Modern occult rhetoric : mass media and the drama of secrecy by Joshua Gunn

By Joshua Gunn

A largely interdisciplinary learn of the pervasive secrecy in the USA cultural, political, and spiritual discourse.

The occult has normally been understood because the examine of secrets and techniques of the perform of mysticism or magic. This e-book broadens our figuring out of the occult via treating it as a rhetorical phenomenon tied to language and logos and extra principal to American tradition than is often assumed.

Joshua Gunn ways the occult as an idiom, interpreting the ways that acts of textual feedback and interpretation are occultic in nature, as glaring in practices as assorted as educational scholarship, Freemasonry, and tv creation. Gunn probes, for example, the ways that jargon hired via a variety of social teams creates boundaries and fosters secrecy. From the speculation wars of cultural reports to the Satanic Panic that swept the nationwide mass media within the overdue Eighties and early Nineteen Nineties, Gunn exhibits how the ambiguity of a hidden, buried, or mystery which means that can't be expressed in language looks time and time back in Western culture.

those recurrent styles, Gunn argues, come up from a generalized, renowned nervousness approximately language and its obstacles. finally, Modern Occult Rhetoric demonstrates the indissoluble courting among language, secrecy, and exposure, and the centrality of suspicion in our day-by-day lives.


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Extra resources for Modern occult rhetoric : mass media and the drama of secrecy in the twentieth century

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The meeting was advertised in a pamphlet I picked up one day while browsing in an occult bookstore near the University of Minnesota campus. The pamphlet described the Society for Ascension in vague and evocative terms, which were splashed across the background image of a turbulent and cloudy sky. I suppose the pamphlet caught my eye because it was oddly disturbing. The color scheme is intense: a series of dark red and lighter orange shades on the inner ®aps leads one’s eye to lightly painted webs of lightning.

Although past magical books frequently dealt with the problem of evil spirits and demons—most especially hunting and torture handbooks like the Malleus Male¤carum and Francesco Guazzo’s Compendium Male¤carum—Barrett’s treatment smacks of sensationalism. His galvanic descriptions of black magic and demonology, in turn, lead to the third reason why Barrett’s system of magic is important: The Magus had a strong impact on an avid and devoted reader, Eliphas Lévi, who would bring occultism out of the darkness and into the light of mass readership in the middle of the nineteenth century, however ironically, with dramatic descriptions of black magic and striking illustrations of occult paraphernalia, symbol, and ritual.

52 Lévi introduces his The History of Magic by stressing that the “three wise men” of the story of nativity were, in fact, magi, a move he repeats in Transcendental Magic: “Science, notwithstanding, is at the basis of Magic, as at the root of Christianity there is love, and in the Gospel symbols we ¤nd the Word Incarnate adored in His cradle by Three Magi, led thither by a star—the triad and the sign of the microcosm—and receiving their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, a second mysterious triplicity.

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