Wednesday, March 01, 2006

primitive / modernity

The juxtaposition of modernity with “the primitive,” as seen in modern painting, may initially strike us as paradoxical. This psychological collusion between the future and the past, however, constitutes the very heart of 20th century consciousness. History as we know it is the story of mastery, a narrative describing the rise of Western civilization to technological and cultural hegemony. Mastery, however, is as much an outward will to dominate as it is also a will inflicted upon the self. For as human beings must obey the will of history pushing forward to greater economic and technological heights, human beings simultaneously submit themselves to the civilizing reigns of culture and ethical labor in the name of “progress.” Modernity and the countervailing movements of the “postmodern” are in fact fundamentally united. The trends that gave rise to modernity simultaneously engendered the seeds of its own destruction. Recent history has shown in bloody, material fact that cultural plurality, fundamentalism, and irrationalism are part-and-parcel with the rationalism and material prowess of our age.

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