Sunday, December 9, 2007

Extraordinary Time

Many people who talk about religion and irreligion aren't sufficiently aware of how extraordinary our time is:

[By 1920] five hundred years of creation and logical evolution were everywhere coming to an end; an era of civilization was reaching its close — political, social, and cultural. New paths must be cut in the unknown or else — stagnation. Desperate chromaticism, the 5-tone scle, polytonality, atonality, the 12-tone row and its variants were at once symptoms of decadence and groping efforts to find a new organizing principle for sound, just as the technical innovations of Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism, Simultaneity in poetry (the choric poem), and Joycean discombobulations of language were the groping efforts of other artists to leave behind them the barren ground to which a half millennium of high art since the Renaissance had brought them. The surrounding fads, marked by self-conscious humor and bright charlatanism, were the normal devices by which which a culture destroys itself and ensures its leveling down to nothingness.
— Jacques Barzun (1971, reprinted 1982)

Continue to feel and think.