Monday, December 17, 2012

Cultural Modernism

Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement in the arts, its set of cultural tendencies and associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In particular the development of modern industrial societies and the rapid growth of cities, followed then by the horror of World War I, were among the factors that shaped Modernism. Related terms are modern, modernist, contemporary, and postmodern.
In art, Modernism explicitly rejects the ideology of realism[2][3][4] and makes use of the works of the past, through the application of reprise, incorporation, rewriting, recapitulation, revision and parody in new forms.[5][6][7] Modernism also rejects the lingering certainty of Enlightenment thinking, as well as the idea of a compassionate, all-powerful Creator.[8][9]
In general, the term modernism encompasses the activities and output of those who felt the "traditional" forms of art, architecture, literature, religious faith, social organization and daily life were becoming outdated in the new economic, social, and political conditions of an emerging fully industrialized world. The poet Ezra Pound's 1934 injunction to "Make it new!" was paradigmatic of the movement's approach towards the obsolete. Another paradigmatic exhortation was articulated by philosopher and composer Theodor Adorno, who, in the 1940s, challenged conventional surface coherence, and appearance of harmony typical of the rationality of Enlightenment thinking.[10] A salient characteristic of modernism is self-consciousness. This self-consciousness often led to experiments with form and work that draws attention to the processes and materials used (and to the further tendency of abstraction).[11]
The modernist movement, at the beginning of the 20th century, marked the first time that the term avant-garde, with which the movement was labeled until the word "modernism" prevailed, was used for the arts (rather than in its original military and political context).[12]


Present-day perspectives

Some commentators define Modernism as a socially progressive trend of thought that affirms the power of human beings to create, improve and reshape their environment with the aid of practical experimentation, scientific knowledge, or technology.[13] From this perspective, Modernism encouraged the re-examination of every aspect of existence, from commerce to philosophy, with the goal of finding that which was 'holding back' progress, and replacing it with new ways of reaching the same end. Others focus on Modernism as an aesthetic introspection. This facilitates consideration of specific reactions to the use of technology in the First World War, and anti-technological and nihilistic aspects of the works of diverse thinkers and artists spanning the period from Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) to Samuel Beckett (1906–1989).[14]

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