How many dis-enchantments and re-enchantments are possible, one wonders, reading longingly about the Florentine colony of high strung expat-art lovers around 1900. (1)
How they re-enacted an Arcadia of culture & aestheticism. They wanted to escape from the humdrum demands of modern utilitarianism, but were funded by it - either subsidised by wealthy parents or else advising as 'expert connoisseurs' wealthy patrons who had made their fortune in industry and banking.
But that does not disqualify their longing. That does not lessen the sincerity of their endeavours.
"Romanticism [...] represents one-half of the dialectical nature of modernity, a process of disenchantment and re-enchantment, where cultural forms were reinvented and reinfused with displaced spiritual values."
"Re-enchantment as cultural production has been defined as the transposition of transcendent meaning onto repurposed forms in the face of the loss of transcendent meaning elsewhere."
“aestheticism’s philosophical potential as Epicurean materialism that was yet possessed of a transcendent dimension. [...] To aestheticism’s search for sensation is [...] added the desire for permanence in the face of change. ”
“to create – to live, perhaps, a little beyond the allotted span, in some fragment even, of perfect expression – was the form his longing took, for something to hold by and rest on, amid the “perpetual flux” "
(Pater, "Marius the Epicurean")
"The cultivation of memory to remedy “the sinking of things into the past”"
"The decision to abandon philosophical inquiry and become an expert connoisseur [engaging with the marketplace] is dramatized as a fall from grace:
“the magical world [...]. I dwelt there for my first thirty years. It was hard to abandon it, to be driven out of Paradise even as our first parents were. […]. Like them, I looked back often and with what homesickness and heartsickness! But there is no return.”"
(Bernard Berenson, “Sketch for a Self-portrait”)
"Le Paradis Florentin : [...] Ile bénie pour les hommes et les femmes cultivés mais las"
(1) All extracts from “Palaces Eternal and Serene”, by Robert Colby in “Bernard Berenson – formation and heritage” except for the "Paradis Florentin" Warburg quote, cited by M-A Lescourret in Aby Warburg, "La Tentation du Regard" from Roeck's "Florence 1900. The Quest for Arcadia"