Thursday, May 10, 2018

Emily Ogden's "Credulity," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Credulity: A Cultural History of US Mesmerism by Emily Ogden.

The entry begins:
Like Americans in the present, Americans in the nineteenth century worried about fake news: they were surrounded with financial scheming, quackery, and shady politics. When I describe mesmerism, you’ll probably think it was part of the problem. Mesmerists claimed they could entrance people, control minds, and gift their subjects with clairvoyant powers. More quackery, right? But they took the US by storm: everyone wanted to mesmerize or be mesmerized. Why?

I think it’s because, even as mesmerists were accused of duping people, they tried to explain how duping worked. They said that the mesmeric trance was, essentially, a state of belief: their experiments could explain how and why people come to be credulous, or gullible. Their explanation wasn’t simple—nor was credulity itself.

My book, the movie has four lead actors: two male-female pairs whose relationships illustrate the strange turns belief can take. Both male characters become mesmerized by the women they thought they could wrap around their little fingers. Both women conquer terrible adversity—and maybe the laws of physics—by charisma alone. These roles require men who can transform themselves from self-assured peacocks into enthralled fans: Jim Broadbent, of Moulin Rouge!, and Andrew Scott, who plays Moriarty on Sherlock. And they require women with a spare but irresistible magnetism: Sally...[read on]
Learn more about Credulity at the University of Chicago Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Credulity.

--Marshal Zeringue