By David L Martin

ISBN-10: 0262016060

ISBN-13: 9780262016063

Rembrandt's well-known portray of an anatomy lesson, the shrunken head of an Australian indigenous chief, an aerial view of Paris from a balloon: all are home windows to appeal, curiosities that remove darkness from whatever shadowy and forgotten lurking in the back of the neat facade of a rational international. In Curious Visions of Modernity, David Martin unpacks a set of artifacts from the visible and historic documents of modernity, discovering in every one a slippage of medical rationality--a repressed heterogeneity in the homogenized constructions of post-Enlightenment wisdom. In doing so, he exposes modernity and its visible tradition as haunted via accurately these issues that rationality sought to expunge from the "enlightened" global: attraction, magic, and wonderment. Martin lines the genealogies of what he considers 3 of the main exact and traditionally speedy fields of contemporary visible tradition: the gathering, the physique, and the mapping of areas. In a story similar to the many-drawered interest cupboards of the Renaissance instead of the locked glass instances of the fashionable museum, he indicates us a international renewed in the course of the act of gathering the wondrous and aberrant gadgets of construction; tortured and damaged flesh emerging from the dissecting tables of anatomy theaters to stalk the discourses of clinical wisdom; and the spilling forth of a pictorializing geometry from the gilt frames of Renaissance panel work to venerate a panoptic god. Accounting for the visible disenchantment of modernity, Martin deals a curious imaginative and prescient of its reenchantment.

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Enchantment comes to be defined as an absence: the absence of the modern. We can see this logic at work even in the “Microcosms” exhibition, where the re-creation of a curiosity cabinet was inseparable from the apparatus of the modern museum that was seen as its necessary counterpart. In spite of its nuanced understanding of how the Renaissance notions of similitude and resemblance could disrupt the neat modern divisions between natural and artificial, living and dead, being and representation, or genuine and authentic, “Microcosms” equally denied the veracity of such Renaissance modes of knowledge production and ordering as being anything other than the absence of modern taxonomies.

However, the “completeness” of the medieval church as a discursive site for the production of pious subjectivities in commune with the sacred does seem to sit in sharp contrast to the multiplicity of registers at work in Clearwater. Rather than being a site of wonderment, or even transgression, the “goings-on” in the parking lot of the Seminole Finance Corporation represent the simultaneous erasure of the heterogeneous and the sacred, as well as what appears to be a longing for a lost past, replete with such wonderment.

CURIOSITY, Eagerness, desire, anxiousness to see, learn, posses rare, singular, new things. … Inquisitiveness (curiosité impertinente), foolish curiosity (curiosité). Forbidden curiosity (curiosité). He has very little curiosity (curiosité ). Too much curiosity (curiosité ). … In particular, it is used for an over-zealousness to know the secrets and affairs of others. He is such a busybody (sa curiosité le porte à ) that he opens every letter that he comes across. 72 While the initial meaning of the term “curious” barely differs between these two accounts, note the way that Furetière’s understanding of the term extends to the nature of certain objects deemed not only rare but possessed of “secret” properties.

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Curious Visions of Modernity: Enchantment, Magic, and the Sacred by David L Martin

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