Im Folgenden ein Artikel, den ich 2009 für den inzwischen leider nicht mehr existierenden „American Chronicle“ geschrieben habe:
„While reading a book that was originally published back in 1932, I once again came (due to the style the book was written in) to realize what I had subconsciously sensed for a long time: that the very substance of art (or Western culture, for that matter) is gradually deteriorating, and whereas readers may doubt this statement, I have several points to back it up.
Some time ago, I discovered a book in the public library (it was written in German), entitled „Das 19. Jahrhundert in Briefen“ („The 19th Century in Letters“), and I was amazed by the warmth & surprising quality of style of the letters included in this book: a style that seems „old-fashioned“ by now; yet in those letters I often encountered a dregree of affection for one another that I find to be more and more absent in our present, technology-oriented time, and I am asking myself: Is this progress?
To say that—over time—things are automatically „getting better“ would imho be a grave misconception of historical development. First and foremost, one would have to ask oneself: What—after all—is „better“. Is it „more“? And „more“ of what? Quality? I don’t think so. If I take a closer look at the present state of the world around me, I am confronted with a mixture of increasing soullessness & superficiality. Clothing becomes more and more uniform; the „style“ of women’s wardrobe up to the 1950s, to take but one example, is long gone (this has changed substantially during the 1960s).
As I personally see it, this development finally leads us into a dead-end, but what would be the alternative? Can anyone „make“ a style? Isn’t it true that style subconsciously evolves during a given era, due to forces more or less unknown to us? In this case, we are only getting what we deserve. Does this sound harsh? Maybe.
To dig deeper into this subject would at least require a prolonged essay, but perhaps one way to become aware of what’s going on presently is to take a look at the past. Only by understanding the past do we really become aware of the present; otherwise, the present would be nothing more than an island aimlessly floating somewhere.
Copyright 2009 by Claus Cyrny.
Note: The work of art depicted in the image above and the reproduction thereof are in the public domain worldwide. The reproduction is part of a collection of reproductions compiled by The Yorck Project. The compilation copyright is held by Zenodot Verlagsgesellschaft mbH and licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.“