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Plato's GhostSpiritualism in the American Renaissance$
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Cathy Guiterrez

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195388350

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195388350.001.0001

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(p.11) 2 Memory
Plato's Ghost

Cathy Gutierrez (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores Victorian ideas of memory and mourning in America and argues that shifts in religious concepts regarding the saved and the damned accounted for a dramatic increase in the centrality of memory. As the grieving were expected to demonstrate their continued memory of a loved one and funerals moved into the marketplace, Spiritualists wrestled with the problem of memory as a potential enemy of progress. Taking their cue from Emanuel Swedenborg’s writing, Spiritualists determined that memory was an instrument of ethics—having dispensed with hell, Spiritualism needed some form of retribution in the afterlife. Memory punished the evildoers and spurred them toward progress. Renaissance ideals of memory theatres were revived but inverted in Spiritualist heavens: the dead needed to forget their vanities and misdeeds in order to move on.

Keywords:   memory, mourning, cemetery, funeral, Emanuel Swedenborg, reincarnation, memory theatres

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