Saturday, December 31, 2011

But it still goes on

I believe I have mentioned how important an experience it was for me to read Paul Fussel's Great War and Modern Memory in my early 20's just having arrived to study in Helsinki. It was more a personal and literary experience at the time, an esthetic experience of the combination of literature and history and personal life, a theme ever since very important for me. But as the years have progressed the First War has become ever more central for me as an historical event in its own right, as a central event directly in our own continuum. It still does go on: our civilization has been largely shaped by that catastrophy and the one that shortly followed, and in many senses we are shell shocked survivors from those two twin collapses of the progressive and optimistic West. There is not much trust, confidence in non-material things any more here: wealth is our strongest support and main reason for action.

Another year ends this evening, and I wonder whether my sense of a new constellation being on its way is correct or whether we just will struggle on, untransformed.