The 20th Century began with a philosophy of Positivism, rationalism, belief in linear progress, belief in absolute truths (including morals as Scripturally defined), belief in ideal social order, standardization of knowledge and production. How we arrived at our present era of questioning (and often dismissing) these positive values will be a large part of this series of blogs. I hope to show how man has seized on scientific discoveries (and even pseudo-science such as Darwinism) in an effort to put himself on the throne instead of God, replacing freedom with license, trading absolute truths for subjective ones, and a lot of other mind sets we now take for granted. I will discuss these transitions as manifested in art, literature, music, philosophy, family relations,etc.
I hope to show how what seemed “progressive”, freeing, and supportive of mankind at the time has, instead, led many to a sense of defeat, withdrawal, passivity, a deadening of the soul, alienation. Such negativism and nihilism has often been glorified by the arts and philosophy of the 20th Century. Of course, conflict has always been the stuff great works of literature and art were made of, but until the 20th Century there had usually been something in these works which championed the protagonist overcoming his difficult circumstances or being ennobled by his philosophical acceptance of them in some deeper spiritual way.
Until the 20th Century man was fundamentally validated as having worth and purpose. In a myriad of subtle ways, this picture man once had of himself changed for the worse and the arts have sometime perpetuated this. I am an educated woman and champion education. One should know what is out there culturally, as well as socially and politically to be “well educated”. Life should be more than food-getting, procreation, and treading-water.
However, I believe there must be discernment in what we accept as truth and what we take into the fabric of our being, even if it is ostensibly from “reliable” and “highly acclaimed” sources. If one does not appreciate a bleak and hopeless artistic, literary, or philosophical perspective, he is labeled by the “intelligentsia” as lacking in education or intellect. We are presumably supposed to take our poison with a grin on the blind assumption that there is no prevention or cure. – I reject that! – To suffer and die for a great cause is one thing. To anesthetize oneself into oblivion is quite another.
I invite you to accompany me on this voyage of discovery. It is a confrontation with past and present out there, but also what is within us that need not be there if we just say “No!” We can do that and must. We are created in God’s image (not that of apes).