By Marshall Berman
"A effervescent caldron of principles . . . Enlightening and valuable." —Mervyn Jones, New Statesman.
The political and social revolutions of the 19th century, the pivotal writings of Goethe, Marx, Dostoevsky, and others, and the production of recent environments to switch the old—all have thrust us right into a smooth global of contradictions and ambiguities. during this interesting booklet, Marshall Berman examines the conflict of periods, histories, and cultures, and ponders our clients for coming to phrases with the connection among a releasing social and philosophical idealism and a posh, bureaucratic materialism.
From a reinterpretation of Karl Marx to an incisive attention of the impression of Robert Moses on smooth city residing, Berman charts the development of the twentieth-century adventure. He concludes that variation to continuous flux is attainable and that therein lies our wish for attaining a very smooth society.
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Extra info for All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity
Whole books could be written about the metamorphoses of this symbol; what matters here is the metaphysical and moral context in which it first arises. Goethe brings the Ubermensch into being not so much to express modern man's titanic strivings but rather to suggest that much of the striving is misplaced. Goethe's Earth Spirit is saying to Faust, Why don't you strive to become a Mensch-an authentic human being-instead. The Tragedy of Development 43 Faust's problems are not his alone; they dramatize larger ten sions that agitated all European societies in the years before the French and Industrial Revolutions.
He gives us a lovely lyrical celebration (903-40) of life-of natural life in the spring, of divine life in the Easter Resurrection, of human and social life (most strikingly the life of the oppressed lower classes) in the public joy of the holiday, of his own emotional life in his return to childhood. Now he feels a connection between his own closeted, esoteric sufferings and strivings and those of the poor urban working people all around him. Before long, individual people emerge from this crowd; although they have not seen Faust for years, they recognize him at once, greet him affectionately and stop to chat and reminisce.
Jackson Pollock imagined his drip paintings as forests in which spectators might lose (and, of course, find) themselves; but we have mostly lost the art of putting ourselves in the picture, of recognizing ourselves as participants and protagonists in the art and thought of our time. Our century has nourished a spectacular modern art; but we seem to have forgotten how to grasp the mod ern life from which this art springs. In many ways, modern thought since Marx and Nietzsche has grown and developed; yet our thinking about modernity seems to have stagnated and re gressed.