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By David L Martin

Rembrandt's well-known portray of an anatomy lesson, the shrunken head of an Australian indigenous chief, an aerial view of Paris from a balloon: all are home windows to attraction, curiosities that light up whatever shadowy and forgotten lurking at the back of the neat facade of a rational international. In Curious Visions of Modernity, David Martin unpacks a set of artifacts from the visible and historic files of modernity, discovering in every one a slippage of medical rationality--a repressed heterogeneity in the homogenized buildings of post-Enlightenment wisdom. In doing so, he exposes modernity and its visible tradition as haunted by means of accurately these issues that rationality sought to expunge from the "enlightened" international: appeal, magic, and wonderment. Martin lines the genealogies of what he considers 3 of the main targeted and traditionally instant fields of recent visible tradition: the gathering, the physique, and the mapping of areas. In a story comparable to the many-drawered interest cupboards of the Renaissance instead of the locked glass circumstances of the fashionable museum, he exhibits us a international renewed during the act of accumulating the wondrous and aberrant gadgets of production; tortured and damaged flesh emerging from the dissecting tables of anatomy theaters to stalk the discourses of scientific wisdom; and the spilling forth of a pictorializing geometry from the gilt frames of Renaissance panel work to venerate a panoptic god. Accounting for the visible disenchantment of modernity, Martin deals a curious imaginative and prescient of its reenchantment.

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Additional info for Curious visions of modernity : enchantment, magic, and the sacred

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CURIOSITY, Eagerness, desire, anxiousness to see, learn, posses rare, singular, new things. … Inquisitiveness (curiosité impertinente), foolish curiosity (curiosité). Forbidden curiosity (curiosité). He has very little curiosity (curiosité ). Too much curiosity (curiosité ). … In particular, it is used for an over-zealousness to know the secrets and affairs of others. He is such a busybody (sa curiosité le porte à ) that he opens every letter that he comes across. 72 While the initial meaning of the term “curious” barely differs between these two accounts, note the way that Furetière’s understanding of the term extends to the nature of certain objects deemed not only rare but possessed of “secret” properties.

29 The implicit logic here is that the “curiosity” of the Renaissance can be “known” to us today, merely through the assemblage of physical objects in an arrangement lacking in modern taxonomic hierarchies. ”30 To suggest this was to proceed from the belief that the collection of material objects has remained much the same in meaning and significance throughout the last four centuries. Further instances of this projection can be found in the seamless mapping of Quiccheberg’s sixteenth-century Inscriptiones onto the modern university’s material collections, or Camillo’s theatrum mundi onto the Internet itself.

Furetière: Collection 29 CURIOUS, He who wishes to know and learn everything. Every man is curious (curieux) to know his own fate. … The rarities which are collected or remarked by the enthusiast (curieux) are also described as curiosities (curieux), that is, rare, or contain many singular things, unknown to many. The secret is curious (curieux). This experiment, this comment, is curious (curieux). This man’s museum is most curious (curieux ), full of curiosities (choses curieuses). The curious sciences (sciences curieuses) are those which are known only to a few, and have particular secrets, such as Chemistry, and a part of Optics, where extraordinary sights are produced by means of mirrors and glasses; also several sciences, said to reveal the future, such as Astrology, Chiromancy, Geomancy and even Cabbala, Magic, etc.

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