What is Modernism? (No really.) 1/8

            The introduction to A History of “Modernism” presents various contexts that not only apply to Modernism as definitions but also outline the permutation of each definition throughout the signification process; it could be ventured that Modernism is the diagnosis and not any one of its collected symptoms, just as Sherry argues for a “special present” of which the modernist has been made aware. This term, special present, is involved with recognizing “crisis time and time in crisis,” and Modernism also occupies this tension-point: decadence versus progress. Is the “ache of modernism” growing pain or arthritis? It might not be either and, instead, inhabit the question.

            Society deconstructs time. Time dismantles society. Time itself decays. The reason Modernism proves so difficult to outline lies in how Just Now (as an element of one definition) is transitory and how scholars apply their own ideologies to it over time. I am interested in exploring Modernism as a “no man’s land” and a connecting line across artistic eras. It is somehow both cyclic and new tradition as well as decadence’s potential.

            I approached Modernism: Evolution of an Idea with these questions. As Latham and Rogers focus on Modernism’s development and response, they present ideas put forward in earlier conversations. For example, Modernism is partially a reaction to “the violence of mass identity.” This concept, while politically charged, led into New (again) Modernist Studies, which was self-referential and applied modernist frameworks to Modernism in history.

            (While trying to understand Modernism sort of feels like that moment where you share your screen on Harvey, and it’s this endless cycle,) I have drawn a definition-adjacent conclusion from these two readings. Modernism might be the space in which a person inhabits the present, becoming aware of its unique era, rejecting the mass subscription to past ideologies, and driving toward the next "now" inside a disenfranchised time. Looking back on these first impressions, I barely even addressed the characteristics of Modernist work or how pioneers of the movement approached language.