Coming together and taking shape
in Instead of modernity
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In the first of the moods, we imagine the possibility of an intimate encounter, a coming together beyond absence and ironisation. We explore that possibility by bringing together apparently diverse aspects of mid-nineteenth-century culture. In the first section of the chapter – Coming together parts 1 and 2, with interlude – we imagine a kind of triptych with a slim middle panel, exploring intimacy across the depths of time and the stretches of place, and between sign and referent. We move from two gauchos outside Buenos Aires recounting the story of Gounod’s opera Faust, to a visual fantasia on the same opera by the painter Fortuny in Spain, through to Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy and its consideration of Greek gods and the arts. The chapter evokes the possibility of what it calls an intimate culture, and considers what this might involve for good or ill. In the second section – Taking shape – we explore how the adoption of forms can enable intimate communication across place and time. Here we bring together nineteenth-century performance, the role of the occult and hypnotism, the pervasive concern with descriptive geometry, the relatively new art of photography, and the supposed uncanny, passing through images of intensifying infrastructure, actors and historical figures, and culminating in a consideration of a version of Poe’s Valdemar and of the photographic representation of Velázquez’s Las Meninas.

Instead of modernity

The Western canon and the incorporation of the Hispanic (c. 1850–75)


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