Anette Horn – Magische Psychologie? Mesmerismus in Alissa Walsers Am Anfang war die Nacht Musik 301
Magische Psychologie? Mesmerismus in Alissa Walsers Am Anfang war die Nacht Musik Anette Horn (University of the Witwatersrand) Robert Darnton beschreibt Mesmers Theorie wie folgt: In 1778, Franz Anton Mesmer arrived in Paris and proclaimed his discovery of a superfine fluid that penetrated and surrounded all bodies. Mesmer had not ac- tually seen his fluid; he concluded that it must exist as the medium of gravity, since planets could not attract one another in a vacuum. While bathing the en- tire universe in this primeval ‚agent of nature,‘ Mesmer brought it down to earth in order to supply Parisians with heat, light, electricity, and magnetism; and he especially extolled its application to medicine. Sickness, he maintained, resulted from an ‚obstacle‘ to the flow of the fluid through the body, which was analo- gous to a magnet. Individuals could control and reinforce the fluid’s action by ‚mesmerising‘ or massaging the body’s ‚poles‘ and thereby overcoming the ob- stacle, inducing a ‚crisis,‘ often in the form of convulsions, and restoring health or the ‚harmony‘ of man with nature.1 Mesmers Methode lässt sich Darnton zufolge als Performanz bezeichnen. Er versetzte seine Patienten into epileptic-like fits or somnambulist trances and curing them of diseases ranging from blindness to ennui produced by overactive spleen. Mesmer and his followers put on fascinating performances: they sat with the patient’s knees en- closed between their own and ran their fingers all over the patient‘s body, seek- ing the poles of the small magnets that composed the...
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