By Paul Gilmore
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Extra resources for Aesthetic materialism : electricity and American romanticism
26 Emerging from the market revolution, the birth of the aesthetic undermined any empirical grounds for making universal claims about the sensible body while positing the possibility of a truly inclusive, egalitarian universality. These connections push us to revise traditional conceptions of the relationship between the development of capitalism and bourgeois ideology and romantic aesthetics. 28 With its connections to currency, to the flow of goods throughout the Atlantic world, and its potential to represent both a universal physical medium and an equally accessible, specifically human sensibility, electricity and its symbolic uses hint at these intersecting, sometimes contradictory forces.
12 Despite the broad rejection of Galvani’s animal electricity and Franz Anton Mesmer’s animal magnetism, this spiritualized understanding of electricity continued to provide a powerful possibility for associationists and others concerned with maintaining a philosophical defense of Christian moral responsibility within a materialistic, scientific worldview. The political implications of this kind of spiritualized electricity and associationism emerge in the career of the most important promoter of Hartleian associationism in the late-eighteenth century, Joseph Priestley.
Yet, due to its subjective egalitarianism, the aesthetic regime negates “any relationship of necessity between a determined form and a determined content . . ”26 Emerging from the market revolution, the birth of the aesthetic undermined any empirical grounds for making universal claims about the sensible body while positing the possibility of a truly inclusive, egalitarian universality. These connections push us to revise traditional conceptions of the relationship between the development of capitalism and bourgeois ideology and romantic aesthetics.