“Lost in Air”: The Magic Lantern and Visual Experiences of Balloons and Dreams
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This chapter charts the use of magic lantern metaphors as referents for ephemerality, perceptual uncertainty, and psychological modes of perception. In particular, three dominant modes emerge here: the balloon view, the magic lantern show, and the dream vision. Drawing on examples from a range of sources concentrated in the 1840s, including work by popular and well-known writers and thinkers such as Charles Dickens, Herbert Spencer, Henry Mayhew, and George Henry Lewes, the chapter uncovers the way magic lantern and balloon metaphors became a shorthand for a specific kind of abstracted and imaginative vision.