Change is inevitable in life as we restless humans constantly prowl the planet for value and meaning to justify our fragile existence. Old gods give way to new gods, old structures to new structures, old idea to modern ideas and society continues to take shape based on our current vogue of thinking. In 1895 Freud’s development of free association gave rise to new trends in our thought process and a series of twelve papers he published between 1914-1918 caused wide ranging speculations about cultural, social, artistic, religious and anthropological phenomena. This early 20th century enlightenment had a wide ranging influence on some artists who envisioned their creations with new eyes. One of these new forms of expression was cubism.
Cubism is an art form originating in Paris between 1907-1914 and best exemplified by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Cubism sought to represent an object in space from several different angles and perspectives, taken at different time periods and from a multiple of perspectives. The Cubist movement sought to divorce themselves from the past by bringing their own meaning and emotion to art. They advanced the irrelevance of a subject in its integral form which led to the supposition that ” any object was a work of art if an artist declared it one”. Cubism had it’s day in the sun and eventually gave way to other forms of artistic expression such as expressionism and modernity.
The 20th century continued its era of change and ushered in postmodern thought to the detriment of the enlightened enthusiasts.
Enlightenment had been the popular mode of thought for centuries and posited an objective natural reality whose existence and property were independent of human beings. Enlightenment further predicted that it was reasonable to expect that future societies will be more humane, more just, more prosperous than now. The values of enlightenment largely contributed to the rise of western civilization and the structures we have in place today. As is evidenced by recent events, these structures are now being torn down.
Postmodernists embrace the ideas of Karl Marx ” the ruling ideas of each age have been the ideas of its ruling class” and French philosopher Michel Foucault ” knowledge is influenced by considerations of power”. Some aspects of postmodernism are, no such thing as truth as truth is whatever we choose to believe, no absolute moral values, all aspects of human psychology are socially determined. Academic advocates embraced postmodern critiques of western society and it became the unofficial philosophy of identity politics. Identity politics consists of movements that attempt to further the existence of their group and force its issues into the public sphere. They seek to be seen as random, spontaneous movements but are well funded, organized and politicized. Two examples are the climate change movement and Black Lives Matter. The unemployed students now roaming the streets of our cities, protesting, smashing statues and calling for a new order are the product of postmodern brain washing in our universities.
So here we are today, awash in a sea of change, awaiting the results of this latest postmodern experiment in life’s meaning and purpose. Hopefully it will be as brief and meaningless as cubism.