Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Modernity: the 500 Year Reich

In retrospect, all of the promise of the New York's World Fair (1939-1940) turned out to be just the sad brief apogee of Late Modernity, indeed of all Modernity itself.

It hardly started out that way.

Five Hundred Years of Modernity was to be celebrated as part of the Fair's second year , marking the 500 years supposedly since Gutenberg invented the printing press --- and began the onset of cheap, mass produced, printed knowledge.

Talk of a 1000 Year Reich in places like Hitler's Germany, at this point, was just that : talk .

But Modernity's first 500 years was already safely in the record books and tangibly real, real for all to see and applaud.

In 1939, there seemed no reason why there shouldn't be at least another 500 years of triumph ahead for Modernity.

Yet it is now generally agreed that by the post-Auschwitz, post-Hiroshima, post-Katyn autumn of 1945 , Granddad's Modernity was well and truly broken.

And out of that wreckage gradually crawled a very different and very new era, our own Era of Post-Modernity.

What could have gone so terribly wrong, for Modernity to soar way to its apogee and then plunge way down to its nadir, in just six short years ?

Clearly it was World War Two (Modernity's own war, Modernity with its thrusters fully engaged) that was what had gone so badly wrong ....

No comments:

Post a Comment