1900 was a bit of mixed bag, it seems to me, on the one hand, because this is the year when this country becomes the premiere producer of manufactured goods. Clearly, a lot of people were making a lot of money, but it's also a time that reflects the savaging of one of the deepest depressions.
David Levering Lewis
You sometimes hear people say, with a certain pride in their clerical resistance to the myth, that the nineteenth century really ended not in 1900 but in 1914. But there are different ways of measuring an epoch. 1914 has obvious qualifications; but if you wanted to defend the neater, more mythical date, you could do very well. In 1900 Nietzsche died; Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams; 1900 was the date of Husserl Logic, and of Russell's Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz. With an exquisite sense of timing Planck published his quantum hypothesis in the very last days of the century, December 1900. Thus, within a few months, were published works which transformed or transvalued spirituality, the relation of language to knowing, and the very locus of human uncertainty, henceforth to be thought of not as an imperfection of the human apparatus but part of the nature of things, a condition of what we may know. 1900, like 1400 and 1600 and 1000, has the look of a year that ends a saeculum. The mood of fin de sie¨cle is confronted by a harsh historical finis saeculi. There is something satisfying about it, some confirmation of the rightness of the patterns we impose. But as Focillon observed, the anxiety reflected by the fin de sie¨cle is perpetual, and people don't wait for centuries to end before they express it. Any date can be justified on some calculation or other. And of course we have it now, the sense of an ending. It has not diminished, and is as endemic to what we call modernism as apocalyptic utopianism is to political revolution. When we live in the mood of end-dominated crisis, certain now-familiar patterns of assumption become evident. Yeats will help me to illustrate them. For Yeats, an age would end in 1927; the year passed without apocalypse, as end-years do; but this is hardly material. 'When I was writing A Vision, ' he said, 'I had constantly the word "terror" impressed upon me, and once the old Stoic prophecy of earthquake, fire and flood at the end of an age, but this I did not take literally.' Yeats is certainly an apocalyptic poet, but he does not take it literally, and this, I think, is characteristic of the attitude not only of modern poets but of the modern literary public to the apocalyptic elements. All the same, like us, he believed them in some fashion, and associated apocalypse with war. At the turning point of time he filled his poems with images of decadence, and praised war because he saw in it, ignorantly we may think, the means of renewal. 'The danger is that there will be no war... Love war because of its horror, that belief may be changed, civilization renewed.' He saw his time as a time of transition, the last moment before a new annunciation, a new gyre. There was horror to come: 'thunder of feet, tumult of images.' But out of a desolate reality would come renewal. In short, we can find in Yeats all the elements of the apocalyptic paradigm that concern us.
The education business is a little murky because by 1900, it has been pretty well decided that a certain amount of education was required to make the system of repression work. You had to have people who showed up punctually. You had to have people who took their orders obediently and understand them fully.
David Levering Lewis
I really like the city of Vienna. I like its art, its music and its architecture. In short, I like the culture that Vienna represents. What really captures me is the period around 1900 - the time of Freud, Schnitzler and Klimt. This is the period in which the modern view of mind was born.
Yes, over the centuries economic progress has reduced some gross disparities - modern Americans are relatively unlikely to simply starve to death (though it can happen), so in that sense the gap between rich and poor has narrowed. But the question isn't whether society is, in some sense, more equal than it was in 1900. It's whether it is radically more unequal than it was in 1970. And of course it is.
King- Hamilton, Judge Alan ( b 1900 )'... I think he erred on the side of severity when he gave Janie Jones, the notorious madame, seven years after the jury had acquitted her'. 'Well, these things are relative of course. It all depends on what you've been acquitted of. Miss Jones was innocent of a very serious offence.
The Saviour said He was going to prepare us a place. How wonderful it will be is beyond human computation. Remember that in six days Christ made the heavens and earth and all that in them is.... If He made so many wonders in six days, then what beauties and marvels He has surely prepared during these 1900 years in which He has been preparing our mansions in the Father's House!
John R. Rice
My father was born in the year 1900 in South Carolina, and he grew up at a time where being an African-American child in the American South was to be deprived of access to anything close to a reasonable education. He only had three years of formal education, but he was self-taught. He read two newspapers a day.
Gastronomers of the year 1825, who find sateity in the lap of abundance, and dream of some newly-made dishes, you will not enjoy the discoveries which science has in store for the year 1900, such as foods drawn from the mineral kingdom, liqueurs produced by the pressure of a hundred atmospheres; you will never see the importations which travelers yet unborn will bring to you from that half of the globe which has still to be discovered or explored. How I pity you!
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
In the early 1700's, two physicians...learned about pinkroot's efficacy from the Indians. The word soon spread to the general public, who praised this worm treatment, particularly against roundworms, for the next 200 years. Pinkroot fell into disuse in the early 1900's, simply because greedy herb dealers adulterated or even substituted shipments of true pinkroot with quantities of other plants...
I would not like to live in the past because you don't get anesthetic when you go to the dentist. You don't get antibiotics. You don't get the things that you are used to now, cell phones and televisions and things that are very convenient. You don't want that. But, it would be fun if you could, every now and then, just meet a friend for lunch at Maxim's in Paris in 1900, or go back to 1870 just for a couple of hours, take a walk in the park, and then come right back to Broadway.
Julio's Day is a story of one man's life, but it's a great more than that as well. It's the story of the life of a century, also told as if a day. Beginning with Julio's birth in 1900 and ending with his death in 2000, the graphic novel touches on most of the major events that shaped the 20th century.
Most conservatives know better than to promote the state funding of art. The result of such funding is the mess that modern art has become. Atonal music is to music what subsidized art is to art. ...The fact that cacophony has reigned almost supreme since 1900 is a testimony to Mises' original observation. Atonal music is to music what socialism is to economics: planned chaos.
Was this for real? Andrew had forgotten how to be happy! He suspected that it involved unwarranted feelings of fondness for other people, too much self-esteem, a sort of long-term delusion that manifested as charisma, and a blocking out of certain things, like lonely people, depressed people, desperate people, homeless people, people you've hurt, people you like who don't like you, politics, the nature of being and existence, the continent of Africa, the meat industry, McDonald's, MTV, Hollywood, and most or all of human history, especially anything having to do with the Western Hemisphere between 1400 and 1900, plus or minus 200 years - but he wasn't sure. Why did it involve so many things? Maybe it was just too hard.
..the past kept pricking at me and I knew that all the elements of those nineteen days in July were astir within me, like phlegm in an attack of bronchitis, waiting to come up. I had kep them buried all these years, but they were there, I knew, the more complete, the more unforgotten, for being carefully embalmed. Never, never had they seen the light of day; the slightest stirring had been stifled with a scattering of earth. My secret- the explanation of me- lay there. I take myself much too seriously, of course. What does it matter to anyone what I was like, then or now? But every man is important to himself at one time or another; my problem had been to reduce the importance, and spread it out as thinly as I could over half a century. Thanks to my interment policy I had come to terms with life, I had made a working -working was the word - arrangement with it, on the one condition that there should be no exhumation. Was it true, what I sometimes told myself, that my best energies had been given to the undertaker's art? If it was, what did it matter? Should have I acquitted myself better, with the knowledge I had now? I doubted it; knowledge may be power, but it is not resilience, or resourcefulness, or adaptability to life, still less is it instinctive sympathy with human nature; and those where qualities I possessed in 1900 in far greater measure that I possess them in 1952. Prologue, page 16
I have been accused of a habit of changing my opinions. I am not myself in any degree ashamed of having changed my opinions. What physicist who was already active in 1900 would dream of boasting that his opinions had not changed during the last half century? In science men change their opinions when new knowledge becomes available; but philosophy in the minds of many is assimilated rather to theology than to science. The kind of philosophy that I value and have endeavoured to pursue is scientific, in the sense that there is some definite knowledge to be obtained and that new discoveries can make the admission of former error inevitable to any candid mind. For what I have said, whether early or late, I do not claim the kind of truth which theologians claim for their creeds. I claim only, at best, that the opinion expressed was a sensible one to hold at the time when it was expressed. I should be much surprised if subsequent research did not show that it needed to be modified. I hope, therefore, that whoever uses this dictionary will not suppose the remarks which it quotes to be intended as pontifical pronouncements, but only as the best I could do at the time towards the promotion of clear and accurate thinking. Clarity, above all, has been my aim.
Atheism is the default position in any scientific inquiry, just as a-quarkism or a-neutrinoism was. That is, any entity has to earn its admission into a scientific account either via direct evidence for its existence or because it plays some fundamental explanatory role. Before the theoretical need for neutrinos was appreciated (to preserve the conservation of energy) and then later experimental detection was made, they were not part of the accepted physical account of the world. To say physicists in 1900 were 'agnostic' about neutrinos sounds wrong: they just did not believe there were such things. As yet, there is no direct experimental evidence of a deity, and in order for the postulation of a deity to play an explanatory role there would have to be a lot of detail about how it would act. If, as you have suggested, we are not 'good judges of how the deity would behave,' then such an unknown and unpredictable deity cannot provide good explanatory grounds for any phenomenon. The problem with the 'minimal view' is that in trying to be as vague as possible about the nature and motivation of the deity, the hypothesis loses any explanatory force, and so cannot be admitted on scientific grounds. Of course, as the example of quarks and neutrinos shows, scientific accounts change in response to new data and new theory. The default position can be overcome.
We now know the basic rules governing the universe, together with the gravitational interrelationships of its gross components, as shown in the theory of relativity worked out between 1905 and 1916. We also know the basic rules governing the subatomic particles and their interrelationships, since these are very neatly described by the quantum theory worked out between 1900 and 1930. What's more, we have found that the galaxies and clusters of galaxies are the basic units of the physical universe, as discovered between 1920 and 1930... The young specialist in English Lit, having quoted me, went on to lecture me severely on the fact that in every century people have thought they understood the universe at last, and in every century they were proved to be wrong. It follows that the one thing we can say about our modern 'knowledge' is that it is wrong... My answer to him was, when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together. The basic trouble, you see, is that people think that 'right' and 'wrong' are absolute; that everything that isn't perfectly and completely right is totally and equally wrong. However, I don't think that's so. It seems to me that right and wrong are fuzzy concepts, and I will devote this essay to an explanation of why I think so. When my friend the English literature expert tells me that in every century scientists think they have worked out the universe and are always wrong, what I want to know is how wrong are they? Are they always wrong to the same degree?
For a time, the word Weltpolitik seemed to capture the mood of the German middle classes and the national-minded quality press. The word resonated because it bundled together so many contemporary aspirations. Weltpolitik meant the quest to expand foreign markets (at a time of declining export growth); it meant escaping from the constraints of the continental alliance system to operate on a broader world arena. It expressed the appetite for genuinely national projects that would help knit together the disparate regions of the German Empire and reflected the almost universal conviction that Germany, a late arrival at the imperial feast, would have to play catch-up if it wished to earn the respect of the other great powers. Yet, while it connoted all these things, Weltpolitik never acquired a stable or precise meaning. Even Bernhard von Bulow, widely credited with establishing Weltpolitik as the guiding principle of German foreign policy, never produced a definitive account of what it was. His contradictory utterances on the subject suggest that it was little more than the old policy of the "free hand" with a larger navy and more menacing mood music. "We are supposed to be pursuing Weltpolitik, " the former chief of the General Staff General Alfred von Waldersee noted grumpily in his diary in January 1900. "If only I knew what that was supposed to be.
Christopher Munro Clark
Consider the great Samuel Clemens. Huckleberry Finn is one of the few books that all American children are mandated to read: Jonathan Arac, in his brilliant new study of the teaching of Huck, is quite right to term it 'hyper-canonical.' And Twain is a figure in American history as well as in American letters. The only objectors to his presence in the schoolroom are mediocre or fanatical racial nationalists or 'inclusivists, ' like Julius Lester or the Chicago-based Dr John Wallace, who object to Twain's use-in or out of 'context'-of the expression 'nigger.' An empty and formal 'debate' on this has dragged on for decades and flares up every now and again to bore us. But what if Twain were taught as a whole? He served briefly as a Confederate soldier, and wrote a hilarious and melancholy account, The Private History of a Campaign That Failed. He went on to make a fortune by publishing the memoirs of Ulysses Grant. He composed a caustic and brilliant report on the treatment of the Congolese by King Leopold of the Belgians. With William Dean Howells he led the Anti-Imperialist League, to oppose McKinley's and Roosevelt's pious and sanguinary war in the Philippines. Some of the pamphlets he wrote for the league can be set alongside those of Swift and Defoe for their sheer polemical artistry. In 1900 he had a public exchange with Winston Churchill in New York City, in which he attacked American support for the British war in South Africa and British support for the American war in Cuba. Does this count as history? Just try and find any reference to it, not just in textbooks but in more general histories and biographies. The Anti-Imperialist League has gone down the Orwellian memory hole, taking with it a great swirl of truly American passion and intellect, and the grand figure of Twain has become reduced-in part because he upended the vials of ridicule over the national tendency to religious and spiritual quackery, where he discerned what Tocqueville had missed and far anticipated Mencken-to that of a drawling, avuncular fabulist.