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Restless SecularismModernism and the Religious Inheritance$
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Matthew Mutter

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780300221732

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300221732.001.0001

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Introduction: Modernist Secularism and its Discontents

Introduction: Modernist Secularism and its Discontents

(p.1) Introduction: Modernist Secularism and its Discontents
Restless Secularism

Matthew Mutter

Yale University Press

There is a famous passage in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse where Mrs. Ramsay, knitting in solitude after her children have gone to bed, accesses a “self” beneath her social identity. She calls this self “a wedge-shaped core of darkness.”1 Its fluidity and obscurity allow her to ignore the boundaries that establish discrete identities and separate things from one another. In this darkness there is no “personality” that confronts the world as a series of competing objects to be placated, mastered, or managed; rather, there is a “summoning together” of all things in a complete “rest” outside “the fret, the hurry,” and “the stir.” As Mrs. Ramsay watches the stroke of the lighthouse on the horizon, “she bec[omes] the thing she looked at” (...

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