A Cultural History of the Senses in the Age of Empire 9780857853431, 2014005104, 9781350078000, 9781474233071, 9781474233088, 9780857853387, 9781350077836

235 112 9MB

English Pages [282] Year 2018

Report DMCA / Copyright


Table of contents :
ccss - 0001
ccss - 0002
ccss - 0003
ccss - 0004
ccss - 0005
ccss - 0006
ccss - 0007
ccss - 0008
ccss - 0009
ccss - 0010
ccss - 0011
ccss - 0012
ccss - 0013
ccss - 0014
ccss - 0015
ccss - 0016
ccss - 0017
ccss - 0018
ccss - 0019
ccss - 0020
ccss - 0021
ccss - 0022
ccss - 0023
ccss - 0024
ccss - 0025
ccss - 0026
ccss - 0027
ccss - 0028
ccss - 0029
ccss - 0030
ccss - 0031
ccss - 0032
ccss - 0033
ccss - 0034
ccss - 0035
ccss - 0036
ccss - 0037
ccss - 0038
ccss - 0039
ccss - 0040
ccss - 0041
ccss - 0042
ccss - 0043
ccss - 0044
ccss - 0045
ccss - 0046
ccss - 0047
ccss - 0048
ccss - 0049
ccss - 0050
ccss - 0051
ccss - 0052
ccss - 0053
ccss - 0054
ccss - 0055
ccss - 0056
ccss - 0057
ccss - 0058
ccss - 0059
ccss - 0060
ccss - 0061
ccss - 0062
ccss - 0063
ccss - 0064
ccss - 0065
ccss - 0066
ccss - 0067
ccss - 0068
ccss - 0069
ccss - 0070
ccss - 0071
ccss - 0072
ccss - 0073
ccss - 0074
ccss - 0075
ccss - 0076
ccss - 0077
ccss - 0078
ccss - 0079
ccss - 0080
ccss - 0081
ccss - 0082
ccss - 0083
ccss - 0084
ccss - 0085
ccss - 0086
ccss - 0087
ccss - 0088
ccss - 0089
ccss - 0090
ccss - 0091
ccss - 0092
ccss - 0093
ccss - 0094
ccss - 0095
ccss - 0096
ccss - 0097
ccss - 0098
ccss - 0099
ccss - 0100
ccss - 0101
ccss - 0102
ccss - 0103
ccss - 0104
ccss - 0105
ccss - 0106
ccss - 0107
ccss - 0108
ccss - 0109
ccss - 0110
ccss - 0111
ccss - 0112
ccss - 0113
ccss - 0114
ccss - 0115
ccss - 0116
ccss - 0117
ccss - 0118
ccss - 0119
ccss - 0120
ccss - 0121
ccss - 0122
ccss - 0123
ccss - 0124
ccss - 0125
ccss - 0126
ccss - 0127
ccss - 0128
ccss - 0129
ccss - 0130
ccss - 0131
ccss - 0132
ccss - 0133
ccss - 0134
ccss - 0135
ccss - 0136
ccss - 0137
ccss - 0138
ccss - 0139
ccss - 0140
ccss - 0141
ccss - 0142
ccss - 0143
ccss - 0144
ccss - 0145
ccss - 0146
ccss - 0147
ccss - 0148
ccss - 0149
ccss - 0150
ccss - 0151
ccss - 0152
ccss - 0153
ccss - 0154
ccss - 0155
ccss - 0156
ccss - 0157
ccss - 0158
ccss - 0159
ccss - 0160
ccss - 0161
ccss - 0162
ccss - 0163
ccss - 0164
ccss - 0165
ccss - 0166
ccss - 0167
ccss - 0168
ccss - 0169
ccss - 0170
ccss - 0171
ccss - 0172
ccss - 0173
ccss - 0174
ccss - 0175
ccss - 0176
ccss - 0177
ccss - 0178
ccss - 0179
ccss - 0180
ccss - 0181
ccss - 0182
ccss - 0183
ccss - 0184
ccss - 0185
ccss - 0186
ccss - 0187
ccss - 0188
ccss - 0189
ccss - 0190
ccss - 0191
ccss - 0192
ccss - 0193
ccss - 0194
ccss - 0195
ccss - 0196
ccss - 0197
ccss - 0198
ccss - 0199
ccss - 0200
ccss - 0201
ccss - 0202
ccss - 0203
ccss - 0204
ccss - 0205
ccss - 0206
ccss - 0207
ccss - 0208
ccss - 0209
ccss - 0210
ccss - 0211
ccss - 0212
ccss - 0213
ccss - 0214
ccss - 0215
ccss - 0216
ccss - 0217
ccss - 0218
ccss - 0219
ccss - 0220
ccss - 0221
ccss - 0222
ccss - 0223
ccss - 0224
ccss - 0225
ccss - 0226
ccss - 0227
ccss - 0228
ccss - 0229
ccss - 0230
ccss - 0231
ccss - 0232
ccss - 0233
ccss - 0234
ccss - 0235
ccss - 0236
ccss - 0237
ccss - 0238
ccss - 0239
ccss - 0240
ccss - 0241
ccss - 0242
ccss - 0243
ccss - 0244
ccss - 0245
ccss - 0246
ccss - 0247
ccss - 0248
ccss - 0249
ccss - 0250
ccss - 0251
ccss - 0252
ccss - 0253
ccss - 0254
ccss - 0255
ccss - 0256
ccss - 0257
ccss - 0258
ccss - 0259
ccss - 0260
ccss - 0261
ccss - 0262
ccss - 0263
ccss - 0264
ccss - 0265
ccss - 0266
ccss - 0267
ccss - 0268
ccss - 0269
ccss - 0270
ccss - 0271
ccss - 0272
ccss - 0273
ccss - 0274
ccss - 0275
ccss - 0276
ccss - 0277
ccss - 0278
ccss - 0279
ccss - 0280
ccss - 0281
Recommend Papers

A Cultural History of the Senses in the Age of Empire
 9780857853431, 2014005104, 9781350078000, 9781474233071, 9781474233088, 9780857853387, 9781350077836

  • 0 0 0
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up
File loading please wait...
Citation preview



IN THE AGE OF EMPIRE Edited by Constance Classen


BLOOMSBURY ACADEMIC Bloomsbury Publishing Ple 50 Bedford Square, London, WClB 3DP, UK

BLOOMSBURY, BLOOMSBURY ACADEMIC and the Diana logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Ple First published in Great Britain 2014 This edition published 2019 Copyright© Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014, 2019 Constance Classen has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Editor of this work. For legal purposes the Acknowledgments on p.xi constitute an extension of this copyright page. Cover image: The Transept at the Great Exhibition in Crystal Palace, the glass and iron building at Hyde Park, London. Original artwork from Dickinson's Comprehensive Pictures of the Great Exhibition (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images). Ali rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Bloomsbury Publishing Ple does not have any control over, or responsibility for, any third-party websites referred to or in this book. Ali internet addresses given in this book were correct at the time of going to press. The author and publisher regret any inconvenience caused if addresses have changed or sites have ceased to exist, but can accept no responsibility for any such changes. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data. A cultural history of the senses in the age of empire, 1800-1920 / edited by Constance Classen. pages cm lncludes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-85785-343-1 (hardback) l. Senses and sensation-History. 2. Europe-Colonies.1. Classen, Constance, 1957BF233.C852 2014 152.109'034--ODC,

FIGURE 4.4: Representation of Durga. Missionary Sketches, no. 12, April 1820, cover. Photo by a uthor.



festival in Calcutta Alexander Duff was to describe a decade later. Collected and removed from their previous owners' devotions and shrines, the gods were deployed in a new taxonomy. Formerly idols, they were now the trophies of a vanquished colonial religion and subjugated culture. As curiosities on exhibit in London, the objects were material proof of the advance of Christian civilization, a highly controlled sensory contact with a world of belief made safe to behold behind the museum's glass pane. An article accompanying the cover illustration adduced the image of Durga and the accounts of frenzied crowds, human sacrifice, and immolated widows as evidence that "the religion of the Hindoos ... is a compound of falsehood and cruelty" ("Account of the Hindoo goddess Doorgá" 1820: 3). Hindu sacred stories "make no hesitation in giving tongues tostones and transforming trees into armed meo." For the Missionary Society such acts of animation were worse than fiction: "This may be allowed in a romance and in fables, but the modero Hindoos are silly enough to believe, most gravely, that all this is the very truth" (1820: 3). The account ends with affirming the economy of pious print triumphant over the false gods, pointing out to readers that the purpose of "publishing the present Sketch, and such like accounts, is to excite your compassion and prayers in behalf of the heathen, and your zeal and activity in furnishing pecuniary aid for the purpose of sending to them the blessings of the Gospel" (1820: 3). If stones and trees were to speak, the Evangelicals appear to insist, they will only properly do so in the place of missionaries, as lithographs bearing scriptural illustrations and printed pages bearing the Christian Gospel.

THE CULTURAL LOGIC OF MODERNITY: BEYOND CHRISTIANITY We find a widely drawn battle line over sensation and religion taking shape in the nineteenth century between Protestants and Western-influenced reformers in Buddhism and Hinduism, on the one hand, and Catholics and more traditionally minded Hindus, on the other. The use of ritual forros, images, devotional objects, incense, and special clothing were sorne of the topics of intense debate between the two broadly defined parties. Missionaries in India and China commonly likened indigenous religionists to Roman Catholics, and imported comparable invective in their critique of "heathenism," especially with regard to image worship, the use of incense, candles, and ritualistic forms of invocation (Pennington 2005: 68-9; Reinders 2004: 105). As Evangelical missionaries entered India in the 1790s, they applied a new attitude, a kind of hard-sell approach that William Carey and his Baptist



colleagues cultivated in Bengal. This approach was characterized by an argumentative style that presumed to attack the indigenous religion, citing what it claimed were conceptual weaknesses and inconsistencies in the attempt to provoke interlocutors in debate that might result in the demonstration of Christianity's superiority. Tracts and sermons of this sort were deliberately launched in bazaars and marketplaces, at shrines, pilgrimage sites, near temples, or beside cult images. Such were the crossroads where people gathered or passed in the traffic of daily life-often the very sites targeted for the acquisition of goods and conduct of business by both indigenous and Western merchants. It is not clear how successful the media strategies of missionaries were. If we want to measure the effect of their efforts by numbers of conversions, the results were spotty at best. Christianity remains a tiny religion in India and China today, though it did take root across Asia, and it certainly experienced broader success on the African continent. What is indisputable, however, is the prestige of the colonial religion as something to emulate, especially with regard to methods. For example, Buddhists in Sri Lanka, Hindus in Calcutta and Madras, and later Muslims in South Africa and India, adapted the communication technologies and strategies of missionaries to their own purposes. 5 Printed catechisms, tracts, schoolbooks, and la ter broadcasts on radio, television, satellite, and the internet were applied to spread the news of Buddhist dharma, Hindu shastra, and Muslim da'wa. The aim was not only to create a public discourse of one religion or another, but to create media in which teaching, learning, worship, devotion, ritual practice, prayer, and fellowship might take place. The response of colonized peoples took various directions, but it usually included the appropriation of Western media practices. A few significant examples in nineteenth-century India will show the range of response and its significance for religion and sensory culture. Rammohun Roy (1772-1833 ), a Bengali Brahmin and reformer who is regarded by many Indians as the "father of modern India," was an influential advocate of reform grounded in Westernization. 6 In political, religious, and social reform, Roy followed the British example and was a tireless publicist, even founding newspapers and a press to conduct his work on a large public scale. Roy attracted the displeasure of orthodox Hindus who took sharp issue with his denunciation of image worship and were upset by his attending Unitarian worship. 7 His answer captured the theological space in which he was able to join with Western Unitarians for a few years of intercultural worship and thought: "Because the prayers read, worship offered, and sermons preached in the Unitarian place of worship remind me of the infinitely wise Rule of this infinite universe, without ascribing to him as Churchmen do, fellow-creators



or co-operators equal in power and other attributes," and because, among other things, "Unitarians reject polytheism and idolatry under every sophistical modification" (1978: 201-2). Roy eventually determined to invest his effort in something appealing to a more indigenous basis and founded the Brahmo Samaj in 1828. This was a society devoted to the worship of a distinctly monotheistic and immaterial deity. The words of its indenture strike an inclusive, but also iconoclastic note. The purpose of the society was to provide a place of public meeting in which "no graven image, statue or sculpture, carving, painting, picture, portrait or the likeness of anything shall be admitted ... [and in which] no sacrifice, offering or oblation ofany kind or thing shall ever be permitted" (Roy 1978: 216). Religious reform meant a significant shift in the sensory regime of Hindu worship. The Brahmo Samaj rejected the role of images or "idols" in the worship of deities, found the festivals associated with temple worship offensive and distasteful, and argued for a rigorous monotheism as the heart of Hindu religion. All of these features of his reform shifted the sensory regime of temple worship to a more philosophical and ethical basis that comported with British Unitarianism, which had conducted the same deconstruction of Christian ritual and mythology, stripping away from the life of Jesus the miracles and sacramentality that Christianity had long used to understand the significance of Jesus. But people are attached to their imagery and the multi-sensorial practices of their religions. And they admire the intimate connection of religious dogma and cult to national consciousness. Rammohun Roy, the Brahmo Samaj, anda number of Westerners who arrived in India later in the century in search of Eastern wisdom, which they sought to gather up in the teachings of the Theosophical Society-Henry Steel Olcott, Madame Blavatsky, Annie Besantcame in for criticism from Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), who was both the product of reformist Indian tradition and a devotee of a traditional guru, Sri Ramakrishna. He defended the use of images in proper worship and argued that Islam and Protestantism were alone among major religions that rejected imagery (Vivekananda 1973: 61). Among "those reformers who preach against image-worship, or what they denounce as idolatry" (Rammohun Roy, the Brahmo Samaj as well as the Theosophical Society, including Olcott, Blavatsky, and Annie Besant), Vivekananda urged forbearance: "Brothers, if you are fit to worship God-without-form discarding all external help, do so, but why do you condemn others who cannot do the same?" (1973: 460). Where Rammohun experimented with an international, non-racial religious ideal, purged of regional and ethnic peculiarities, the flesh and race of religion returned to the fore in Vivekananda's critique of many reform measures.



Liberal reformers had tended to dematerialize religion as a matter of ideas and ethical ideals. Although he was in no way nationalistic or nativist, as later advocates of Hindu nationalism could be, Vivekananda clearly wanted to ground Hinduism in a people and to set this people's mission in contrast to the national destiny of Western polities. His aim was palpably visceral when he expressed it in gendered terms. After remarks reproving the Theosophical Society and the Brahmo Samaj, Vivekananda challenged a gathering in Madras (home of the Theosophical Society): We have become weak, and that is why occultism and mysticism come to us-these creepy things; there may be great truths in them, but they have nearly destroyed us. Make your nerves strong. What we want is muscles of iron and nerves of steel. We have wept long enough. No more weeping, but stand on your feet and be men. It is a man-making religion that we want. Vivekananda 1973: 224 Indian manhood was the flesh of the nation that he wanted to save from what he imputed were the feminizing influences of liberal foreign critics of Hinduism. Vivekananda longed for unity among Hindus, nota universal religion abstracted from the world's religious figures. In this unity, he argued, the Indian nation would find its vocation and its privileged place among the world's nations. Yet in their own way, even the most intellectually sophisticated Western admirers of Eastern religions might agree that the look and feel of religion matters. For example, in 1894 Paul Carus packaged Buddhism for Americans by publishing an anthology of Buddhist sutras under the title of The Cospel of Buddha, which he organized as a narrative of incidents and teachings that was intended to remind Western readers of the New Testament Gospels. Whereas Henry Steel Olcott had issued the Buddhist Catechism (1881) in the Westminster Catechism's format of a long series of terse, doctrinally honed questions and answers, Carus had the more engaging idea of using Biblical narrative as the model of presenting a strange tradition. 8 And for the seventh edition, published in 1915, Carus invited an artist to illustrate the narratives with images that did not present an Asian Buddha, but a Caucasian one. The result was not a new set of icons for veneration, but visual bridges that made Buddhism more accessible to the Western reader, or viewer. If Olcott and others dismissed images as superficial or nai"ve, or lower forms of spiritual consciousness, Carus recognized their power to mediate the distant, foreign, exotic tradition, in effect, to normalize it by modernizing and indigenizing it. What Americans saw in the imagery and narrative design of The Cospel of



Buddha was something they could recognize. The illustrations not only advertised the new religion, but changed the way many people might approach and feel about it. According to one scholar, Carus' re-deployment of Buddhism influenced his collaborator, D. T. Suzuki, to Americanize Buddhism (Verhoeven 2004: 46). The illustrations make this clear in their own way. One of the first in the book shows a scene that is obviously meant to invoke the nativity of Jesus (see Figure 4.5). But the image illustrates the arrival of the Naga kings to pay homage to the young Sakya king, Siddhartha Gautama, who became the historical Buddha. Perched on his young mother's lap, the infant figure not only strikes Western viewers as Jesus, but conveys the tenderness that Christians feel for their newborn savior. The image appeals to deeply seated emotions among many Westerners. Among those who are not Christian, the image might nevertheless make Buddhism feel less Asian and more Caucasian.

~::: ~.

-,,;: .......



.., ~~~•~o::~z,i~t~,~:;t~~~x~i,:- .

FIGURE 4.5: Infant Siddhartha Gautama Receiving Veneration from Naga Kings, by Oiga Kopetzky. Paul Carus, The Cospel of Buddha Compiled from Ancient Records. La Salle: Open Court, [1915] 1994, p. 7. Courtesy Open Court Publishing Company.



SPIRIT OF THE AGE: NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS AND MATERIAL PRESENCE The modern era evinces a pattern of new religious movements encouraged by the cultural marketplace, which operated beyond the traditional authority of state-supported religion. The social phenomenon of new religious movements is not, of course, anything new. But its operation within the cultural market of competing private entities, devoid, or largely devoid, of oppressive competition with official or state-sponsored religion, meant that sects needed to fashion themselves with a keener eye to potential participants. In the new marketplace of religions, the distinctive habits of religious groups set them apart, and therefore made them socially visible. Rather than operating under the radar of authorities, groups were able to be more public in their presentation and their proselytism in an increasingly pluralistic society. They advertised more openly in the way they dressed and worshipped, in what they ate or would not eat, in the way they spoke, in the buildings and spaces they crafted for gathering as a community. Consider the spate of groups that flourished in the eighteenth, nineteenth, or twentieth century in North America and Europe, and their signature behaviors and practices. Quaker women distinguished themselves by their bonnets, and men by hats and beards; Shakers lived celibately in communities they built, and furnished with items they produced; the Millerites were known by their lithographic millennial charts and by the host of mass-printed items such as stationery, envelopes, newspapers, and broadsides that announced their belief in the imminent return of Jesus; Mormons built conspicuous temples, moved en masse from place to place, and drank no beverages containing alcohol or caffeine; Seventh-Day Adventists engaged in dietary and health reform. The task in every case was communicating and practicing belief as material, sensuous practice. Belief is something one does, and having a feeling for it is the condition for doing and being religious. Modernity tends to place religions (and everything else) within domains of consumption, where believers grow or diminish according to the ability of their practices to retain members or attract newcomers. Dress, food, architecture and imagery were the material and sensory means of practicing community, of belonging to it, of feeling together, of sensing the world within the forms and devices of shared practice, of generating the felt-life that embodied the purpose and life of the group.


Toe Senses in Philosophy and Science: Frorn the Senses to Sensations ROBERT JÜTTE

In the first half of the nineteenth century many philosophers challenged the canonical number of senses. The Spanish theologian Jaime Balmes (1810--48), for example, did not rule out the existence of more than the traditional five: For, to the eyes of philosophy, the phenomenon of sensation consists in the production in the soul of a particular affection determined by an impression on an organ; and of whatever order this affection may be, and whatever organ may be affected, the animal phenomenon is substantially the same. The difference is in the class of affections and of the organ which is their medium. The essence of the phenomenon does not change. And if by sensations we understand such distinct orders of affections as those of sight and of touch, why may we not include other impressions caused by any other organ, whatever that organ may be? Balmes 1856, I: 329 The quest to discover new senses gained strong momentum in natural philosophy. According to Friedrich Wilhelm Schelling (1775-1854), natural



philosophy (Naturphilosophie) does not deduce the real from the ideal, on the contrary the ideal derives from the real. Natural forces and phenomena, such as irritability and sensibility, explain the forms in which the ideal structure of nature is realized. In his treatise on the system of the senses, Schelling relates the senses to three dimensions (magnetism, electricity, and chemism). He posits six instead of five senses, adding thermoception (Warmesinn). His scheme differs, however, from the traditional one not only according to quantity. He correlates, for instance, smelling with electricity and touch with magnetism. Also, the order of the senses and their combination is quite peculiar: feeling, taste (= senses of the first order in regard to the organism), smell and sight (= senses of the second order), thermoception and hearing (= senses of the third order). Schelling also increases the importance of the sense of hearing by referring to it as the "proper sense of humanity" (der eigentliche Sinn der Humanitat), because only through the sense of hearing "reason can show itself" (Schelling [1804] 1860: 455). In 1802 Lorenz Oken (1779-1851) published a small book entitled Uebersicht des Grundrisses des Sistems der Natur{ilosofie und der damit entstehenden Theorie der Sinne. This was the first of a series of works which established him as one of the leaders of the movement of Naturphilosophie in Germany. Undoubtedly influenced by social ideologies of the time, he proposed an evolutionary hierarchy of the senses in which the European "eye-man" was at the top and the African "skin-man" at the bottom (Oken 1831: 489). Even before the nineteenth century, many systems of evolutionary thinking considered touch as the most primitive sense, possessed by the protozoon before other forms of sensitivity and responsiveness to environment come about. Oken developed an entire scheme of evolution in which he divided the animal kingdom up on the basis of which particular organs (including sense organs) predominated in their constitution; most primitive of ali were the snails and worms, in whom touch performs the office of the subtler senses present in more complex creatures (Oken 1847: 417ff.). Oken also adds another sense to the traditional scheme, namely the sense of identity (Identitatssinn), which he thinks is important for procreation. According to Eckart Scheerer, repercussions of the idea of a natural philosophical or "cosmic individuation of the senses" (1995: 852) can be found in the work of Georg Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) as well: The senses and the theoretical processes are therefore: (a) the sense of the mechanical sphere-of gravity, of cohesion and its alteration, and of heat-feeling as such; (b) the senses [coming under the moment] of



oppos1t1on, (1) of the particularized principle of air, and (2) of the likewise realized neutrality of concrete water, and of the opposed moments of the dissolution of concrete neutrality-smell and taste. (c) The sense of ideality is likewise twofold, since the moment of particularization indispensable to the ideality as abstract self-reference, falls apart into two indifferent determinations: (1) the sense of ideality as a manifestation of the outer for the outer, of light as such, and more precisely of light as being determined in the concrete outer world, i.e. colour, and (2) the sense of the manifestation of the organism's inwardness expressed as such in its utterance, the sense of sound: the two senses, then, of sight and hearing. Hegel 1970: 138, § 358 Hegel sees therefore no need for establishing new senses: "Now although it is known that we have precisely five senses, and that neither more or less are to be distinguished, philosophical consideration demands the demonstration of the rational necessity of this, which is demonstrated in that we grasp the senses as representing moments of the Notion" (Hegel 1977: 167, § 401). Hegel also posits correspondences between the senses and the four elements. Touch, for instance, is the sense of the "mechanical sphere" and thus relates to earth and fire. In linking sensibility to nature, Hegel shows his familiarity with natural philosophy: "The general modes of sentience are related to the physical and chemical determinancies of the natural, the necessity of which must be demonstrated in the philosophy of nature" (quoted in Stone 2012: 120). In Hegel's scheme by which inorganic Nature gives rise to purposive activity such as cognition, the five senses play an important role. He believes that the subject is only aware of things via the five senses. And this is a rather complex process as subjects are aware of objects not only through one particular sense but through several senses at once. Sensory intuition (sinnliche Anschauung) involves, according to Hegel, the transformation of what is sensed (das Empfundene) into an externa} object (Hegel 1971: 200, § 449 Zusatz) and refers to the arts as an example for the absolute form of sensuory intuition. In his seminal work The World as Will and Representation, Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) maintained that the world has two aspects, an outer aspect revealed to our senses, and an inner aspect-the world as Will. As we can only perceive objects through our five senses, Schopenhauer believes that the perceiving subject and the perceived object cannot be separated. This has also implications for the way in which we perceive:



Thus only on account of this indifference with regard to the will which is peculiar to them are the sensations of the eye capable of supplying the understanding with such multifarious and finely distinguished data, out of which it constructs in our head the marvelous objective world, by the application of the law of causality upon the foundation of the pure perceptions of space and time. Just that freedom from affecting the will which is characteristic of sensations of color enables them, when their energy is heightened by transparency, as in the glow of an evening sky, in painted glass, and the like, to raise us very easily into the state of pure objective will-less perception, which, as I have shown in my third book, is one of the chief constituent elements of the aesthetic impression. Schopenhauer 1887: 194, cf. Vandenabeele 2011 Like Hegel, Schopenhauer kept to the scheme of the five senses and accommodates them to the four elements. "Thus the sense for what is firm (earth) is touch; for what is fluid (water), taste; for what is in the form of vapour, i.e., volatile (vapour, exhalation), smell; for what is permanently elastic (air), hearing; for what is imponderable (fire, light), sight" (Schopenhauer 1887: 194). In Parerga and Paralipomena, Schopenhauer postulated that we each have a "dream-organ," which he defined as "a faculty of intuitive perception which has been shown to be independent of the external impression of the senses" (Schopenhauer 1974: 239). Schopenhauer claimed that the dream-organ perceives through a qualitatively different channel than that of our everyday sense faculties, i.e. the five senses. In contrast to his contemporary, Schelling, the German philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814), dodges natural-philosophical speculations on the external senses. In 1800 he stated: "1 do not consider them [sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch] as external senses, but only special conditions of the object of the internal sense, my associations" (Fichte 1800: 107). This means there is no external sense, as there is no external perception. According to Fichte "you have an awareness of your seeing, feeling etc., and that way you perceive the object" (Fichte 1800: 28). Without this awareness it is impossible to perceive.

THE OBJECTIVATION OF THE SENSES It was Karl Marx (1818-83) who drove idealism from the philosophy of the senses and propounded a materialistic treatment of human sensibility, explaining man's "knowing" by his "being," instead of, as heretofore, his



"being" by his "knowing." Hegel's concept of the senses-like his dialecticwas placed by Marx upon its feet instead of on its head, where it was standing befare. The senses which man has, so to speak, from coming into being, need to be formed by the objects outside of them: "For not only the five senses but also the so-called mental senses, the practica! senses (will, love, etc.), in a word, human sense, the human nature of the senses, comes to be by virtue of its object, by virtue of humanized nature" (Marx 1959: 46). The objects, according to Marx, "confirm and realize his [man's] individuality, become his objects: that is, man himself becomes the object ... Thus man is affirmed in the objective world not only in the act of thinking, but with all his senses" (Marx 1959: 46). The senses therefore do not possess ontological qualities, but are subject to historical changes: "The forming of the five senses is a labor of the entire history of the world clown to the present" (Marx 1959: 46). The objectivation of the senses is connected by Marx to the alienation of the human senses. Private property and the capitalistic mode of production created a new sense, which Marx called the "sense of having." Marx takes up Ludwig Feuerbach's (1804-72) criticism of the alienation of human sensuousness. But instead of blaming Christian religion for this development, Marx relates it to the alienation of man's labor by the rule of private property, following Moses Hess' concept of the alienating effect of the rule of money on the human essence: The transcendence of private property is therefore the complete emancipation of all human senses and qualities, but it is this emancipation precisely because these senses and attributes have become, subjectively and objectively, human. The eye has become a human eye, just as its object has become a social, human object-an object made by man for man. The senses have therefore become directly in their practice theoreticians. They relate themselves to the thing for the sake of the thing, but the thing itself is an objective human relation to itself and to man. Marx 1959: 46 Marx's theory of sensory privation was also influenced by the writings of the French utopianist Charles Fourier (1772-1837) who was convinced that the senses were debased by modero civilization (cf. Howes 2003: 206).

A "REALISTIC" CONCEPT OF THE SENSES By the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century the philosophy of the senses based on subjectivistic theories carne under attack by



a number of critics whose common denominator was the replacement of "physiological idealism" (Scheerer 1995: 860f.) by a "realistic" concept of sensory perception. The main proponent of "physiological idealism" was the Austrian philosopher Ernst Mach (1838-1916). Among his many critics was Lenin (1870-1924), who proposed a materialistic instead of a subjectivistic approach: "These views do not consist in deriving sensation from the movement of matter or in reducing sensation to the movement of matter, but in recognising sensation as one of the properties of matter in motion" (Lenin 1972: 47). According to Scheerer (1995: 861) two strands of realism have to be distinguished. One proposes a kind of naturalistic view, claiming that "things exist outside us. Our perceptions and ideas are their images. Verification of these images, differentiation between true and false images, is given by practice" (Lenin 1972: 110). This concept brings forth a classification of the senses according to the sensory perception they transmit. The other model can be labeled "critical realism" as it assumes that the qualities of sensations "are properties and conditions of external objects" (Riehl 1887, 11: 79). The main advocate of this view is Alois Riehl (1844-1924) who wanted to replace Weltanschauung or "world view" (i.e. the framework of ideas and beliefs through which an individual or a group interprets the world and interacts with it) by a criticism of perception. Both philosophical currents did not alter the classical list of the (five) senses. During the first half the twentieth century the ongoing discourse on the senses owes much to the phenomenological approach of Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), claiming that the senses are part of the phenomenal word (cf. Druee 1962; Hopp 2008). Husserl also propounded a kinaesthetic notion of perception that combines the different senses into coherent unities (Patterson 2007). Finally, it does not come as a surprise that, from the late nineteenth century onwards, philosophical pronouncements on the nature of the senses were influenced by advances in sensory physiology.

THE ADVANCEMENTS OF SENSORY PHYSIOLOGY The beginnings of sensory physiology reach back far into the eighteenth century, but its real founder is considered to be Johannes Müller (1801-58). "The philosophy of the senses has been derived by Müller entirely from nature" (Virchow 1858: 24), wrote Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902), who was probably the most famous German physician of the second half of the nineteenth century. By finding a new, scientifically verifiable basis for the individuation of the outer senses, Müller, who taught physiology in Bonn before moving to Berlin,



transformed the five senses into a rapidly propagating number of sensorial modalities that could be investigated experimentally, and without reference to their social or natural-philosophical context. Published in 1826, Müller's pioneering work on the comparative physiology of the visual sense formulated the "law of specific sensory energy," which was still being discussed by scientists in the twentieth century, albeit in a modified form. It is based on the assumption that each kind of nerve (optical, cochlear, olfactory, etc.) possesses its own inherent specific energy which is incapable of further physical definition. Müller cites the example of the sense of sight. Regardless of the kind of stimulus (electrical, chemical, or mechanical) applied to the optical nerve, the latter will invariably produce sensations of light, darkness, or color. According to this theory, it is not the stimulus that is sensed, only "that which is perceptible" to the particular sense concerned. In Elements of Physiology (2 vols., 1834-40), which was long considered to be the standard work on this new fundamental medical subject, Müller expanded his sensory-physiological theory and summarized it in the form of ten theses. The eighth of these states, for example, that: It is true that the sensory nerves initially perceive only their own situations, or that the sensorium responds to the conditions of the sensory nerves. However, these sensory nerves share, as bodies, the characteristics of other bodies, since they are extended in space and susceptible to communicated impulses and chemical modification by heat or electricity; so that when they are affected by external causes they will inform the sensorium of qualities and changes in the external world, in addition to registering changes in their own state. Such changes will vary according to characteristics and sensory energies specific to the particular sense concerned. Müller 1926: 222 In other words, each sensation depends on a particular state of the nerves. lt is not the qualities of the objects operating on the senses from outside that are conducted to the sensory center, but the various sensory energies. Precisely what these specific qualities of the senses are is a question that Müller leaves open. It is, for instance, unclear whether the various sensory energies are localized in parts of the brain or in the spinal cord (seventh thesis). In order to understand the historical-scientific status of the "law of specific nerve energy," and to explain its enormous influence on later nineteenthcentury research, we must bear in mind that when Müller formulated his theses



it was not known that nerve fibres are merely extensions of nerve cells, and that the latter are themselves excited by short electrical pulses. Instead, the human nervous system was thought to be a tissue of fibers which transmitted the stimuli from the ~xternal sense organs to the brain. The rapid acceptance of the theory of specific sensory perception was due not least to the fact that it accorded with modern technological understanding, and also opened the way to arguments by analogy. In one of the later editions of his On the Sensations ofTone (1863), Hermann Helmholtz writes: Nerves have been often and not unsuitably compared to telegraph wires. Such a wire conducts one kind of electric current and no other; it may be stronger, it may be weaker, it may move in either direction; it has no other qualitative differences. Nevertheless, according to the different kinds of apparatus with which we provide its terminations, we can send telegraphic dispatches, ring bells, explode mines, decompose water, move magnets, magnetize iron, develop light, and so on. So with the nerve. Helmholtz 2005: 149 Recent histories of science have attempted to establish parallels between Müller's and Helmholtz's rigid separation of the individual senses and Karl Marx's differentiation of the senses and assertion of their autonomy. But for Marx as a philosopher, the problem was not the scientifically explicable separation and specialization of the senses, but the alienation of the senses within the property relations of capitalist society. Müller's theory of specific nerve energy was expanded and modified by Hermann von Helmholtz-probably the most important German physiologist of the second half of the nineteenth century--on the basis of his own sensory physiological research, which was concerned largely with the sense of hearing. Helmholtz assumed, for instance, that the perception of sound at any level corresponded to the excitation of a particular fiber of the cochlear nerve. In the case of color perception, on the other hand, only three nerve fibers needed to be distinguished, which transmitted the perception of blue, yellow, and red respectively. He further distinguished between the qualities already mentioned (the three basic colors, high and low tones) and the so-called modalities (e.g. sensations of light and sound), in which there were, according to him, no transitions. New sensorial qualities arose only as a result of mixing the basic qualities. In 1893, the psychologist of perception Oswald Külpe (1862-1915) added up the sense perceptions as they were then known and carne up with 694 different



sensations of brightness and 150 color shades for the sense of sight; 11,063 tones for hearing; three or four qualities of taste and touch, and an indefinite number of smells. At almost the same time, bis English colleague Edward Titchener (1867-1927) arrived at 32,820 colors and 11,600 sounds, which were allegedly distinguishable on the basis of existing studies of optics and acoustics and with the assistance of the sense organs concerned (cf. Boring 1977: 10). The physiologist Ewald Hering (1834-1918) attempted to relate Helmholtz's theory of perception to certain processes taking place in the brain. He thought that ali phenomena of sensation, perception, and cognition could by explained by studying the physiology of the brain. According to Hering, the brain cells were excited by stimuli from the sensory nerve fibers, "and depending on the capacity of a brain cell easily and frequently to receive the stimuli arriving from one sense organ or the other, or from this or that particular sensory nerve fibre, it will develop a specialization for the specific qualities of precisely those kinds of stimuli" (quoted by Florey 1995: 885). Thus, sensory experience implied the specialization and individualization of the activities of particular parts of the human brain. The "sensory energies" developed in the course of this process were, in Hering's opinion, nothing less than the "organic expression of our individual memory." He was, thus, concerned primarily with the interactions of cerebral functions and perceptions. With these experiments, Hering paved the way for twentieth-century brain research, which uses both physiological and psychological methods to explore the cerebral mechanisms of perception and cognition.

THE DISCOVERY OF NEW SENSES Johannes Müller's physiology of the senses called for a separation of physical phenomena from the phenomena of perception, which led to a shift of attention from the object of a perception to the particular form in which it was perceived. As the sociologist of knowledge Dieter Hoffmann-Axthelm has stressed, "this meant that from now on the line dividing the outer from the inner perception of objects and feelings was a matter of indifference; for regardless of where the stimuli originated, everything was produced by inner sensation" (HoffmannAxthelm 1984: 49). So the way was now clear for the discovery of new senses. One sense in particular, the so-called muscular sense, had failed to fit into the earlier scheme, and this could now be defined. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, a number of physiologists had already tried independently to prove the existence of a muscular sensation. Following the sensory-physiological theories of Müller and Helmholtz, later



physiologists attempted to provide experimental verification of the existence of feelings and perceptions specific to the so-called "muscular sense." They believed, for instance, that the sensation of active or passive movement and the sense of position, weight and resistance, were coupled to the muscular sense. lt was, on the other hand, rather more difficult to determine which perceptions we owe to this sense. The example most frequently cited is our idea of the magnitude of a weight or load supplied by the various tensings of a muscle. Ernst Heinrich Weber (1795-1878) was the first to undertake a more precise description of the muscular sense. His experiments showed that this sense even enabled humans to distinguish between barely perceptible degrees of heaviness. Weber's method of testing the muscular sense was to wrap weights in a cloth, which then had to be lifted up by grasping the knotted ends with the hands. The idea was to prevent the sense of touch or, rather, pressure, from influencing the perception. Despite these extremely elaborate investigations and measurements, many nineteenth-century physiologists denied the existence of this sense. The Graz physiologist Alexander Rollet (1834-1903) summarized their arguments as follows: The actions of this muscular sense are entirely analogous to those produced by the skin's sense of pressure or space, or by the retina of the eye. This is why the very existence of a muscular sense, or at least the dependence on the muscular sense of sorne of the perceptions mentioned earlier, has been denied by various scientists, who have ascribed sorne or all of these perceptions either to the domain of the skin's sense of touch, or to the sense of sight. Rollet 1898: 234 Those who accepted the theory of a separate muscular sense, however, pointed to the presence of sensitive nerve fibers within the muscles (e.g., Ernst Heinrich Weber and Charles Bell) orto sense impressions peculiar to the muscular sense (Wilhelm Wundt).

NEW INVESTIGATIONAL METHODS AND TECHNIQUES In a remark that was entirely in the tenor of bis celebrated colleague Johannes Müller, the physiologist Friedrich Tiedemann (1781-1861) noted in 1830 that: "When taking an empirical approach to physiology, we first try to grasp the relations of living bodies and their characteristics to our senses, and to



investigate their appearance and practical manifestations by means of those senses ... We perform our observations and experiments either by means of the naked senses or with the aid of various instruments" (quoted in Rothschuh 1968: 229). In investigations of the visual sense, for example, the ophthalmoscope is used to look into the depths of the eye, the ophthalmometer to measure the curvature of the cornea, and the spectrophotometer to determine the intensity of monochromatic light. Ali these instruments were invented by Hermano von Helmholtz in the mid-nineteenth century to assist his experiments in physiological optics and color perception. Other investigational and metrological methods were developed or refined in the course of the nineteenth century. In 1835, the Bremen doctor and biologist, Gottfried Reinhold Treviranus (1776-1837) published the results of his microscopic investigations of the retina. They marked the beginning of a new field of research known to the history of science and medicine as "microphysiology" (Schikore 1999: 139). His well-known and much-cited tuning fork experiment of 1834 gave Ernst Heinrich Weber the idea that sounds that are reproduced in the inner ear via the bones of the skull are received by the cochlea, while sound waves are carried by air to the vestibulum or the fleshy part of the bony labyrinth of the inner ear. This reflection gave birth to a test that is still used today in the examination of hearing disorders. Ewald Hering developed a so-called aesthesiometer for the measurement of the sense of touch. It consisted of twelve cylindrical rods, of which only one was smooth, while the rest had varying degrees of roughness (ranging from 0.11 micrometers to 1.0 micrometers). The experimental subject was required to indicate which of the rods still felt rough to the touch. The Dutchman Hendrik Zwaardemaker (1857-1930) invented the olfactometer, which calibrated thresholds of sensitivity to various odorous substances. This simple device consists of two tubes of different length which can be pushed over each other. Pushing the outer tube forwards exposes more of the surface of the other tube, which is coated with a scent. Using this method, it is easy to ascertain the acuteness of a person's sense of smell. In the physiological study of taste, the quality-priority saporimeter was joined at a relatively early stage by the quantity-priority gustometer. A concept introduced into sensory physiology by the still well-known psycho-physicist Gustav Fechner (1801-87) acquired importance in the context of the new measuring techniques of those times. By "stimulation threshold" Fechner meant the degree of intensity required for a stimulus to produce a sensation that was still just about perceptible. The equation named after him states that the strength of a sensation increases in proportion to the logarithm



of the strength of the stimulus. Fechner had discovered that the intensity of light perception was not directly proportional to the intensification of the physical stimulus. The "difference threshold" was Fechner's term for the smallest difference of stimulus that is still capable of rendering a difference in the intensity of a sensation perceptible. Fechner's equation soon entered the textbooks. "To determine the value of this difference threshold experimentally," states an introduction to psychophysics published in 1878, "we can first use the so-called method of the just-noticeable difference, whose use and verification procedures do not appear to require any further assistance from mathematics" (Müller 1878: 10). On the basis of Fechner's discovery, it was thought that sensory perception consisted of a succession of magnitudes of varying intensity which could now be measured quantitatively, as a result of which human sensation would become to a large extent calculable.

THE PHYSIOLOGY OF SIGHT Many of the revolutionary nineteenth-century discoveries in the field of sensory-physiology derived from experimental investigations into the sense of sight. The theory of vision developed by Johannes Müller and extended by Hermano von Helmholtz deserves special mention in this context, for it was largely owing to this theory that the sense of sight ceased to be regarded as a privileged form of knowledge and became a quite normal object of experimental scientific inquiry. As already indicated, the basic outlines of this new approach are already present in the work of Johannes Müller. He was the first proponent of the pioneering view that it could be shown experimentally "that when we see, we are experiencing the state of the retina and nothing more than this, and that the retina is, so to speak, the visual field itself; dark when at rest and light when excited" (quoted by Lenoir 1998: 104). Müller believed it was possible to explain the then still unexplored collaboration of mind, brain, and retina by assuming that "the mind continues to have an effect on the nerve endings to the extent that the sensory nerves are merely processes of the sensorium" (quoted by Lenoir 1998: 105). This later earned him the accusation of "nativism" from Helmholtz, by which he meant that Müller subscribed to the view that certain ways of thinking, acting, and feeling were innate. In contrast to Müller, and drawing on the ophthalmological research of bis own time, Helmholtz insisted that the relations of corresponding positions of the retina observed by Müller were not given in nature, but had to be learned, and were therefore subject to alteration and change.



FIGURE 5.1: An ophalmotrope for the study of eye movements. Hermann von Helmholtz, Handbuch der physiologischen Optik, Leipzig: Voss, 1866.

The centerpiece of this emphatically empirical theory of vision was the doctrine of the semiotic character of sense perception which Helmholtz formulated in his Handbook of Physiological Optics: "Our ideas of objects can only be symbols; naturally given signs for the things we learn to use in order to regulate our actions and movements. If we have learned to read these symbols correctly, we will be in a position to organize our actions with their help, so that they accord with our wishes; in other words, any new sensory experiences will occur as expected" (Helmholtz 2000, II: 103). This semiotic theory of perception was the subject of heated controversy in Helmholtz's own lifetime, although in the further course of the nineteenth century it proved to be particularly fruitful in the science of the physiology of seeing. Helmholtz was also the co-founder of the so-called trichromatic theory of vision. His first publication dealing with colour perception appeared in 1852. Here he returned to Thomas Young's (1773-1829) concept of the three basic



colors of the spectrum-red, green, and violet-and expanded it into a trichromatic theory of color. The theory states that according to the way they are mixed, the three basic colors mentioned are sufficient to produce every shade of color in the spectrum. Investigations of congenital color-blindness and so-called dichromatism (two-color vision) seemed to confirm this trichromatic theory. Ewald Hering, on the other hand, held to bis own "Opposite Color Theory," which states that color perception falls into three contrastingly structured pairs of colors (red/green, yellow/blue, white/black). Both these color theories were hotly debated until well into the twentieth century (cf. Turner 1994). "In historical retrospect," writes the Berlin neurophysiologist Otto-Joachim Grüsser (d. 1995), "it is satisfying to note that each of these two great adversaries of the second half of the nineteenth century has turned out to be correct in one of the branches of the physiology of colour perception" (Grüsser 1996: 147). Today, we know that the distinction of colors also involves cerebral mechanisms which did not become a topic of intensive neurophysiological research until the last three decades of the twentieth century.

THE PHYSIOLOGY OF HEARING There were occasional physiological experiments with the organ of hearing in the eighteenth century, but the real breakthroughs of experimental research occurred in the 6.rst half of the nineteenth century. One of the initiators of the modern physiological approach was Fran~ois Magendie (1783-1855), a professor at the College de France in Paris. Magendie's experiments showed that the skin of the external auditory meatus was particularly sensitive. He also noted that high-pitched sounds were painful to the ear, and described the regression of hearing in old age asan effect of the deteriorating sensitivity of the cochlear nerve. Among Magendie's notable German contemporaries was the doctor and poet Justinus Kerner (1786-1862). Under the supervision of bis Tübingen teacher, Johann Heinrich Ferdinand von Autenrieth (1772-1835), himself the author of a well known textbook on human physiology (1802), Kerner had written a much discussed medical dissertation on animal hearing. His fellow student Karl August Varnhagen von Ense (1785-1858) described bis animal and sensory-physiological experiments as follows: "He has chosen the sense of hearing as bis dissertation subject, which has involved him in sorne quite new experiments with animals . . . The experiments are clever and imaginative and he has does bis best to avoid cruelty to the animals" (quoted



in Grüsser 1987: 69). In the light of the modero debate on the necessity of animal experiments, many of Kerner's vivisections (e.g., the removal of a cat's outer ear) may now strike usas highly questionable. Yet it must be conceded that they are not without a certain originality. The same applies to the experiments with which Kerner discovered that animals respond to both pitch and tone color and that their directional hearing varies from species to species. The physiology of the organ of hearing is also indebted to Johannes Müller for numerous fresh discoveries. His investigations of sound conduction in the tympanic cavity were a majar advance. Among his other achievements was bis discovery, when experimenting on himself, that the hearing is muffled if the eardrum is subjected to extreme pressure by either rarefying or compressing the air in the tympanic cavity. Ernst Heinrich Weber's work on the functioning of the inner ear represents further progress. Weber did not experiment with animals, but based his theory on the physics of acoustics. Weber's test became famous. Here, the experimental subject blocks his ears by clamping his hands firmly against them. This makes his voice sound much louder to himself than when his ears are open. If only one ear is closed, the voice sounds much louder through that ear than through the ear left open. The same effect is produced by the tuning fork experiment already mentioned in another context. Weber was actually convinced from an early stage that the tuning fork would play an important role in the diagnosis of auditory deficiencies. The first half of the nineteenth century witnessed not least the first attempts to measure hardness of hearing precisely. Various kinds of measuring devices were developed, with the pocket watch eventually emerging as the standard audiometer. Best known was the method used by the now completely forgotten Viennese doctor, Franciscus Polansky. It consisted of a rod-shaped device with a sliding watch attached to it. The rod bore a mark representing the distance at which a person of normal hearing would hear the ticking of the watch, with both ears closed and the end of the rod held between his teeth. Any deviation from this standard was then the measure of the degree of diminished hearing. According to the celebrated Viennese ear specialist and author of a history of otology, Adam Politzer (1835-1920), "one might also ascertain the acuteness of a patient's hearing by speaking sentences out loud" (Politzer 1967, I: 425). Politzer was also the inventor of an audiometer named after him, which is still in use today. With this apparatus, a rhythmical tone is produced by striking a steel cylinder, with the distance at which the standard tone is still audible serving as the yardstick of aural acuity. From the 1850s onward, the auriscope was used to examine the acoustic meatus and eardrum. The initial light source



was daylight, but artificial light (gas lamps and electric light) was used more and more towards the end of the nineteenth century. Hermano von Helmholtz's pioneering research was not confined to the field of the physiological. His book On the Sensation of Tone as a Physiological Basis far the Theory of Music (1863), which took him seven years to write, became a standard text of modern acoustics. Its starting point was the experimental research on the speed of nervous impulses which he had begun in Konigsberg. He demonstrated that this speed was a variable quantity which was determined by physical conditions (e.g., temperature). The experiments in

FIGURE 5.2: A vibration microscope used to visualize sound. Hermann von Helmholtz,

On the Sensations of Tone as a Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music, translated by Alexander Ellis, London: Longmans, 1885.



physics that he completed in Heidelberg led to the modification of the hitherto unchallenged acoustic law of the physicist Georg Simon Ohm (1789-1854 ), which stated that the human ear could receive only simple harmonic vibrations. Helmholtz showed that almost all the tones produced by musical instruments were composite in character, and that the precise combination of the overtones was the decisive factor in tone color. The presence of overtones that could not be immediately heard had not been suspected up to that point. Helmholtz also discovered that the floating rhythms created by the mutual interference of notes with the same oscillation periods was an essential element musical sound effects. His researches also led him to the formulation of a resonance theory of hearing, which was to remain more or less unchanged for decades. In addition, he proved by experiment that the overtones of vowels change according to the position of the oral cavity. The works of the physicist Ernst Mach (1838-1916) occupy a special place among the numerous studies of the physiology of hearing that appeared in the second half of the nineteenth century. Mach discovered, among other things, that the semicircular canals next to the cochlea were a sense organ for the perception of rotary motion. Even before Helmholtz, the Vienna ear specialist Adam Politzer had discovered (1861) the vibrations of the auditory ossicles during the transmission of sound. According to his own graphic account, he did this by "exposing the hammer-incus joints of fresh human hearing organs and sticking glass threads to the hammerhead, whose vibrations were then recorded onto a piece of paper covered with a layer of soot" (Politzer 1967, 11: 45). We should also mention the investigations into the rapid exhaustion of the ear (e.g. by continuous high-pitched whistling sounds) and the studies of socalled "after-sensations," which Fechner describes as the "souvenirs" of sound impressions which have already died away. Finally, there were the animal experiments conducted by sorne of Helmholtz's pupils on the damage to hearing caused by long and continuous exposure to loud noise, which were of enormous practica} significance in the then still very new discipline of occupational medicine.

THE PHYSIOLOGY OF SMELL Compared to the work completed on the senses of sight and hearing, the physiologists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were only marginally concerned with smell. The schematic division of smells into seven different types (aromatic, scented, ambrosial, garlic-like, stinking, repulsive, and disgusting) by the Swedish doctor and botanist, Carl von Linné (1707-81) was



still being discussed seriously in the nineteenth century. The first comprehensive work on the sense of smell emerged from the pen of the Paris anatomist Hippolyte Cloquet (1784-1840) in 1821. From an anatomical and physiological basis, Cloquet devotes more than 500 pages to the nature and classification of smells, as well as the olfactory nerves and the conditions of smelling. Concerning the seat of the sense of smell, for instance, he writes: "Henceforward, we are no longer dealing with guesswork. We may state as a general principie that in humans and most of the animal vertebra tes the nostrils and mucous membranes are assuredly the parts where the sense of smell has its seat, and that they perform the work necessary for the exercise of this particular sensory power" (Cloquet 1820: 79). Just how little was known about the physiology of the sense of smell in those days is clear from Cloquet's extremely vague remark about the olfactory nerves: "The nerves of the mucous membrane are manifestly of two kinds; sorne serve the purpose of smelling, and these are the branches of the olfactory nerves, or the first pair, while others perform the task of preserving the life of the smell in the skin" (Cloquet 1820: 173). The separation of the olfactory mucosa (regio olfactoria) from the ordinary nasal mucous membrane that is touched on here was not examined experimentally until the 1850s, when severa! studies appeared (cf. Seifert 1969: 309). Among them was an essay whose title Untersuchung des Retinazapfens und des Riechhautepithels bei einem Hingerichteten ("lnvestigation of the Retinal Ganglion and Olfactory Epithelium of an Executed Male") blandly reveals the use of experimental materials which would nowadays be regarded as ethically questionable in the highest degree. The connection between the fibers of the nervus olfactorius and the sensory cells of the mucous epithelium remained a contentious issue for a long period of time, and was only clarified histologically at a much later date. The tiny sensory hairs of the olfactory cells-whose structure is now fully known, following examination by modern electron microscopes- were discovered and described by Max Schultze (1825-74) in 1856. Thus, the physiology of the sense of smell made little progress until well into the second half of the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, the number of pages devoted to the subject of smell in the physiological textbooks began to increase. Where it had been dismissed in eleven pages in Rudolf Wagner's Handworterbuch der Physiologie (Concise Dictionary of Physiology) of 1844, it managed to get sixty-two pages in the physiological lexicon published by Ludimar Hermann (1838-1914) in 1880. The smell receptors in the nasal mucous membrane were first described by Max Schultze (1825-74) in 1863. In 1886, Emil Aronsohn (1863-?) published bis experimental investigations into



Gustav Jager in his woolen suit designed to resist contaminating odors. Gustav Jager, Entdeckung der Seele, Leipzig: E. Günters Verlag, 1884.




olfactory physiology, in which he dealt with the habituating effects of smelling. It was not until Hendrik Zwaardemaker's invention of the olfactometer in 1884 that research in the field received another boost. Using Zwaardemaker's smell gauge, it was at last possible to measure keenness of smell. His new method enabled Fechner's law of the proportional increase of sensitivity thresholds to be applied to the sense of smell. The use of rhinoscopy for the diagnostic examination of the nostrils begins with Joseph Czermak (1825-72). Czermak introduced the new procedure in an article in the prestigious Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift (Vienna Medica/ Weekly) in 1858. The instrument consisted of a double tube, which could hold the tongue flat at the same time. Aher the 1860s, doctors also increasingly used funnel-shaped mirrors to examine the nasopharynx. In the second third of the nineteenth century, so-called "mental chronometry" found a role in the discipline of physiological psychology established by Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920). The biologist Gustav Jager (1832-1917)-or "Soul Sniffer" (Weinreich 1993 ), as he was known to his detractors-believed that its methods should also be used to investigate the sense of smell. With the aid of a Hipper chronoscope, or chronometer, Jager examined a host of scents for their effects on the nervous apparatus. Jager's neuroanalysis, as he called it, proceeded as follows: "I took two successive measurements before and after the inhalation of a scent, and then took the averages and compared them. If the second figure was lower than the first, it proved that my nervous excitability had risen as a result of the inhalation; if the second average value was greater, it meant that my excitability had decreased" (quoted by Kaufmann 1984: 31). Once he had made enough of these measurements on himself and his voluntary guinea pigs, it seemed clear beyond reasonable doubt "that the fleeting substances that affect the nose pleasantly produce an acceleration of time, or in other words an increase of excitement. The unpleasant ones, on the other hand, have a retarding or depressing effect on the sensibilities" (quoted by Kaufmann 1984: 31). Although highly controversial in the scientific world of the second third of the nineteenth century, Jager's theory of smell became extremely familiar to the world at large, for it provided the basis of a hygienics oriented on the deodorization of the body.

THE PHYSIOLOGY OF TASTE In the physiological manuals of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the sense of taste was treated more or less as perfunctorily as the



sense of smell. Aristotle distinguished between seven qualities of taste (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, sharp, tangy, and astringent). In the year 1751, Karl von Linné (1707-78) and Albrecht von Haller (1708-77) located eleven and twelve different kin~ of taste, respectively. In the first half of the nineteenth century, however, this number is sometimes radically reduced. The more experimentally-minded physiologists initially acknowledged just two tastes: sweet and bitter. On the basis of his own research, the Innsbruck physiologist, Maximilian von Vintschgau (1832-1902), who wrote the entry on smell in Hermann's Handbuch der Physiologie (Manual of Physiology, 1880), carne to the conclusion-still valid until quite recently-that there were just four basic taste sensations, that is sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. More than two decades were to elapse before this quadripartite division was generally accepted. It was not until very recently that biochemists were able to demonstrate the existence of a fihh variant of taste: umami. In those days, the sense of taste was generally tested using syrup, quinine, a concentrated solution of common salt, and extremely diluted hydrochloric acid or acetic acid. An early standard work on the physiology of taste published in 1825 by Wilhelm Horn (1803-71) allows usa glimpse of the already very systemic procedures followed by early nineteenth-century scientists: I took the liquid substances or crystals on a brush and, after rising in the morning, washing out my oral cavity and drinking a glass of water, I applied it to several of my lingual papillae in front of a mirror. I was possibly able to do this more easily than sorne because I have a number of papillis fungiformibus on the middle of my tongue, which are quite separate from the others. I then coated my soft palate and the other areas of my oral cavity and wrote down the title of the experiment. Before applying the substance to another type of papillae I naturally washed my mouth with water ... I repeated the experiments with impartial friends and we obtained the same results. Horn 1825: 83ff. Qualitative testing was normally considered sufficient, but quantitative methods of measuring taste (gustrometry) were also introduced later. The Berlin physiologist Johannes Müller, whom we have often had occasion to mention before, was interested mainly in the taste nerves and knew of Horn's experimental demonstration of the differential sensitivities of the papillae. Like Albrecht von Haller and Charles Bell (1844-1916) before him, he concluded that these leaf-shaped little warts on the tongue were



in fact organs of taste. It was not until 1867 that the taste buds were discovered independently by Gustav Schwalbe (1844-1916), a pupil of Max Schultze, and the Swede Otto Christian Lovén (1835-1904), but their exact number remained a matter of speculation for quite sorne time. Only in 1906 was the anatomist Friedrich Heiderich (1878-1940) able to show that one papilla contained a maximum of 508, and a minumum of 33 taste buds. In 1892, the physiologist, Lewis E. Shore demonstrated that the tongue's sensitivity to taste not only was greater in sorne areas than others but also varied according to the quality of the sensation.

THE PHYSIOLOGY OF TOUCH The first physiologist to undertake a systematic experimental investigation of the sense of touch was Ernst Heinrich Weber, whom we have already encountered in an earlier context. His interest in the subject was purely pragmatic: "The exact investigation of the sense of touch and the common sensibility of the skin and muscles is of particular interest, for no other sense organ offers so many opportunities for experiment and measurement without risk to ourselves" (Weber 1905: 1). Weber was aware from the outset of the difficulties of experimental work in this field, realizing at an early stage that "pure sensation tells us nothing about where the nerves that produce the sensations are being stimulated" and "that ali sensations are originally only conditions that stimulate our consciousness. Although such stimuli may vary in quality and degree, they do not make us immediately conscious of spatial relations" (Weber 1905: lOf.). Knowledge of the fine structure of the skin was sketchy at the time that Weber began his experiments. Although the vital importance for the perception of vibrations of the large, lamellae-like corpuscles at the end of the nerve fibers of the subcutis (Pacinian corpuscles) was already recognized, their function as receptors was still a matter of debate. So it was not surprising that Weber should continue to assume that the skin's senses of heat and pressure were one and the same thing. It was not until the1880s that Magnus Gustaf Blix (1849-1904) in Sweden and Alfred Goldschneider (1858-1935) in Germany demonstrated that the skin contained both temperature and pressure points by subjecting tiny areas of skin to electrical stimulation. "Sensorial circles" was Weber's term for highly sensitive areas of the skin. He thought that their anatomical substratum was the skin nerves and assigned a particular nerve to one or more of the circles. He also noted that when he applied the points of a pair of compasses to the skin, the pricks could not be



experienced as two distinct sensations beyond a certain distance. This marked the discovery of a phenomenon described towards the end of the nineteenth century as the "simultaneous space threshold" by Max von Frey (1852-1932), who was a pupil of the celebrated Leipzig experimental physiologist Carl Ludwig (1816-94). As late as the 1960s, physiologists were still using Weber's compass to measure the sensitivity of various areas of the hand. We have already mentioned Weber's pioneering exploration of the sense of pressure which led to the law of just-noticeable differences named after him (Weber's law). As we have seen, Weber rejected the idea of a specific epidermal temperature sensor, but this did not deter him from looking for areas of the skin that were more sensitive than others to heat and cold. The role of the socalled pain sense, which can also be localized on the skin, was relatively minor, for he lumped pain together with the "common sense," about which it was impossible to obtain scientifically exact information. Weber's achievements in the physiology of skin sensation have been acknowledged by many medical and scientific historians (cf. Bueck-Rich 1970). His famous treatise Der Tastsinn und das Gemeingefühl (The Sense of Touch and the Common Sense, 1846) not only included important research results in the field of the physiology of the skin but also gave a boost to sensory physiology in general. Terms still in use toda y in physiological research, such as "threshold of stimulation," "temperature sense" or "simultaneous spatial threshold," were either first coined by Weber or named after his experiments. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, many of the questions which had either been left open or simply not considered in Weber's theories of the skin senses were finally answered by the Würzburg physiologist, Max von Frey, whom we have already mentioned. In 1894, he proved the existence of pain points. In so doing, he added a fourth sense to the senses of pressure: warmth and coldness. A year later, he discovered that each of these four forms of sensation or modalities possessed its own organ. The so-called KrauseEndkolben (Krause's corpuscles), for example, were responsible for the sensation of coldness. This is a sensitive receptor, consisting of a round or oval body with built-in nerve threads, which is situated in the epidermis. For his experiments, Frey constructed a simple device that enabled him to apply tiny stimuli to the skin. It consisted of a series of brushes of different degrees of stiffness which were fixed to a moveable rod with sealing wax. This instrument, known universally as the "Frey Brush" in physiological research, is used to locate pain points and to determine their threshold values. The experiments performed on prisoners of both sexes without their consent by Cesare Lombroso (1836-1909) in the 1880s show how such pain-measuring



instruments could also be used for inhumane and scientifically dubious investigations. "The criminal's predilection for a painful and risky operation like tattooing," wrote Lombroso, "led me to conclude that, like many lunatics, criminals are less sensitive to physical pain than normal people" (quoted by Becker 1998: 473). This ltalian psychiatrist and criminologist attempted to substantiate this ideologically loaded theory of the inferior physical sensitivities of professional criminals by means of a whole series of physiological experiments. To test the reflex responses of his human guinea pigs, he stuck needles into them and treated them with electric shocks, and must certainly have left them with more than merely unpleasant sensory impressions. The experimental sensory physiology of the nineteenth century is characterized by the definition of the senses according to sensory modalities. In contrast to earlier times, it is now no longer the individual senses that are enumerated and classified, but sensory perceptions of all kinds. The reinterpretation of the sense of touch as a skin sense consisting of a number of discrete senses (pressure, heat, cold, and pain) may be regarded as typical. The methods and instruments developed by leading nineteenth-century sensory physiologists produced results that are still valid today, although they are hardly compatible with traditional ideas of the five senses and have fostered the separation of the senses.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT Parts of this chapter were published previously in Robert Jütte, A History of the Senses: From Antiquity to Cyberspace, translated from the German by James Lynn, published by Polity Press, Cambridge, UK and Malden, MA. Copyright © 2005 by Robert Jütte. Used with the permission of the publisher.


Toe Senses in Medicine: Seeing, Hearing, and Srnelling Disease DAVID S. BARNES

In the first years of the nineteenth century, a perceptual revolution occurred in Western medicine that inaugurated an age of radical sensory empiricism. No longer were the traditional authorities and their elaborate theoretical systems to be trusted. Only the direct evidence of the senses applied to-and even inside-the patient's body could henceforth generate reliable medical knowledge. A century later, the leading edge of medical innovation was moving away from the immediate observation of the body and toward the measurement and graphical representation of bodily phenomena by means of mechanical instruments. This chapter traces the outlines of this epistemological trajectory in medicine alongside a parallel development in the science of public health, in which experts and laypeople alike relied on their senses (smell in particular) to signal the presence and magnitude of health hazards in the urban environment, even as they eventually sought confirmation and explanation of those hazards in the laboratory.



"OPEN UPA FEW CORPSES": BICHAT AND PATHOLOGICAL ANATOMY The great challenge facing Western medicine at 1800 was that of seeing inside the body. The dissection of corpses had allowed anatomy to develop as a branch of medical learning over the centuries, but until 1800 the static structures of the dead body provided no access to the dynamic processes of the living body in health and illness. The critical breakthroughs happened in Paris, where post-Revolutionary upheaval and an extensive network of hospitalbased physician-professors (and their students) enabled clinical research to take place on an unprecedented scale. Thousands of patients' bodies were available for investigation both during their illnesses and after death. The result was what became known as the Paris Clinical School (Ackerknecht 1967). Giovanni Battista Morgagni of the University of Padua had proposed in 1761 that diseases had "seats" within the body, and that lesions visible in certain tissues upon autopsy corresponded to pathological processes experienced by the patient during illness (Morgagni 1769; Nicolson 1993a; Reiser 1993a). Led by Xavier Bichat, the Paris clinicians turned Morgagni's thesis into a fullyfledged research program, and eventually created a new medical specialty: pathological anatomy. The excitement he felt upon seeing the true nature of disease inside the body shines through even the conventionally dry prose of academic medicine: "How insignificant are the reasonings of a whole crowd of greatly esteemed physicians," he exclaimed, "when you examine them not in books, but on the cadaver!" "What good is observation, if you don't know where the illness lies? For twenty years, you have taken notes at the bedside on heart, lung, and stomach ailments, and ali is but a confusion of symptoms which, not connected to anything else, offer you only a sequence of incoherent phenomena." The answer was simple: "Open up a few corpses; you will immediately chase away the darkness which observation alone could not dissipate. " 1 Bichat was said to have opened up 600 corpses during the winter of 1801-2 alone. He died the following summer at age 30 (Ackerknecht 1967; Bichat 1801, 1: xcviii-xcix). His colleagues continued preaching the gospel of the postmortem examination and the correlation of lesions with symptoms, and their students from many countries took this "anatomical-clinical synthesis" home with them. Pathological anatomy flourished, making a teacher of death by using it as a window into the living body (Maulitz 1987; Risse 1997). The microscope had been around since the seventeenth century, but it was of little use in medicine until improvements in optical quality around 1830



FIGURE 6.1: The microscopic view: the late nineteenth-century bacteriologist Robert Koch at work in his laboratory. Paul de Kruif, Mikrobenjiiger, Zurich: Orell Füssli, 1927.



produced consistently sharp images. Thereafter, tissues and fluids from living bodies could be examined for signs of pathological alteration, and the treating physician could act on the results without having to wait for the patient's death. By deepening the physician's gaze, the microscope also moved the site of pathology itself from organs (Morgagni), and tissues and membranes (Bichat), to the level of the cell, where disease processes truly originated, according to Rudolf Virchow's pioneering work in the 1850s and 1860s. In so doing, it armed doctors with an additional layer of specificity and differentiation in their explanations of disease, and it also enabled them to distinguish between disease processes that might look alike to the naked eye but called for different treatment protocols or foretold different outcomes (LaBerge 1994; Maulitz 1987, 1993).

LA~NNEC'S DELIGHT: THE APOTHEOSIS OF SENSORY EMPIRICISM One memorable day in 1816, René Laennec of the Necker Hospital in París examined a corpulent young woman with symptoms of heart disease. Ordinarily, his diagnostic procedure would have included a combination of the following: feeling the heartbeat with his hand; percussion, or tapping, of tbe chest and listening to the resulting sound; and placing his ear directly against the patient's chest, thereby allowing him to simultaneously hear and feel tbe heartbeat. Eacb of these techniques furnisbed useful information, but each also had serious limitations. This patient in particular confounded Laennec: tbe thick layer of fat between heart and skin rendered the first two techniques useless, while her age and sex made the tbird impermissible. Inspiration struck when the doctor remembered something he had noticed while watching children at play: a faint sound like a pin scratch at one end of a tube or beam can be heard loud and clear at the other end. Laennec promptly rolled up a sheaf of paper, placed one end on the patient's chest, and put his ear to tbe other end. Voila: the first stethoscope. Laennec's enthusiasm upon hearing his young patient's heartbeat ecboed bis mentor Bichat's fervor for postmortem examination: "I was as surprised as I was satisfied to hear the beartbeat much more clearly and distinctly tban I ever had by applying my ear directly." Tbe implications dawned on him immediately: not just tbe beartbeat, but ali phenomena of tbe chest cavity could now speak their nature and their disorders to tbe physician (Laennec 1819, 1: 4-8). Laennec was the first to admit that he owed a great debt to bis predecessors, especially the Viennese physician Leopold Auenbrugger, who had pioneered tbe



technique of percussion fifty years earlier. But tapping and direct listeningpercussion and auscultation-required intimate touching, which disconcerted physicians and patients alike. The stethoscope removed this obstacle while amplifying the sound produced, and Laennec's innovation sparked widespread enthusiasm. Discreet touching and attentive listening opened the chest up for the careful and well-trained physician's investigation. Qualities and rhythms of heart sounds, volumes and fluctuations of pleural and pericardial fluids, vicissitudes of breath and voice, pulmonary rattles-all could now enter into a detailed diagnostic calculus. In fact, Laennec was forced to inventa vocabularyrales, crepitations, murmurs, pectoriloquy, bronchophony, egophony, rhonchito describe the sounds that correlated with various disease states (Ackerknecht 1967; Duffin 1998; Jacyna 2006: 42-5; Laennec 1819; Nicolson 1993b: 13940; Reiser 1993a: 828-32). Laennec's English translator credited the Frenchman with "plac[ing] a window in the breast through which we can see the precise state of things within" (Jacyna 2006: 42-3). The choice of metaphor conveys the primacy of vision in the hierarchy of the senses at the time, but physicians never neglected the value of hearing and touch, especially in diagnosis. The stethoscope catalyzed the development during the nineteenth century of a new ritual in medical practice: the routine, systematic, physical examination. By the early twentieth century it included all manner of instruments and machines, but in its most basic form it involved pulse-taking, palpation, percussion, and auscultation. Visually assessing the patient's appearance had always been important, and it remained so, but touching and listening now told the physician where the seat of the disease lay. Listening to the patient's words, which told a subjective truth-the history and the symptoms, formerly the basis of all medical knowledge-became less important than directly feeling, seeing, and hearing the objective signs of disease: the nodule, the murmur, the rattle, the lesion. The doctor's touch always carried with it a potential violation of propriety, but it gradually became indispensable as a means of scientific knowledge-gathering (Nicolson 1993a: 818-19; Porter 1993; Reiser 1993a: 832-3). Two examples in particular illustrate the exciting possibilities that the anatomical-clinical synthesis opened up to physicians in the early nineteenth century. The first is the diagnosis of tuberculosis (then known as "phthisis" or "consumption"). Many diseases cause coughing, expectoration, and fever. A subset of patients with these symptoms, Laennec noticed, exhibited what he called "pectoriloquy," a phenomenon in which the voice seems to emanate directly from a particular spot in the chest cavity during auscultation with a



FIGURE 6.2: Medical listening: Laennec auscultates a consumptive patient, by Théobald Chartran. Public domain.

stethoscope. Upon autopsy, Laennec found the cavitary lesions of advanced consumption in the lungs of every patient with pectoriloquy: In upwards of two hundred instances of consumptive subjects, whose bodies I have examined after having ascertained, during life, the condition of their lungs as indicated by the [stethoscope], I have not met with a single instance in which ulcerous excavations did not exist in those points of the lung over which the phenomenon of pectoriloquism had shown itself distinctly. Laennec and Forbes 1821: 300, quoted in Reiser 1978: 30 Practicing clinicians took note: pectoriloquy in patients suffering from sorne combination of cough, expectoration, fever, and weight loss indicated a diagnosis of consumption.



The case of "dropsy" also shows what a careful correlation of symptoms, signs, and postmortem lesions could reveal. That term designated a range of conditions in which fluid build-up caused swelling of the soft tissue in various parts of the body. Dropsy had not been localized in a a particular organ, although several physicians had noticed an opaque white precipitate called "albumin" that was produced when the urine of sorne dropsy patients was heated. In 1827, Richard Bright of Guy's Hospital in London demonstrated through careful observation and correlation that the kidneys of patients suffering from dropsy who also had albuminuria were shriveled in a characteristic manner when examined postmortem. Bright echoed Laennec: "1 have never yet examined the body of a patient dying of dropsy attended with [albuminuria] in whom sorne obvious derangement was not discovered in the kidneys." A distinct syndrome (later named "Bright's Disease") had been born, its "seat" or location found, and a means of differential diagnosis established (Bright 1827, 1: 2; Reiser 1978: 128-9). Decades after the stethoscope, further sensory aids supplemented the basic physical examination, and helped make it a normal, expected element of medical practice. In the 1850s the ophthalmoscope and the laryngoscope opened up the interior of the eyes and throat to the physician's gaze. In the 1860s new probing scopes permitted the observation of the living patient's stomach, bladder, rectum, and vagina. Sorne physicians and patients balked at these arguably indecent violations of the body, but they were swimming against the current of medical history; the allure of seeing inside the living body was too great to resist. Decency was respected, insisted pioneering gynecologistJ. Marion Sims in 1868, as long as examinations were "done with a proper sense of delicacy, and with a dignified, earnest, and conscientious determination to arrive at the truth" (Sims 1869, quoted in Reiser 1993a: 832-3). None of these instruments or techniques directly improved the efficacy of treatment, but that was not the point. They made medicine more specific, more definitive, and therefore more scientific, thereby enhancing the physician's authority and eventually his professional status. Decades passed without the introduction of any effective new treatments, but the proponents of diagnostic innovation were undeterred. Cure was not their only goal, nor was it their patients' universal expectation. It was generally assumed that the therapeutic payoff would follow in due course, but this outcome was not a precondition for medicine's new scientific identity (Lachmund 1998). In practice, the amplification of the senses through diagnostic technology did not revolutionize medical treatment in the nineteenth century.



"EXHIBITION" AND "OBSERVATION": FROM HEROIC REMEDIES TO SKEPTICAL RESTRAINT IN MEDICAL TREATMENT Cathartics, diuretics, emetics, sudorifics, expectorants-the bedrock of early nineteenth-century medica} treatment consisted of substances designed to provoke excretions. Jalap made you defecate, supertartrate of potash made you urinate, ipecac made you vomit, acetate of ammonia made you sweat, and senega made you cough up mucus (Bigelow 1822: 20-3). And, of course, the lancet made you bleed. The immediately observable physical reaction was the therapeutic mechanism. If you couldn't see, hear, smell, or feel it working, it wasn't working. The greater the output, and the more obvious the sensory evidence, the better it was working. This was the essence of "heroic" medicine (Rosenberg 1977). (The term was used to designate a generally aggressive therapeutic approach, as well as particular remedies that had especially powerful effects.) Although by 1800, the allopathic medica} literature rarely made explicit reference to humors, the fundamental Galenic notion of health as balanced flow of life-sustaining fluids and of illness as imbalance or blockage continued to undergird medica} knowledge and practice in the first half of the nineteenth century. Doctor and patient shared this framework of meaning, which validated the flow-inducing treatments-whether in heroic or milder doses-and both parties could see, hear, and smell the results (Rosenberg 1977). Just as importantly, the patient could feel the process of excretion-the necessary physiological alteration-as a direct physical sensation. Inhalation of various strong-smelling substances-for example, pine resin, turpentine, or tar vapors for consumption-was a fixture in the physician's toolkit throughout the nineteenth century. The strength of the sensation must have played a role in the perceived efficacy of such treatments, justas in the case of medically induced excretions. However, the inhalation treatments were not based on a systematic doctrine of therapeutic odors or of sensory stimulation. Rather, they seem to have derived from their association with what were widely considered healing environments, including forest air and sea voyages (in which marine air mixed with the smell of tar used in ship construction and maintenance) (Clark 1834; Crichton 1817; Potter 1896). When diarrhea results from irritation of the intestinal membrane, one doctor wrote in 1836, "gentle cathartics should be exhibited in the first instance, and be repeated if necessary" (Dunglison 1836: 253). In the medica} language of the time, to "exhibit" a drug was to administer it. Treatment was a ritual exhibition; its effectiveness lay in the observation of its administration and the



perceptibility of its mode of action. The exhibition was ali the more effective to the extent that it imitated a natural healing process. Defecation was a natural bodily response to certain illnesses; sometimes, the body needed a helping hand to produce the necessary effect. Hence, in those illnesses, the use of cathartics. Moreover, there was an added prognostic benefit to such treatments. Excretion often brought forth products the sight, sound, texture, and smell of which could provide clues to the body's internal condition (Rosenberg 1977). During the middle decades of the century, "heroic" turned into a term of derision in medicine, as a new therapeutic skepticism took hold. Practitioners of botanical medicine, homeopathy, and hydropathy gained strong footholds in the medical marketplace by denouncing the harshness of allopathic treatments. Meanwhile, the availability of large patient populations for study in the Paris hospitals allowed Pierre Louis to develop his "numerical method," which painted collective, quantitative portraits of disease entities and evaluated the efficacy of various treatment regimens. The statistical spirit of empiricism, which Louis passed on to his many French and foreign students, begat skepticism toward traditional therapeutics. Misconceptions persist on this score; Louis' quantitative study of bloodletting did not in fact show the practice to be useless or harmful, and the often used term "therapeutic nihilism" greatly exaggerates the reluctance of ordinary physicians after 1850 to intervene in their patients' illnesses. However, the days of heroism were numbered, and Parisian-style empiricism probably deserves at least sorne of the credit for its demise. By mid-century, bloodletting had ali but disappeared from regular practice, and routinely administered dosages of many drugs had declined. There is an irony in the name of the Société Médicale d'Observation, which Louis founded to promote his numerical method: he observed patients in the aggregate, as numbers, rather than as individual suffering and excreting bodies. His zealous pursuit of observation in the quantitative mode helped sow the seeds of the downfall of direct sensory observation as the keystone of medical treatment (Ackerknecht 1967; Rosenberg 1977; Warner 1986, 1987, 1998). The so-called "Paris School" casts a long shadow over nineteenth-century medicine. Considering its various innovations separately is misleading; its ultimare power lay in their cumulative effect. Having studied under Bichat, Laennec was an avid practitioner and teacher of postmortem examination, and in fact his masterwork on diseases of the chest was renowned even more for its clinical-pathological correlations than for its introduction of auscultation and the stethoscope. Louis in turn was known for his teaching of both pathological anatomy and physical examination, as well as for his numerical method. The rigorous, skeptical empiricism of the Paris School defined a new spirit of



inquiry, while its clinical techniques revolutionized the art and science of diagnosis (if not of treatment). The hospital-based medicine of Bichat, Laennec, and Louis resonated powerfully among their students and fellow practitioners near and far. They were far from alone, and many investigators and institutions outside of France deserve credit for important innovations, but their concentration in place and time suggests the atmosphere of ferment and excitement that prevailed in medicine at what seemed to be the dawn of a new era. At mid-century, the elite physician's ability to see, hear, and feel illness in the patient's body was central to his practice. He sought objective signs, and knew that symptoms could mislead. But so could the senses, if he generalized too much from individual patients; he knew that the path to truth and progress passed through systematic, quantified observation of large numbers of cases.

SENSING HEALTH HAZARDS: THE SLUM AND THE DISEASE MIST The early nineteenth-century sensory turn in clinical medicine had no counterpart in public health, largely because public health had always rested upon a foundation of sensory knowledge. Eyes, nose, and skin had for centuries been at least as important as theoretical systems in shaping perceptions of unhealthy places and populations. However, the transformation of human landscapes in the nineteenth century through urbanization, followed by the laboratory revolution in medicine, deeply and durably changed the way experts perceived and evaluated potential health hazards. At first, scientists and medical men highlighted the sights, sounds, smells, and feel of urban squalor as they mobilized public opinion behind sanitary reform. Beginning in the 1880s, as the Bacteriological Revolution shook the foundations of medical knowledge, and experts turned to the laboratory for the truth about public health, justas they did in clinical medicine. They also tried to persuade the lay public to join them in mistrusting the direct evidence of the senses, but with only incomplete success. Beginning in the 1830s, bourgeois observers in Great Britain, France, and other industrializing nations gazed upon, listened to, smelled, and felt with abject horror the urban hellholes to which their grand civilizations had given birth. Health reformers, moralists, journalists, and novelists alike indulged in a synesthetic festival of disgust. Vivid sensory descriptions served not only to convey outrage and danger to readers, but crucially to signal to the observer himself the presence or imminence of disease.



FIGURE 6.3: Stench and squalor: Jacob's Island, London. Edward Walford, Old and New London. London: Cassell, 1880.

Nobody matched Dickens in the hirid evocation of foulness. The slum dwellings of Jacob's Island in Oliver Twist were "so small, so filthy, so confined, that the air would seem to be too tainted even for the dirt and squalor which they shelter." There were "wooden chambers thrusting themselves out above the mud and threatening to fall into it-as sorne have done; dirt-besmeared walls and decaying foundations, every repulsive lineament of poverty, every loathsome indication of filth, rot, and garbage" (Dickens 1993: 332). Dickens in Sketches by Boz also describes, "Wretched houses with broken windows patched with rags and paper: every room let out to a different family, and in many instances to two or even three ... filth everywhere ... clothes drying and slops emptying from the windows." The cumulative sensory effect of such



squalid hovels is compounded by the human--or, it often seems, subhumanelement that inhabits them: "Girls of fourteen or fifteen with matted hair, walking about barefoot, and in white great-coats, almost their only covering; boys of all ages . . . men and women, in every variety of scanty and dirty apparel, lounging, scolding, drinking, smoking, squabbling, fighting, and swearing" (Dickens 1994: 183). It was no wonder that fevers resided permanently in these slums. Social critics and health reformers persistently made the connection between foul dwellings and disease, and Edwin Chadwick's landmark 1842 report bolstered it with the weight of a massive nationwide survey and hundreds of pages of examples and local testimony (Chadwick 1843). Across the Channel in France, the refrain was the same: dark, damp, crowded, foul. Prominent physician and sanitarian Louis-René Villermé led the way in unflinching explorations of industrial society's festering underbelly, as in this 1850 denunciation of the sorry state of working-class housing in French cities: Each household disposes of only a single room, small, low-lying, dark, humid . . . often below street level or in attic space, glacial in winter, oppressive in summer, and with no horizon other than a dismal wall a few feet away; on muddy, narrow, unhealthy streets, in houses falling into ruins, with dilapidated floors and stairways covered with a slippery layer of filth! Fortunate are those who do not also ... have to confront ... dirty pallets with just a straw mattress and tattered blankets, and the promiscuous pell-mell of ages and sexes piling up and pressing upon one another. Villermé 1850: 245-6 It is impossible to know how many of the countless similar laments directly reflect the observer's physical sensations and how many are merely formulaic repetitions, but the net effect is the same: a conditioned, collective sensory response to poverty, overcrowding, and 61th. "How ugly Paris seems after one has been away for a year!" exclaimed the essayist Delphine de Girardin under her pseudonym Vicomte de Launay. "How one stifles in these dark, damp, narrow corridors! And thousands of people live, bustle, throng in the liquid darkness, like reptiles in a marsh" (Chevalier 1973: 152). The view from afar was no prettier. Socialist reformer Henri Lecouturier found himself "seized with sudden fear" when contemplating Paris from the heights of Montmartre:



One is reluctant to venture into this vast maze, in which a million beings jostle each other, where the air, vitiated by unhealthy effluvia, rising in a poisonous cloud, almost obscures the sun ... A haggard and sickly crowd perpetually throngs these streets, their feet in the gutter, their noses in infection, their eyes outraged by the most repulsive garbage at every street comer ... There are alleys, too, in which two cannot walk abreast, sewers of ordure and mud, in which the stunted and withered dwellers daily inhale death. Chevalier 1973: 155-6 The "poisonous cloud" was both a metaphor and a deadly physical reality. Physician Claude Lachaise described it as "a very noticeable haze formed by the exhalations from the prodigious quantity of men and animals confined in the city and by evaporation from the damp and the mud which carpets ... its streets." The figurative saying that "one can see Paris breathe," Lachaise added, was in fact literally true (Lachaise 1822: 46). A city health inspector agreed: "There can be no doubt that so much noxious gas affects the health of Paris when it can be seen from afar hanging in a cloud above the city in the finest weather" (Chevalier 1973: 46). The same deadly cloud hovered over London, confirmed William Farr, the pioneering epidemiologist who oversaw the collection of vital statistics in the General Register Office: This disease-mist, arising from the breath of two millions of people, frrom open sewers and cesspools, graves and slaughter-houses, is continually kept up and undergoing changes; in one season it is pervaded by cholera, in another by influenza; at one time it bears smallpox, measles, scarlatina, and whooping cough among your children; at another it carries fever on its wings. "Like an angel of death," Farr continued, "it has hovered for centuries over London." But sanitary legislation, he insisted, had the power to dissipate the "poisonous vapor," and to dispense "the sunshine, pure water, fresh air, and health of the country" to the suffering cities (Farr 184 7: xvii). Sensory experience, esthetic judgment, morality, politics, statistics, and medicine blended inseparably in the sanitary crusade of the mid-nineteenth century. Villermé, Farr, and their colleagues simultaneously took aim at the disease-mist from a distance and the filthy, overcrowded, working-class hovel up close. Their senses and their science spoke in unison.



FIGURE 6.4: Filth and fever: "A Court for King Cholera." Punch, 1852.

THE SMELL OF DISEASE "In respect to the sanatory condition of towns ... all smell is, if it be intense, immediate acute disease, and eventually we may say that, by depressing the system and rendering it susceptible to the action of other causes, ali smell is disease" (Chadwick 1846: 651, my emphasis). The garbage, the dirt, the dark, the disorder, and the crowding of exposed bodies offended the eye. Squabbling, swearing voices assaulted the ear. And the skin, that exquisitely sensitive organ, rebelled at the quality of the air itself-wet, stagnant, clammy, suffocating. The sensory organ most grievously injured by the nineteenth-century city, however, was without contest the nose. Rural rnigrants poured into mushroorning industrial and commercial centers by the rnillions in search of wage labor, straining urban infrastructures that had expanded relatively little since the Middle Ages. The resulting flood of bodies and their excretions overwhelmed the skeletons and vital organs of those cities, and generated a stench that could not be ignored. On occasion, urban odors erupted into full-scale crisis. 2 When it happened in the capitals of culture, refinement, and enlightened government, the outcry was fierce and loud. A June heat wave was responsible for London's plight in



1858. At the time, the bodily waste of Londoners flowed through sewers directly into the Thames. A decade earlier, fearing precisely the spread of odors and disease, local authorities had definitively put an end to the cesspit system, in which pits or containers underneath each residencial building collected the excretions of its residents. Under this old sanitary regime, crews periodically emptied the cesspits' contents into carts and transported them to more or less distant depots. In effect, the new system ended up displacing the problem from a multitude of points throughout the metropolis (every residencial building) to a single central location: the Thames. Sewers emptied into the river at various points, including central London (from where much of the city's water supply was drawn). Even in the best of times, sorne observers feared for the safety of drinking water and warned of possible epidemics; if the water level of the Thames were ever to drop significantly, crisis awaited (Halliday 1999; Porter 1995: 262-5; Thompson 1991). An unwieldy and decentralized system of local sanitary authorities had been replaced in 1855 by the Metropolitan Board of Works, intended to facilitate "the better management of the metropolis" through public works. At the top of the Board's agenda was "the sewage problem" (Porter 1995: 262-3). Insufficient resources and bureaucratic turf wars between the government and the Board, however, prevented any real progress until the early summer of 1858, when push finally carne to shove. A prolonged dry spell had left the Thames at an unusually low level, and June's heat ripened its contents to a peak of pungency. The effect was catastrophic, if contemporary accounts are to be believed-not a gradually developing, unpleasant sensation but a devastating and even incapacitating onslaught. Complaints carne fast and furious. "This truly is no jesting matter. The life or death of thousands may hang on it," proclaimed one newspaper. "Panic reigns within the Houses of Parliament," blared another. The stench was intolerable; something needed to be done; the government and sanitary authorities bore a responsibility to act-without further delay. Moreover, the odors threatened not just delicate sensibilities, but the public's health. There was near unanimity on these points. But agreement was elusive on the key question, asked repeatedly in the press throughout the Great Stink: "What is to be done?" 3 One month after the outbreak of the Great Stink, it was Benjamin Disraeli, leader of the House of Commons at the time, who (calling the Thames "a Stygian pool") introduced a bill giving the Metropolitan Board of Works at last the resources and relatively unfettered authority to undertake a sewerage project of unparalleled magnitude. Disraeli's bill worked its way through



Parliament smoothly and remarkably swihly; according to The Times, "the stench of June ... did for the sanitary administration of the Metropolis what the Bengal mutinies did for the administration of India." Legislators hostile by nature to major state expenditures orto any significant government intervention in local affairs fell into line, as if dazed by the intensity of the olfactory ordeal. "The Metropolis Local Management Amendment Act: An Act to alter and amend the Metropolis Local Management Act and to extend the powers of the Metropolitan Board of Works for the purification of the Thames and the main Drainage of the Metropolis" became law on August 2, 1858, just eighteen days aher its introduction (Halliday 1999: 73-5; Porter 1995: 263; Sheppard 1998: 284 ). In time of crisis, smell trumped politics. The new anti-stink law empowered the MBW and its chief engineer, Sir Joseph Bazalgette, to undertake a massive plan of sewer construction, eventually completed in 1875 ata cost of f.6.5 million. Bazalgette built eighty-three miles of sewer mains, fed by many hundreds of miles of smaller sewers, so that the waste of London could be evacuated far downstream at high tide, and be carried harmlessly to the sea. The centerpiece of Bazalgette's scheme was the construction of the Thames Embankments, which in addition to enclosing the sewer mains beautified the London riverfront considerably and created new public parks at Charing Cross and Cheyne Walk. Most historians concur in viewing Bazalgette's achievement as a triumph of both sanitation and urban design, a harbinger of a new age of beneficent modero public works (Halliday 1999; Inwood 1998: 433-5; Porter 1995: 263-4; Sheppard 1998: 280-4). Twenty-two summers later, it was Paris's turn. The odor and the outcry were just as intense, but the outcome was very different. Paris too had undergone a major program of sewer construction in the 1850s and 1860s, as part of the colossal rebuilding plan undertaken by Emperor Napoleon III and the capital's orefect, Baron Haussmann. However, the new Paris sewers (unlike Bazalgette's) drained from the city every kind of refuse and runoff except human urine and feces. Parisian bodily waste continued to be evacuated by means of cesspits and vidange crews, who emptied the cesspits and carted their contents to several waste treatment plants located outside of the city. Neighbors' repeated complaints shut down one of these plants in the summer of 1880. The closure forced the vidange company to dump excess waste at the remaining treatment plants in the northern, eastern, and southern suburbs. It was also alleged that sorne of the surplus was simply dumped into the Paris sewers (Commission de l'assainissement de Paris 1881: 158-9; Conseil municipal de Paris 1880, 2: 339). In the heat of July, complaints about intolerable odors



began to arise within Paris itself (Conseil municipal de Paris 1880, 2: 148). The outcry intensified in August, particularly in the north-central districts of the capital. "Fetid emanations," residents claimed in the third week of August, were spreading through the city, particularly in the evening hours, and positively "stinking up" their neighborhoods. 4 By the end of the month, the odors had become an almost daily fixture in the Parisian press. From late August through the month of September and into early October, the stench became a full-fledged public sensation, an object not just of private annoyance and complaint but of public policy, official debate, and rancorous accusations. After the local health council concluded that the odors were unpleasant but harmless, the central government entered the fray in late September when the Minister of Agriculture and Commerce named an eleven-member blue-ribbon panel to study the odors and recommend remedial measures. Especially noteworthy among the commission's illustrious members were Louis Pasteur and Paul Brouardel. Pasteur was already a nationally (and internationally) renowned figure in 18 80, though his fame would certainly increase considerably in the ensuing years, and Brouardel was one of his staunchest allies in the medical community, professor of public health and forensic medicine at the Paris medical faculty and a preeminent authority on all health matters in late nineteenth-century France (Commission de l'assainissement de París 1881: 5-6; Faure 1994: 180; Léonard 1981: 252-4, 292-5; Murard and Zylberman 1996: 198-203). The commission deliberated for nine months, identifying an exhaustive array of sites and practices as potential or actual causes of the stench. More importantly, the prestigious commission found that "these odors ... can pose a threat to the public health." In effect, the official voice of French science and medicine, while acknowledging the possibility that foul odors could be harmless, had come clown in this instance on the side of their potential danger, and had chosen to take a public stand to that effect (Commission de l'assainissement de París 1881: 13-23, my emphasis). The verdict resonated widely in ongoing debates about the sanitary infrastructure of París. Four years earlier, the City Council had approved the hotly controversial policy of "tout-a-l'égout" ("everything into the sewers"), under which all of the city's human waste would eventually be evacuated through the sewers, and ultimately into the Seine downstream of Paris and onto sewage farms along the riverbanks. In order for "tout-a-l'égout" to become reality, every single building in the city had to be connected to the sewer system. Parliamentary approval carne only in 1894, andas late as 1914 thousands of buildings remained unconnected.



The Great Stink of 1880 thrust the issue into a national spotlight, and advocates on both sides of the controversy pointed to the crisis as urgent evidence for their argument. Proponents of "tout-a-l'égout" blamed the cumbersome cesspit-vidange system for the foul odors, and promoted circulation through water rather than accumulation as the safest and least incommodious way to handle human excretions. Opponents, however, doubted that the quantity of water and the slope of the sewers would be up to the task, and warned of a continuous excrementa! stream flowing at all times underneath the streets of París-a potential perpetua! river of disease-if "tout-a-l'égout" were implemented (Guerrand 1983; Jacquemet 1979; Reíd 1991: 58-65, 7983). Pasteur and Brouardel, on the cutting edge of the Bacteriological Revolution in medicine and public health, cast their lot with the opponents. They cited recent studies suggesting that typhoid fever and anthrax, among other diseases, could be spread by malodorous emanations. (In 1880, those two diseases were among the few for which specific causal microbes had already been identified.) "Tout-a-l'égout," they concluded, was too risky. Instead, they convinced the commission to advocate a hermetically sealed pipeline from París to the sea, entirely separate from the sewer system, for the evacuation of human waste. (The prohibitive expense and dubious feasibility of such a project ensured that it would remain a dead letter.) The olfactory crisis thus stalled rather than accelerated the movement of "everything into the sewers." On the surface, the Great Stinks of London and París teach a clear lesson: In the first instance, common sense and determination produced results, while in the second, quarrelsome speculation and deliberation produced only inaction and future stinks great and small. However, a closer reading of official and popular reactions to the two crises reveals an underlying parallelism. In both cases, the odors were intolerable and disgusting, but also sickening, literally as well as figuratively-that is, they were reported to have caused serious illnesses as well as nausea. In both cities, laypeople and medical men alike identified specific victims who had been sickened or even-like a waterman in London and four sewermen in Paris-killed by the stench. Both populations demanded urgent government action, and expressed frustration and outrage at governmental authorities' perceived failure to pursue the appropriate measures quickly and resolutely. The chief difference between the two Great Stinks was in the sanitary policy that resulted from them: a massive new sewer system in London, inaction in París. Configurations of political power and economic interest on the local and national level in the two countries help explain the divergent trajectories, as



does the fact that the odors ernanated frorn a single clearly identifiable source in London (the Tharnes), but in Paris spread diffusely frorn rnany possible points of origin. But a surprising factor rnay also have been partially responsible for the inability of the French to agree on a solution to their problern: the advance of science. One rnight expect that the identification of specific rnicrobes as the causes of specific diseases would definitively put to rest the highly unspecific (and, to later observers, highly unscientific) notion that foul odors spread disease. In 18 80, however, this was far frorn the case. After all, reasoned Pasteur, Brouardel, and their allies, if it had been proveo that typhoid fever was caused by a bacteriurn, and if studies showed that the disease was spread by foul-srnelling ernanations frorn irnproperly ventilated cesspits, then it stood to reason that the ernanations contained gerrns. If so, then the proposed evacuation of typhoid victirns' excretions through sewers-connected directly to the water-closets and streets of Paris-prornised untold calarnity. The pressure of popular disgust and health warnings actually pushed in opposite directions sirnultaneously. In 1880, the intensity and duration of the stench, the dire warnings generated by the new science, and the resulting fear raised the stakes of the debate and hardened positions on both sides. Even if everyone agreed that the status quo was unacceptable, there were now new rnicroscopic dangers hidden inside every possible alternative. Knowledge was paralyzing.

"NOT EVERYTHING THAT STINKS KILLS, AND NOT EVERYTHING THAT KILLS STINKS": TOWARD A SANITARYBACTERIOLOGICAL SYNTHESIS The Pasteur-Brouardel cornrnission went to great lengths to ernphasize one vital point in 1880: some-but not all-odors are hazardous to human health. In the cornrnission's view, both elernents of this assertion deserved equal weight: not all odors are harrnful, but (equally irnportantly) sorne odors are in fact harrnful. The tone of the report suggests that the cornrnission knew sorne rnight find it difficult to accept that intensely foul srnells were innocuous: "Very unpleasant odors, extrernely offensive to one's sense of srnell, can be harrnless to the body, and odorless ernanations can, on the contrary, be very dangerous" (Cornrnission de l'assainissernent de Paris 1881: 23). The cornrnission's phrase evoked a witty rnaxirn (attributed to the erninent veterinary scientist and Pasteur ally Henri Bouley) frequently used to spread the rnessage of gerrn theory: "tout ce qui pue ne tue pas, et tout ce qui tue ne pue pas"-"not everything that stinks kills, and not everything that kills stinks." This rnotto of



the new public health was easily comprehensible to a lay audience, emphasized the novelty of the bacteriological approach to health and illness, and clearly distinguished its scientific character from the old inferences of miasmatism. From now on, only experts trained in the new medica} sciences and backed by laboratory methods were in a position to arbitrate what was safe and unsafe, harmless and hazardous. The experience of subsequent decades showed physicians and health authorities both the power and the limits of the new watchword. As more and more microbes were identified as the causes of various diseases, and as bacteriological laboratories proved themselves capable of testing for the presence of specific germs in a wide array of samples, substances, and places, the position of the scientifically trained physician as arbiter of health carne to be virtually unassailable. At the same time, it was impossible for the general public-and even many physicians-to accept that foul-smelling or -tasting substances could be harmless (Barnes 2006: 138-9). The evidence of the senses could not be gainsaid so easily. Any science that declared the innocence of that which blatantly violated culturally accepted sensory norms simply did not make sense. The pre-bacteriological sanitary reformers who plumbed the depraved depths of the urban slums at mid-century understood that. What emerged from the confrontation between the laboratory and the senses over a period of decades was not a victory of either one over the other, but a mutually agreeable reconciliation. A "sanitary-bacteriological synthesis" ratified the old concerns of the early sanitary reformers-especially filth, contamination, and immorality-by associating them with germs, and incorporated them through the language of bacteriology into a new germ-centered focus on the danger of contact with potentially sick bodies and bodily substances, tests for the presence of specific micro bes, and the promise of their control through laboratory science (Barnes 2006: 133-9). In the age of the sanitary-bacteriological synthesis, which is very much still with us more than a century later, filth and moral transgression still cause disease (as they always did), but only science can tell us how and why; only science can identify, explain, and cure disease. Together, the laboratory and clean living can prevent it. This is the joint legacy of the sanitary movement of 1830--50 and the Bacteriological Revolution of 1875-1900.

DIAGNOSTIC TECHNOLOGY ANO THE READING OF THE BODY As the nineteenth century drew to a close, physicians' ongoing quest for reliable, standardized data from which to derive diagnostic or therapeutic knowledge



resulted in new technologies that, instead of extending the reach of the physician's senses (as the stethoscope had, for example, or the laryngoscope), bypassed them by converting bodily phenomena into numbers and graphs. In tandem with the rise of pathological anatomy, many physicians sought a systematic, scientific way of associating disease processes with alterations in basic physiological mechanisms, including body temperature and circulation. Especially noteworthy among the instruments developed to achieve this goal between 1850 and 1920 are the medica} thermometer and the sphygmomanometer. The simple feeling of heat provided the basis of what may have been the most common and elementary use of the senses in diagnosis. Fever exists when the skin is hot to the touch, or when the patient feels feverish. Fairly accurate thermometers became widely available in the early eighteenth century, but they did not enter into routine medica} practice until after the 1860s. Sorne physicians doubted the accuracy of thermometric readings, which in any case were mere numbers; an experienced practitioner's hand could not only feel degrees of heat, but could also distinguish "acrid" or "irritating" heat, for example, from other qualities. In the wake of Bichat, moreover, disease carne to be localized increasingly in individual organs and tissues, and systemic phenomena like temperature seemed of secondary importance (Reiser 1978: 110-16). But eventually, the quest for scientific precision, standardization, and quantification in the study of the human body drove the incorporation of the thermometer into everyday clinical medicine. An 1857 paper by Carl Wünderlich of Leipzig urged physicians to keep daily temperature records for their patients, and many took notice. One American doctor was persuaded by the objective and impersonal data produced by the thermometer: The information obtained by merely placing the hand on the body of the patient is inaccurate and unreliable. If it be desirable to count the pulse and not trust to the judgment to estimate the number of beats per minute, it is far more desirable to ascertain the animal heat by meaos of a heat measurer. The sensations of the patient with respect to temperature, as everyone knows, are extremely fallacious; he may suffer from a feeling of heat when, to the touch of another, the surface is cold, and vice versa. Flint 1866-7 Scientific observers preferred numerical prec1S1on to estimates, whether of pulse or of temperature. Wünderlich's 1868 treatise On the Temperature in Diseases, based on almost 25,000 patients and millions of temperature readings, quickly became a standard reference work (Reiser 1978: 115-17).



Pulsetaking had been a pillar of diagnosis since antiquity, and following Galen's injunction doctors had learned to sense in their trained fingers a range of subjective qualities in the pulse. Sorne counted the frequency of the beats, while others dismissed mere numbers as crude and uninformative. Laennec, for bis part, warned bis colleagues not to rely on the pulse as an indicator of circula tion or of the condition of the heart. Jules Hérisson's 18 35 "sphygmometer" (from the Greek sphygmos, "pulsation") turned each pulse beat into a rising and falling column of mercury in a glass tube, resulting in a "reading" of the magnitude and duration as well as the frequency of the pulse. The device gained sorne adherents, but the "sphygmographs" developed in the 1850s generated more enthusiasm by rendering the pulse as the fluctuations of a line printed on paper. Proponents of the new tracing devices correlated pulse patterns with clinical symptoms, and claimed that they could detect defects of the heart and blood vessels earlier than could a doctor relying on auscultation alone. They could also quantitatively measure the effects of medications they administered. During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, successive designs of a "sphygmomanometer" used rubber bulbs filled with water or air to compress an artery while the operator felt or listened for a pulse below the artery; the machine then measured the pressure necessary to make the pulse disappear (systolic pressure) and the lower pressure at which the pulse faded out entirely (diastolic pressure). In 1912, use of the sphygmomanometer to measure maximum and minimum blood pressure was made routine for all patients admitted to the Massachusetts General Hospital (Evans 1993; Reiser 1978: 95-106). Wilhelm Roentgen's disclosure in 1896 of the "X-ray," which produced photographic images of the body's interior, transformed medical practice as few other innovations have before or since. Within days of the initial announcement, newspapers and magazines worldwide hailed the discovery; within a year, it was the subject of overa thousand articles and forty-nine books. Soon X-ray machines could be found in many hospitals. By 1920, X-rays were performed on over 20 percent of all adult patients and over 80 percent of fracture patients at the Pennsylvania Hospital and New York Hospital. In addition to fractures, the new images revealed anomalies in the heart and lungs earlier and with greater precision than did percussion and auscultation (Howell 1995: 103-68; Reiser 1978: 68). The X-ray represents the ambiguity of new diagnostic technology around 1900. On the one hand, it produced nota mere number but a visual image, which had meaning only when interpreted by an observer whose vision had been trained to see pathological alterations in human anatomy. A sharp eye, clinical experience, and astute judgment could mean the difference



between correct and incorrect diagnosis. On the other hand, as medical practice became increasingly specialized in the early twentieth century, the task of reading X-rays fell increasingly to technicians and other non-physicians. By offering a clearer view inside the body, they began to erode the value of the doctor's experience, acumen, and touch. The thermometer, sphygmomanometer, X-ray, and other technologies pushed the direct encounter between the physician's senses and the patient's body from the center of medical practice. Graphical representations of the body, rather than the real thing, now presented themselves to the doctor's diagnostic gaze. Numbers and graphs rather than subjectively interpreted qualities increasingly differentiated between healthy and diseased states. Machines and devices standardized diagnostic procedures and clinical knowledge, making them more objective, more easily and widely communicable, and more reliable. But they also undermined that part of medical practice that was more art than science, and that located authority in experience and judgment rather than in precision. Many physicians sensed danger in the shifting epistemological landscape, and protested against the changes. "We pauperize our senses and weaken clinical acuity" by relying on the sphygmomanometer, one British physician warned. An early Philadelphia report on the use of X-rays scoffed at the notion that they "will, or ever can, displace the sense of touch guided by a well-balanced and experienced mind." Nurses became "the doctor's eyes," and along with technicians took over many of the tasks associated with the new technology. Doctors feared becoming mere mechanics, as the utility of their specialized knowledge and expertise carne into question. Medical schools began to train students, in one American physician's words, "to place the emphasis on the instrument of precision rather than on the eye, ear, [or] hand of the physical examiner" (Evans 1993: 800-5; Howell 1995: 108; Reiser 1993a: 842, 1993b: 271; Sandelowski 2000). It is important to guard against the allure of technological determinism in assessing changes in medical knowledge and practice at the dawn of the twentieth century. Just as the stethoscope was born out of the need to hear rather than vice versa, the yearning for precision and standardization in medicine preceded and made possible the introduction of the thermometer, sphygmomanometer, and X-ray into medical practice. Physicians sought mastery over disease, and found it for the most part not in cures or effective treatments or preventive interventions, but in explanatory power-the ability to represent, measure, and quantify bodily phenomena and disease processes. In the first half of the nineteenth century, mastery lay in the physician's trained senses; toward 1900, it was found in mechanized representations.



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I am grateful to the participants in the University of Pennsylvania Faculty Writing Retreat, June 2012, for their assistance in the preparation of this chapter.


The Senses in Literature: Industry and Ernpire NICHOLAS DALY

This chapter will look at the role of the senses in literature across a diverse period, spanning Romantic, Victorian, and Modernist literary formations. There are, nonetheless, significant continuities across this period, since ali three formations react to the alteration of sensory experience by modernization and an increasingly self-conscious imperialism. New conceptions of time and space, new sights, sounds, tastes, and odors, and new tactile worlds, accompanied these developments, and were refracted, incorporated, and theorized in literary works. At the beginning of this period, Romanticism is at least in parta reaction against the perceived destruction of an older experiential world by the age of steam, andan attempt to locate a basis for authentic poetic selfhood in sensory immersion in the natural world; in these years the poet's unique capacity for perception is thought to find its fullest realization away from modero life. Later nineteenth-century writers retain this perspective on modernity to a considerable extent, though a few attempt to come to terms with the new experiential world of the steam age. By the early twentieth century, while sorne Modernists continue to reject the sights and sounds of industry and mass urban life, others, notably the Futurists, seem to want to escape the messy stuff of humanity for the clean mechanical lines of the second industrial revolution. Empire recurs as a concern across this span, as the economic powers sought new markets and new sources of raw materials, and tightened their grip on existing territories.



At times empire is a shadowy presence in the text, denoted by streams of revenue, foods, and fabrics; at times it is more insistent, a transformative or disruptive force for the sensory world of the characters, like the visionproducing opium of Dickens' Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870). Across ali of this period reading itself as a practice was becoming more embedded in everyday life because of a number of factors: growing levels of literacy; cheaper books and newspapers; the text-saturation of increasingly urban environments; and the dissemination of new lighting technologies.

ROMANTIC The Romantic poet was deemed to be characterized by his (it was usually his) perceptive power, thought to resemble that of a child ora non-Western subject. He must, says Coleridge, have "the ear of a wild Arab listening in the silent Desart, the eye of a North American Indian tracing the footsteps of an enemy" (McSweeney 1998: 3). But he is also attuned to spiritual realities of which the natural world is thought to be the symbol, and experiences moments of total unity with that world, becoming, like Ralph Waldo Emerson, "a transparent eye-ball ... nothing"; such intervals are William Wordworth's "spots of time", Emily Dickinson's "Heavenly Moments" (McSweeney 1998: 29). These twin tenets of Romanticism-perceptual acuity, and affinity with the natural world-suggest the gap between Romantic poetry and the fruits of the industrial revolution. Yet there are poems that seek to bridge that chasm, and make industry more than a significant absence. Wordsworth's "Steamboats, Viaducts, and Railways" is such an attempt to reconcile poetic feeling with the ugly, noisy, smelly machines of the steam age. Ultimately the poem suggests that we must go beyond the ugly appearances of the new technologies to discover "what in soul [they] are", which turns out to be the power of nature harnessed by humankind. The new things may be unattractive to the senses, but they are the second-generation products of nature: In spite of ali that beauty may disown In your harsh features, Nature doth embrace Her lawful offspring in Man's art ...

Wordsworth 1972: 47 Wordsworth even bought railway stock (Warburg 1958: 27), but when steam power began to intrude into his beloved Lake District, he took a less benign



FIGURE 7.1: Portrait of William Wordsworth by Henry Wlliam Pickersgill. National Portrait Gallery.



view, and the late railway sonnets give voice to a fresh sense of the inimicality of the new transport technologies to a life and literature in tune with the tranquil beauty of nature. In "The Kendal and Windermere Railway," he seeks to open the eyes and ears of the mountains themselves to the unsightly, noisy and noisome threat that confronts them: "Hear Ye that whistle?," urging them to share bis "just disdain" of the invaders. Among less familiar work, Ebenezer Elliott's "Steam, A Poem," also known as "Steam, at Sheffield," which appeared first in 1833, is a rare attempt to capture the sounds, sights and rhythms of the steam-engine: Oh, there is glorious harmony in this Tempestuous music of the giant, Steam Commingling growl and roar, and stamp and hiss With flame and darkness ... Elliott 1840: 91 Nonetheless, for Elliott as for Wordsworth, steam power remains something monstrous, evoking both joy and terror. This remains the uneasy attitude for much of the nineteenth century: the new technologies were undoubtedly productive, but they grated upon the senses of the writer, and they remained a source of anxiety. While Romantic poetry forsook the world of steam for a version of pastoral, the Romantic or Gothic novel was probing different sensuous territory. In broad terms we can see that Gothic's preoccupation with sensation and with transgression-including the depiction of murder, rape, torture, and incestwas also produced by modernization, insofar as Gothic provided a readerly outlet for acts and desires that were increasingly circumscribed by the modero state and civil life, and for heightened emotional states that were incompatible with ideas of rationality {Halttunen 1998: 78-83). Like the literature of sensibility {Henry Mackenzie's novel, The Man of Feeling [1771], is a famous instance), Gothic draws its energies from new attitudes to pain and the body. The spectacular violence of a novel like Matthew Lewis' The Monk (1796), in which the revered monk, Ambrosio, drugs, rapes, and murders Antonia, who turns out to be his own sister, thus marks it as the grim twin of the more sentimental literature in which characters learn to feel the pain of others. Sensory deprivation and overload in the form of burial alive, torture, and starvation are staples of Gothic. The readerly effects of these novels suggest a variety of the sublime perhaps not fully anticipated by Edmund Burke in his A



Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757). The more geological shifts in behaviors and attitudes that accompanied the civilizing process of modernity are not the only forces acting on this Romantic literature, and the atrocities of the French Revolution and the 1798 rising in Ireland provide other contexts for understanding the focus on the body in pain and sensory extremes. Nor should we forget the global colonial context: Matthew Lewis, for example, owned and visited slave estates in the West Indies, where spectacular violence, rape, and torture were recognized parts of a modero commerce that conflated people and goods; his Journal of a West India Proprietor was published posthumously in 1834. Slavery was not outlawed in British colonial possessions until 1833, and in French ones until 1848; in the United States it was 1865. In this light, it is perhaps not surprising that sorne of the bestselling tales of 1848 retained the Gothic focus on violence and transgression (Williams 1986: 2). Across the Channel, Gothic lingered in the work of Théophile Gautier, among others, while on the other side of the Atlantic, it survived well into the nineteenth century in the work of Hawthorne and Melville. The literature of sensibility and Gothic would be combined to great effect in Harriet Beecher Stowe's sentimental abolitionist novel, Une/e Tom's Cabin (1852), one of the most widely-read books of the nineteenth century, in which the savage flogging of Uncle Tom provides a heart-wringing spectacle. The early nineteenth century also saw a very different fictional representation of lived reality, a strain of the novel that foregrounded sense rather than sensibility, judgment rather than sensation, and manners rather than action. We do not usually think of Jane Austen's fiction as marked by any very vivid sensuousness. Her characters for the most part glide through well-regulated domestic environments that evoke little in the way of detailed description. But in Mansfield Park we get a clearer sense of what underwrites such a tranquil world. Fanny Price is raised apart from her family, and comes to think of the comfortable surroundings of the great house as her actual home. Its virtues are brought home to her abruptly when she returns to her parents' house in Portsmouth. There she finds herself "in the midst of closeness and noise [with] confinement, bad air, bad smells, substituted for liberty, freshness, fragrance, and verdure" (Austen [1814] 2003: 401). The deracinated Fanny has been placed in an invidious position, and has acquired the habitus of the gentry without its wealth. She does not seem to question the fact that freshness and verdure are the exclusive preserve of a wealthy elite. Nor does she seem greatly troubled that it is the sweetness of the sugar from Sir Thomas Bertram's West



Indian estate that sustains the island of good taste that is Mansfield, and that domestic liberty is the obverse of a coin, the reverse of which is colonial chattel slavery. While their contemporary settings and bon-ton milieu might persuade one otherwise, the silver-fork English novels of the 1820s and 1830s are closer to Gothic than to Austen, insofar as the anti-heroes of these novels are the lineal descendants of the Romantic rebel-hero of Friedrich Schiller's Die Rauber (1781 ). However, in such novels as Disraeli's Vivian Grey (1826) and Edward Bulwer's Pelham; or The Adventures of a Gentleman (1828), the protagonist is more likely to be an epicurean dandy in kid gloves than a bandit. The colorful reconstruction of the verbal and sartorial fashions of the beau monde helped to make these novels of the moment the successful books of the day, as did their brisk pace, and their representation of "real people, real clubs, real shops, and real tradesmen" (Cronin 2004: 38). The narrative pacing was a self-conscious reaction to what was felt to be the relentless whirl of modero life: as Catherine Gore put it, "the velocity of steam inventions seems to demand a corresponding rapidity of narrative, dialogue, and discourse" (Cronin 2004: 41 ). But not only did Bulwer's Pelham capture the structure of feeling of a society in transition, it contributed to the desire for novelty: Pelham made fashionable the black coat (as opposed to blue), and thus, somewhat paradoxically, played a part in what J. C. Flugel would later term the great male renunciation of color. The avowed dandyism and dedication to the ephemeral performance of selfhood attracted invidious attention as well as plaudits; as Richard Cronin notes, Thomas Carlyle's Sartor Resartus (1833-4) is, inter alia, an attack on the silver-fork fetishization of appearance and dress. As we shall see, the epicene dandy-hero who lives for pleasure reappears in a new form at the end of the century as Wilde's Dorian Gray, a name calculated to recall Disraeli's Vivian Grey.

VICTORIAN The industrial novels of the 1840 and 1850s were an attempt to introduce readers to a new political landscape, and to provide symbolic resolution to structural political problems. But they were also an introduction to the urban landscapes and new ways of life that had mushroomed alongside the new factories. To this extent they expand the descriptive range of the novel, showing at least sorne of the sensory world within which lived the new class of industrial workers, its sights, smells, sounds, and textures. For the most part, though, the narratives focus less on the factory floor, and more on the domestic lives of



their protagonists, employers and workers alike. Mrs. Gaskell, for example, shows us the neat home of the working-class Bartons in the first chapters of Mary Barton (1848). But as the narrative develops it leaves this respectable if fragile domestic world to describe the conditions of the worst-off of Manchester's poor. In a particularly powerful passage in Chapter 6, our narrator adopts a more intimate second-person voice to bring us, with John Barton and his friend, Wilson, to the cellar-home of the Davenports: You went clown one step even from the foul area into the cellar in which a family of human beings lived. It was very dark inside. The windowpanes were many of them broken and stuffed with rags ... the smell was so fetid as almost to knock the two men clown ... they began to penetrate the thick darkness of the place, and to see three or four little children, rolling on the clamp, nay wet, brick floor, through which the stagnant, filthy moisture of the street oozed up. Gaskell [1848] 1998: 66-7 The overpowering stench, the darkness, and the filth underfoot-such evoked experiences retain sorne of the shock-value that they must have possessed for their first readers, who expected such horrors to be confined within the Gothic novel. The chapter adds further point to this description by taking us immediately afterwards to first the brightly-lit streets, and then the luxurious home of the Carsons, the mill-owners whose more comfortable lives become intertwined with those of the Bartons and Wilsons. In a famous passage, it is the glittering shop-windows that make John Barton muse upon the contrasting lives of the haves and have-nots (70): It is a pretty sight to walk through a street with lighted shops; the gas is so brilliant, the display of goods so much more vividly shown than by day, and of ali shops a druggist's looks the most like the tales of our childhood, from Aladdin's garden of enchanted fruits to the charming Rosamond with her purple jar. No such associations had Barton; yet he felt the contrast between the well-filled, well-lighted shops and the dim gloomy cellar.

John Barton grows angry with the seemingly happy pedestrians of these pleasant streets, but Gaskell's point is in part that "you cannot read the lot of those who daily pass you by in the street" (70). Real urban life is marked by its opacity, and does not offer the panoramas and cross-class tourism that the



novel makes possible. The commodity fetishism of Victorian shop-window displays offered the urban pedestrian no clue to the visual, olfactory, and tactile horrors that were just around the comer. It was Friedrich Engels who first explored this particular form of fetishism in the industrial city. The urban labyrinths of Manchester feature in his Condition of the Working Class in England, published in German in 1845, though not to appear in English translation in the United States until 1886, and in England itself in 1892. Engels, who had been guided around Manchester by his Irish working-class partner, Mary Burns, takes us on a tour of main thoroughfares that "conceal from the eyes of the wealthy men and women of strong stomachs and weak nerves the misery and grime which form the complement to their wealth" (Engels 1987: 86). Engels' account veers between a belief that such invisibility is part of a deliberate plan, and a contrary assumption that these deceptive appearances are the unplanned product of economic forces. While he is scathing regarding the economic causes of urban squalor, he does not scruple to paint a picture that is rather more graphic than that of Gaskell as regards the degradation of humanity that has resulted: this is not a vision of working-class resistance, or even agency. He notes the presence of pig-sties alongside human dwellings, producing air "corrupted by putrefying animal and vegetable substances" (92); and the "foul pools of stagnant urine and excrement" (88). He draws on the reports of Dr. James Kay, ínter alía, to conjure up other tactile horrors, a moral filth to accompany the physical: "it often happens that a whole Irish family is crowded into one bed" (101); sorne of the poor take in lodgers, and "lodgers of both sexes by no means rarely sleep in the same bed with the married couple" (102); other lodging houses are a "focus of crime, the scene of deeds against which human nature revolts" (102). Only a "physically degenerate race ... reduced morally and physically to bestiality" (100) can be comfortable in such surroundings. As we shall see, it is not so very different from Charles Dickens' argument that crime breeds in the neglected and invisible corners of the city: if we could only see clearly, such horrors might disperse. Similar issues of visibility and social opacity trouble much of the literature and drama of the first half of the nineteenth century, and linger long after. At times it seems that what is sought is a form of visual mastery that would render the city and the urban crowd transparent, while keeping the viewer distant from any too immediate exposure to the olfactory and tactile nature of the streets. This is in keeping with the privileged position of sight in this period, and with the collapse of social distance that the other senses threatened (Classen et al. 1994: 3-5, 166; Flint 2000). Edgar Allan Poe's "The Man of the Crowd"



(1840) shows the origins of the scopic power of the detective story in the wish to disaggregate the urban crowd, to make the mass intelligible by sheer dint of staring hard at it. The extraordinary success of the many "Mysteries" novels that emulated Eugene Sue's bestselling Mysteres de Paris (1842-3) can also be seen as a symptom of the desire to render the darkness of the city visible, and there is more than a little cross-class voyeurism evident. Sue's formula spread virally across Europe, the United States, and Australia, inspiring such works as Paul Thiel's Die Geheimnisse von Berlin (1844), G. W. M. Reynolds' The Mysteries of London (1846), Ned Buntline's (E. Z. C. Judson) The Mysteries and Miseries of New York (1847-8), and Donald Cameron's The Mysteries of Melbourne Life (1873) (Knight 2012). But mystery was not the only direction taken by the optical imaginary in these years. In Charles Dickens' Dombey and Son (1846-8), which traces the impact of the railways on England, the narrator cries out for sorne magical force to allow us to visually penetrate the opacity of the city, and show us how the neglected parts of the city breed the crime and vice that will ultimately overtake ali: Oh for a good spirit who would take the house-tops off, with a more potent and benignant hand than the lame demon in the tale, and show a Christian people what dark shapes issue from amidst their homes, to swell the retinue of the Destroying angel as he moves forth among them! For only one night's view of the pale phantoms rising from the scenes of our too-long neglect. Dickens[1846-8] 1997: 623 The "lame demon" is generally identified with Asmodeus, the supernatural agent who appears in Alain-René Lesage's satirical urban novel of 1707, Le Diable boiteux. But in Dombey and Son, it is the railway that seems to promise just such a magical visual power, as it cuts its way through the slums of London, shining its modernizing light into the dark corners of the city. The odiferous clutter of "dunghills, and dustheaps, and ditches" (65) that he identifies with the working-class neighborhood inhabited by the Toodles in Chapter 6 of the novel has by Chapter 15 been swept away by the rough vigor of the railways: "The miserable waste ground, where the refuse matter had been heaped of yore, was swallowed up and gone; and in its frowsy stead were tiers of warehouses, crammed with rich goods and costly merchandise . . . the new streets ... formed towns within themselves, originating wholesome comforts and conveniences belonging to themselves" (213). Time itself is now upon



railway principies: "There was even railway time observed in clocks, as if the sun himself had given in" (214). This clean, prosperous, punctual urban space is Dickens' fantasy of a successful industrial city. It would be a mistake, of course, to take Dickens' vision of the modernized city for the reality. In many ways the sensory experience of the Victorian urban pedestrian was not so very different from that of the previous century, or indeed of a much earlier period. Animals still thronged the streets, their noises and excreta adding to the auditory, olfactory, and tactile dimension of city life, as their presence also made city life possible in an age of short supply-chains. Except for the occasional carneo appearances of horses as transport, such street animals are something of an absent presence in literature, denoted only by crossing-sweepers such as Jo in Dickens' Bleak House (1852-3), until humanitarian narratives like Anna Sewell's Black Beauty (1877) placed them center-stage. Other aspects of a pre-industrial world lingered too: traditional street-sellers continued to cry their wares long after the advertising industry pushed selling into a more visual register. Francis Wheatley captured these cries-"Milk below," "Sweet China oranges, sweet China," "Strawberrys, Scarlet Strawberrys" in a series of paintings in the 1790s, much reproduced throughout the nineteenth century. But perhaps their most striking memorial is Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market" (1862), which turns the street cries into the sinister calls of the goblins (Norcia 2012): Come huy our orchard fruits, Come huy, come huy: Apples and quinces, Lemons and oranges, Plump unpeck'd cherries, Melons and raspberries. Rossetti 1993: 71 Such acoustic contexts for nineteenth-century literature have been relatively neglected, though John Picker's Victorian Soundscapes has helped to restore them to view, or rather to audibility. Picker makes clear that the literature of the nineteenth century was written against a soundtrack of urban noise, as well as against the backdrop of campaigns to control street noise backed by Dickens, Tennyson, Wilkie Collins, and others (Picker 2003: 61). While street criers, church bells, urban animals, and many other sources contributed to the urban cacophony, the ire of Dickens and his fellow writers was mostly focused on



immigrant itinerant musicians, rival cultural-producers, after a fashion, who troubled the walls of the home as a place of intellectual labor. It is a useful reminder that the writers who provide our window onto the sensory landscape of the past were also engaged in struggles for place that recall what Jacques Ranciere terms the distribution of the sensible (Ranciere 2004). Dickens and others continued to worry at the city as a problematic social space, but by and large the novel in English changes focus after the early 1850s, and the next few decades see the dominance of a different kind of domestic fiction. On the one hand there is the sensation novel, in which the darker side of family life is explored; on the other there is the provincial novel. In such novels, vivid accounts of the burgeoning cities are replaced by a detailed attention to more "knowable" provincial communities, in Raymond Williams' terms. And yet these novels also record in their textures the processes of modernity. In Eliot's novels, for example, the language of scientific observationoptical and acoustic-weaves through the narrative providing striking metaphors for the necessary limits of individual knowledge. As John Picker notes, Eliot's famous evocation in Middlemarch (1870) of "that roar that lies on the other side of silence" (Eliot [1874] 2000: 124) is only one of the passages in which her fiction invokes contemporary discoveries in sound, from the emergent amplifying technology of the microphone, to Hermano von Helmholtz's account of sympathetic vibration (Picker 2003: 82-100). The sensation novel for its part is rarely noteworthy for the sensuous detail of the world that it depicts. In such novels as Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White (1859-60) and The Moonstone (1868), and Mary Elizabeth Braddon's Lady Audley's Secret (1862), the focus tends to be more on action and mystery, rather than richly evoked settings or sensory experience. However, these domestic mystery novels mark a new epoch in the sustained deployment of a particular kind of physical effect on the reader: suspense. In this respect they follow in the tracks of the Gothic novel, which also worked on the reader's body as muchas her mind. The sensation novel is close kin to the contemporary sensation play, in which all of the audience's interest is focused on particular "sensation scenes": episodes of spectacular action, often last-minute rescues, against vividly-realized backdrops. Among the most successful of these plays were Dion Boucicault's The Colleen Bawn (1860), with its much-celebrated water-rescue, and his After Dark (1868), which borrowed its last-minute railway rescue from Augustin Daly's Under the Gaslight (1867), and its vision of the city as a criminals' paradise from Adolphe Philippe Dennery and Eugene Grangé's Les Bohémiens de Paris (1843). The railway rescue becomes one of the most imitated spectacles of the history of popular entertainment, and



lingers well into the film era: the villain(s) leave someone unconscious, or bound, on the railway tracks; the train hurtles towards the helpless victim, but the hero or heroine arrives just in time to roll with the victim to safety as the train flashes past. As a symbolic scene, it suggests that true humanity is somehow at odds with technology, and perhaps with modernity itself. At the same time, such scenes deployed a stagecraft that turned the levels of focused attention required by an industrial age into a pleasurable entertainmentaudiences were undergoing a species of industrial training of the senses (Daly 2004). In the last decades of the nineteenth century, the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of the city return as topics of urgent interest in the slum novels of Arthur Morrison, George Gissing, and Clarence Rook in Britain, as well as in continental and American Naturalism. By the end of the century too, a generation of criminologists and scientists had convinced many that criminality was actually written on the body, something to be observed in the size and shape of skulls and ears, and the angle of foreheads. The work of Cesare Lombroso, author of L'uomo delinquente (1876), persuaded many of the reality of this visual fantasy (Pick 1993: 109-52). On this reading the city became less the principal site of modernity, and more a place where the past lingered in a dangerous population of atavistic survivals, low-browed primitive types that only modern forensic science could keep under control, through an emerging visual and haptic biometrics of cranial measurement, forensic photography, and fingerprinting. Such nightmares run through the popular and literary fiction of the fin de siecle, from Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) to Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent (1907) (Pick 1993: 155-75). The literary experiments of the Symbolists, Decadents, and Naturalists, which included attempts to utilize the "lower" senses, were seen by Max Nordau to be the high-cultural equivalent of the such degenerate criminality, proof of the diseased nature of modern culture (Classen 1998: 118-20). The social conflicts of the 1840s, and the will to "see" the social totality, make an unexpected return in another form in E. M. Forster's Howards End (1910). Gone are the industrial workers, and in their place is the growing army of clerical workers, in Forster's tripartite vision of intellectuals (the Schlegel family), capitalists (the Wilcoxes), and workers (Leonard Bast). The longing to peer through the opacities of the industrial city takes a new form as a will to connect, to understand the relations not just of the life of the mind and the world of work, but the offstage world of Empire, from which the Wilcoxes (and later the Schlegels) draw their money. "lt is impossible to see modern life steadily and see it whole" (Forster [1910) 2000: 138), we are told in Chapter 18



of a novel that privileges the point of view of Margaret Schlegel, who sees things whole. That ability to totalize is linked by Forster to the rural seclusion of the house, Howards End, an idyllic pastoral survival that has been temporarily the possession of the Wilcoxes, but at the novel's end is to belong to a hoy whose mother is a Schlegel and whose father was a Bast. Unless we enjoy our rootedness in the past and in the slow rhythms of the land, we cannot understand the present, would appear to be one message of this ending. The imperial Wilcoxes are excluded from any such apprehension; they quite literally cannot smell the roses, as they all suffer from hayfever, and delight in driving their noisy and smelly cars too quickly clown country lanes. The disjunction between Forster's philosophical vision and the world of the motor-car is evident in a passage in which Margaret is driven at queasy speed through the English countryside: "She looked at the scenery. It heaved and merged like porridge. Presendy it congealed. They had arrived" (169). But Forster is also aware of the limitations of Litde-England pastoralism, and this is no Mansfield Park: we are encouraged to recognize, as Margaret does, that her good taste and social vision, like Howards End itself, depend on money that flows from colonial exploitation, this time not based on the sweetness of sugar, but the elastic and waterproof properties of the rubber required by the second industrial revolution. The counter-industrial thread that I have been tracing is only one in the dense literary fabric of the nineteenth century. For example, across the English Channel, or La Manche, a very different engagement with modero life was emerging in the work of Charles Baudelaire, who took the city streets as bis material, like bis painter of modero life, Constantin Guys. Baudelaire argues that the modero artist must immerse himself in modero life, which he identifies with the sensory world of the street, and the crowd. The crowd is not something to be mastered, as detective fiction suggests, or a figure of alienation, as it is in stage melodrama, but a vast reservoir of energy from which the artist can draw. For Walter Benjamín, Baudelaire's most striking innovations include his attempt to absorb the modero experience of shock into poetry (Benjamín 1968). In "A une passante" (1861), Baudelaire captures the (literally) fleeting beauty of moderoity in the forro of a woman in mouroing who passes him by while the noise of the city's traffic roars in bis ears ("La rue assourdissante autour de moi hurlait"; Baudelaire 1968: 181). He is reboro by his 'rnomentary glimpse of her funereal "fugitive beauté," drinks from her sky-blue eyes, in which hurricanes grow. Here the anonymity of the city is not something against which the writer rails and struggles: the visual world of the city is full of promise, it allows for endless fantasies of other lives, other loves, glimpsed in the eyes of a thousand



strangers; this is no pastoral vision, but nature, with its skies and storms, has been condensed into the body of an unknown woman. Baudelaire's sensual embrace of the life of the street, as well as bis ideas of sensory correspondences, would reappear later in the century in the work of the French SymbolistsStéphane Mallarmé, Paul Verlaine, and Arthur Rimbaud-as well as in the poems of the Rhymers' Club (Classen 1998: 111-12). The closest thing to this shift in the representation of the senses in the Anglophone world is that combination of movements that we generally place under the la bel "Aestheticism." While the most exotic flowerings of this tendency do not appear until the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the beginnings of Aestheticism are visible much earlier in, for example, the ideas and practices of the Pre-Raphaelites, the essays of Walter Pater, and the work of James Abbott McNeill Whistler. By the time Osear Wilde arrived on the London scene in the 1880s, much of the groundwork had been laid for bis popularization of the "cult of beauty." The hostility to this cult of those who felt that art and literature should be concerned with morality more than the senses was also evident atan early date. Robert Buchanan, under the pseudonym Thomas Maitland, attacked Dante Gabriel's Poems (1870) as well as the work of Algernon Swinburne, William Morris, and others, in bis essay "The Fleshly School of Poetry," charging them with a "sub-Tennysonian" addiction to the senses. Their mission, he fulminated, was: to extol fleshliness as the distinct and supreme end of poetic and pictorial art; to aver that poetic expression is greater than poetic thought, and by inference that the body is greater than the soul, and sound superior to sense; and that the poet, properly to develop bis poetic faculty, must be an intellectual hermaphrodite, to whom the very facts of day and night are lost in a whirl of aesthetic terminology. Maitland 1871: 336 Rossetti is singled out for opprobrium: he is accused of "nastiness" in bis celebration of sexuality; bis work is seen to display sensuality for its own sake, without any leaven of the spiritual and the intellectual. To an extent, the model for Buchanan's critique is a pictorial one: Rossetti's paintings, he considers, are those of a skilled colorist, lacking the control of line and perspective of a more intellectual artist, and the poetry is much the same. But Rossetti is also accused of being too "painfully self-conscious," and too mannered in his diction and forced rhymes. Similarly contradictory charges would be leveled at Wilde's Dorian Gray in the 1890s, and ultimately at Wilde himself in 1895.



Portrait of Charles Baudelaire by Nadar. Library of Congress.




While aestheticism had complex ongms, Walter Pater's Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873) can be seen as the veritable bible of the movement. Pater's Renaissance is not an art-historical period, but a series of artifacts and historical figures from the twelfth to the eighteenth century that display a particular sensibility, part of which is an appreciation of male beauty, and a delight in artistic form. Turning his back firmly on the moral criticism of Ruskin, and the assumed critica! neutrality of Matthew Arnold, Pater assures the reader that the question to ask of a text, a picture, or indeed any other experience, is what is this to me, how does it affect me? In a world of flux, our goal should not be to seek for wisdom, but to relish experience for its own sake: "not the fruit of experience, but experience itself is the end" (Pater [1873) 1986: 151). Pater's remarkable "Conclusion" to the Renaissance inspired a generation not only to a new conception of the relations of art and life, but to a new attitude to life itself. Indeed, it still stirs, with its combination of carpe diem, anda radical call to open our minds and senses to the world (152): A counted number of pulses only is given to us of a variegated, dramatic life. How may we see in them all that is to seen in them by the finest senses? How shall we pass most swiftly from point to point, and be present always at the focus where the greatest number of vital forces unite in their purest energy? ... To bum always with this hard, gemlike flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life. In a sense it might even be said that our failure is to form habits: for, after all, habit is relative to a stereotyped world, and meantime it is only the roughness of the eye that makes any two persons, things, situations, seem alike. While all melts under our feet, we may well grasp at any exquisite passion, or any contribution to knowledge that seems by a lifted horizon to set the spirit free for a moment, or any stirring of the senses, strange dyes, strange colours, and curious odours, or work of the artist's hands, or the face of one's friend. Pater's claim that "all melts under our feet" expresses his belief in both the time-bound aspect of reality, and the fact that the observing subject is herself in flux, though it is difficult not to make the connection to Marx and Engels' "all that is solid melts into air," which historicizes instability in terms of the dynamic destructiveness of the capitalist economy. At any rate, we can trace Pater's radical impressionism, and his cult of sensuous experience throughout the literary output of the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and indeed into the twentieth: it is still there, for example, in Joyce's evocation of the young artist, Stephen Dedalus.



There is a substantial body of late-Victorian poetry that embodies aspects of Pater's vision. Ernest Dowson's "Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae" provides a familiar example of the flavor of this work: I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind, Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng, Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind; But I was desolare and sick of an old passion, Yea, ali the time, because the dance was long: I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion. Dowson 1962: 58 The speaker seeks to lose himself in the riotous empire of the senses-red mouths, madder music, stronger wine-but is haunted by an older love, whose "lost lilies" suggest death more than erotic love. lt has Paterian shades, but it also has the darker coloring that we associate with Decadence; the celebration of intensity is there, but also a morbidity that is little evident in Pater's Renaissance. This drive to evoke complex states of mind, and to hint at the inexpressible, reminds us that literature in English did not exist in a vacuum in this period. Dowson may be drawing on Pater, but he is also calling upon the earlier work of Baudelaire, and contemporary French Symbolism. We see a more direct adaptation of Pater's "Conclusion" in Osear Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). Wilde's Dorian is remembered for the devil's bargain that transfers the human aging process to bis portrait, but Dorian gets full value from this arrangement only by living life to the full, by savoring bis own sensations as a lover, collector of beautiful things, opium fiend, and murderer. He even relishes bis own remorse, before ultimately destroying the portrait, and thus himself. As with Pater, the Picture complexly endows men who love other men with a particular sensitivity towards the world of things. Among the novel's most remarkable passages are those in Chapter 11, partly based on Wilde's reading of arcane collector's lore in the British Library. Here, for example, having already devoted himself to the study of perfumes and exotic musical instruments, Dorian becomes a connoisseur of precious stones: He would often spend a whole day settling and resettling in their cases the various stones that he had collected, such as the olive-green chrysoberyl that turns red by lamplight, the cymophane with its wirelike line of silver, the pistachio-coloured peridot, rose-pink and wine-yellow topazes, carbuncles of fiery scarlet with tremulous, four-rayed stars, flame-red



cinnamon-stones, orange and violet spinels, and amethysts with their alternate layers of ruby and sapphire. He loved the red gold of the sunstone, and the moonstone's pearly whiteness, and the broken rainbow of the milky opal. Wilde [1890] 1998: 144 Of course this is a passage that works at various levels. It shows us the increasing refinement of Dorian's tastes, and bis attempt to extend the limits of subjectivity through the objects with which he surrounds bimself and imbues with bis collector's love. But for the reader it offers the experiential pleasures of a sensuous prose poem: verbal novelty, .rich and strange words to be rolled around in the mind, or on the tongue. And if this static chapter is in one sense "practically unreadable," as Jeff Nunokawa puts it, it also evokes a desiring gaze, and a series of objects of that gaze that escape easily from the heteronormativity of Victorian fiction (Nunokawa 2003: 147). Wilde was not drawing on Pater alone for bis inspiration. The most obvious other source is Joris-Karl Huysmans's extraordinary A Rebours (1884 ), sometimes assumed to be the "yellow book" that Dorian takes as bis guide. The protagonist of Huymans's novel, Des Esseintes, wearies of alife of urban debauchery, and acquires a house in Fontenay, outside París, where he becomes a recluse. Thereafter he devotes bimself to a programme of refined intellectual and sensuous experiment, immersing himself in bis favorite artists and authors, who include Baudelaire, Verlaine, and Mallarmé. He grows poisonous plants (like Nathaniel Hawthorne's Rappaccini), dabbles in perfumery, and even creates a series of highly stylized dinners, one all in wbite, one in black. In bis study of perfumes, he decides that the bistory of scent follows the general contours of cultural bistory: Its bistory followed that of the French language step by step. The Louis XIII style in perfumery, composed of the elements dear to that periodorris-powder, musk, civet, and myrtle water, already known by the name of angel-water-was scarcely adequate to express the cavalierish graces, the rather crude colors of the time which certain sonnets by Saint-Amand have preserved for us ... And then, after the indifference and incuriosity of the First Empire ... perfumery followed Victor Hugo and Gautier and went for inspiration to the lands of the sun . . . It had continued to develop . . . joining in the cult of things Chinese and Japanese ... imitating the flower posies of Takeoka, mingling lavender and clove to produce the perfume of the Rondeletia ... Huysmans [1884] 1987: 120-1


FIGURE 7.3: Portrait of Osear Wilde by Napoleon Sarony. Library of Congress.




There is a humorous touch here that is sometimes wanting in the more Gothic Dorian Gray, but otherwise one can easily see how much Wilde has borrowed. Huysmans also anticipates Wilde in moving from a catalogue of sensory immersion, and a celebration of artifice and culture over nature, to a wider conception of the nature of sexuality. While A Rebours