Requiem for 114 Radios
Indeed, it is essentially impossible to understand their work without tracking down their more important allusions, and scholars have compiled long volumes explaining each reference in Ulysses and The Cantos. And many of Pound's allusions, indeed most of them, are frankly inaccessible. Pound spends a number of cantos alluding to Sigismondo Malatesta, an obscure Italian warrior-prince from the Renaissance.
Only because Pound made him famous does anyone recognize his name. Joyce structured Ulysses to work on numerous levels. All of the mundane events in Bloom's day correspond to episodes in Homer's epic Odyssey , for instance, but the book also works as a retelling of Irish history, of the growth and development of the human fetus, and of the history of the Catholic Church. Eliot's "The Waste Land" can be read simply as a collection of allusions or fragments as he calls them in the last section: appearing in the poem are the Greek seer Tiresias, a pair of working-class women in East London, a number of Hindu deities, Dante, and an American ragtime singer.
These references are not explained; they just appear and the reader must make what sense of it he or she can. In the critical reevaluation of Modernism that took place during the s, one of the central questions was whether one must understand all of the allusions in order genuinely to appreciate the work.
Many despaired that western culture was morally degrading, but others anticipated the new century with great hope for what was to come. Imagism is the best-known of the dozens of small movements in modernist poetry in the years leading up to World War I. Ezra Pound formulated the "rules" of Imagism, which were essentially a rejection of Victorian poetry.
Imagist poets were encouraged to "simply present" an image; the poet "does not comment. Finally, Pound urged imagists to use the rhythm of the metronome. From his base in London, Pound published the anthology Des Imagistes in Other poets in the movement included H. Pound soon moved on from Imagism but Lowell, from Boston, continued to publish imagist anthologies for years after the movement had become irrelevant. After Imagism, Pound moved on to Vorticism. Works of this movement which consisted primarily of Pound, the writer T. It took the basic tenets of imagism, combined them with the painting style of Cubism, and injected an aggressive anger.
At this time Pound had discovered the Chinese written character and had decided that its unique combination of sound, text, and image created a luminous "vortex" of energy. The movement fell apart as World War I began, for its anger and violence seemed very small and ineffective when compared to the realities of trench warfare.
The Bloomsbury Group was a gathering of English writers, artists, and intellectuals who held informal artistic and philosophical discussions in Bloomsbury, a district of London, from around to the early s. The Bloomsbury Group held no uniform philosophical beliefs but did commonly express an aversion to moral prudery, a desire for greater social tolerance, and pacifism in the face of two world wars.
At various times the circle included Virginia Woolf, E. The objectivists were a group of modernist poets who formed relatively late during the modernist period. In a way, they can be considered the descendants of the imagists, but their poems tend to be even starker and flatter. The objectivists drew their inspiration from William Carlos Williams but most of the members of the movement were of the younger born after generation.
George Oppen, Louis Zukofsky, Charles Reznikoff, and a few others are the best-known poets of the objectivist movement. The "Lost Generation" was a name given by Gertrude Stein to the group of young Americans who migrated to Paris in the s. Ernest Hemingway is the most famous of these Americans in fact, it was to him that Stein said, "you are all a lost generation" , but there were dozens.
Many of these Americans were artists and writers, but just as many were not and were attracted to Paris because of the strong dollar and the bohemian lifestyle. Hemingway's first novel, The Sun Also Rises , is the enduring portrait of this group as they wander from Paris to Spain and back, looking for thrills and occasionally working. The Lost Generation's members constantly crossed paths with the European artists who were already living there.
Pablo Picasso , Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Stein, Constantin Bran-cusi, and many others had made Paris their home and had made it into one of the great centers of artistic activity. When the "Lost Generation" arrived, many of the established artists befriended these Americans, took advantage of them, or even worked with them. By the end of the s, though, most of these Americans had returned home.
Modernism took place over many decades, and almost no facet of life in the West was not profoundly transformed by the changes that took place between and But if Modernism revolved around one historical event, it was the unthinkable catastrophe that became known later as World War I. In the years leading up to World War I, the modernist writers thought of themselves as rebels, ruthlessly breaking apart all of the societal certainties of the Victorian age. The American modernists sneered at American middle-class acquisitiveness, while the British modernists chafed at the smug, self-assured conservatism of the Victorian and Edwardian periods.
Modernist writers broke convention by writing frankly about sex, by insulting religion, and by arguing passionately that the poor were not poor simply because of moral depravity.
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By breaking these societal taboos, modernist writers found themselves cast in the role of rebels, pariahs, even dangerous men and women. And such writers as Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis began to believe their own hype about being dangerous to society. The coming of World War I fulfilled the modernist predictions of a coming fragmentation and destruction beyond anything they could have imagined. The war itself came upon an unsuspecting Europe almost in a way that the modernists might have envisioned, for it was society's faith in its own structures that ended up destroying it.
Specifically, the complicated network of alliances dividing Europe into two moderately hostile camps one consisting largely.
Today: Dozens of states and the federal government go to trial with the Microsoft Corporation. Charged with being a monopoly, the company defends itself on the grounds that standardization is better for consumers than variety. Bush calls for a war against terrorism and initially against Osama bin Laden. In the first stage of the war, American and British submarines and airplanes bombard Afghanistan, where bin Laden is said to reside. Later, The United States invades Iraq and over a hundred thousand die.
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Today: After terrorists pilot jetliners into American targets, killing thousands of people, President George W. Bush calls for a "war on terrorism" and begins bombing targets in Afghanistan. American troops fight alongside the local militias to defeat Afghanistan's Taliban government.
Today: The advent of computers in the s has by now changed the nature of recorded sound and images. Pre-computer technologies such as film, magnetic tape , vinyl records, and radio broadcasts present information in analog other than binary bits form. Modern technologies such as compact disks, digital cameras, computer hard drives, and even cable television feeds present information in digital binary bits form, in which electrical "on" and "off" signals correspond to binary digits.
Today: Commercial air travel is the norm in the West and transatlantic flights are common. Today: After many years of unprecedented economic expansion largely driven by the high-technology sector of the economy , the economy slows down dramatically. Many stock options become worthless.
Jean Baudrillard (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Hundreds of Internet companies go out of business, but the slowdown also affects "brick and mortar" industries such as automobiles, construction, and travel. Austro-Hungary sought reprisals against Serbia, the Russians came to the Serbian defense, the Germans came to the assistance of the Austro-Hungarians, and Eastern Europe was at war.
At the same time, the Germans took this opportunity to try out a plan they had been developing for years. The German strategic command had worked out a way to march across Belgium and northeastern France and take Paris in six weeks, and in they attempted to do just this. The plan bogged down and soon the English came to the assistance of the French and Belgians. Pushing the Germans back from the very suburbs of Paris, the Allied forces managed to save the French nation but the armies soon found themselves waging trench warfare in the forests and fens of northern France, Alsace, and Belgium.
Millions died in futile attempts to move the line forward a few yards. Among these were a number of modernist artists and writers, including the French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska , Ezra Pound's friend. The tone of excitement about violence that characterized earlier modernist writing disappeared after the war, for the writers who exalted in the promise of destruction were utterly numbed by the effects of real destruction. Although the soldier-writers like Rupert Brooke and Siegfried Sassoon have left readers with vivid, horrifying pictures of combat, perhaps the enduring modernist imagery of the war is contained in two poems: Eliot's "The Waste Land" and Pound's "Hugh Selwyn Mauberley.
The poem is perhaps the best verbal portrait ever created of civilized man confronting the possibility that everything has been destroyed. Modernism did not exist until it was almost dead.
That is, until the s or later the term "Modernism" simply did not mean what it means today: a group of writers, an arsenal of literary devices, a number of characteristic themes. Interestingly, in the s and s—the height of Modernism as it is understood today—the word "Modernism" referred to a particular strain of thought in the Catholic Church. At that time, the modernist writers did not see themselves as a unified movement.
Instead, the writers now called modernists were members of dozens of different smaller movements: the Lost Generation, the Dadaists, the Imagists, the Vorticists, the Objectivists, the Sur-realists, and many others. What is identified as the characteristic themes or concerns of the modernist period a general pessimism about the state of the world, a rejection of society's certainties, a sense that only the rebel artist is telling the truth about the world were simply "in the air" of the times; everyone was thinking and writing about the same ideas, so it did not seem necessary to name their commonalities.
Literary critics of the early twentieth century were generally hostile to the writers now called modernists. The Victorian ethos held that literature's purpose was to identify "sweetness and light" and "the best that has been thought and said" in the words of Matthew Arnold , one of Victorian England's most important critics in order to make better citizens. Literature and art, for the Victorians, were meant to be "edifying"—educational. Literature was read to learn how one should behave. By that same token, literature that did not put forth edifying models was simply bad literature.
This attitude is shown especially well in the hostile response to Gustave Flaubert 's Madame Bovary , a novel that depicted, without comment or condemnation, the adulterous behavior of a middle-class woman. The Arnoldian attitude toward literature persisted well into the twentieth century, and in the United States was personified by the writers and editors of the Saturday Review of Literature ,especially Henry Seidel Canby.
For these critics, modernist literature was both incomprehensible and dangerous. Its stylistic experiments made it difficult to digest easily—readers had to work to make it through Ulysses or The Sound and the Fury , not to mention The Cantos or "The Waste Land"—and its pessimistic, negative attitude toward society could hardly be expected to make better citizens.
In fact, modernist literature celebrated those people, artists especially, who rebelled against society. Where the late Victorian critics and their intellectual descendants wanted edifying, socially-uplifting literature, modernist literature sought to create independent, critical, alienated subjects. As a result, Modernism had to create its own critics and to a remarkable extent it succeeded. At first, modernist writers simply started their own magazines and reviewed each other's work.
Ezra Pound, through the journals Poetry and The Egoist , was especially productive in this. Later, T. Eliot became Modernism's leading critic. He denigrated the neoclassicists and the romantics and praised the Elizabethans; he argued for a literature steeped in the "Tradition"; he valued tension, ambiguity, and allusion.
Not coincidentally, his own poetry seemed to be the height of "Good Literature" as he defined it. After Eliot defined a modernist aesthetic, other critics began to agree with him. Difficulty, resistance, ambiguity, irony, and the sense of an ending to something were all qualities praised by critics ranging from the political right wing the New Critics to the far left the New York Intellectuals. By the s and s the modernist aesthetic was taking over Anglo-American literary criticism.
The old guard of critics defending the edifices of Western civilization seemed less and less relevant after a war, a depression, and another war. The pessimistic modernist view of the world began to seem correct. By the s, Modernism and its aesthetic standards were almost unquestioned in American criticism and education.