The commencement of the twentieth century introduced many changes in people’s lives. Numerous inventions emerged such as the telephone, airplane, and automobile, amongst others. In response to the particular changes that resulted in the acceleration of thoughts and life, a surge of experimental movements termed as modernists emerged. They explained the radical changes that took place all over the world. Individualism and experimentation became values that were discouraged earlier, but they now came to life. This article will coherently discuss how modernism was set into motion through various cultural shocks and the current traits it exhibits today.
Modern is the synonym of contemporaneous. All artistic works are considered as modern regardless of the time of conception. The meaning of the term shows that it is any aspect relating to the present or recent period. Any item that is considered modern is in fashion or vogue, for example, modern apparels, music and paintings. From the term modern, two words are derived: modernism and modernity. Most individuals assume that the two names are synonymous to current. Modernism and modernity are two distinct terms that will be addressed in this paper (Ardis 34).
As stated earlier, modernism rose in the twentieth century and is a philosophical up rise. The movement in association with cultural changes and trends created far-reaching and wide-scale transformations. The factors that brought modernism include rapid growth of towns, World Wars, and modern industrial communities. The initiators of the trend rejected religion and the accuracy of enlightenment reasoning. Modernism involves the creations and activities of people who believed that traditional literature, religious claims, art, sciences, activities, and philosophies were overtaken by the new political, social and economic era (Friedman 19).
The definition of modernity is highly contentious. However, research indicates that it has existed for close to five centuries and led to cultural, social, political and historical development. Signs of early progress started in Western Europe and later towards other sections of the earth through colonialism and globalization. The most popular strategy that emphasizes modernity is the philosophy of Rene Descartes that introduced the recent perceptions in philosophy and science. Other meanings separate the term with philosophy saying that it has nothing to do with the particular discipline. They argue that it entails a historical era that evolved industrialization and capitalism.
According to Butler (23), generally the new ideas generated in various subjects led to modernity and modernism. The term modernism can be expressed in literature, arts, the birth of postmodern and architecture. The literary movement is attributed to the period after the First World War where the human faith was altered. The massive impact of it influenced the foundations of the Western culture and society. Modernists expressed literal aspects that signified fragmentation and disillusionment. Many poets explained the conditions they experienced at the time such as James Joyce and T. S. Elliot. Ezra Pound presented a theory of modernism that described the ideas of making something new. He explained it as a refreshment of ideas. In economic theories, Pound talked about the devaluation of money and in artistic terms he attributed the concept to reinventing the old art to make it new. Politically, Modernism led to Anarchism and Fascism. The two are leadership forms used in a centralized government. In Philosophy, it is reconciled the Enlightenment and a delusional humanity capacity to institute progress.
Composers also created new techniques to portray architecture and the arts. Some studied the concept of dance, for example, the elements of people in motion and the effects of theoretical contexts. They are attributed to the modern form of dance we see and perform today. The visual skills are traced back to paintings, models and sculptures of famous artists like Edouart Manet and Rudolf Laban. After this period, the avant-garde up rise simmered and brought Cubism, Constructivism, Abstract Expressionism, Futurism, and Impressionism. (Friedman 28).
Architects began to abandon the historical modes and conventions they used and adopted essential functional theories. They were assisted by the rise of technologies such as the curtain wall and the steel frame. In the late 20th century, the artists and literal giants started retrieving some of the traditional aspects leading to the post-modernism. The writers who introduced historical methods include Angela Carter, Thomas Pynchon, and Kurt Vonnegut. The artists who founded modernism were driven by the desire to accomplish things that had not been done before. The problem of trying out new ideas is that it often results in despair because of the difficulty that emanates from establishing new beliefs.
The despair combines with the perspectives of the individuals who are not quick in adopting any changes. The pre-modernist period was characterized by stability and order that was based on an articulate identity, faith, and social values. However, modernism came with chaos and instability because it targeted the social values to make them look meaningless. The phenomenon; hence, led to confusion regarding a person’s identity, skepticism, fragmentation, and faithlessness. The crafts and arts from the twentieth century merged with those from the nineteenth century to bring modernism. The twentieth century was a combination of romantic medievalism and avant-garde (Potter 59).
The modernists established a new subject and a distinguished manner of viewing life using a new form of writing. The writers at the time focused on individualistic techniques and experiments to change the world through radical measures. Their methods involved many characteristics. For instance, they incorporated new insights that they had gathered from fields as sociology and psychology. The modernists used anthropology research in the comparative religion and new studies on quantum physics and electromagnetism. They critiqued the ideology of a kingdom or empire and British imperialism (Butler 78).
The writers also introduced doctrines that dictated the racial superiority complex in Germany. Other characteristic traits of the modernism include the increase of warfare globally, the shift in power pillars, rights of the women, city consciousness, democracy, information technology, and communication. Modernists were able to replace beliefs with provisional truths and bring a new perception of reality. The manifestations they exhibited in their writings can be evaluated using focalization, character, style and plot. Their artistic skills ended the reign of character summary by realizing demarcated forms that represent a contradiction, multiplicity, diversity, and ambiguity (Ardis 51).
The plots discredited the earlier linear forms artists used and presented chronological steps and discontinuous fragments. The style they used was logic and conscious. Finally, the Modernists rejected omniscient, authoritative and single views that focused on one character and introduced multiple characters in their writings. Many campaigns have ridiculed the works of the experts involved in modernism. Most people term modernity and modernism as a betrayal of humanity, and it should be banished for society to regain sustainability. It is attributed to overpopulated cities, capitalism, population increase, development of factories, and urbanization of the rural areas. The transport system was also established in the form of canal systems, shipping lines, and railways to support the rise in demand for the capitalistic and industrial expansion (Friedman 36).
According to Ardis (71), the urgent request to absolve modernism and post-modernism is to resolve the contradictions and experiments that go against most people’s beliefs. Today every living aspect is attributed to some form of scientific background. Various investigations have been carried out to contradict the theories presented by modernism such as Deconstructionist Postmodernism, cultural ecologies, Ecological Postmodernism and modernity. However, it is essential to note that modernism has explained the theories that were limited or closed due to traditional beliefs. It has opened doors and shed some light on the items that assist us to understand ourselves and the surroundings in a more articulate manner.
Ardis, Ann L. Modernism and Cultural Conflict, 1880-1922. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000. Web. https://login.libaccess.fdu.edu/login?url=http://site.ebrary.com/lib/fdu/docDetail.action?docI%20D=10069963.
Butler, Christopher. “The Modernist Work.” Modernism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. 1-13. Web. https://login.libaccess.fdu.edu/login?url=http://site.ebrary.com/lib/fdu/docDetail.action?docI%20D=10406859.
Friedman, Susan Stanford. “Definitional Excursions: The Meanings of Modern / Modernity / Modernism.” Modernism/modernity 8.3 (2001): 493-513. Web. [WebCampus]
Potter, Rachel. Modernism and Democracy: Literary Culture 1900-1930. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006. Web. http://site.ebrary.com.libaccess.fdu.edu/lib/fdu/docDetail.action?docI D=10233755.