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The Emergence of the Fourth DimensionHigher Spatial Thinking in the Fin de Siècle$
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Mark Blacklock

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198755487

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198755487.001.0001

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Topology, Conjuring, and the Spiritualist Fourth Dimension

(p.41) 2 Knots
The Emergence of the Fourth Dimension

Mark Blacklock

Oxford University Press

Chapter 2 concentrates on a crucially catalytic episode in the history of cultural higher space and on a particularly pregnant form at the heart of this episode: the series of experimental seances conducted by the Leipzig-based astrophysicist Johann Carl Friedrich Zöllner with the medium Henry Slade and the knot that Zöllner proclaimed as experimental evidence of the fourth dimension. This chapter outlines Zöllner’s theoretical position and its sources; his allegiances and feuds; the experiments themselves and their legacy. Zöllner drew higher-dimensioned space into occultist discourse, a field in which it can still be discerned. This shift requires the mobilization of different resources: attention to the historical phenomenon of popular spiritualism and its discourse networks; consideration of the relations between professionalizing science, spiritualism, and stage magic; and the negotiation of the knot, an object that is thing and idea, form and material, mediator and terminus.

Keywords:   knots, spiritualism, Zöllner, Henry Slade, stage magic

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