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Modernism and MagicExperiments with Spiritualism, Theosophy and the Occult$
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Leigh Wilson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780748627691

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748627691.001.0001

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‘But the Facts of Life Persist’: Magic, Experiment and the Problem of Representing the World Otherwise

‘But the Facts of Life Persist’: Magic, Experiment and the Problem of Representing the World Otherwise

Chapter:
(p.22) 1 ‘But the Facts of Life Persist’: Magic, Experiment and the Problem of Representing the World Otherwise
Source:
Modernism and Magic
Author(s):

Leigh Wilson

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748627691.003.0002

The chapter begins with a more detailed consideration of the idea of experiment at the beginning of the twentieth century and considers in particular its relation to contemporary ideas of magic. In anthropology at the time, one of the crucial places for its discussion and definition, magic was considered as error. The chapter argues that this notion of error is crucial in the idea of experiment, and forms one of the bases of its attraction for modernist innovators. The chapter then goes on to think about the political implications of this by considering the debate between Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin and its implications for the practice of mimesis. The final section of the chapter looks at the implications of all this for representation by a consideration of the way that magic marks the place of impasse in Arnold Bennett's work, and a consideration of the important links made between magic and experiment in the editorial writing of Eugene Jolas in transition.

Keywords:   Magic, Experiment, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Arnold Bennett, transition

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