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Extra info for Aesthetic materialism : electricity and American romanticism
While Coleridge’s romantic electricity illustrated an eternal law of structure and opposition that should be replicated in a traditional hierarchical society, spiritualists’ more sentimentalized telegraph revealed a vast egalitarian spiritual union. In both cases, however, the individual experiences of historical forces, social stratification, and lived bodily (sensuous, aesthetic) existence were sublimated in favor of the universal truth they suggested—either the universal law governing all relations or the reduction of human life and differences to a spiritual equality.
Extends itself not this way or that way only, but in all directions, [and] will . . be the means, under God, of extirpating all error and prejudice, and of putting an end to all undue and usurped authority. . ”14 As historian James Delbourgo century—to reincorporate ideas of free will and Christian theology with an emphasis on a mechanically determined physical world. Accounting for the intersection between a physical world and a spiritual realm—between mechanistic determinism and free choice—associationists frequently turned to electricity.
Soon thereafter, “the detestable maxims and correspondent measures of the late French despotism had already bedimmed the public recollections of democratic phrensy; had drawn off to other objects the electric force of the feelings which had massed and upheld those recollections; and that a favorable concurrence of occasions was alone wanting to awaken the thunder and precipitate the lightning from the opposite quarter of the political heaven” (7:1:199). Rather than representing both love and revolution, as in his youth, electricity came to signify the dangers of a materialistic view of the world in the sociopolitical sphere.