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Modernism Essay Examples

Introduction

❶Though I have not had the pleasure of seeing it, I would suggest that it ought to be hailed as a landmark, indicating that we Americans have smoothly rounded some sort of cultural corner.

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Because this ambiguity or presumed randomness is part of our reality, it can be said that the writers or painters who once were considered avant-grade because they performed in an unrealistic or irrational way are from a more educated view no longer avant-grade because they are still holding the mirror up to nature when they represent this indeterminacy: In other words, the perceived disorder is part of the system of laws whose supposed randomness may be only an appearance manifested in our partial knowledge of the totality.

Early in the twentieth century, Guillaume Apollinaire, whose voice was more European than French, said in his essay Les Peinters cubistes: From hard ground to soft terrain, the writer moves with the scientists, stunned by his own ignorance, which he characterizes as indeterminacy, replacing previous attitudes of positivism and determinism. In his isolation and sense of loss of control, he drifts into a nonanthropocentric universe.

And whereas most observers of the strong element of alienation in the literature of our century may continue to attribute it to psychological disturbances and social maladjustments, the alienation may more correctly be explained by cosmic causes. The sense of dispersion emphasized by neophilosophers such as Derrida and Foucault is not new to modernism. All self-named moderns have had it. An early avant-gardist, Hugo Ball, often too exclusively associated with Dada but closer in reality to Rimbaud, described the condition of the modern man of his time in an article on Kandinsky in during a devastating war.

Curiously, his apocalyptic fresco is not politically inspired but reflects a metaphysical anxiety: Man lost his divine countenance, became matter, chance, an aggregate. He became a particle of nature… no more interesting than a stone: If, in responding to the effect of this condition on the arts, Ortega y Gasset coined the phrase "dehumanization of the arts," "dehumanization" means something quite different today from what it meant in the early part of the century.

We can each select a cast of characters to reflect this dehumanization from the annals of literary and art history of the seventy-five years since Hugo Ball's statement and Ortega y Gasset's definition: All were "modern" in a moment in time, and all can be said to hold the mirror up to nature as nature was perceived at that moment in time. In that sense, in each case the classical dictum of a Boileau or a Pope was applicable to his aesthetics and in that sense his forms of representation are from our vantage point mimetic.

If his expression of nature is being called antirealistic by some contemporary critics it is so only in terms of previous definitions of reality and nature. The minute one considers our changed perception of reality, such writings and art expressions fit the changed definitions of reality.

The disparity between the perception of the critics and the artists is due to the fact that critics are clinging to the older notions of reality and nature, and they are not as agile in grasping the ontological changes. They are bridging the gap between their superannuated notion and the artist's more updated one with the convenient use of the label "modern. One of the most important transitions—oh so gradual but so irreversible once it is made—in the changing characterization of "modern" is the manner in which the "modern" artists are reacting to the passing of a centrality of purpose and of a supernal presence.

Instead of mourning they are accepting the plurality of the universe, of which their predecessors had been warned three centuries earlier but had not seriously implemented, that changes their art forms. There was to be a giant difference between the Nietzschean proclamation that God was dead and the proposition that God never existed. As the poet-artist Jean or Hans Arp observed, "Dada was the revolt of the nonbelievers against the disbelievers.

It had not yet been ingrained. The revolution in the arts that I would call a postapocalyptic posture is a more radical one than reactions to the kind of sociopolitical events that are generally attributed to avant-garde manifestations and their reflections on the arts.

I would suggest that modernism today, responding primarily to passing political winds and ideologies, is modern only in terms of the first part of Baudelaire's definition, "transitory, fugitive, contingent," or in my own words I would call them contemporary works dependent on circumstantial events, reserving the label "modern" for those which anchor their vision on phenomena relating to decentralization and decontrol in what is perceived to be an indifferent universe.

Among those who share these deeper disquietudes there are some who reject the continuity more generally perceived between themselves and earlier moderns; instead they sense grave schisms separating them from their predecessors. Nathalie Sarraute has expressed this distance with some irony: It will not be long before we shall be taking guided tours of these historic monuments in the company of schoolchildren in silent respect and in somewhat mournful admiration.

Even if we isolate the writers and artists who gave form as well as expression to their sense of the decentralization and instability of the dimensions of reality and apply to them the label of "modern" in our time, we will find great disparities in the ways they reject or represent their adjusted vision of human and physical nature according to Freud and according to Einstein just to mention two of the many shakers of our reality.

From this angle it is now possible to view as premodern some of those who are still being called modern in literary history and in books on modernism. Such are the makers of Symbolism and Dada and other refugees into language. Of the Symbolists, an early twentieth-century critic, Raoul Hausman, denigrated their resistance to a drastically changing world; he called their act a "naive nostalgia to see the world through human will as if it was imagined by man.

In man's quicksand entrapment, the literary icon was able to create an artificial world to serve as the vitalizing power of the writer's slipping individuality.

The second mode of the premodern was a direct attack on the growing notion of a nonanthropocentric world. It was a much more hostile and sometimes teasing reaction in verbal terms. It was flamboyantly represented as we know by Dada: Simultaneous with a rejection of language expressed in such structures as phonetic poems was the development of a language of rejection.

This rejection was paralleled in the plastic arts with a challenge of the objects to which aesthetic qualities had been attributed. If the rejection of language developed a language of rejection, it is also true that in the reality of language others sought their sole comfort and strength, a replacement of the divine Logos by a new confidence in language which would equate naming with the act of creation.

Stephen Hawking, an eminent popularizer of science, suggests in A Brief History of Time that neophytes viewing the changes catalyzed by recent scientific activities take the advice of the philosopher-mathematician Wittgenstein and in their perplexities seek refuge in language.

Earlier poets had done that in a premodern era. Vicente Huidobro, Pierre Reverdy, James Joyce, the early surrealists had perceived language as an armor and a staff in the resistance to chaos. To quote Hugo Ball again, "You may laugh, language will one day reward us for our zeal, even if it does not achieve any directly visible results.

We have loaded the word with strengths and energies that helped us to rediscover the evangelical concept of the word logos as a magical complex image. But I see three other modes directly confronting the decentralized universe, modes in which language is not an end in itself but a means of making responses to the cosmos. They are the modernisms dealing with identification, representation, and revision, all responding to the expanded definition of nature.

Identification or imitation with the decontrolled universe is expressed by simulation of it, signaling direct involvement with it. This form of mimesis is demonstrated in the random spirit of collage, in happenings theatrically staged, connective structures suggesting sequence replaced by gaps suggestive of dark holes in thought, action, or human perception of time, in the fragmentation of language or object in text or canvas or celluloid to suggest correspondences between the dislocated narrator and his incohesive surroundings, wherein anger and indifference are personalized not in pathos but through irony and complacency, as if the joke were not on man but on the universe.

If life is a travesty, let art be a game! In adopting an amorphous structure and discarding even the elementary codes of art, it is as if the writer or artist were confirming that nothing short of the negation of art can be the symbol of a terminal era. It is this involvement of the perceiver with the perceived chaos, using irony as the only weapon against total dissolution and silence, that has become the literary fortune of Dada among those modernists of today, self-identified as postmodern.

If indeed there are many evidences of authors and painters who identify with flotsam and chaos through their subjective and lately minimalist response, there is also in evidence the representation of human dispersion in the form of personas who are not identified with the narrator but are his cast of characters in a dramatic narrative, creating a distance that protects the narrator from pathos and self-entrapment.

When Molloy, and not Beckett, says "I listen and the voice is of a world collapsing endlessly, a frozen world under a faint and untroubled sky," we, the readers, are joining the author in the act of observing his characters struggling with a redefined notion of reality, and in sharing the detachment of the author we are immune to the element of the tragic.

The voice is not necessarily that of the author; why do critics assume that every somber utterance must necessarily represent the author's attitude? It is significant that some of the most prominent writers who have taken the decontrolled, decentralized universe in their stride use the myth of the labyrinth. Molloy searches for the lost center in the metaphor of the return to the Mother.

Robbe-Grillet's nameless, faceless character searches out his memory-stripped consciousness in a void. In neither case is mere an Ariadne in sight. These new Theseuses are engaged in what RobbeGrillet calls "an interminable walk through the night," going nowhere, dying everywhere.

A situation of impasse is very structurally staged, the decor is selected, landmarks on the journey are consciously chosen; the central character pirouetting has no recourse to human support, or reliance on a benevolent nature or outside force. There is no possibility of battle or an act of courage at the end; because no single danger can be identified, diere is no opportunity for risk and no need to manifest resistance.

Robbe-Grillet's unidentified protagonist copes with the ambiguities not only of space but also of time. We have the excellent example here of architectonic form without a content of supplied meanings. There is the structure of allegory, explicit in the title and implemented in the geometric engineering of the composite events, but the author warns us that there is no allegory of values implied; if no interpretation is invited, then all meaning is exterior and polysemous.

If human memory is emblematically present in a box that the protagonist carries around in an eternally present moment, there are no questions as to where or why. The loss of identity is spelled out in a series of maneuvers, compounding each other, and yet the character never says "I am lost. Similarly, in Claude Simon's The Grass the author tackles the age-old theme of the devastations caused by the passage of time; the metaphor of the grass is used as the emblem for the imperceptibility of the passage of time, as a measure of growth whether on a physical or a psychological basis.

To demonstrate the difference between Proust's handling of time and the newer manipulations of the time dimension, let us presume that Proust views the past as a contained package of memories that he can retrieve according to the power of the faculty of remembering: The newer novelists represent not so much hindsight as the degree of clarity of their troubled eyes, which are not at all sure that anything remains; they believe only in the centrality of the moment.

In describing the precarious quality of the moment, man's meager and sole possession, Octavio Paz sees it as a form of instantaneous eternity in his meditative essay "The Dialectics of Solitude," included in The Labyrinth of Solitude. Previous novelists, modern in their time, have presented alienated heroes. Famous among them are Kafka's protagonists, Dostoevsky's underground man, and Sartre's nauseated Roquentin. But it is important to note that in the case of Kafka and Dostoevsky the social rather than the ontological factor underlies the alienation; in the case of Sartre's hero, there is strong author identification rather than objective representation of character, and at the end there is a therapeutic solution to the malaise with autobiographical overtones.

Characters not judged, time deprived of continuity, space used circularly, objects distanced from their functional associations, characters unidentifiable with their creators, acceptance of inconsistencies in personality attributed to the normal interplay of degrees of consciousness, use of verbal and phenomenal chance as acceptable factors of life as of art: I have referred to identification and representation.

The other mode, that of modernism, of revision, is the mode of those who, instead of representing a changed perception of the universe, take artistic control of it. He called upon a moral rather than an aesthetic motivation to free the various forms of art from engulfment in the unreliable. The so-called moral value of such willed revision would make both writer and painter, as well as reader and beholder, better able to cope with daily life, as he thought.

Such an objective contains a philosophy directed to a concrete and pragmatic achievement rather than to abstract levels of dialogue. Viewing surrealism in the context of realism—a correction Breton made in his definition as he proceeded from the First Manifesto to Surrealism and Painting —he explained that there can exist a process of transformation of the real into the artifact.

The primary function he demanded of himself and of his fellow surrealists was to recuperate the random and the senseless, the automatic and the fortuitous, and to submit them to the control of the artist.

The artistic universe need not be decontrolled to match a decontrolled universe. Beauty, for instance, can survive the demolished canon of an art representative of an orderly world only if it is made to correspond to an unpredictable universe: It is not an attempt to represent the indeterminacy of nature but a creation of indeterminacies in those very aspects of nature that are presumed to have remained constants.

But expecting neither sympathy nor meaning in nature, the poet or painter began to project his own countenance onto the world around him. The poets and painters acted according to consorted theories that brought about great understanding of each other's work. But the painters' manifestations, as it turned out, can be more graphically perceived: All these manifestations can be summarized as the poet-painter's effort to engender purpose where we can outwardly perceive none.

The ultimate question proposed to modernisms of the future is whether human desire can give direction to objective chance. In their self-referential structures the best of surrealists appeared to think so. The prophetic Apollinaire had foreseen two kinds of artists in modern time.

One instinctively and intuitively lets the representation of modern humanity seep through him into the work of art; in that respect the postmoderns are justified in claiming that there is a touch of everyman in the so-called work of art and that it is therefore a collective possession. The other category, in which Apollinaire named Picasso as the original force, recreates a universal model, an aggregate of stylized projection to what might be called a cosmic scale of naturalism.

Picasso has been much more recognized of course than his counterpart in literature, Breton. But even in Picasso's case, I wonder whether that admiration has been sufficiently focused on that moment of epiphany when he slipped out of his blue period into the stream of light coming from the depths and the edges of night. A fundamental argument emerges among moderns concerning the destiny of the metaphor.

Robbe-Grillet declared some twenty-five years ago that in view of the absence of human meaning in the universe, the practitioners of the arts should eliminate analogy in their works and thereby suppress the metaphor.

But the neosurrealists, particularly the poets of Hispano-America, have increasingly sharpened the image as the sole device to guard what Breton had recognized as the creative spirit in its efforts to overcome what would otherwise be a solipsistic existence "when the primordial connections have been broken. To quote Breton again: As we know, the element of rebellion, which is an essential feature of any and all modernism, can be expressed—and indeed was spectacularly expressed early in this century—by deconstructions in perceptions of aesthetics and in sociopolitical activisms.

But the rebellion involved in the moral concerns of any serious artist penetrates a deeper level of the art of expression. Apollinaire described the evolution of Picasso as the calm after the frenzy; "calm" in that context means mastery of process as an answer to unilateral, belligerent attitudes toward the conditions of life in the twentieth century. What Apollinaire perceived in the development of the art of Picasso is the transformation of circumstantial rebellion into the multitiered image of subversion in painting, in poetry, in film, whereas frenzy is the overt exercise of uncontrolled, unsparing movement.

One of the great changes in subsequent manifestations of modernism is the channeling of these energies of rebellion so that they are no longer the outer garment of the artist but assume through shocking analogies the double-edged meaning of reconstruction, constructing while deconstructing, espousing no single issue but catalytic of any issue. It is too early to take inventory of all the avant-gardes that constitute the self-perpetuating modernism of the twentieth century.

What matters for the moment is to proceed beyond the attempt to understand motivations, beyond tolerance of each and every one, because indeed to love the avant-garde has become as popular and trendy as it previously was to shun it.

Instead it may well be time to go beyond tolerance to critical discrimination. The distinctions between modes should be helpful in discerning the degree of craftsmanship in any such modes. If there emerges what appears to be sloppy composition, is it because the artist wants to represent a sloppy state of existence or is it simply a sloppy state of composition for lack of technical and aesthetic expertise?

If the plot dissolves, if character remains flat, is the structure an intentionally reductive form of art, an act of artistic minimalism, or is it due to a lack of imaginative resourcefulness or a unilateral desire to shock and nothing more? If there is no ending, is it because the author believes that the elimination of a sense of ending suggests the quagmire in which humanity is engulfed or does it betray on his part a lack of inventiveness or a weakness in the mastery of the particular art?

When does the excremental image lose its power of analogy to return to its original signification of waste? When does erotic language and its objectification lose its luxurious quality to become standard pornography? Postmodernists define subjectivism of modernism literature as existential crisis and try to avoid it. Narrators deconstruct themselves and they do it consciously.

There are several features, peculiar to postmodernism. First of all in postmodernism a priori subject becomes the source of meaning and authority. Abstract reason and truthfulness obtains additional value. Distinctions between high and low culture also become the peculiarities of postmodernism. Postmodernism rejected different oppositions, so popular in modernism. Postmodernism turns to language as one of the means of the realization of the consciousness.

Linguistic structures now serves as a way to pass different forms of consciousness. In postmodernism there are no origins of the texts or any references. The notion of discourse becomes extremely popular. All text exists now at the moment it is uttered, read or written and each time the person gets in touch with any kind of text he or she finds its new variant.

Accent on personality made in modernism is now replaced by impersonal discourse. Personal style and personal vision, which were the subjects of great concern and appreciation in modernism but become ideological questions in late modernism and fade away in postmodernism.

The replacement of accent from an individual and his creative abilities put artists in front of the dilemma. Now they had to find new functions of artists, if they had no creative impulse and could not create anything original. This comes out of a Lacanian structuralist analysis of language and its role in the experience of time. Meaning does not appear as a relationship between the word and its meaning in postmodernism. Meaning is realized only in discourse and that is why the meaning of word depends not on its definition, but on other words, which surround it in the discourse.

In this way signifier depends on other signifiers. Schizophrenia appears when relationships between these signifiers are broken. This effect is reached by avoiding personal identity and time relations in the discourse. Portalnd Building in Portland and Sony Building in New York are among the earliest examples of postmodern architectures. These buildings still have references to the past and some symbolism, which prove the fact that the influence of modernism still existed.

Las Vegas strip is a perfect example of postmodernist architecture. Frederic Jameson, famous scientist, explains modernism and postmodernism as cultural formations that are characteristics of the particular stages of capitalism.

Jameson defines three stages of capitalism which are followed by some particular cultural tendencies. The first stage is called market capitalism and it took place in the 18thth century in the United states and Western Europe.

This stage is characterized by particular technical innovations, such as steam-driven motor, and domination of realism in cultural sphere. According to this approach postmodernism is an entire social formation or even set of historical attitudes.

Modernism is a cultural movement in the 20th century in Europe and the USA, while modernity is political, ethical and philosophical background for the movement of modernism.

Modernism is a movement in art, music, architecture, literature and technique in the United states and Europe in the 19th- 20th century, which appeared as a protest to the traditional esthetic culture. Modernism gave people a new way to contact with the reality and man became the master of this reality. Art became more subjective and individual and so artists were in the center of attention. The last half of the 20th century is characterized by the failure of modernist tendencies.

Modernism has been replaced by postmodernism. Postmodernism can be interpreted in different, sometimes even opposite ways, some scientists present postmodernism as anti-modernist movement, while others think that it is revision of modernist values and tendencies.

Postmodernism is characterized by the search of new forms to reflect the reality, deeper penetration in the inner world and reflection of the inner thoughts and feelings of rejection. Any movement in literature, art or music is the reflection of social, economic and political sphere of the society and postmodernism is the reflection of our epoch.

MIT Press, 3. Original book published 4. University of Chicago Press. Ashley, David Habermas and the Project of Modernity. In Theories of Modernity and Postmodernity. Richard and Chris Garratt Introducing Postmodernism. Lash, Scott Sociology of Postmodernism.

Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader, New Haven, Yale University Press, , Pages Twentieth Century Design, Pages If you are not sure how to make your academic paper and ask: We guarantee that our original custom essays are prepared specially for you and are protected from plagiarism.

We do our best to provide you with high quality writing help. Services provided by Professay. Postmodernism Research Paper Modernism is based on the principles of formalism and autonomy. The Appearance of Modernism Postmodernism in its turn appeared as a critique of modernism.

Postmodernism and its features Postmodernism is a kind of art that appeared in the middle of the s. Conclusion Modernism is a movement in art, music, architecture, literature and technique in the United states and Europe in the 19th- 20th century, which appeared as a protest to the traditional esthetic culture.


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Modernism Modernism was the most influential literary movement in England and America during the first half of the twentieth century. It encompassed such works as The Waste Land (), by T. S.

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The aim of this essay is to explain how Post-Modernism has influenced our contemporary built environment and explain what other movements have derived from it. I would argue that Post-Modernism is a worldwide movement in all arts and disciplines.

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Modernism describes the ideology of the art and design that were produced during the modernist period. There has been a lot of controversy about when modernism started, yet many believe it initiated sometime in the late 19th century and continued to the early 20th century. Free Essay: The turn of the 20th century conveyed revolution in psychological, social, and philosophical thought. It was time for something neoteric. It was.

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MODERNISM Modernism is a comprehensive but ambiguous term for a movement which began in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It has had . Free modernist literature papers, essays, and research papers.