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Western Civ 14 - Decadence and Malaise at the Turn of the Century

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Margaret Peacock

on 12 October 2015

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Transcript of Western Civ 14 - Decadence and Malaise at the Turn of the Century

Decadence and Malaise
at the turn of the century
Today's Question:
Why did the World Welcome a War that
would Destroy it?

Distraction from scary changes happening in society.
Amnesia / war fever
A desire to find a cure for the malaise, chaos, disaffection, and disruption of the modern world.
Rupert Brooke,
along with most of Europe,
welcomes war as a solution
to the malaise around him...
Now, God be thanked Who has matched us with His hour,
And caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping,
With hand made sure, clear eye, and sharpened power,
To turn, as swimmers into cleanness leaping,
Glad from a world grown old and cold and weary,
Leave the sick hearts that honour could not move,
And half-men, and their dirty songs and dreary,
And all the little emptiness of love!

Oh! we, who have known shame, we have found release there,
Where there's no ill, no grief, but sleep has mending,
Naught broken save this body, lost but breath;
Nothing to shake the laughing heart's long peace there
But only agony, and that has ending;
And the worst friend and enemy is but Death.
But what is Europe so terrified of?
They faced nothing less than a revolution in how they thought about society, the individual, the self, sexuality and gender, art and culture, and science.
In industrial nations, the middle class was on the rise, while old aristocracies felt increasingly threatened or marginalized.The rise of the two-income familyThe rise of women’s suffrage activismFor many, the war feels like a reprieve from these pressures.
The Old World is Crumbling Away: Class, Gender are all in flux
Emmeline Pankhurst being arrested in 1914 for the vote
Religion and even God were becoming increasingly
outdated. Jews were increasingly blamed for problems.
Even Man's Ability to
Control his own mind
seemed to be gone.
And Man didn't even appear to
be Master of the Universe anymore...
Einstein discovers the theory of relativity and
nothing makes sense anymore.
The Modern World has destroyed
our communities and has forced us
into isolation and suicide.
The idea that the Truth cannot be
known is expressed in all of the arts...

--"The Earth, say'st thou? The Human race?
By Me created? Sad its lot?
Nay: I have no remembrance of such place:
Such world I fashioned not." -

"It lost my interest from the first,
My aims therefor succeeding ill;
Haply it died of doing as it durst?" -
Thomas Hardy says that God has forgotten us
"God Forgotten"
Convention is Gone
And in music, all the rules are gone.
Monet, Haystacks
Renoir, Dance a le Moulin de la Galette
Full transcript