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Thinking Geographically about the Age of Reason

atmospheric phenomena to be explained? Does the weather exhibit regular patterns over the long run, or will it always re- main unpredictable? How frequently do violent storms occur, or extremes of heat and cold? Are popular sayings and beliefs about the weather worth attention, or should they be dismissed as simple superstition? How does the weather affect people’s health or mood? The diarist could not have known, { i n t r o d u c t i o n } Weather and Enlightenment The weather is the primary sign of the inextricability of culture and nature. j o n at h a n b at

136 C h a p t e r F i v e Organic Enlightenment Antoine Lavoisier, best known for his work on the chemical composi-tion of air, left behind several portraits of himself. These portraits tend to show him indoors: directing experiments in his laboratory, gazing at the viewer, or collaborating with his wife Marie- Anne. These are the images of Lavoisier that we know best. In 1788, however, he argued that savants must also pursue their work outside the confi nes of the laboratory. “It is not only in our studies that we must research political economy,” he

climate through the widespread adoption of new instruments. In the course of the eighteenth century, thousands of barometers, thermometers, and hygrometers were set up in prosperous homes, while wind and rain gauges were placed outside. The novel artifacts captivated the attention of their owners and demanded in- terpretation of their meanings. They had originated among the leading { 4 } Barometers of Enlightenment For the rising in the B A R O M E T E R is not effected by pressure but by sympathy . . . For it cannot be separated from the creature with which it

substances have also been given the name of cobalt.”1 In this simple and straightforward way, Rinman dis- missed not only the existence of the kobolder, but he also dismissed the miners who believed in them. Maybe the connections between ghostly underground denizens, poi- Elements of Enlightenment C H A P T E R 5 100 sonous fumes, and enchanted ore were lost on him. In any case, he ig- nored them. To Rinman, kobolder were simply figments of imagination, and cobalt- metal was simply a fact of nature. Just like, for example, platinum, silver, lead, and zinc, it was

P A R T I The New Enlightenment We are all aware how work both emboldens us and strangles our soul life in the very same instant. It reveals how much we can do as part of a larger body, literally a corpus, a corporation, and how much the wellsprings of our creativity are stopped at the source by the pressures of that same smothering organization. . . . We stand to gain a marvelous involvement in our labors, but must relin- quish a belief that the world owes us a place on a divinely ordained career ladder. We learn that we do have a place in the world, but that it

11 Conclusion Th e Enlightenment—Questions of Geography In thinking about the Enlightenment geographically, I have proposed here an argument that the “where” of Enlightenment knowledge should be taken as seriously as its “what,” “who,” “how,” and “why.” To questions such as “Th e Enlightenment: what and who?” and “What is Enlightenment?” we should now be able to add “Th e Enlightenment: where and why?” and “Where was Enlightenment?” and be confi dent of reasonable answers. Further, the prac- tices of geographical knowledge and the textual defi nitions and

1 Introduction Th e Enlightenment—Questions of Geography Th is book is about understanding the Enlightenment—or to use one par- allel term among many, the Age of Reason—geographically. It is, in sev- eral senses, an argument about and extended review of the Enlightenment’s “where,” about how we may “place” the Enlightenment, and about why it matters that we think about the Enlightenment in geographical ways. Th e Enlightenment was that period—conventionally the “long” eighteenth cen- tury in Europe, ca. 1685–ca. 1815—when the world was made modern. For its