WHAT IS MODERNISM? WHY MODERN IS NOT ACTUALLY MODERN? BUILT AN ARGUMENT.

2018-08-29
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The word modern and its definition can be explained by Merriam Webster’s dictionary as: ‘of, relating to, or characteristic of the present or the immediate past’. If we easily put it into words, it simply states; anything that is recent or has a new idea, theme or cutting edge difference from the past. But what does it have to do with literature? Literature is a form of art expressed by words, metaphors, and symbols and ‘Modernism’ was an era that took over after the Victorian Era writers.  This paper will discuss the basic difference between modernity and modernism as an era, argument on the term Modern and some examples about the concept of modern love, art, and beauty.

According to my perspective, the term Modern describes something new, different and unique from any side, but in literature; anything that removes the piece of writing from the shackles of classical or old movements or ideas is modern. So, ‘Modern’ depicts all the processes that lead to the start of some new features or social distinctions and that provides us with the definition of ‘modernity’. Modernity refers to producing and classifying new information and knowledge which in turn gives birth to new intellectual and cognitive world in the form of the Renaissance period, the Reformation period, the enlightenment period of the eighteenth century. Modernity comes as a revolution in time, a new regime which leads to modernization in any society. With the passage of time, the word modernity was not only used for the sake of new, rather innovative as well.

Modernism, on the other hand, is a literary era which was a reaction towards the realist movements of the late nineteenth century. If we compare Realism to Modernism, itis related to the portrayal of reality as one’s own perception of the events around him. The writers wrote about their interests, likes, feelings and made them realistically believable and accepted, whereas Modernism introduced new narrative techniques which include the stream of consciousness, cubism etc. Modernism was never really identified with one definition.  Modernism rose as a result of new changes in the political, traditional and aesthetics of the century, especially at the start of industrialization and after the Great World war. The social class differences, Karl max theory, and capitalism took over. Modernism emerged as writers and artists were trying to fit this new ideas and innovation into motion. If we talk about style, the authors changed the whole setting of the novels and poems. There were intellectual arguments, but with fragmentations and mixed up philosophies. The clichés were given a rest and a new era began. Whereas in poetry, different metaphors and free versing were introduced which made it all the more complicated and complex.

‘What we call modern today will not be modern tomorrow’- Anonymous.

 In the light of the above-mentioned differences, the whole concept of modern is to differentiate between the classics and the new innovations. The old concepts of literature gave birth to new concepts and so on; Modernism being one of those. In the art world, Modernism was the start of the dissimilarity shown between “high” art and “low” art. So, due to drastic changes in the economic, financial and diplomatic world, the communities and societies got divided up and hence, afflicted to new changes in the era. If we talk about the struggles for distinction, it will not be wrong to mention the names of Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx and Fredrick Nietzsche who forwarded theory of evolution and natural selection, psychoanalysis and brain cognition, class inequalities and differences and proclaims about ‘God is dead’ respectively. If we notice here, all these revolutionized thinkers said something unsettling and therefore, made their names in this era. The distinctions of standing alone and presenting innovative writings so that new things come to life were the hidden meaning behind Modernism. The modernists wanted to start a "tradition of the new," as Richard Weston called it so that people had something to look forward to after the changes occurring around them.

            If we discuss the criteria on which we can differ from what is modern and what is not, it would be wrong to do so. There is no definite definition regarding what is modern in literature. Yes, there are theories and explanations, but it does not mean it is authentic. The main idea of any piece of literature is to deliver the hidden meaning, the ideas between the lines, combined with the general aesthetic and symbols. A piece of literature is only authentic when it evokes a response from his readers and thus, creating a jolting experience for them. But for the sake of the argument, assuming the theories, anything that is new, relative to the innovations and ideas of the era would be considered modern. The modernists such as T. S. Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Wolff and James Joyce are some literates who placed the term ‘Modern’ in their way of expression; their art. If we take the examples of some famous novels such as To The Lighthouse and Mrs. Dalloway it will only be right if we discussed their uniqueness and individuality in their era and even now. The theme of love, sacrifice, and revenge along with twisted plots, schemes, and settings gave new meanings to Modern love, art, and beauty. The philosophies of the description of aesthetic: art and beauty were in such a manner that made the readers think, generate new thoughts and ideas for the new concepts. Unrequited Love, feelings of not being enough, despair, grieve was described in a new way that altered the thought process and made it seem new. As we say about the term ‘Normal’, it is a subjective word; similar is the case of ‘Modern’.

I have taken Emily Dickinson's poem:

"I gave myself to him"

 

"I gave myself to him, 

And took himself for pay. 

The solemn contract of a life 

Was ratified this way. 

 

The wealth might disappoint,        

Myself a poorer prove 

Than this great purchaser suspect, 

The daily own of Love 

 

Depreciate the vision; 

But, till the merchant buy,         

Still fable, in the isles of spice, 

The subtle cargoes lie. 

 

At least, ’t is mutual risk,—

Some found it mutual gain; 

Sweet debt of Life,—each night to owe,       

Insolvent, every noon."

This poem of Emily Dickinson's, I Gave Myself to Him opens with a stunning line and proceeds in a negative or cynical tone, leaving the readers uncertain of whether the poet is realistic, skeptical, sincere or true. By one means or another, I Gave Myself to Him is by all accounts an adjust of each of the three. As we can see it is different from the typical love poems. Dickinson guarantees that all readers will realize that this isn't an ordinary wistful poem by utilizing an assortment of money related terms. As a rule, when discussing intimate romance, one would not go for such monetary dialect. However, some way or another, Dickinson can depict her sentiments using these words. Before ending this poem, the reader understands that the creator could be wary or skeptical about the notion of intimate love, or she could have faith in it. The tone and the particular words utilized as a part of this poem leaves room for different interpretations. This poem “ I Gave Myself to Him” is modern in its themes, subject matter, style and tone

The poem gives the readers a look at the power connection between the speaker and her subject. The use of personal pronouns in the first line

I gave myself to him, 

  The use of free verse, unrhyming scheme along with commas, full stop and dashes as seen throughout the poem shows the modernity of poem. In Emily Dickinson's time, it would have been stunning to be sure to peruse such outright words as these from the mouth of a lady. When she says, "I gave myself to him" she infers a sexual experience, yet implies significantly more than that. To allude to a sexual experience, amid Dickinson's day and age, would have been considered against social etiquette or social decorum. She is going against the social decorum of that era means through this poem she is going towards modernity which is termed as an escape from traditionalism. People are desperate for change whether its political, social, or economic. They are always seeking something new to add to the recipe of life and modernity seems to be their favorite ingredient to spice up their lives. Nonetheless, the speaker in this poem is extremely open about this and conspicuously discloses to her readers that she has offered herself to a man. Consequently, she has taken him. In this way, the two have offered themselves to each other. The speaker utilizes "pay" to portray what he gave her consequently. This is additionally a strong and bold move on the part of the speaker, for she is alluding to a sexual involvement in money-related terms. The context and the tone of the poem infer this isn't a genuine monetary exchange. This isn't prostitution. In any case, the speaker alludes to her involvement in monetary terms, which recommends that in some way or another, she feels that she has sold herself. Line three portrays her association with this man as a "contract". Since Dickinson herself never wedded, it is likely that the agreement to which she alludes is symbolic and not a real marriage contract.

 The ceaselessutilization of budgetary, financial and legitimate terms to characterize her relationship puts some degree of skeptical and cynical tone on this work which again answers for the modernity of poem.  The speaker investigates what's to come. She recommends that her own particular riches and achievement may wind up being a failure to her sweetheart or her lover. Her utilization of "poorer" in the second line reflects customary marriage pledges which state "for wealthier or for poorer". The speaker, however she has effectively communicated that she has given herself completely, isn't admitting to herself that she may not wind up how her sweetheart anticipates. She may not discover achievement or money, and along these lines wind up poor. She at that point alludes to her darling as a "great purchaser".

Still fable, in the isles of spice, 

The subtle cargoes lie. 

The use of metaphor in the above lines shows that the speaker compares with the cargoe which means goods carried on ships and planes. This shows she is questioning are worth and she felt useless. Here the speaker keeps on contrasting herself with products which are worth cash. The utilization of "depreciate" proposes that she trusts that her own value may devalue in esteem now that she has offered herself to the one she adores and taken him to herself for installment. She thinks about herself to the flavors on different islands. These flavors were frequently worth a lot of cash, yet as with all merchandise, free market activity decided their cost. The speaker looks at herself to "subtle cargoe". While she lied still as cargoe, unbought, the trader did not know her value. In any case, now that she has given herself completely, she thinks about whether her value will rise or in the event that she will devalue. This exemplified the detachment tone in the poem

 The speaker recognizes that she isn't going out on a limb alone. All things considered, the one she cherishes has likewise given himself completely. He likewise chances the likelihood that his incentive to her will devalue now that he has given himself over. The speaker discusses this sort of adoration as a hazard. In any case, she likewise recognizes that "some have found it mutual gain". Her tone recommends that she doesn't really anticipate that her own affection will end in a shared pickup, however she unquestionably seeks after it. In any case, she calls this affection the "sweet debt of life". Subsequently, regardless of whether it doesn't end in pick up, despite everything she alludes to it as "sweet". She at that point depicts this adoration amongst her and the one of whom she talks as being one in which they owe love to each other "each night". However, by twelve the following day, each of them is "insolvent". It is misty whether the speaker says this as a positive or negative quality of their relationship.

 

The theme of hopeless disappointment is shown along with the element of absurdity.

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