Started by Erik Weissengruber, July 01, 2010, 09:08:15 AM
Quote from: epweissengruber on July 13, 2010, 01:09:40 PMThe "phantasmagorical" seems to be part of the aesthetic of the authors of 19thc. fiction and retro-Steampunk aesthetics. Some ideas to throw around.http://www.gla.ac.uk/departments/esharp/issues/14winter2009imaginationandinnovation/abstracts/#d.en.138654The aim of this article is to examine a particular type of imaginative vision, one that is specifically 'phantasmagorical' and characterised by rapidly transforming collections of imaginary and fantastic forms. The attraction of the monstrous, the grotesque and the strangely beautiful is at the heart of this phantasmagorical imagination and it produces an aesthetic based on collections of oddities and exotica. However, in different periods this aesthetic is viewed in markedly different ways. This article examines two eras with contrasting views of this same imaginative 'taste' - the eighteenth century and the fin-de-siècle. In the eighteenth century the phantasmagorical aesthetic is tied to the contemporary fashionability of curiosity. From fashionable collections of curiosities and 'curious' travel accounts there evolved an aesthetic based on wonder, peculiarity and spectacle. Contemporary accounts, though, show a tendency to criticise this aesthetic, labelling it as superficial and immoral, an attitude that can be seen clearly in satiric descriptions of collectors or curiosi such as Sir Nicholas Gimcrack in Thomas Shadwell's The Virtuoso. By contrast, fin-de-siècle writers such as Lord Dunsany, Oscar Wilde and J. K. Huysmans liberate the phantasmagorical imagination from the moral dubiousness it possessed during the eighteenth century. These writers have a propensity to celebrate their imaginative strangeness and excesses because of its obvious departure from bland normality. The phantasmagorical imagination is often depicted as an imagination that rebels against the common and the everyday and substitutes a more intense and more vital imaginative experience.