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Quotes About Modernity

Quotes tagged as "modernity" (showing 1-30 of 106)
Chuck Palahniuk
“Anymore, no one's mind is their own.”
Chuck Palahniuk, Lullaby

Walker Percy
“The peculiar predicament of the present-day self surely came to pass as a consequence of the disappointment of the high expectations of the self as it entered the age of science and technology. Dazzled by the overwhelming credentials of science, the beauty and elegance of the scientific method, the triumph of modern medicine over physical ailments, and the technological transformation of the very world itself, the self finds itself in the end disappointed by the failure of science and technique in those very sectors of life which had been its main source of ordinary satisfaction in past ages.

As John Cheever said, the main emotion of the adult Northeastern American who has had all the advantages of wealth, education, and culture is disappointment.

Work is disappointing. In spite of all the talk about making work more creative and self-fulfilling, most people hate their jobs, and with good reason. Most work in modern technological societies is intolerably dull and repetitive.

Marriage and family life are disappointing. Even among defenders of traditional family values, e.g., Christians and Jews, a certain dreariness must be inferred, if only from the average time of TV viewing. Dreary as TV is, it is evidently not as dreary as Mom talking to Dad or the kids talking to either.

School is disappointing. If science is exciting and art is exhilarating, the schools and universities have achieved the not inconsiderable feat of rendering both dull. As every scientist and poet knows, one discovers both vocations in spite of, not because of, school. It takes years to recover from the stupor of being taught Shakespeare in English Lit and Wheatstone's bridge in Physics.

Politics is disappointing. Most young people turn their backs on politics, not because of the lack of excitement of politics as it is practiced, but because of the shallowness, venality, and image-making as these are perceived through the media--one of the technology's greatest achievements.

The churches are disappointing, even for most believers. If Christ brings us new life, it is all the more remarkable that the church, the bearer of this good news, should be among the most dispirited institutions of the age. The alternatives to the institutional churches are even more grossly disappointing, from TV evangelists with their blown-dry hairdos to California cults led by prosperous gurus ignored in India but embraced in La Jolla.

Social life is disappointing. The very franticness of attempts to reestablish community and festival, by partying, by groups, by club, by touristy Mardi Gras, is the best evidence of the loss of true community and festival and of the loneliness of self, stranded as it is as an unspeakable consciousness in a world from which it perceives itself as somehow estranged, stranded even within its own body, with which it sees no clear connection.

But there remains the one unquestioned benefit of science: the longer and healthier life made possible by modern medicine, the shorter work-hours made possible by technology, hence what is perceived as the one certain reward of dreary life of home and the marketplace: recreation.

Recreation and good physical health appear to be the only ambivalent benefits of the technological revolution.”
Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book

Jess C. Scott
“Nin knew how much humans loved money, riches, and material things—though he never really could understand why. The more technologically advanced the human species got, the more isolated they seemed to become, at the same time. It was alarming, how humans could spend entire lifetimes engaged in all kinds of activities, without getting any closer to knowing who they really were, inside.”
Jess C. Scott, The Other Side of Life

Donald Barthelme
“The death of God left the angels in a strange position.”
Donald Barthelme

Jack Finney
“Haven't you noticed, too, on the part of nearly everyone you know, a growing rebellion against the present? And an increasing longing for the past? I have. Never before in all my long life have I heard so many people wish that they lived 'at the turn of the century,' or 'when life was simpler,' or 'worth living,' or 'when you could bring children into the world and count on the future,' or simply 'in the good old days.' People didn't talk that way when I was young! The present was a glorious time! But they talk that way now.

For the first time in man's history, man is desperate to escape the present. Our newsstands are jammed with escape literature, the very name of which is significant. Entire magazines are devoted to fantastic stories of escape - to other times, past and future, to other worlds and planets - escape to anywhere but here and now. Even our larger magazines, book publishers and Hollywood are beginning to meet the rising demand for this kind of escape. Yes, there is a craving in the world like a thirst, a terrible mass pressure that you can almost feel, of millions of minds struggling against the barriers of time. I am utterly convinced that this terrible mass pressure of millions of minds is already, slightly but definitely, affecting time itself. In the moments when this happens - when the almost universal longing to escape is greatest - my incidents occur. Man is disturbing the clock of time, and I am afraid it will break. When it does, I leave to your imagination the last few hours of madness that will be left to us; all the countless moments that now make up our lives suddenly ripped apart and chaotically tangled in time.

Well, I have lived most of my life; I can be robbed of only a few more years. But it seems too bad - this universal craving to escape what could be a rich, productive, happy world. We live on a planet well able to provide a decent life for every soul on it, which is all ninety-nine of a hundred human beings ask. Why in the world can't we have it? ("I'm Scared")”
Jack Finney, American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from the 1940's Until Now

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“The difference between technology and slavery is that slaves are fully aware that they are not free”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Leszek Kołakowski
“A modern philosopher who has never once suspected himself of being a charlatan must be such a shallow mind that his work is probably not worth reading.”
Leszek Kołakowski, Metaphysical Horror

Tiffany Madison
“Women's liberation is one thing, but the permeation of anti-male sentiment in post-modern popular culture - from our mocking sitcom plots to degrading commercial story lines - stands testament to the ignorance of society. Fair or not, as the lead gender that never requested such a role, the historical male reputation is quite balanced.

For all of their perceived wrongs, over centuries they've moved entire civilizations forward, nurtured the human quest for discovery and industry, and led humankind from inconvenient darkness to convenient modernity. Navigating the chessboard that is human existence is quite a feat, yet one rarely acknowledged in modern academia or media. And yet for those monumental achievements, I love and admire the balanced creation that is man for all his strengths and weaknesses, his gifts and his curses. I would venture to say that most wise women do.”
Tiffany Madison

Virginia Woolf
“If one is to deal with people on a large scale and say what one thinks, how can one avoid melancholy? I don’t admit to being hopeless, though: only the spectacle is a profoundly strange one; and as the current answers don’t do, one has to grope for a new one, and the process of discarding the old, when one is by no means certain what to put in their place, is a sad one.”
Virginia Woolf, A Writer's Diary

Jess C. Scott
“Anya looked upon Nin admirably. Having him as a partner-in-crime—if only on this one occasion, which she hoped would only be the start of something more—was more revitalizing than the cheap thrills of a cookie-cutter shallow, superficial romance, where the top priority was how beautiful a person was on the outside.”
Jess C. Scott, The Other Side of Life

Wendell Berry
“It might seem to you that living in the woods on a riverbank would remove you from the modern world. But not if the river is navigable, as ours is. On pretty weekends in the summer, this riverbank is the very verge of the modern world. It is a seat in the front row, you might say. On those weekends, the river is disquieted from morning to night by people resting from their work.
This resting involves traveling at great speed, first on the road and then on the river. The people are in an emergency to relax. They long for the peace and quiet of the great outdoors. Their eyes are hungry for the scenes of nature. They go very fast in their boats. They stir the river like a spoon in a cup of coffee. They play their radios loud enough to hear above the noise of their motors. They look neither left nor right. They don't slow down for - or maybe even see - an old man in a rowboat raising his lines...
I watch and I wonder and I think. I think of the old slavery, and of the way The Economy has now improved upon it. The new slavery has improved upon the old by giving the new slaves the illusion that they are free. The Economy does not take people's freedom by force, which would be against its principles, for it is very humane. It buys their freedom, pays for it, and then persuades its money back again with shoddy goods and the promise of freedom.”
Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow

Roland Barthes
“A paradox: the same century invented History and PHotography. But History is a memory fabricated according to positive formulas, a pure intellectual discourse which abolishes mythic Time; and the Photograph is a certain but fugitive testimony; so that everything, today, prepares our race for this impotence: to be no longer able to conceive duration, affectively or symbolically: the age of the Photograph is also the age of revolutions, contestations, assassinations, explosions, in short, of impatiences, of everything which denies ripening.”
Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography

Roman Payne
“Apollinaire said a poet should be 'of his time.' I say objects of the Digital Age belong in newspapers, not literature. When I read a novel, I don’t want credit cards; I want cash in ducats and gold doubloons.”
Roman Payne

Daniel J. Boorstin
“When we pick up the newspaper at breakfast, we expect - we even demand - that it brings us momentous events since the night before...We expect our two-week vacations to be romantic, exotic, cheap, and effortless..We expect anything and everything. We expect the contradictory and the impossible. We expect compact cars which are spacious; luxurious cars which are economical. We expect to be rich and charitable, powerful and merciful, active and reflective, kind and competitive. We expect to be inspired by mediocre appeals for excellence, to be made literate by illiterate appeals for literacy...to go to 'a church of our choice' and yet feel its guiding power over us, to revere God and to be God. Never have people been more the masters of their environment. Yet never has a people felt more deceived and disappointed. For never has a people expected so much more than the world could offer.”
Daniel J. Boorstin

William Blake
“When nations grow old the Arts grow cold
And commerce settles on every tree”
William Blake

Herman Wouk
“Look at us. We build giant highways and murderously fast cars for killing each other and committing suicide. Instead of bomb shelters we construct gigantic frail glass buildings all over Manhattan at Ground Zero, a thousand feet high, open to the sky, life a woman undressing before an intruder and provoking him to rape her. We ring Russia's borders with missile-launching pads, and then scream that she's threatening us. In all history there's never been a more lurid mass example of the sadist-masochist expression of the thanatos instinct than the present conduct of the United States. The Nazis by comparison were Eagle Scouts.”
Herman Wouk, Don't Stop the Carnival

Ursula K. Le Guin
“You are all in jail. Each alone, solitary, with a heap of what he owns. You live in prison, die in prison. It is all I can see in your eyes – the walls, the walls!”
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed

Guy Debord
“The loss of quality that is so evident at every level of spectacular language, from the objects it glorifies to the behavior it regulates, stems from the basic nature of a production system that shuns reality. The commodity form reduces everything to quantitative equivalence. The quantitative is what it develops, and it can develop only within the quantitative.”
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle

Ivan Illich
“Homo economicus was surreptitiously taken as the emblem and analogue for all living beings. A mechanistic anthropomorphism has gained currency. Bacteria are imagined to mimic "economic" behavior and to engage in internecine competition for the scarce oxygen available in their environment. A cosmic struggle among ever more complex forms of life has become the anthropic foundational myth of the scientific age.”
Ivan Illich

N. Scott Momaday
“In the white man's world, language, too -- and the way which the white man thinks of it--has undergone a process of change. The white man takes such things as words and literatures for granted, as indeed he must, for nothing in his world is so commonplace. On every side of him there are words by the millions, an unending succession of pamphlets and papers, letters and books, bills and bulletins, commentaries and conversations. He has diluted and multiplied the Word, and words have begun to close in on him. He is sated and insensitive; his regard for language -- for the Word itself -- as an instrument of creation has diminished nearly to the point of no return. It may be that he will perish by the Word.”
N. Scott Momaday, House Made of Dawn

Sivananda Saraswati
“Modern civilisation is complicated and artificial. Simple folk live in a world of love and peace. Let no one hate another or harm another.”
Sivananda Saraswati

Mark Twain
“When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it's always 20 years behind the times.”
Mark Twain

Alain de Botton
“Blind impatience is equally evident in the fruit section. Our ancestors might have delighted in the occasional handful of berries found on the underside of a bush in late summer, viewing it as a sign of the unexpected munificence of a divine creator, but we became modern when we gave up on awaiting sporadic gifts from above and sought to render any pleasing sensation immediately and repeatedly available.”
Alain de Botton, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

G.K. Chesterton
“Modern art has to be what is called ‘intense.’ it is not easy to define being intense; but, roughly speaking, it means saying only one thing at a time, and saying it wrong.”
G.K. Chesterton, Alarms and Discursions

Herman Wouk
“The West Indian is not exactly hostile to change, but he is not much inclined to believe in it. This comes from a piece of wisdom that his climate of eternal summer teaches him. It is that, under all the parade of human effort and noise, today is like yesterday, and tomorrow will be like today; that existence is a wheel of recurring patterns from which no one escapes; that all anybody does in this life is live for a while and then die for good, without finding out much; and that therefore the idea is to take things easy and enjoy the passing time under the sun. The white people charging hopefully around the islands these days in the noon glare, making deals, bulldozing airstrips, hammering up hotels, laying out marinas, opening new banks, night clubs, and gift shops, are to him merely a passing plague. They have come before and gone before.”
Herman Wouk, Don't Stop the Carnival

“For better of for worse the church in the West bought modernity's claims. We were baptized in its story (even though it said it did not have one) and accepted its categories and definitions. But somewhere along the way we also began to believe that the ways in which we accessed knowledge about God or Jesus or the Spirit or Christianity were those things themselves.”
Tim Keel, Intuitive Leadership: Embracing a Paradigm of Narrative, Metaphor, and Chaos

Robert Hughes
“Indeed, the idea that doubt can be heroic, if it is locked into a structure as grand as that of the paintings of Cezanne's old age, is one of the keys to our century. A touchstone of modernity itself.”
Robert Hughes, The Shock of the New

C.S. Lewis
“His education had been neither scientific nor classical—merely “Modern.” The severities both of abstraction and of high human tradition had passed him by: and he had neither peasant shrewdness nor aristocratic honour to help him. He was a man of straw, a glib examinee in subjects that require no exact knowledge (he had always done well on Essays and General Papers) and the first hint of a real threat to his bodily life knocked him sprawling.”
C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength

Irving Howe
“Modernity consists in a revolt against the prevailing style, an unyielding rage against the official order.”
Irving Howe

Fritz Leiber
“Miss Millick wondered just what had happened to Mr. Wran. He kept making the strangest remarks when she took dictation. Just this morning he had quickly turned around and asked, "Have you ever seen a ghost, Miss Millick?" And she had tittered nervously and replied, "When I was a girl there was a thing in white that used to come out of the closet in the attic bedroom when you slept there, and moan. Of course it was just my imagination. I was frightened of lots of things." And he had said, "I don't mean that traditional kind of ghost. I mean a ghost from the world today, with the soot of the factories in its face and the pounding of machinery in its soul. The kind that would haunt coal yards and slip around at night through deserted office buildings like this one. A real ghost. Not something out of books." And she hadn't known what to say. ("Smoke Ghost")”
Fritz Leiber, American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from the 1940's Until Now

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