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William Redwood

This chapter summarises the darkest and deepest parts of the author’s PhD research into contemporary esoteric cosmology. Although this universe owes much to Christianity, it draws heavily on youth subcultures, Romanticism, popular science and various literary and cinematic genres. The result is a quite unique spiritual topography. A map of such a landscape will be sketched, both this-worldly and other-worldly, and particular attention will be paid to a lower, demonic dimension, which is crucial to all esoteric practices, but especially the darker ones. The argument then moves beyond the descriptive level and works to establish the following points. First, on the level of religious theory, despite its monstrous dimension’s infernal origins in Christian constructs of hell, esotericism actually gives us an example of a ‘cosmorphological’ rather than ‘world religion’ type. However, the lower realms we are presented with are also unlike traditional underworlds in several important respects. Second, on a more general theoretical level, this analysis of the monstrous shows that structuralism can still be surprisingly useful, even while we have to work our way beyond it. Third, on a practical level, the stigmatisation of the occult community can be at least partially explained if the monstrous aspects of its cosmology and aesthetics are examined and read properly - we can see monstrous identities which critics have tended to misunderstand. Finally, after such an analysis, Western esotericism can be seen for what it is - a predictable product of contemporary culture.

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William Gleeson

Abstract The American Civil War was the first conflict to be massively documented by photographs. Yet, this visual record is by no means comprehensive especially since the war was mostly photographed from a Northern perspective. Apart from the near absence of images of the Confederacy, other absences haunt the photographs and invite reflection: the physical absence of the living bodies, sometimes the complete absence of human bodies leaving only the scarred landscape left by war, and above all the absence of sound. This chapter ponders the difficulty of conveying the sounds of war in photography and seeks to discover in these inherently silent images the brutal indiscriminate noises engendered by the Civil War. This also involves analysing the gradual alteration of war sounds by the widening temporal distance between the photographs and their audiences.

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William Rasch

Abstract

This essay problematizes the strong normative underpinnings of Jonathan Israel’s Radical-Enlightenment-project by focusing on his treatment of war. When examining the history of European warfare, basic distinctions – war/peace, absolutism/democracy, standing armies/peoples’ militias, Enlightenment/anti-Enlightenment – can be surprisingly deceptive. One often finds desired outcomes in undesired places. In contrast, Jonathan Israel’s desire to see eighteenth-century warfare in terms of its Enlightenment critics produces distortions of the historical record, as does ignoring the long-term legacy of democratic, French Revolutionary warfare. This study aims to remind us of some of the well-known counterintuitive developments in European military history and international law, not least the positive effects of viewing war as a legitimate and legal part of international affairs rather than a crime. Paradoxically, to be ‘against perpetual peace’ does more for the limitation of war’s damage than does its opposite.

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William C. Wees

Abstract

Light has attracted the interest of philosophers, theologians and artists for centuries, and since the 1920s has played an important role in the aesthetics of avant-garde film. Following in the tradition of ‘color organs’ and other instruments designed to ‘play’ compositions of light and color, some avant-garde filmmakers have expanded the treatment of light in film beyond modernist concerns with the specificity of the medium. At the same time, as illustrated in films by Jim Davis, Stan Brakhage and Jordan Belson, cinema offers a unique means of creative light-play that cannot be duplicated in digital media, leaving open the question of whether – or how – the philosophical-theological-aesthetic significance of light can survive in avant-garde digital art.

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William S. Brockman

Newspapers, pamphlets, handbills and other printed ephemera pervade Joyce’s letters as well as his works of fiction. He subscribed to Irish newspapers and to newspaper clipping services. As Joyce’s works were published, he became increasingly attuned to press coverage, either keeping stories clipped from the newspapers or sending them as enclosures in his letters. One of his main means of communication with supporters was via clippings. Of interest here is Joyce’s use of the newspaper after it had served its function as carrier of the latest information. Examples of clippings sent to Ezra Pound and to Harriet Weaver document his fascination with the treatment he was receiving in the press and his ability to turn the press’s interest in him to his advantage. In his works, a newspaper clipping forms part of the opening scene of “A Painful Case”, three clippings are enumerated in the “Ithaca” episode of Ulysses and remnants of press notices appear in Finnegans Wake. Clippings form part of the multitude of cultural references that permeate Joyce’s works. Extracting them from their original sources, Joyce puts them to a variety of uses and offers them to be viewed from multiple perspectives.