In 1926: Living on the Edge of Time

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He wants to go back to basics. Everdell, in any case, proposes to make good the omission with "a narrative history of ideas, a thing that has become rare. Modernism, he explains, equals discontinuity. He means this primarily in a theoretical sense-modernism poses an epistemological rupture between the world as it appears and the world as we represent it-but, somewhat paradoxically, he believes it manifests itself directly on the level of appearances: witness Seurat's divisionism, Picasso's cubism, genes and quanta.

Gumbrecht, Hans Ulrich | ipsumullanssul.tk

He contrasts this development to what he sees, citing Hegel and Brahms, as a nineteenth-century commitment to the continuous, to the evolutionary. Thus it was in , Everdell tells us, with Dedekind's definition of a point as any place where a line can be cut, that modernism had its beginning. Everdell's book is less a history of ideas than an exercise in intellectual hagiography.

Each of his 22 chapters consists of a biographical sketch of one or two geniuses he assures us early on that the modernists were "all of them individuals.

by Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht

To say that modernism is about discontinuity, or that the nineteenth century was about continuity, is not exactly wrong, but only as true as not-which is to say pointless. Brahms saw his endeavor as continuous with Beethoven's though so self-consciously, one could argue, as to introduce a qualitative change-to insist on continuity at all costs is not the same as simply to assume it , but what in any case about Schumann? Schoenberg certainly did alter the nature of music, though in a way that, from his day on, has been seen as a logical consequence of the increasing harmonic chromaticism of late nineteenth century music; but then he also wrote a well-known essay about Brahms as a contemporary, as well as declaring, notoriously, "I have made the supremacy of German music safe for a thousand years.

Looking back on modernism from a contemporary vantage, what one needs, in any case, is not definition, but definite information that might provoke new sense of curiosity, or connection, to a time that has now become both remote and over-familiar. Something specific.

From Everdell however, there is little to be expected apart from simplification and generalization. Thus, typically, he informs us that, by picturing one of the Demoiselles d'Avignon from "two diametrically opposed views simultaneously," "Picasso had done for art in almost exactly what Einstein had done for physics in his 'Electrodynamics' paper of Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, who teaches comparative literature at Stanford, approaches the culture of the early twentieth century in an altogether more ingenious and intriguing way in his In Living at the Edge of Time.

What interests him, he says, is to what extent a year, a simple, purely conventional unit of time, can be constituted as an object of historical inquiry-not, however, with the purpose of isolating that year's essence or significance, but rather simply by way of getting some inkling of what it was like to be alive at the time.


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He has chosen , he insists, primarily because it is not considered a historical turning point; it is just an average year. In principle, any other year would do just as well. His book is accordingly only incidentally a study of the early twentieth century, but for just that reason offers readers what Everdell, in his arbitrary enthusiasm for definition, misses-some degree of immersion in the particularity, and irresolution, of an earlier moment.

Gumbrecht's rather elaborately structured book consists of numerous short, non-chronological chapters. In the first and greater part of the book called "Arrays" these chapters assemble evidence from various contemporary books, journals, and witnesses, drawn from a range of places chiefly Berlin, Paris, New York, and Buenos Aires about subjects Gumbrecht deems to have been especially topical in '"Cremation," "Employees," "Mountaineering," "Ocean Liners," "Movie Palaces," and "Elevators" are some of the alphabetically grouped entries.

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A second briefer section "Codes" considers larger-order polarities in light of which experience seems to have been structured-"Action vs. Impotence," "Male vs. Gumbrecht assures us, "Regardless of where you enter or exit, any reading process of some length should produce the effect to which the title alludes: you should feel 'in At times, especially in the first section, the book takes on a certain spectral animation-new dispatches from a vanished world.

European hoteliers already lamented Americans' aversion to heavy, "unhealthy" soups; and Gumbrecht relays an amusing episode from a Berlin newspaper involving a tourist bus on Montmartre: "Several hundred Frenchmen surround the bus with threatening gestures: 'Stay home, you pork-dealers from Chicago! Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

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Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Mar 23, Wagner Nogueira rated it really liked it. Mar 12, Joyce rated it liked it. The original subtitle of this book was: "an essay on historical simultaneity. Rejecting the historical narrative and sequentiality, Gumbrecht presents the history of through a series of encyclopedia-like entries, presented in alphabetical order to stress the randomness and lack of chronology.

The entire work is divided into three sections.

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My favourite is probably the third one, on the collap The original subtitle of this book was: "an essay on historical simultaneity. My favourite is probably the third one, on the collapse of social codes. Even though I an personally not a fan of Gumbrecht's historical form and style! I must admit that the penultimate section of the "essay," "Learning After History," afforded some excellent historiographical discussion. Brace yourself for some philosophy of history! Dawn rated it liked it Apr 23, Oktobre16 rated it it was amazing Nov 04, Anton rated it it was amazing Feb 05, Jackie rated it it was ok Sep 26, Diana Bagaturia rated it really liked it Jan 11, Ryan rated it liked it Jul 19, Kai Teorn rated it really liked it Aug 25, Oscar rated it liked it Feb 22, Ally rated it really liked it Nov 25, Robyn rated it liked it Apr 25, Dave rated it really liked it Oct 29, Bia Medeiros rated it really liked it Nov 20, Maksym Karpovets rated it it was amazing Oct 13, Ivonne rated it it was amazing Jul 21, Mire Salemcort rated it really liked it Jun 05, Galine Pmlk rated it it was amazing Dec 20, Harley Adams rated it it was amazing Jul 30, Shawn rated it really liked it Mar 10, Anna rated it really liked it Oct 08, An-na marked it as to-read Jul 21, Vincent marked it as to-read Sep 14, Pavel marked it as to-read Jun 23, Tida Wilson marked it as to-read Aug 11, Drspk added it Mar 13, Dafna marked it as to-read Apr 26, Nana added it Oct 15, Peter marked it as to-read Nov 04, Igor marked it as to-read May 30,