April 27, 2024

Modernity and After Modernity

Below, the contents of my Notes file about Modernity. One of many sacs to be bled into this blog from time to time. Thoughts sometime beg to be recorded on the fly.

A Couple of Definitions:
  • Modernity: the world that succeeded the epoch of Classicism and the Beaux-Arts, a necessary outcome of the multiple Industrial Revolutions and the rapid proliferation of new technology.
  • Janus-faced: Consult the WP entry. I maintain that both Modernism and Postmodernism are twins born simultaneously during the dawn of Modernity.
  • ***

    Modernity and amnesia. So much forgotten.

    Awaking mid-dream last night. A legacy old place, fragmented, in a sea of mediocrity... A&P minimarts, Dunkin' Donuts a block away from an old Mission.

    Are we the Last Mohicans?
    Thierry de Duve's* Fine Arts, the Academy, Bellas Artes, Non-Art, Not-Art, Art-In-General... add to that another category, a faded simulacrum (receding image?) of Legacy Quality.

    The fading Good lost in a sea of Bad.


    *At the moment, I'm reading Thierry de Duve's "Duchamp's Telegram: From Beaux-Arts to Art in General" at the moment. Actually, I'm devouring the book, consonant that I believe his thesis is with my thoughts about the emergence of Modernity, the relationship between Modernism and Postmodernism and Duchamp's legacy especially in the era that can be called Postmodern. I think we, living as we are in an emergent 21st century, have a responsibility to reflect on the 20th and make sense of it, to wrest ourselves from its' grip and attempt to define the terms of a successor epoch. I'm passing the three quarter mark as I'm reading his book, slow going since nearly every sentence I find provocative, marking most of the pages with marginalia. Very highly recommended.

    "In the 60's, the art world blew open. "
    -Peter Schjeldahl


    "He does not present the great disruption of our time in terms of contradictory tendencies in human nature."
    - "Francis Fukuyama as a Teacher of Evil". (Modern Age Journal)

  • In whatever universe that frames human life (moral, natural, etc), the universe, the world can be characterized as a set of all sets structured by aspects such as mirroring, antinomies, reflection, chirality... possessing a pattern of a design yet to be fully understood. The world has a grain to it.

  • A carpenter works wood both with and against the grain. Therefore, folly has a purpose, fruitful only in judicious proportions.

  • ***

    Modernity sprang simultaneously as Modernism and Postmodernism. Bear in mind the blinding explosion of technology going on at that time. Electric light, (steam) power, trains, telegraph, weapons, medicine...

    Hero and Anti-Hero.

  • After the digestion of the antipode, the need to merge polarities. A second marriage or the first?
  • The idea and identity of a hero is instantly appealing to people. But when you think about it, it's hard to escape the reality that heroism doesn't exist on a menu, it's not something or some condition that one can incorporate into one's own life at will.

  • Heroism confronts. It's something that happens to you... no, it's a leap. A crossroad. It's doing the right thing despite your emotions. The summon of courage. The choice between a moment's pain and a lifetime of regret. Heroism indicates a challenge, a difficulty overcome. Crisis, met. Suffering, alleviated. Heroism is existential.

  • Walk on the wild side. Sympathy for the devil. LES Fleurs du man The Counter-Enlightenment. Anti-Hero.
  • Pain -from discomfort to agony- is the point of contact between destiny and existence, between the things we must do and the reality of who we are. When humans meet challenges and bear up under the heat and pressure of contact, then a kind of equilibrium exists in the order of things.

  • When people rise to the occasion and confront the odds, heroism is still merited. Heroism is willed despite of what results, success or failure. Heroism is the willing.
  • ***

    Modernity profits from ingenuity, spiked by greed and war.


    You can understand what happening now regarding the decline of the West by simultaneously considering the cynical interpretation of Thucydides as "Might makes right" with Martin Luther's "Reason is a whore".

    Consider acceleration, then consider deceleration.

  • War accelerates
  • Futurism, Futurist Manifesto (a coincidence that the Guggenheim featured such an exhibition ?) What's happening now, what's dominant today is an ambient Futurism.

  • Related: Gentrification. Gentrification is good when it's slow. Zero down the hype, the grasping competition, the FOMO, the exploitation.

  • ***
    After Modernity:
  • If Modernity can be summed in the single word Transgression, then the century that comes after Modernity will be obliged to transgress Transgression.

  • The family of overcoming: transgression, revolution...
  • Of the mythic stories that form Western Civilization, the amino acids of our collective character, two antithetical strands stand out: Saturn Devouring His Children and (Prometheus?)
  • ***

    Anticipation of the future (Progressivism), a better world
    Catnip tool for salesmen
    Aching to get there
    Making promises that are too hard to achieve, similar to this.


    Modernity (both Mod & Postmod), a war between vertical & horizontal axis. Quoting myself:

    To be Modern is to try to touch G-d via material means, and to be Postmodern is to point at everyday life via conceptual means.

    To successfully succeed the 20th century, we have to heal the schizophrenic split, re-member the crosshairs, reclaim the cross, the synergy. If not a fusion, then a toggling.

    On one hand, there's an ache for transcendence and on the other, an urge for dissolution. Order (the underlying principle of all things and the way such things come into existence) and disorder (individuation and pride). To think that both hands are members of the same body prompts for me an association or a mapping onto the first and second Law of Thermodynamics (a similar twin or chiral pair): the conservation of energy and entropy. The second is easy, themes of dissolution abound in postmodernism. In the first, I fiddle with the fit of the world where energy can't be destroyed and the sum of all forms of energy is constant with the endless becoming, the constant striving of the Modern system.

    Recalling Lao Tzu:

    The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao
    The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
    The nameless is the origin of heaven and earth
    The named is the origin of the ten thousand things.
    Ever desireless, one can see the mystery Ever desiring, one can see the thousand things.
    Desireless and desiring. They are different in name.
    Yet they are the same.

    Modernism : The nameless is the origin of heaven and earth
    Postmodernism: The named is the origin of the ten thousand things.

    Another model to map: System 1 & System 2 thinking

    Posted by Dennis at April 27, 2024 7:29 PM

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