Phantasmagoria: Spirit Visions, Metaphors, and Media Into the Twenty-first Century

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Oxford University Press, 2006 - Body, Mind & Spirit - 469 pages
10 Reviews
Phantasmagoria explores ideas of spirit and soul since the Enlightenment; it traces metaphors that have traditionally conveyed the presence of immaterial forces, and reveals how such pagan and Christian imagery about ethereal beings are embedded in a logic of the imagination, clothing spirits in the languages of air, clouds, light and shadow, glass, and ether itself. Moving from Wax to Film, the book also discusses key questions of imagination and cognition, and probes the perceived distinctions between fantasy and deception; it uncovers a host of spirit forms - angels, ghosts, fairies, revenants, and zombies - that are still actively present in contemporary culture. It reveals how their transformations over time illuminate changing idea about the self. Phantasmagoria also tells the accompanying story about the means used to communicate such ideas, and relates how the new technologies of the Victorian era were applied to figuring the invisible and the impalpable, and how magic lanterns (the phantasmagoria shows themselves), radio, photography and then moving pictures spread ideas about spirit forces. As the story unfolds, the book features the many eminent men and women - scientists and philosophers - who in the Society of Psychical Research applied their considerable energies to the question of other worlds and other states of mind: they staged trance seances in which mediums produced spirit phenomena, including ectoplasm. The book shows how this often embarrassing story connects with some of the important scientific discoveries of a fertile age, in psychology and physics. Over a sequence of twenty-eight chapters, with over thirty illustrations in colour and black and white, Phantasmagoria thus tells an unexpected and often uncomfortable story about shifts in thought about consciousness and the individual person, from the first public waxworks portraits at the end of the eighteenth century to stories of hauntings, possession, and loss of self asin the case of the zombie, a popular figure of soulessness, in modern times.
  

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Review: Phantasmagoria: Spirit Visions, Metaphors, and Media Into the Twenty-First Century

User Review  - Autumn - Goodreads

This book is brilliant, but VERY DENSE. I need to come back to it when I can concentrate. Read full review

Review: Phantasmagoria: Spirit Visions, Metaphors, and Media Into the Twenty-First Century

User Review  - Goodreads

This book is brilliant, but VERY DENSE. I need to come back to it when I can concentrate. Read full review

Contents

Prologue
xx
The Logic of the Imaginary
8
Wax
20
Living Likenesses Death Masks
22
Anatomies and Heroes Madame Tussauds
30
On the Threshold Sleeping Beauties
46
Air
58
The Breath of Life
60
The Camera Steals the Soul
188
Ghost
202
Stay This Moment Julia Margaret Cameron and Charles Dodgson
204
Spectral Rappers Psychic Photographers
220
Phantoms to the Test The Society for Psychical Research
236
Ether
250
Soul Vibrations or The Fluidic Invisible
252
Time Travel and Other Selves
264

Winged Spirits and Sweet Airs
70
Clouds
80
Clouds of Glory
82
Fata Morgana or Castles in the Air
94
Very Like a Whale
104
Light
118
The Eye of the Imagination
120
Fancys Images Insubstantial Pageants
130
Shadow
144
Darkness Visible The Phantasmagoria
146
The Origin of Painting or The Corinthian Maid
158
Mirror
166
The Danger in the Mirror
168
Double Vision
178
Exotic Visitors Multiple Lives
276
Ectoplasm
284
Touching the Unknown
286
Materializing Mediums
298
The Rorschach Test or Dirty Pictures
308
Film
316
Nice Life an Extras
318
Disembodied Eyes The Culture of Apocalypse
334
Our Zombies Our Selves
356
Conclusion
370
Notes
381
Bibliography
422
Index
452
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Marina Warner's studies of mythology and fairy tales include Monuments and Maidens: The Allegory of the Female Form (l985), and No Go the Bogeyman: Scaring, Lulling and Making Mock (1998, winner of the Rosemary Crawshay Prize). Fantastic Metamorphoses, Other Worlds (Clarendon Lectures), was published in 2002, and her essays on literature and culture are collected in Signs and Wonders. Her novels include In a Dark Wood (l977) and The Lost Father (l988), which was short-listed for the Booker Prize and won a Commonwealth Writer's Prize. She has also published two collections of short stories. She was created Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French in 2002, and Commendatore by the Italians in 2005. She was awarded the Warburg Prize in Germany in 2004, and is an Honorary Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford and a Visiting Professor at St. Andrew's University, Scotland. She is Professor of Literature at the University of Essex. In 2005 she was elected a Fellowof the British Academy.

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