Modern Enchantment and the Consciousness of Self

in The Place of Enchantment

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2004 | ISBN: 9780226642017
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226642031 | DOI:
Modern Enchantment and the Consciousness of Self

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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Occultism as it was developed at the turn of the century was deeply involved in an elaboration of self that worked to reconcile the secular and spiritual, just as the occult goal of perfect self-realization was construed in social as well as spiritual terms. Certainly fin-de-siècle occultism was centrally concerned with a renegotiation of self that sought an accommodation with a unifying and transcendental spirituality even as it underscored the self's multiplicity and contingency. For all the continuities and discontinuities in the catalog of international Modernist production, Modernism is usually taken to be typified by “a new consciousness, a fresh condition of the human mind.” Occultists repudiated the notion of a transcendent godhead existing beyond the forces of nature, preferring instead the formulation of the supernatural as “a state of consciousness.” In proposing the immanence of the self-referential subject, the occult articulated a unique expression of both the modern drive for “self-realization” and a contemporary impulse towards spirituality.

Keywords: Occultism; fin-desiècle; transcendental spirituality; Modernism; self-realization

Chapter.  15514 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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