening, hallucinatory vision, in which normal mechanisms of sensation are deranged or have become irrelevant. Like the phantasmagoria, Poe uses Usher’s painting to confront us with a horrible sensory miscegenation – merging the visual with the tactile.

Poe, The Portable Edgar Allan Poe, 133.

Poe, The Portable Edgar Allan Poe, 133.

In addition to this direct referencing of the phantasmagoria, Usher’s own mind is often presented to us in luminous or ethereal terms. The narrator describes how his friend’s ‘excited and highly distempered ideality threw a sulphurous lustre over all’. More disturbingly, when he tries to alleviate the ‘darkness’ in Usher’s mind he discovers that ‘[For him, it was] as if an inherent positive quality poured forth upon all objects of the moral and physical universe, in one unceasing radiation of gloom’.83 Usher’s madness is characterised by phantasmagorical images; this is how Poe describes it to us and how it manifests itself in his painting. These inversions and contradictions – light with an inherent physicality, darkness that radiates like light – represent the mind’s own sense of disorder and contradiction. These luminescent images are echoed in the final storm that engulfs the titular house of the Ushers, in which the clouds themselves seem to glow with their own light, and which the narrator attempts to explain as ‘electrical phenomena’ or as having ‘their ghastly origin in the rank miasma of the tarn’,84 similarly vague and nebulous explanations for vague and nebulous events. Indeed, the narrator’s attempted explanation only serves to highlight the futility of reason when confronted with such obviously maddening occurrences.

Finally, the poem that Usher composes in order allegorically to portray the collapse of his sanity ends on the most explicitly phantasmagorical image of the entire story.

Having portrayed his once sane mind as a green valley ‘by good angels tenanted’,

Usher ends by describing his final descent into madness with the lines:

–  –  –

Poe, The Portable Edgar Allan Poe, 132-133.

Poe, The Portable Edgar Allan Poe, 140.

Poe, The Portable Edgar Allan Poe, 135.

Here the phantasmagoria is literally playing in Usher’s brain as he imagines a ‘hideous throng’ rushing through his mind. Crucially the final verse of the poem, though disturbing, is full of activity and spectacle; it is colourful, full of the phantasmagorical experience, at once intensely visual, multiplicitous and indicative of unreality.

From these details we can see the potently phantasmagorical influences that predominate in ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’. As well as providing a stock of imagery with which to define Roderick Usher’s madness, the story (like many of Poe’s other works) portrays a largely phantasmagorical conception of thought. The influence of the house’s furnishings on the narrator is one instance of this. The ‘unfamiliar fancies’ which they produce are an example of the malleable nature of the mind.

Rather than a firm beacon of rationality, the mind can be moulded and reshaped by its environment; its surroundings have an unaccountable power to impose new forms and thoughts on it. As the story begins and the narrator rides up to the crumbling House of

Usher, he wonders:

–  –  –

Pages:     | 1 |   ...   | 18 | 19 || 21 | 22 |   ...   | 40 |

Similar works:

«UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF RHODE ISLAND ABDUL-GIYATH O. MAYALE–EKE, : Plaintiff, : : v. : CA 10-29 S :MERRILL LYNCH, PIERCE, FENNER : & SMITH, INC., d/b/a BANC OF :AMERICA INVESTMENT SERVICES, : INC., and JASON MISIANO, : Defendants. : REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION David L. Martin, United States Magistrate Judge Before the Court is Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint and Request for Hearing (Docket (“Dkt.”) #8) (“Motion to Dismiss” or...»

«Action on Aid: Steps Toward Making Aid More Effective Homi Kharas∗ Senior Fellow, Wolfensohn Center for Development at Brookings April 2009 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon terms 2009 as a year of a “development emergency.” The World Bank’s Global Monitoring Report 2009 shows that most countries are off-track in meeting most of the MDGs—the most serious gaps appear in sanitation, child and maternal mortality, education, and hunger. The difference between the rate of progress needed to...»

«MANAGING BORROWING AND DEALING WITH DEBT Call for evidence in support of the Consumer Credit and Personal Insolvency Review Managing borrowing and dealing with debt REVIEW OF CONSUMER CREDIT AND PERSONAL INSOLVENCY A CALL FOR EVIDENCE FOREWORD The Coalition Agreement set out the Government’s commitment to the reform of financial services regulation, to curbing unsustainable lending and to the strengthening of consumer protections, particularly for the most vulnerable. This Call for Evidence...»

«MASTER SERVICE LIST – 08-01789 (BRL) NOVEMBER 2013 Government Parties Internal Revenue Service Centralized Insolvency Operation Post Office Box 7346 Philadelphia, PA 19101-7346 U.S. Department of Justice, Tax Division Box 55 Ben Franklin Station Washington, DC 20044 Securities Investor Protection Corporation Kevin Bell Email: kbell@sipc.org Josephine Wang Email: jwang@sipc.org Securities and Exchange Commission Alexander Mircea Vasilescu Email: vasilescua@sec.gov Terri Swanson Email:...»

«A Satisfiability Procedure for Quantified Boolean Formulae David A. Plaisted Computer Science Department, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3175, USA Armin Biere ETH Z¨rich, Computer Systems Institute u 8092 Z¨rich, Switzerland u Yunshan Zhu Advanced Technology Group, Synopsys Inc. Mountain View, CA 94040, USA Abstract We present a satisfiability tester Qsat for quantified Boolean formulae and a restriction QsatCNF of Qsat to unquantified conjunctive normal form...»

«` MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES THE VILLAGE OF CHESTNUT RIDGE AUGUST 20, 2015 The Board of Trustees of the Village of Chestnut Ridge convened in regular session on August 20, 2015 at the Village Hall, located at 277 Old Nyack Turnpike, Chestnut Ridge, NY 10977. PRESENT: ROSARIO PRESTI, JR. MAYOR JOAN BROCK DEPUTY MAYOR GRANT VALENTINE TRUSTEE ABSENT: HOWARD COHEN TRUSTEE PRESENT: WALTER R. SEVASTIAN VILLAGE ATTORNEY FLORENCE A. MANDEL RECORDING SECRETARY   1 1. Pledge of Allegiance. 2....»

«Form 603 Corporations Act 2001 Notice of initial substantial holder Section 671B AJD To:Company Name/Scheme The Secretary Asia Pacific Data Centre Limited Level 4 88 Creek Street Brisbane QLD 4000 PH: (02) 8072 4916 ACN 159 624 585 1. Details of substantial shareholder National Australia Bank Limited and its associated entities listed in Annexure A Name (ACN 004 044 937) ACN (if applicable) The holder became a substantial holder on 04/09/2013 2. Details of voting power The total number of votes...»

«EXCERPTED FROM Governing Africa’s Changing Societies: Dynamics of Reform edited by Ellen M. Lust and Stephen N. Ndegwa Copyright © 2012 ISBN: 978-1-58826-834-1 hc 1800 30th Street, Ste. 314 Boulder, CO 80301 USA telephone 303.444.6684 fax 303.444.0824 This excerpt was downloaded from the Lynne Rienner Publishers website www.rienner.com Contents Acknowledgments vii 1 The Challenges of Governance in Africa’s Changing Societies Ellen M. Lust and Stephen N. Ndegwa 2 The Democracy-Governance...»

«UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549 FORM 10-K/A AMENDMENT NO. 1 ⌧ ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934 For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2015 OR ¨ TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934 For the transition period from to Commission file number: 000-54785 INTEGRITY APPLICATIONS, INC. (Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter) Delaware 98-0668934...»

«MP: An Online Feminist Jounal August 2010: Vol. 3, Issue 1 Perceptions of the Veil: (Un)Veiling the Veiled Muslim Woman By Rahela Nayebzadah Introduction The Muslim veil is an Abstract concept that cannot easily be contained under one meaning. The veil, which is also referred to as “hijab”, is both material and conceptual. As a material object, the veil is a fabric which comes in different forms, depending on the person’s cultural beliefs and practices. Some of the many different types of...»

«ISSN: 2277-5536 (Print); 2277-5641 (Online) The study on relationship among auditor’s tenure period and expertise with information asymmetry Ghasem Mousavi Page | 456 ABSTRACT The present research is mainly intended to analyze relationship among auditor’s tenure period and expertise with information asymmetry. In the previous studies and the existing literature, auditor’s tenure period and auditor’s expertise in industry are assumed as related to quality of auditing and at the same time...»

«SALT LAKE CITY COUNCIL STAFF REPORT _ DATE: February 7, 2006 SUBJECT: Proposed Housing Trust Fund Loan to Jameson Properties for rehabilitation of Stratford Hotel AFFECTED COUNCIL DISTRICTS: District 4 STAFF REPORT BY: Gary Mumford ADMINISTRATIVE DEPT. Housing and Neighborhood Development LuAnn Clark AND CONTACT PERSON: KEY ELEMENTS: On June 29, 2005, a fire displaced residents of the Stratford Hotel apartments located at 175 East 200 South. La Porte Properties is proposing to purchase the...»

<<  HOME   |    CONTACTS
2017 www.thesis.dislib.info - Online materials, documents

Materials of this site are available for review, all rights belong to their respective owners.
If you do not agree with the fact that your material is placed on this site, please, email us, we will within 1-2 business days delete him.