In this essay I argue that the imitation of examples of sainthood in the practice of prayer is the formal basis of a medieval aesthetics that focuses on the animation and the phenomenology of sensation and emotion. Quoting from this tradition and drawing on the mechanical character of such techniques of animation, nineteenth and twentieth-century authors and filmmakers—Flaubert, Huysmans, and Buñuel—explore the aesthetic possibilities of these religious practices. Thus, they recover and illustrate a history of the evocation of sensation and emotion through images and texts, which in the medieval context can be best described as a highly formal art of "praying by numbers."

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