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Modernism and the Occult John Bramble

Modernism and the Occult

John Bramble

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Kindle Edition
184 pages
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 About the Book 

Building on art-historian Bernard Smiths insights about modernisms debts to the high imperial occult and exotic, this book explores the transcultural, anti-modern vitalist, and magical-syncretic dimensions of the arts of the period 1880-1960.MoreBuilding on art-historian Bernard Smiths insights about modernisms debts to the high imperial occult and exotic, this book explores the transcultural, anti-modern vitalist, and magical-syncretic dimensions of the arts of the period 1880-1960. Avoiding simplistic hypotheses about re-enchantment, it tracks the specifically modernist, not the occult revivalist or proto-New Age, manifestations of the occult-syncretic-exotic conglomerate. The focus is high empire, where the Buddhist Schopenhauer cult and Theosophy, the last aided by Bergson, Nietzsche and neo-Vedanta, brought contrasting decreative-catastrophic and regenerative-utopian notes into the arts. Another instance of the Eastward turn in modernist esotericism, the Fifties Zen vogue is also considered. This is the first overview of what modernists, as opposed to sectarian occultists, actually did with the occult. As such, it reframes the intellectual history of the modernist era, to present the occult/syncretic as an articulative idiom - a resource for making sense of the kaleidoscopic strangeness, fluidity and indeterminacy of modern life.