There's More Than One Way to Crack a Modernist Egg

The Modernists thought the world had a lot of problems, and they were intent on fixing them—or at least talking about fixing them. Unfortunately, none of their ideas involved baking chocolate chip cookies. Come on, dudes.

AuthorEliot - T. S. Eliot
Huxley - Aldous Huxley
London - Jack London
Pound - Ezra Pound
LanguageEnglish Language
PhilosophyModernism
ThemesPhilosophical Viewpoints
Philosophy

Transcript

00:23

Take American author Jack London.

00:26

This adventurous gentleman, who had been an oyster pirate and a tramp, among other things,

00:31

all before the age of twentyÉ

00:33

Éthought modern conveniences had turned mankind into a bunch of wimps. Sissies. Pantywaists.

00:41

London's solution to the global wuss problem was to have everyone drop everything and head

00:46

into the wilderness. He figured people had forgotten how to survive without the aid of

00:48

air conditioning and toilet paper...

00:48

...not that he did a great job with the whole outdoorsy thing himself, seeing as how he

00:52

contracted scurvy during the Klondike Gold Rush.

00:57

The poet Ezra Pound didn't think life should revolve around surviving grizzly bear attacks.

01:02

While Pound would have agreed with London that the beauty of human life was connected

01:04

to some basic animal desireÉ

01:05

Éthis future fascist believed that mankind could only return to its apex by studying

01:10

the classic art of the ancient world...

01:12

...although Pound may not have been as interested in classic art as he let on.

01:13

After all, his favorite stories were about Dionysus<<die-oh-nigh-sis>>, who just so happens

01:17

to be the ancient Greek god of wine, sex, and a really good time.

01:23

Pound's good buddy T.S. Eliot bought into the whole Òclassic-art-can-make-us-betterÓ

01:27

thing.

01:27

However, unlike Pound, Eliot was pretty sure wine and sex weren't an integral part of humanity's

01:33

revitalization. He preferred a more spiritual approach to life.

01:38

In Eliot's opinion, most people were just too ignorant to realize how beautiful the

01:42

world was long ago...

01:43

...and the only way to get back to that beautiful world, Eliot thoughtÉ was to read about it.

01:50

Then there's the British novelist Aldous Huxley, whose masterpiece Brave New World describes

01:55

a terrible future for humanity. Is there a terminator apocalypse, complete with the Governator?

02:03

Nope.

02:06

Has nuclear armaggedon turned the world into a radioactive wasteland? Nuh-uh.

02:10

Is mankind plagued by Graboids? No.

02:11

The reason why Huxley's world is so awful is because people get absolutely everything

02:13

they want out of life. Anticlimactic, no? For Huxley, the problem with the modern world

02:14

wasn't that people were suffering and unhappy. It's that they weren't experiencing enough

02:19

suffering and unhappiness.

02:24

In his opinion, the human spirit couldn't thrive without a dunk in the Well of Despair

02:27

every now and again.

02:28

With mankind living it up with the help of dishwashers and antidepressants, the human

02:29

soul was doomed to wither like a dying flower. Doomed, we say. Doooooomed.

02:29

And that's what four of the titans of Modernism thought about the seeming crisis of the early

02:33

twentieth century.

02:36

While they may not have agreed on what exactly was wrong with the world, all four believed

02:40

that something was amiss and in need of fixing...

02:42

...although the wide variety of solutions they offered gives a whole new meaning to

02:47

the phrase, ÒThere's more than one way to crack an egg.Ó