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Make It New: The Rise of Modernism
Invisible Worlds

X-rays were discovered by Wilhelm Röntgen in 1895. Five years later, Sigmund Freud claimed that dreams " are not meaningless, they are not absurd, they] are psychical phenomena of complete validity -- fulfillments of wishes." X-rays show bones and organs, but dreams indicate the material presence of another invisible world -- the libido. It was these invisible worlds -- of desire, of corporeal mystery -- which stream-of-consciousness writing was intended to recover even as airy, almost skeletal structures of steel like the new Eiffel Tower were used to send and receive wireless messages passing invisibly in the air.

In scientific terms, there was a search for a fourth dimension to physical materiality, even as various kinds of spiritualism pursued another realm outside dimensionality altogether. Others sought a reality on top of the reality in which we think we live, a surreal world where the unconscious could be tapped in waking life as it was dreamed in sleeping life.

The physical worlds of inner and outer space, the conjunctions of space and matter, space and time, proved far more complex than anyone had ever imagined.

Section 3 addresses such topics as:

Electricity and X-rays
Ether, the Fourth Dimension, and Relativity
The Spirit World
Memory and Consciousness
          Marcel Proust
          James Joyce
          Dorothy Richardson
Abstraction and Objectivism
          Paul Strand
          Marsden Hartley
Surrealism

 

 
 

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