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“senses that you don’t know”: Vibrating Modernists

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Andrew ShailORCiD


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The evidence that can be found in support of Michael Tratner's account of literary modernism as an aesthetic formal consequence of the heights of political collectivism reached in the 1910s is substantial, but much of this evidence is also amenable to a reading of modernism as originating instead with the impact of the arrival of cinema as a popular institution at exactly the same time. This article looks at the trope of "vibratory seeing" in a number of modernist fictional and critical statements to compare cinema and collectivist aesthetics as causes of this peculiarly modernist permutation of visual sensation. It asks whether this trope indicates a compulsion to attend to a collectivist mass mind which the author is unable to influence or even speak for but which s/he nonetheless must engage with, as it is perceived as the only force capable of spontaneous social change, or whether it represents the new philosophical provocations enacted by cinema's unique linguisticity, its mute enunciations, its mode of temporality and its world of object relations.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Shail A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: The Senses and Society

Year: 2008

Volume: 3

Issue: 2

Pages: 169-86

ISSN (print): 1745-8927

ISSN (electronic): 1745-8935

Publisher: Berg Publishers


DOI: 10.2752/174589308X306411


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