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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.45) 3 Machines
Plato's Ghost

Cathy Gutierrez (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Spiritualists believed that science would reveal the truths of their metaphysical claims and embraced medical and technological progress on all fronts. Spiritualist ritual was predicated on the invention of the telegraph: instant and invisible communication across space was the precursor to communication with those in heaven. With the steam engine revolutionizing ideas of time, futurity and progress competed with the lionizing of the past. Spiritualists proposed that new machines could be made to perfect communication with the dead and created several devices from the simple to the extraordinary. Photography, a burgeoning medium that seemed purely objective to most observers, was conscripted to prove the existence of the dead as spirit photographs proliferated across the country and abroad.

Keywords:   machine, time, technology, telegraph, steam engine, magnetism, animal magnetism, spirit photography, ghost photography

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