By Chris Goto-Jones
The promise of magic has constantly commanded the human mind's eye, however the tale of business modernity is generally noticeable as a means of disenchantment. Drawing at the writings and performances of the so-called 'Golden Age Magicians' from the flip of the 20 th century, Chris Goto-Jones unveils the ways that ecu and North American encounters with (and representations of) Asia - the fabled Mystic East - labored to re-enchant stories of the fashionable global. starting with a reconceptualization of the which means of 'modern magic' itself - relocating past traditional different types of 'real' and 'fake' magic - Goto-Jones' acclaimed publication publications us on a mystical secret journey round India, China and Japan, displaying us levitations and decapitations, magic duels and bullet catches, goldfish bowls and paper butterflies. after all, this spell binding booklet finds Orientalism as a type of magic in itself, casting a spell over Western tradition that leaves it reworked even this present day.
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Extra info for Conjuring Asia: Magic, Orientalism and the Making of the Modern World
47 In fact, one thing that becomes clear very quickly is that our persistent and intuitive sense of a crisp distinction between real and pretend magic is itself a form of cultural illusion that emerges from centuries of representations of wizards, warlocks, and witches. Our attempts to see through this ‘tissue of falsehoods’48 rely upon ideational and institutional structures put in place only about a century ago. Rather than being able to maintain a clear and neat distinction between real and pretend magic, whichever way we draw the divide, we ﬁnd ourselves in a nuanced landscape of magic containing various spectrums and continuums.
1877, reprinted by Cambridge University Press, 2012. Blavatsky’s orientation toward the ‘East’ is well considered by Mark Bevir, ‘The West Turns Eastward: Madame Blavatsky and the Transformation of the Occult Tradition’. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 62:3 (1994), pp. 747–767. In The Place of Enchantment, Alex Owen suggests that Theosophy (and India) goes on to replace Egypt and the Middle East as the ‘privileged “exotic” site of ancient wisdom so prevalent in the Western occult tradition’, p.
The so-called new occultism of the ﬁn de siècle participated in the fashion for scientiﬁc validation, constantly seeking to ‘test’ its mediums, to ‘demonstrate’ their efﬁcacy, and to conduct ‘experiments’ to ascertain the limits of their effectiveness. Hence, debates with the sceptics (including with Houdini and Maskelyne) tended to pivot around a logical case: just because a stage magician could fake Spiritualist powers, that does not mean that there are no genuine mediums with authentic powers.