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By Paul Gilmore

Aesthetic Materialism: electrical energy and American Romanticism specializes in American romantic writers' makes an attempt to theorize aesthetic adventure during the language of electrical energy. according to medical and technological advancements, so much significantly the telegraph, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century electric imagery mirrored the mysterious workings of the actual brain in addition to the doubtful, occasionally stunning connections among participants. Writers similar to Whitman, Melville, and Douglass drew on pictures of electrical energy and telegraphy to explain literature either because the made of particular monetary and social stipulations and as a method of transcending the person decided by means of such stipulations. Aesthetic Materialism strikes among historic and cultural research and shut textual studying, not easy readers to work out American literature as immediately formal and old and as a manufactured from either aesthetic and fabric adventure.

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Extra resources for Aesthetic Materialism: Electricity and American Romanticism

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In this context, Peabody’s contention that the aesthetic “sinks and subordinates the observer to the object,—which, by putting my personality aside, enables me to see the object in pure uncolored light” reflects rather than contradicts Kant’s definition. Because one’s personality—individual interests, particular needs or desires—seems not to play a role in aesthetic judgment, the object, purely in itself, seems to cause our reactions, despite the fact that they are subjective. As Robert Kaufman has argued, for Kant the aesthetic judgment does not lead to universally applicable values, but rather individuals experiencing the beautiful feel as though the object conjuring such feelings must be beautiful for all because they see no personal, self-interested causes for their pleasure.

In its intense focus on the sensuous perception of the object itself, the aesthetic momentarily interrupts both the dominant sense of the self as interested and autonomous and an instrumentalized orientation towards the world. ”22 The most compelling attempts at revitalizing aesthetics have understood aesthetics in these terms, but have tended to move, too quickly, it seems to me, towards reading aesthetics as constituting a progressive politics focused on indeterminacy. 23 Even in its recognition of the contingency of experience and identity, of the ambivalence of representation, the aesthetic experience’s political effects—or even its tendencies—remain indeterminate.

Taylor’s The Useful and the Beautiful (1844), an otherwise unnoteworthy pamphlet that exemplifies how these various lines of thinking—Coleridge’s romantic idealism, Morse’s republicanism, American techno-utopianism, and spiritualism—could come together. What is finally at work in this disparate group is an attempt to delimit the material indeterminacy of aesthetic experience by conjoining it to a specific ideology. As such, this chapter describes a tendency to codify the step from the initial aesthetic experience to its social moment by using electricity, its laws, and its technological uses to universalize the terms, the conditions, and effects, of such experience.

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