"What used to be described as thoughtless acts of aggression, was now regarded as the courage one would expect to find in a party member. fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man. ..anyone who held violent opinions could be trusted...and to plot successfully was a sign of intelligence."
Thucydides (describing the corruption of Athens)
"This is a land where no one has an indulgent smile for immorality or calls seducing or being seduced 'the spirit of modern times . "
"Art degraded, Imagination Denied, War Cover'd the Nations."
The craft that we call modern;
The crimes that we call new;
John Bunyan had them typed and filed
"The world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts....
"I am truly horrified by modern man. Such absence of feeling, such narrowness of outlook, such lack of passion and information, such feebleness of thought."
-Alexander Herzen (1812-70)
From the Other Shore
"We live in an atmosphere of shame. We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinion, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins."
-George Bernard Shaw
Man and Superman
"Modern man's besetting temptation is to sacrifice his direct perceptions and spontaneous feelings to his reasoned reflections; to prefer in all circumstances the verdict of his intellect to that of his immediate intuitions."
"We need not deny that modern doubt, like ancient doubt, does ask deep questions; we only deny that....it gives any deeper answers. And it is a general rule, touching what is called modern thought, that while the questions are often really deep, the answers are often decidedly shallow. And it is perhaps even more important to remark that, while the questions are in a sense eternal, the answers are in every sense ephemeral."
The Well and the Shallows
"It's a feminine, a nervous, hysterical, chattering canting age....an age of hollow phrases and false delicacy and exaggerated solicitudes and coddled sensibilities, which, if we don't soon look out, will usher in the reign of mediocrity, of the feeblest and flattest and the most pretentious that has ever been."
The Bostonians (1886)
"This strange disease of modern life,
With its sick hurry, its divided aims."
The Scholar Gypsy
"Apart from the desire to produce beautiful things, the leading passion of my life is hatred of modern civilization....What shall I say concerning its mastery of and its waste of mechanical power.....its stupendous organization for the misery of life....was it all to end in a counting house on the top of a cinderheap?"
"The most significant characteristic of modern civilization is the sacrifice of the future for the present, and all the power of science has been prostituted to this purpose."
"For millennia, man remained what he was for Aristotle: a living animal with the additional capacity for a political existence. In contrast modern man is an animal whose politics places his existence as a living being in question."
"The imbecile who sits beside us on the train doing financial deals at the top of his voice is in reality strutting around like a peacock with a crown of feathers and a multicolored ring around his penis. They want everyone to know that they are decision makers in a refrigerator manufacturing company, that they buy and sell on the stock exchange, that they organize conferences, or that their partner has left them. They have paid for a cell phone and the hefty bills that come with it, to flaunt their private lives in the presence of all."
"We live at a time when man believes himself fabulously capable of creation, but he does not know what to create. Lord of all things, he is not lord of himself. He feels lost amid his own abundance. With more means at its disposal, more knowledge, more techniques than ever, it turns out that the world today goes the same way as the worst of worlds that have been: it simply drifts."
-Ortega Y Gasset
"Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!
Through the Looking Glass
"A multitude of causes unknown to former times are now acting with a combined force to blunt the discriminating powers of the mind, and unfitting it for all voluntary exertion to reduce it to a state of almost savage torpor."
-William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
"Science Finds-Industry Applies-Man Conforms"
(Motto of the Chicago World's Fair,1933)
"The spirit of rapine and greed is the true characteristic of the modern epoch: the poor exploit the rich, the workers and their employers, the tenant his landlord, the company promoter his shareholders, no less than the capitalist exploits and puts pressure on the industrialist, the industrialist his workers, and the landlord his tenants. And there is another way in which this antagonism is expressed, in the matter of taxation: the poor want the rich to pay it all in the form of sumptuary taxes, graded income-tax, estate duties, wealth taxes and taxes on unearned income. The rich seek to cast all burden onto the poor in the form of taxes on consumption."
"Every one of the popular modern phrases and ideals is a dodge in order to shirk the problem of what is good. We are fond of talking about "liberty": that, as we talk of it, is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. We are fond of talking about "progress"; that is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. We are fond of talking about "education"; that is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. The modern man says, "Let us leave all these arbitrary standards and embrace liberty." This logically rendered, "Let us not decide what is good, but let it be considered good not to decide it." He says, "Away with your old moral formulae; I am for progress." This, logically stated, means, "Let us not settle what is good; but let us settle whether we are getting more of it."
"Our present economic, social and international arrangements are based, in large measure, upon organized lovelessness."
"I'm not delivering any news if I tell you the world is a piece of hell for millions of people....There are always a few who manage to find a way out, humans are capable of the best as well as the worst, but you can't change human destiny. We live in a dark age, when freedoms are diminishing, when there is no space for criticism, when totalitarianism-the totalitarianism of multination corporations, of the marketplace-no longer even needs an ideology, and religious intolerance is on the rise...Orwell's '1984' is already here."
Jose Saramago (Nobel Prize Winner)
"When I was growing up good mobs of people all around then. Now people bit wicked. My time never do little bit wrong…otherwise get spear straight away. Now….little bit cheeky mob, Old time they would all be dead now, Old people were hard….I frightened when young. Only few people now, but it easy for this mob."
Big Bill Neidjie (Australian Aboriginal)
"It was not a superior quality of happiness that distinguished the pre-Ford, pre-radio, pre-boarding school home from our modern perches between migrations….It was confidence….that made the great difference between then and now, a confidence that reached down below comfort or pleasure into stability itself."
Henry Seidel Canby
"brilliant men, beautiful jazz babies, champagne baths, midnight revels, petting parties in the purple dawn, all ending in one terrific smashing climax.."
(a motion picture advertisement in the 1920s)
"The flapper was, in effect, the first thoroughly modern American."
"Modern man likes to pretend that his thinking is wide awake. But this wide awake thinking has led us into mazes of nightmares in which torture chambers are endlessly repeated in the mirrors of reason."
The Labyrinth of Solitude
"The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by the "disenchantment of the world." Precisely the ultimate and most sublime values have retreated from public life either into the transcendental realm of mystic life or into the brotherliness of direct and personal human relations. It is not accidental that our greatest art is intimate and not monumental."
-Max Weber (1864-1920)
"We rush through heated garbage days
With fear in morbid blood-raw eyes:
Mobs in cancerous slums….
At noon. Angled faces in twisted Patterns of survival."
Ben Okri (Nigerian Poet)
"The whole psychology of modern disquiet is linked with the sudden confrontation with space-time."
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
"Despite all the vaunted technological and economic progress of modern times, there are probably more poverty-stricken people in the world today than there were fifty years ago."
Dr. Eugene Staley (Stanford Research Institute)
"Modern emancipation has really been a new persecution of the Common Man. If it has emancipated anybody, it has in rather narrow ways emancipated the Uncommon Man. It has given an eccentric sort of liberty to some of the hobbies of the wealthy and to some of the lunacies of those who call themselves cultured. The only thing that it has forbidden is common sense, as it would have been understood by the common people."
"A population subjected to drastic change is a population of misfits-unbalanced, explosive, and hungry for action."
The Ordeal of Change
"Noise, crowding, pollution, and the sheer rush of our complex, modern society are rapidly becoming as oppressive to many individuals as the worst kind of political dictatorship."
Thomas F. Eagleton
"Modern man has left the realm of the unknown and the mysterious, and has settled down in the realm of the functional. He has turned his back to the world of the foreboding and the exulting and has welcomed the world of boredom."
The Fire Within
"Our culture peculiarly honors the act of blaming, which it takes as the sign of virtue and intellect."
"It cannot be denied that for a society which has to create scarcity to save its members from starvation, to whom abundance spells disaster, and to whom unlimited energy means unlimited power for war and destruction, there is an ominous cloud in the distance though at present it be no bigger than a man's hand."
-Arthur Stanley Eddington
New Pathways in Science
"Living in an age of advertisement, we are perpetually disillusioned."
"Throughout these years, the power of the State to do evil expanded with awesome speed. its power to do good grew slowly and ambiguously."
"Pessimism in our time is infinitely more respectable than optimism; the man who foresees peace, prosperity, and a decline in juvenile delinquency is a negligent and vacuous fellow. The man who foresees catastrophe has a gift of insight which ensures that he will become a radio commentator, and Editor of Time or go to congress."
John Kenneth Galbraith
"In all the cities of the world, it is the same….The universal and modern man is the man in a rush (i.e. a rhinoceros), a man who has no time, who is a prisoner of necessity, who cannot understand that a thing might perhaps be without usefulness; nor does he understand that, at bottom, it is the useful that may be useless and back-breaking burden. If one does not understand the usefulness of the useless and uselessness of the useful, once cannot understand art. And a country where art is not understood is a country of slave and robots."
"Countries like ours are full of people who have all of the material comforts they desire, yet lead lives of quiet (and at times noisy) desperation, understanding nothing but the fact that there is a hole inside them and that however much food and drink they pour into it, however many motorcars and television sets they stuff it with, however many well-balanced children and loyal friends they parade around the edges of it....it aches!"
The Times (London),1968
"Our age will be known as the age of committees."
Sir Ernest Benn
"Modern man fashioned himself for the conquest of the external world: he had faith in machines and that faith was justified by works. He projected the infantile dream of limitless power upon adult society and looked forward to a time when a push button would command food as easily as the infant’s cry brings the bottle or the breast. But after four centuries of strenuous effort his mythic powers are still illusory. Despite his machines he starves in the midst of plenty; despite his knowledge of distant stars and intra-atomic worlds, the civilization he has created has given rise to a barbarism that now has swept across the planet. In a series of world wars and world revolutions Modern Man has in fact been painfully committing suicide."
The Condition of Man
"The prevailing paradigm that speed is inherently good benefits some elements of society more than it does others, Those who benefit most are the largest institutions and travel directly into money and power. For most of the rest of the world, the emphasis on acceleration is harmful. It is surely harmful for workers. It is harmful for relationships among people. It creates anxiety. And it has very important ramifications for the survival of diverse non-western cultures."
In the Absence of the Sacred
"It rises on a basis of crude materialism and blind determinism built by the unconscious toil of the conquered, and bathed in their tears and blood, like the old pagan Coliseum-a ruin washed over by Christian centuries. It rises up monstrous, holding out before the eyes of the deluded mob of slaves-brining bricks and pitch for its making-a vain mirage of perfect prosperity and terrestrial felicity….But at the same time on the glacis of the New Babel, there arise the launching ramps for missiles, and in its storehouse the ogival nuclear weapons pile up for the universal and total destruction to come."
Cardinal Pizzardo (Vatican 1960)
"The outstanding feature of our time is insecurity. Epochs of this character-witness the Reformation and the French Revolution-have always been unfavorable to reason and tolerance; they have therefore been epochs in which dictatorship has its opportunity. And men always feel insecure when their privileges are challenged. They are not prepared to accept the invasion of their wonted routines. They seek to make their private claims universal rights; and those who provide them with the means of enforcing their claims are regarded as their saviors. The limits of men's faith in a reason which disturbs their established expectations are more narrow than they care to admit. Yet such disturbance always comes in an age of economic contraction. Whenever, historically, the economic forces of society cannot contain themselves within the political forms-as, once more, in the Reformation and the French Revolution-we have moved into an epoch of war and revolution."
-Harold J. Laski "The Challenge of Our Times," Autumn 1939
"Surely we are justified in saying of our time: If you seek the monument to our folly, look about you. In our own day we have seen cities obliterated and ancient faiths stricken. We may well ask, in the words of Matthew, whether we are not faced with "great tribulation, such was not since the beginning of the world." We have for many years moved with a brash confidence that man had achieved a position of independence which rendered the ancient restraints needless. Now, in the first half of the twentieth century, at the height of modern progress, we behold unprecedented outbreaks of hared and violence; we have seen whole nations desolated by war and turned into penal camps by their conquerors; we find half of mankind looking upon the other half as criminal. Everywhere occur symptoms of mass psychosis. Most portentous of all, there appear diverging bases of value, so that our single planetary globe is mocked by worlds of different understanding. These signs of disintegration arouse fear, and fear leads to desperate unilateral efforts toward survival, which only forward the process."
Richard M. Weaver
Ideas Have Consequences
" 'the modern world has been shaped by technology. It tumbles from crisis to crisis; on all sides there are prophecies of disaster and,
indeed, visible signs of breakdown."
"If some great catastrophe is not announced every morning, we feel a certain void: ‘Nothing in the paper today,’ we sigh."
"Our thought has been ‘Let every man look out for himself, let every generation look out for itself.’ While we reared giant machinery which made it impossible that any but those who stood at the levers of control should have a chance to look out for themselves."
Woodrow Wilson (First Inaugural address Mar 4,1913)
"The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but the earth is still going round the sun."
Shooting an Elephant
"Let us admit, even if in a whisper and only to ourselves: in this bustle of life at breakneck speed-what are we living for?"
"Anyone who does not wish to deceive himself by systematic lies must acknowledge the agony and horror of modern life."
"We grow tired of everything but turning others into ridicule, and congratulating ourselves on their deficits."
"To complain of the age we live in, to murmur at the present possessors of power, to lament the past, to conceive extravagant hopes of the future, are the common dispositions of the greatest part of mankind."
"Just because people have been saying for generations that the good old days are gone and our present condition is worse than anything in memory doesn’t mean it isn’t true."
David R. Slavitt
"It takes a kind of shabby arrogance to survive in our time, and a fairly romantic nature to want to."
-Edgar Z. Friedenberg
The Vanishing Adolescent
"Modern man represses his fear of the technical world and intoxicates himself with action, or better, with the illusion of action."
"There is something terribly wrong with a culture inebriated by noise and gregariousness."
"People are anxious to endorse the tenets they consider fashionable lest they appear boorish and backward."
Ludwig Von Mises
To crush what is spiritual, moral, human-so to speak-in man, by specializing him; to form mere wheels of the great social machine, instead of perfect individuals; to make society and not conscience the center of life, to enslave the soul of things, to de-personalize man,-this is the dominant drift of our epoch."
"A popular misconception exists that the builders of the pyramids or the cave painters of prehistory were somehow less intelligent that we are……This simply isn’t true-there is no evidence that the human brain has evolved at all in the last fifty thousand years at least. Modern people are merely benefiting from thousands of years of accumulated knowledge and experimentation, not from increased intellect….These ides are part of the mistaken view of history best described as Temporocentrism-the belief that our time is the most important and represents a "pinnacle" of achievement. The Tempororcentric view is a hangover from nineteenth-century ideas of progress. This crude version Darwinian evolution has led to many misinterpretations of the archeological evidence for ancient technological and cultural achievements."
Peter James & Nick Thorpe
"The amount of real leisure a society enjoys tends to be in inverse
proportion to the amount of labour-saving machinery it employs."
"Every time a savage tracks his game he employs a minuteness of observation, and an accuracy of inductive and deductive reasoning which, applied to other maters, would assure some reputation as a man of science….The intellectual labor of a "good hunter or warrior" considerably exceeds that of an ordinary Englishman."
"If Jesus Christ were to come today, people would not even crucify him. They would ask him to dinner, and hear what he had to say, and make fun of it."
"No poetry can bloom in the arid modern soil, the drama has died, and the patrons of art are no longer even conscious of shame at profaning the most sacred of ideals, the ecstatic dream, which hallowed by the presence of his God, is reproduced to bedizen a warehouse; or the plan of an abbey, which Saint Hugh may have consecrated, is adapted to a railway station."
Law of Civilization and Decay 1896
"The modern age can be understood as that of an unrelenting 500-year war waged to destroy the environmental conditions for subsistence and to replace them by commodities produced within the frame of the new nation state. In this war against popular cultures and their frame-work, the State was at first assisted by the clergies of the various churches, and later by the professional and their institutional procedures. During this war, popular cultures and vernacular domains-areas of subsistence-were devastated on all levels. Modern history, from the point of view of the losers in this war, still remains to be written. The report on this war has so far reflected the belief that it helped ‘the poor’ towards progress. It was written from the point of view of the winners. Marxist historians are usually not less blinded to the values that were destroyed than their bourgeois, liberal, or Christian colleagues. Economic historians tend to start their research with categories that reflect the foregone conclusion that scarcity, defined by mimetic desire, is the human condition par excellence."
The very word modern comes from a Latin word which means "just now", to be modern means, accordingly to be in the mode: that is fashionable-which means to discard the past as one would discard last year’s garment, and to wear the same uniform as one’s contemporaries……….
"We may say, therefore, that modern technology has deprived man of the kind of work that he enjoys most, creative, useful work with hands and brains, and given him plenty of work of a fragmented kind, most of which he doest not enjoy at all."
"Most Americans are aware that we, as a nation, are not enjoying our material success. To scan today’s cultural landscape is to see a burgeoning underclass, a growing army of homeless people, and increasingly frustrated, alienated, economically hard-pressed middle class. We see drugs, crime, violence, racism, hate crimes, mindless massacres and children killing children. We find deteriorating cities and crumbling infrastructures."
"….all our lauded technological progress-our very civilization- is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal."
Einstein (Dec 16,1917)
"The modern world belongs to the half-educated, a rather difficult class, because they do not realize how little they know."
William R. Inge
"Unhappiness is manifest at every level of the national scene. From big city to the remotest rural trailer court, our civic life is tattered and frayed. Unspeakable crimes occur in the most ordinary places. Government can’t fulfill its most basic role in guaranteeing the public safety. Our schools, in many cases, barely function. The consensus of what constitutes decent behavior fractured with the social revolutions of the 1960s, and has not been restored, Anything goes."
James Howard Kunstler
Home from Nowhere*
"I am truly horrified by modern man. Such absence of feeling, such narrowness of outlook, such a lack of passion and information, such feebleness of thought."
Alexander Herzen (1812-70)
Thinker from the other Shore
"First, one must take into account the deep psychic anxiety, the extraordinary prevalence of neurosis, which make our age unique. The typical modern has the look of the hunted. He senses that we have lost our grip upon reality. This, in turn, produces disintegration, and disintegration leaves impossible that kind of reasonable prediction by which men, in eras of sanity, are able to order their lives. And the fear accompanying it unlooses the great disorganizing force of hatred, so that states are threatened and wars ensue. Few men today feel certain that war will not wipe out their children's inheritance; and, even if this evil is held in abeyance, the individual does not rest easy, for he knows that the Juggernaut technology may twist or destroy the pattern of life he has made for himself. A creature designed to look before and after finds that to do the latter has gone out of fashion and that to do the former is becoming impossible."
Richard M. Weaver
Ideas Have Consequences
"It is a tribute to the peculiar horror of contemporary life that it makes the worst features of earlier times-the stupefaction of the masses, the obsessed and driven lives of the bourgeoisie-seem attractive by comparison"
The Culture of Narcissism
"In the society of men the truth resides less in what things are than in what they are not. Our social realities are so ugly it seen in the light of exiled truth, and beauty is no longer possible if it is not a lie."
R.D. Laing (1927-89)
The Politics of Experience
"The sickness of our times for me has been just this damn thing that everything has been getting smaller and smaller and less and less important. That the romantic spirit has dried up, and there is no shame today….We’re all getting so mean and small and petty and ridiculous, and we all live under the threat of extermination."
Hip, Hell , and the Navigator
"You don’t have to be old in America to say of a world you lived in: that world is gone."
What I saw at the Revolution
"I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of "admin". The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final results. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and mounted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the thoroughly nasty business concern."
"The beginning of the Atomic Age has brought less hope than fear. It is a primitive fear, the fear of the unknown, the fear of forces man neither channeled nor comprehend….it is the fear of irrational death."
Modern Man is Obsolete (1945)
We are becoming like cats, slyly parasitic, enjoying an indifferent domesticity. Nice and snug in the "the social," our historic passions have withdrawn into the glow of an artificial coziness, and our half-closed eyes now seek, little other than the peaceful parade of television pictures."
"The modern mind is in complete disarray. Knowledge has stretched itself to the point where neither the world nor our intelligence can find any foot-hold. It is a fact that we are suffering from nihilism."
"don’t bother about being modern. Unfortunately it is the one thing that, whatever you do, you cannot avoid."
"This strange disease of modern life,
With its sick hurry, its divided aims."
"The Empire was falling, the Barbarians were on the move….what was to be done, except to escape the age? Happy moment, when there was still somewhere to go, when the empty places were accessible and welcoming! We have been dispossessed of everything, even the desert."
"So far the twentieth century seemingly belongs to Darwin, Marx, and Wagner."
(and may we leave them behind. .ed)
The Century is dead; long live the Century!….the lights flashed, crowds sang, the sirens of craft in the harbor screeched and roared, bells pealed, bombs thundered, rockets blazed skyward, and the new century made its triumphant entry.
Tonight when the clock strikes twelve, the present century will have to come to an end. We look back upon it as a cycle of time within which the achievements in science and in civilization are not less than marvelous.
The advance of the human race during the past one hundred years has not been equaled by the progress of man within any of the preceding ages.
The possibilities of the future for mankind are the subjects of hope and imagination….
On this occasion, which is one of solemnity, I express the earnest wish that the rights of the individual man shall continue to be regarded as sacred, and that the crowning glory of the coming century shall be the lifting up on the burdens of the poor, the annihilation of all misery and wrong, and that the peace and goodwill which the angels proclaimed shall rest on contending nations as the snowflakes upon the land."
(Thus the twentieth century was issued in by the New York Times)
"Our century, the Twentieth, has been a Century of horrors."
Book: Raids on the Unspeakable…by Thomas Merton
"This is perhaps the most beautiful time in human history; it is really pregnant with all kinds of creative possibilities by science and technology which now constitute the slave of man-if man is not enslaved to it."
"The technology of mass production is inherently violent, ecologically
damaging, self-defeating in terms of non-renewable resources, and
stultifying for the human person."
"Ours is an age which is proud of machines that think, and suspicious
of any man who tries to. "
Howard Mumford Jones
"In the excitement over the unfolding of his scientific and technical
powers, modern man has built a system of production that ravishes nature and a type of society that mutilates man. If only there were more and more wealth, everything else, it is thought, would fall into place. Money is considered to be all-powerful; if it could not actually buy non-material values, such as justice, harmony, beauty or even health it could circumvent the need for them or compensate for their loss. The development of production and the acquisition of wealth have thus become the highest goals of the modern world in relation to which all other goals, no matter how much lip-service may still be paid to them, have come to take second place. The highest goals require no justification; all secondary goals have finally to justify themselves in
terms of the service their attainment renders to the attainment of
This is the philosophy of materialism, and it is this philosophy-
or metaphysic-which is now being challenged by events. There has never been a time, in any society in any part of the world, without its
sages and teachers to challenge materialism and plead for a different
order of priorities. The languages have differed, the symbols have
varied, yet the message has always been the same: "Seek ye first the
kingdom of God, and all these things (the material things which you
also need) shall be added unto you."
Small is Beautiful
"Sanctity is out and television is in. The city skyline is
broken by the twisted arms of the TV aerial , not by the plain
four-armed cross of Christ. TV is only a symptom of the disease of an age which has learned how to pull the atom to
pieces without discovering how to integrate itself. It represents the immense technical and scientific achievements of
the few for the enjoyment of the many: the dictatorship of
a commercial technology which screams at us from every advertisement that progress is marked by new gadgets and that
the secret of happiness is to be purchased with a washing
machine and a new soap powder."
"Modern man has not retained his sanity.
The sophist will cry out at this point that 'nobody knows
what sanity is. ' But while 'he' may not know it, it is
knowable up to a point, regardless of obscurantist 'science' ."
"That is a land Where no one has an indulgent smile for immorality or calls seducing or being seduced 'the spirit of modern times ' . "
"For though today is always today and the moment is always
modern, we are the only men in history who fell back upon
bragging about the mere fact that today is not yesterday.
I fear that some in the future will explain it by saying
that we had precious little else to brag about.'
G. K. Chesterton
"Modern man honors a man by calling him a realist. This
concept has been wrought from religious prejudice. This makes .
modern times appear like a new civilization, different from
the past. "
" Also it seems very far from sure that the Victorians did
not experience a much keener, because less frequent, sexual
pleasure than we do; and that they were not dimly aware of
this, and so chose a convention of suppression, repression
and silence to maintain the keenness of the pleasure. In a
way, by transferring to the public imagination what they left
to the private, we are the more Victorian-in the derogatory
sense of the word-century, since we have, in destroying so
much of the mystery, the difficulty, the aura of the forbidden,
destroyed also a great deal of the pleasure. Of course we
cannot measure comparative degrees of pleasure; but it may
be luckier for us than for the Victorians that we cannot."
" 'Our Men of that time, ' continued the necromancer in a
grim voice, voice 'have exactly three ideas in their magnificent noodles. The first is that the human species is superior to
others. The second, that the twentieth century is superior
to other centuries. And the third, that human adults of the
twentieth century are superior to their young. The whole thing
is an illusion being labeled Progress, and anybody who questions
it is called Mad. The March of Progress, God help them. "
The Book of Merlyn
T. H. White
Inequalities of status between members of the various 'estates'
do not exclude a kind of mutual respect and genuine human intercourse. Looking back to the "good old days" people sing
the praises of personal relations and extol the virtues of
fidelity and loyalty as opposed to the coldness and lack of
sympathy between individuals who are theoretically equal.
We have all succumbed to Nietzsche's commandment "Be Hard"--
now we are dead. Life which is love means sensitivity.
"The secret that the Victorians knew 'The one Great truth' which
our modern thought does not know and which it may possibly perish through not knowing, is that to enjoy life means to take it seriously."
G. K. Chesterton
"Speed, it seems to me, provides the one genuinely modern pleasure."
"The supposed great misery of our century is the lack of time;
our sense of that, 'not' a disinterested love of science, and
of the ingenuity and income of our societies to finding faster
ways of doing things-as if the final act of mankind is to
grow closer not to a perfect humanity,, but to a perfect lightning flash."
The French Lieutenants Women
Little, Brown and Co .Boston-Toronto
"Modern man has heard enough about guilt and sin. He is sorely " '
beset by his own bad conscience, and wants rather to
know how he is to reconcile himself with his own nature-how
he is to love the enemy in his own heart and call the wolf his brother. "
C . G . Jung
"--they dwelt anxiously among political, economic and
moral ferments and earthquakes. Wasted a number of frightful
wars and civil wars, and their little cultural games were not
just charming, meaningless childishness. These games sprang
from their deep need to close their eyes and flee from unsolved
problems and anxious forebodings of doom into an imaginary
world as innocuous as possible. They assiduously learned to
drive automobiles , to play difficult card games and lose themselves in crossword puzzles--for they faced death, fear, pain,
and hunger almost without defenses, could no longer accept the
consolations of the churches, and could obtain no useful advice from Reason. These people who read so many articles and
listened to so many lectures did not take the time and trouble
to strengthen themselves against fear, to combat the dread of
death within themselves; they moved spasmodically on through
life and had no belief in tomorrow."
The Glass Bead Game
"The growth of what is called the Modern World has been, by turns , both the cause and effect of the destruction of that old sense of universal order. "
"It is an awful satire, and an epigram on the materialism of
our modern age , that nowadays the only use that can be made
of solitude is imposing it as a penalty, as jail. What a
difference there is between those times when, no matter how
secular materialism always was, man believed in the solitude
of the convent, when, in other words , solitude was revered
as the highest, as the destiny of Eternity-and the present
when it is detested as a curse and is used only for the
punishment of criminals. Alas, what a change. "
"Our age could be characterized as a manifold experiment in
faithlessness, and if it has yet produced no effective understanding of the practicalities of faith, it has certainly
produced massive evidence of the damage of its absence. "
The Unsettling of America
"To be merely modern is to condemn oneself to an ultimate narrowness . "
"Our is a world in which knowledge accumulates and wisdom decays. "
"The disease of the modern character is specialization. Looked
at from the standpoint of the social 'system' , the aim of
specialization may seem desirable enough. The aim to see that
the responsibilities of government, law, medicine, engineering,
agriculture, education, etc. are given into the hands of the
most skilled, best prepared people. The difficulties do not
appear until we look at specialization from the opposite
stand-point-that of the individual person. We then begin to
see the grotesquery-indeed, the impossibility-of an idea
of community wholeness that divorces itself from any idea of
personal wholeness. "
"Men some centuries from now will surely look back upon our time
as a golden age of unparalleled technical, intellectual, institutional, and perhaps even of artistic creativity. Life in Demosthenes' Athens, in Confucius' China, and in Mohammed’s Arabia was violent, risky, and uncertain; hopes struggled with fears; greatness teetered perilously on the brim of disaster. We belong in this high company and should count ourselves fortunate to live in one of the great ages of the world. "
TheRise of the West
"The axiom "you become what you hate" is never more apparent than today. We have tried to banish from the planet darkness and ignorance of the ages. We have heralded a new age of discovery and civilization for mankind. We have been blowing the horn of the golden age while reviling the dark superstition of the past, the abysmal obscurant patterns of thought which prevented us from seeing the world as it "really is. " One cannot help but wonder if we have not instead embodied a greater ignorance and folly which beggars all that has preceded it, brining a total lack of understanding that has created a howling apocalyptic nightmare which the planetary body must now wrestle in order to survive. "
The Magic of Findhorn
"One of the main characteristics of modern thought is a contradiction between the way man regards the external world, outside himself, and the way he regards the internal world, inside himself. As regards the external world, he has never been more objective, more convinced of the universal application of 'laws' , expressible by formulae and consistently measurable in their effects. In this field, any belief which throws doubt on the principle of measurability, for example, By any belief in intelligence or consciousness belonging to beings greater in scale than man, is in danger of being regarded as superstition.
As regards his internal world, on the other hand, man has rarely been more subjective, more convinced of the special validity of his every whim, imagination, hope and fear, and less willing to admit that his inner world is subject to any laws whatsoever. "
The Theory of Celestial Influence
"Descartes' philosophy is haunted by two nightmares which in a
sense became the nightmares of the whole modern age, not be-
cause this age was so deeply influenced by Cartesian philosophy,
but because their emergence was almost inescapable once the
true implications of the modern world view were understood.
These nightmares are very simple and very well known. In the
one, reality, the reality of the world as well as of human
life, is doubted; if neither the senses nor common sense nor
reason can be trusted, then it may well be that all we take
for reality is only a dream. The other concerns the general
human condition as it was revealed by the new discoveries and
the impossibility for man to trust his sense and his reason;
under these circumstances it seems, indeed, much more likely
that an evil spirit, a 'Dieu Trompeur' , willfully and spitefully
betrays man than that God is the ruler of the universe. The
consummate devilry of this evil spirit would consist in having
created a creature which harbors a notion of truth only to be-
stow on it such other faculties that it will never be able
to reach any truth, never be able to be certain of anything. "
The Human Condition
"This time, like all times, is a very good one-if we but know
what to do with it. "
"If you want to live an easy life, you picked the wrong century
to be born in. "
"Mr Gandhi, what do you think of modern civilization?
"That would be a good idea."
(Gandhis reply to a reporters question disembarking in Southampton in lB3O)
"Muggers attack in broad daylight. Churches lock their doors because, as one clergyman explains, "Too many bums come in, wander around and take what they like." Last week a purse snatcher was shot to death by a rookie policeman; a 4O-year-old man was beaten to death in his home with a leg wrenched by a couple of intruders from his end table; a bank' was robbed and police pursued the bandits through the streets while passers by scattered to escape the gunfire.. ."
Time (Mar 22,1963)a description of the capital city of the leading nation of Western Civilization
"By the spirit of the age, then, the man of to-day is forced into skepticism about his own thinking, in order to make him receptive to truth which comes to him from authority. To all this constant influence he cannot make the resistance that is desirable because he is an overworked and distracted being without power to concentrate. More-over, the manifold material travails which are his lot work upon his mentality in such a way that he comes at last to believe himself unqualified even to make any claim to thoughts of him own.
His self-confidence is also diminished through the pressure exercised upon him by the huge and daily increasing mass of Knowledge. He is no longer in a position to take in as something which he has grasped all the new discoveries that are constantly announced; he has to accept them as fact although he does not understand them. This being his relation to scientific truth he is tempted to acquiesce in the idea that in matters of thought also his judgment can- not be trusted. Thus do the circumstances of the age do their best to deliver us up to the spirit of the age. The seed of skepticism has germinated. In fact, the modern man has no longer any spiritual self-confidence at all. Behind a self-confident exterior he conceals a great inward lack of confidence. In spite of his great capacity in material matters he is an altogether stunted being, because he makes no use of his capacity for thinking. It will ever remain incomprehensible that our generation, which has shown itself so great by its achievements in discovery and invention, could fall so low spiritually as to give up thinking."
Out of my life and thought
"Though the modern may know a million secrets, the ancients world new one-and that one was greater than the million; for the million secrets breed death, disaster, sorrow, selfishness, lust, and avarice, but the one secret confers life, light, and truth."
Manly P. Hall
"The spirit of our age dislikes what is simple. It no longer
believes the simple can be profound...The spirit of the age
loves dissonance, in tones, in lines, and in thought. That
shows how far from thinking it is, for thinking is harmony
"Men of earlier cultures were tactually aware of external reality-the relationship was martial-whereas moderns are voyeurs . "
"You turn to religion him who was born to wear the sword, you
make a King of one who was born to preach. Thus all your
steps are out of the true way. "
"Modern life is the silent pact to keep up appearances."
by John Buchan
Longmans-Green & Co.
"The moderns are fond of the modern metaphor 'You can't turn
back the clock' ,obviously you can with one finger. Anything
being a human construction can be reconstructed upon any plan
that has ever existed."
"The modern mind is forced to face the future by a certain
sense of fatigue, not unmixed by terror with regards to the past. "
G. K. Chesterton
"The Modern Temper. Hollow men eating their Naked Lunches in
the Wasteland while awaiting Go out. Botched civilization. Sick
world. Untergang des Abendlandes. No life beyond the grave. Loss of traditional symbols of Western Culture. No integrating myths. No worship. No reality independent of the disinterested observer. No objective, sharable truth of truths. No scale of values. No norm of human nature. . . No boundaries between the rational and the irrational, normal or abnormal. Solipsism. Nothing to discipline our emotions. No firm roots in domestic or civil ritual. Life pattern less, purposeless, meaningless. Everything "phony"
Hoxie Neale Fairchild
Religious Trends in English Poetry
"What a spectacle do the nations present today! We see a hand-
full of rich, idle and voluptuous men enjoying themselves at
the expense of a multitude which flatters their passions
and can only live by pandering to their appetites. This assembly
of oppressors and oppressed constitutes what is called Society,
from which the vilest and most miserable elements are selected
to make soldiers."
"Now, the world' s decisions were made by smaller men; by gray,
faceless bureaucrats without vision or wit; committeemen who
spoke committee speak and thought committee thought, men who know
more of dogma than destiny, men who understood production but
were ignorant of pleasure, men more comfortable with a file full
of papers than a fistful of gems; unsmiling men, unmannered
men, undreaming men, men who believed they could guide humanity
when they could not seduce a countess nor ride a horse."
Still Life With Woodpecker
"Curious, is it not, that in modern Western society alone
"Enlightenment" with a capital "E" came to mean the repression
of transcendent aspiration, the destruction of religious
"Is it not terrible, is it not humiliating to suppose that Moses
climbed Mount Sinai, that the Hellenes built their enchanting citadels, that the Romans fought their Punic Wars, that the handsome Alexander crossed the Granicus in his plumed helmet and fought at Arbela, that the apostles proclaimed the word of God, that martyrs suffered, poets sang songs, painters painted, and knights glittered at tournaments-and all this so that the French, German, and Russian 'bourgeois' in his ugly and ridiculous attire might enjoy the blessings of peace, "individually' or 'collectively' , on the ruins of
past greatness?...One would have to blush for mankind if this shabby ideal of universal utility, or shallow, commonplace work and inglorious prissiness were to triumph for centuries."
"We, who detest from the depths of our soul all Christianity,
from Jesus ' to Marx's, look with extraordinary sympathy upon
this 'resurgence' of modern life in the pagan cult of force
and daring. "
Mussolini, Dec. 1919
"We intend to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and fearlessness. Courage, audacity and revolt will be essential ingredients of our poetry. We affirm that the world's magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty; the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned by great pipes, like serpents of explosive breath- a roaring car that seems to run on shrapnel-is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.
We will glorify war-the world's only hygiene.. .
We will sing of great crowds excited by work, by pleasure, an
by riot; we will sing of the multicolored, polyphonic tides of
revolution in the modern capitals.. ."
First Futurist Manifesto
Le Figaro 1909
"Multicolored billboards on the green of the fields, iron bridges
that chain the hills together, surgical trains that pierce the blue
belly of the mountains, enormous turbine pipes, new muscles of the
earth, may you be praised by the Futurist poets, since you destroy
the old sickly cooing sensitivity of the earth."
Marinetti (the caffeine of Europe)
"The past has a tyrannical influence which is difficult to escape-
The worst is that there is always something of the past within us.
Fortunately, we can also enjoy modern construction, marvels of
science, technique of all kinds, as well as modern art. We can
enjoy real jazz and its dance; we see the electric lights of
luxury and utility; the window displays. Even the thought of all
this is gratifying. Then we feel the great difference between
modern times and the past. "
"Today, in every domain, all forms of imagination are rampant-
except in those spheres where our "historical" life goes on,
stifled, unhappy and precarious, like everything out of date.
An immense gulf separates the man of adventure from humanity
and our societies from our civilization. We are living with ideas
of morality, sociology, philosophy and psychology that belong to
the nineteenth century. We are our own great-great-grandfathers.
As we watch rockets rising to the sky and feel the ground vibrating
with a thousand new radiations, we are still smoking the
pipe of Thomas Braindorge. Our literature, our philosophical discussions, our ideological conflicts, our attitude toward reality-
all this is still slumbering behind the doors that have been burst
open. Youth! Youth!-go forth and tell the world that everything is
opened up and already the Outside has come in!"
Jacques Bergier & Pauwels
The Morning of the Magicians
"In my opinion, a man who has not lived through Hegel's phenomenology who has not passed through that furnace and been tempered by it, is not complete, not modern. "
Herzen (about 1830)
We search for justification, explanations, try to find ideas and truths.
Everything that surrounds us has been submitted to the searching
eye of criticism. This is a disease that affects all ages of
transition. Formerly it was otherwise: all relationships, ,whether
close or distant, family or social, were clearly defined-just or
unjust, they were defined. Hence there was no place for lengthy
meditation; to have an easy conscience it was enough to conform
to positive law. The whole existing order then seemed natural,
like the circulatory and digestive systems whose origins and
operation are hidden from our consciousness, although they function
according to specific laws and need be neither watched nor
understood. For every case there was a ready-made solution;
there was nothing better than to live in conformity with an
Alexander Herzen (1830) Russian Philosopher
"I do not want happiness, even as a gift, if I cannot be
easy about the fate of all my brethren, my own flesh and blood.
They say that there can be no harmony without dissonance; that|
may be all very pleasant and proper for music lovers, but certainly not for those who have been picked out to express the
idea of dissonance by their fate...What good is it to me to
know that reason will ultimately be victorious and that the
future will be beautiful, if I was forced by fate to witness
the triumph of chance, irrationality, and brute force?"
Belinsky (about l88O)
"Let the devil take all dreams! What is good is what is under
our nose, within reach of your hand."
"Modern man likes to pretend that his thinking is wide-awake. but
"this wide-awake thinking has led us into the mazes of a nightmare in
which the torture chambers are endlessly repeated in the mirrors of
reason. *And when we emerge, perhaps we will realize that we have been dreaming with our eyes open, and that -the dreams are intolerable. and then, perhaps, we will begin to dream once more with our eyes closed."
The Labyrinth of Solitude
"So read these texts, look around you With an honest eye, and
have the courage to make a truthful. choice. To live with
danger in these times, with the ache of disorder in one's
bones and the bars of prison down one's horizon, is to live with health. "
"Nowadays is, lit by lightning, a plague has stricken
the moths , and Blanche has been 'put away' .. .
Tennessee Williams "
"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. "
"Surely one of the most characteristic phenomena of our time is the denial of asylum to those persecuted for religious or political reasons. History has known nothing like it. The Jews driven from Spain found shelter in the Sultan's empire and in the Netherlands Republic; the Huguenots fleeing France settled in the colonies of the New World, or in the Prussian Kingdom; but 'displaced persons' are an essentially modern phenomenon. Countries did not grant visas to poverty-stricken German Jews, or gave them only with extreme reluctance. In response to public opinion and following various interventions, President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States called an international conference on July 6, 1938, at Evian, to do some- thing about this problem. But the only result of the Evian conference was the creation of a permanent intergovernmental committee with headquarters in London; its representatives regularly went to Berlin to arrange for the financing of emigration through property requisitioned from the Jews. But these attempts failed because the powers of the intergovernmental committee were very limited, and the nations making it up, divided in their counsels and their minds, did not really know what they wanted. "
London: Elek Books
Harvest of Hate
"But there have been positive changes: some people are
no longer angry when told that restoration must come from with-
in. The belief that everything is 'politics' and that radical
rearrangements of the 'system' will suffice to save civilization
is no longer held with the same fanaticism as it was
held 25 years ago. Everywhere in the modern world there are
experiments in new lifestyles and voluntary simplicity; the
arrogance of materialistic scientism is in decline, and it is
sometimes tolerated even in polite society to mention God."
"It is always the autumn of 1926, the last Saturday in
September or the first in October, the ivy leaves on the
stadium wall crisping to scarlet, the sun still warm, the lucent
air all blue and gold. It is a Midwestern university, .
the Midwestern university-mock-Gothic library and chapel,
mock-classic classrooms, the lush tapestry-brick veneer of
fraternity row. With the big game only hours away, the saxophones
of the college band are giving anticipatory blasts between the chapel and the gymnasium. Over that pied and milling campus the sunshine is almost tangible. The sheiks wear Fair Isle sweaters
, checked plus fours with tasseled shoes, or gray trousers
so bell-bottomed that they completely cover the saddle-strap
shoes. Most of the sheiks are hatless, and their hair, parted
in the middle, is lacquered with Slikum or Staycomb to a mirrorlike
stiffness. The shebas have close-cropped, shingled
hair. Beneath their sweaters or sheath dresses there is only
the vaguest convexity of breast. Their knobby knees are
topped by frilled garters, and fringed skirts sway above the knees.
A Theta Delt is strumming 'Bye Bye Blackbird' on his
ukelele for a covey of shebas sitting on the library steps.
They sit with legs apart, displaying the y-shaped pattern of
their lace panties with provocative unconcern. A freshman,
still marked with the grotesque innocence of Central High
School (he will shed it before spring) , passes timidly by the
insouciant sophs and juniors, wearing a beanie branded with
the numerals 1930. The date is, of course, part of his absurdity
, that there will never be anything but here and now-this
timeless moment throbbing to the beat of 'The Varsity Drag. '
It is warm mindless and immediate.
After the game there are the ritual dances along fraternity row. Over the fieldstone mantel of the fraternity-house
living room stand the cabalistic Greek letters. In the corner
the saxophones wail and bulb flashes on and off in the interior
of the bass drum to light up a windmill or a waterfall or a
sailboat by moonlight painted on the drumhead. A few couples
are dancing, a few more are in the kitchen mixing drinks, but
most are twined in each others' arms in the convenient alcoves
or along the wide staircase as they neck with concentrated unconcern.
After the dance there is the ride home. Some of the
dough heavy sheiks may drive a Jordan Playboy, with port
and starboard lights, but most settle for the modified Model-
T, the tin lizzy touring with the top and windshield removed
and its side covered with legends: Four Wheels-No Brakes;
Stop me If you've heard This; Enter by Rear. Under the trees
the last sheik parks with the last Sheba for the last drink
and the last neck. Yet for all this hip-flasked groping in
the moonlight, it is somehow innocent, or almost so, and has
the poignancy of everything that is brief. "
"Sheiks and Shebas, Dance no more"
Horizon Magazine July 1963
She: Tell me, are you fond of Brahms?
He: OH, very! But I think I like shredded-wheat biscuits even better. ....Sheiks in coonskins with hip flasks, shebas in helmet hats carrying tapered cigarette holders.. They are models rather than caricatures, hey-hey sayers to a life that reaches its thundering climax in the cheering sections at the Saturday big game…
"People have now been talking long enough about the frivolity of this age; I believe it is now high time to talk a little about its melancholy, and I hope that by this everything will be better clarified. Or is not melancholy the defect of our age? Is it not this which resounds even in its frivolous laughter? Is it not melancholy which has deprived us of courage to command, of courage to obey,
of power to act, of the confidence to hope?"
"Our age reminds one vividly of the dissolution of the Greek city-state: everything goes on as usual, and yet there is no longer anyone who believes in it. The invisible spiritual bond which gives it validity no longer exists, and so the whole age is at once comic and tragic-tragic because it is perishing, comic because it goes on."
"More and more people are beginning to realize that the
modern experiment of living without religions has failed. It
received its early impetus from the Cartesian revolution, which,
with implacable logic, separated man from those higher levels
that alone can maintain his humanity. Man closed the gates of
heaven against himself and tried, with immense energy and ingenuity, to confine himself to the earth. He is now discovering that the earth is but a transitory state, so that a refusal to reach for heaven means an involuntary descent into hell. "
E. F. Schumacher
"The old modern age is ended. We live in a post-modern as well as a post-Christian age.....It is post-Christian in the sense that people no longer understand themselves, as they understood themselves for some fifteen hundred years, as ensouled creatures under God, born to trouble and whose salvation depends upon the entrance of God into history as Jesus Christ.
It is post-modern because the Age of Enlightenment with its vision of man as a rational creature, naturally good and part of the cosmos which itself is understandable by natural science-this age has also ended. it ended with the catastrophes of the twentieth century."
"...The Judeo-Suburban Consumer Citadels so many of us live in grow increasingly nonsensical, even if you happen to be one of the winners in the system. The Fossil Fuel Empire grows ever more violent and demonic. You put busted glass and surveillance cameras on top of the safety walls and a paid guard at the locked gate of your Republican Golf Community, and you still get robbed silly by the insurance scammer, the pool boy, and the guy who mows the lawn. Or every time you misplace something, you think you're robbed. It's stupid to live this way if you have any spiritual aspirations at all..."
-David James Duncan
God Laughs & Plays
Article:" Measuring Modernity: The U.S. Is Not Number One" by Rodger Doyle Scientific American Dec 2003
Book: "William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism" by Robert D. Richardson
Book: "Modern Times, Modern Places." by Peter Conrad
Book: "Revolt against the Modern World" by Evola
Book: "The Modern Mind: An Intellectual History of the 20th Century" by Peter Watson
Book: "From Dawn to Decadence: 500 years of Western Cultural Life" by Jacques Barzun
Book: "Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties" by Paul Johnson
Book: "The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815-1830 by Paul Johnson
Book: "Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World" by Jack Weatherford
Book: "American Moderns: Bohemian New York and the Creation of a New Century" by Christine Stansell
Book: "Inventing Modernity" by John Lienhard
Book: "Barbed Wire: A Political History" by Olivier Razac
Book: "The Creation of the Modern World: The Untold Story of the British Enlightenment" by Roy Porter
Book: "The Modern Mind: An Intellectual History of the 20th Century" by Peter Watson
Book: "Men, Machines, and Modern Times" by Elting E. Morison
Book: "How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World: A Short History of Modern Delusions." by Francis Wheen
Book: "Twin Tracks: The Unexpected Origins of the Modern World" by James Burke
Book: "Telegram! Modern History As Told Through More than 400 Witty, Poignant, and Revealing Telegrams" by Linda Rosenkrantz
Book: "Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World" by Jack Weatherford
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