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The Place of Enchantment: British Occultism…
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The Place of Enchantment: British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern (urspr publ 2004; utgåvan 2004)

av Alex Owen (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
921223,196 (4.5)3
By the end of the nineteenth century, Victorians were seeking rational explanations for the world in which they lived. The radical ideas of Charles Darwin had shaken traditional religious beliefs. Sigmund Freud was developing his innovative models of the conscious and unconscious mind. And anthropologist James George Frazer was subjecting magic, myth, and ritual to systematic inquiry. Why, then, in this quintessentially modern moment, did late-Victorian and Edwardian men and women become absorbed by metaphysical quests, heterodox spiritual encounters, and occult experimentation? In answering this question for the first time, The Place of Enchantment breaks new ground in its consideration of the role of occultism in British culture prior to World War I. Rescuing occultism from its status as an "irrational indulgence" and situating it at the center of British intellectual life, Owen argues that an involvement with the occult was a leitmotif of the intellectual avant-garde. Carefully placing a serious engagement with esotericism squarely alongside revolutionary understandings of rationality and consciousness, Owen demonstrates how a newly psychologized magic operated in conjunction with the developing patterns of modern life. She details such fascinating examples of occult practice as the sex magic of Aleister Crowley, the pharmacological experimentation of W. B. Yeats, and complex forms of astral clairvoyance as taught in secret and hierarchical magical societies like the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Through a remarkable blend of theoretical discussion and intellectual history, Owen has produced a work that moves far beyond a consideration of occultists and their world. Bearing directly on our understanding of modernity, her conclusions will force us to rethink the place of the irrational in modern culture. "An intelligent, well-argued and richly detailed work of cultural history that offers a substantial contribution to our understanding of Britain."--Nick Freeman, Washington Times … (mer)
Medlem:mandojoe
Titel:The Place of Enchantment: British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern
Författare:Alex Owen (Författare)
Info:University Of Chicago Press (2004), 355 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:
Taggar:Occult Britain History

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The Place of Enchantment: British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern av Alex Owen (2004)

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Alex Owen's overarching theory in The Place of Enchantment is that late 19th and early 20th-century occultism was not a reaction against modernity, but was in fact both a symptom of and a contributor to the process of articulating modern subjectivity. The early sections of the book, though rather dry, are sensible and persuasive.

The book is structured, however, to culminate with an account of Aleister Crowley and Victor Neuburg as a case study. Owen's conclusion about Crowley's work in the Algerian desert (which he documented in The Vision & the Voice) is that he "failed" in his bid for mystical attainment. She cavalierly dismisses his later achievements, and applies a distinctly reductionist psychoanalytic "reading" to Crowley's magick. Nor are these judgments original. She could have cribbed their essence from Crowley's hostile biographer John Symonds.

The book's conclusion, like its beginning, provides a narrative of cultural history that is basically well-considered. Her decision to use Crowley as a case study is a curious one in light of her larger thesis, but I believe that it has paid dividends (literally) in giving her book a market among Thelemic occultists.
3 rösta paradoxosalpha | Mar 21, 2010 |
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By the end of the nineteenth century, Victorians were seeking rational explanations for the world in which they lived. The radical ideas of Charles Darwin had shaken traditional religious beliefs. Sigmund Freud was developing his innovative models of the conscious and unconscious mind. And anthropologist James George Frazer was subjecting magic, myth, and ritual to systematic inquiry. Why, then, in this quintessentially modern moment, did late-Victorian and Edwardian men and women become absorbed by metaphysical quests, heterodox spiritual encounters, and occult experimentation? In answering this question for the first time, The Place of Enchantment breaks new ground in its consideration of the role of occultism in British culture prior to World War I. Rescuing occultism from its status as an "irrational indulgence" and situating it at the center of British intellectual life, Owen argues that an involvement with the occult was a leitmotif of the intellectual avant-garde. Carefully placing a serious engagement with esotericism squarely alongside revolutionary understandings of rationality and consciousness, Owen demonstrates how a newly psychologized magic operated in conjunction with the developing patterns of modern life. She details such fascinating examples of occult practice as the sex magic of Aleister Crowley, the pharmacological experimentation of W. B. Yeats, and complex forms of astral clairvoyance as taught in secret and hierarchical magical societies like the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Through a remarkable blend of theoretical discussion and intellectual history, Owen has produced a work that moves far beyond a consideration of occultists and their world. Bearing directly on our understanding of modernity, her conclusions will force us to rethink the place of the irrational in modern culture. "An intelligent, well-argued and richly detailed work of cultural history that offers a substantial contribution to our understanding of Britain."--Nick Freeman, Washington Times

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