The tumultuous environment of the 20th Century inspired many incredible artists as they responded to the changing world around them. This semester, it has been a pleasure discovering such a breadth of expression in the work of 20th-Century writers and artists. The works we studied seemed to incite a passionate discussion in every class, as my peers revealed earnest and full-hearted reactions to the anxieties often brought up in 20th-Century literature which still equates with issues of today. As such, I believe the interests, concerns, and experiences of writers in the 20th Century assist 21st Century human beings in their understanding of the purpose of existence.
Western society in the 20th Century broke from traditional values, as revolutionary changes in technology, science, politics, social stratification and culture dissipated the dominant traditional attitudes and aestheticism. This environment had a transformative effect, with artists such as Joseph Conrad, Sigfried Sassoon, T.S Eliot, Virginia Wolf and George Orwell responding to the anxieties and experiences that were instigated by this change. What makes the works of these 20th-century artists particularly notable is the fact that they often challenged tradition and the world around them. Artists began to defy the idea that anyone could control or contain creativity, and a greater sense of self-expression began to evolve. I discuss both the role of the artist in my best critical blog post which can be viewed here , and I express the disruption of art challenging societal values in my best creative blog post which can be viewed here.
As human beings I believe we build our lives upon the experiences of the past, and as such the Artists of the 20th-Century play a vital role in the way we understand our purpose of existence today. Through creating both critical and creative blogs this semester, I often reflected on the freedom of creative expression that was available to me, which is truly a product of 20th-Century artists pushing the boundaries of human expression. I would argue that this challenge even modified our modern behaviours as we constantly create and question the world around us.
You have created a truly comprehensive digital kit! In future, however, you might be more conscious of the way you assemble this information. Perhaps including some imagery, or even inserting embedded videos into your post rather than links could create a more interactive kit for the lazy researcher (such as myself).
This week, we explored a range of immigrant writers who embraced the English language or appropriated their mother tongue. In response, I was asked to start a poem with the lines “English is my mother tongue” and explore the meaning of this line in relation to my own experience of language. Although I don’t consider myself to be a particularly successful poet, this challenge struck a personal chord. My mother started her life in Australia as an Illegal immigrant, and as she spoke English as a second language; there were moments in our relationship that were lost in translation…
English is my mother tongue, to the avail of my strong-willed mother,
Who used to speak each sentence twice, in hope that I would learn
A language in which she expressed herself, a woman I might uncover.
And almost, almost, I grasped her voice, then life began to turn,
At school they favoured English first, the rest was of no concern.
To her mother also I cannot speak, my own family I have lost.
I was told their words don’t matter, English is what we want. I keep tokens of her language, they smile when I shout “PROST” Single words offer no reprieve, nor patronising ‘tricks’ I flaunt,
To the women I won’t understand, how much these words must taunt.
But I can feel each inflection, trust me, I know when I’m in trouble.
Although there are no words between us, we can understand each other,
But every now and then English creates distance and we struggle.
I’ll live my life without the words, those words I’ve lost, to tell my Mother,
To tell her that I know her, that I love her.
A wonderful example of political rhetoric defending the indefensible. I found your perspective on how the Australian government manipulating current fears very interesting. It seems to be the ‘hot trend’ to use such language as ‘illegal immigrants’ to stereotype those who seek asylum. I think the media has a lot to answer for in this regard, it makes you question why they are pushing this agenda.
Give an example from our own times of the way political speech and writing is “the defence of the indefensible”.
George Orwell in his novel ‘1984’ and ‘Politics in the English Language’ suggests that the debasement of language inevitably leads to the debasement of our humanity. Language is an instrument of power and when manipulated, language can cover abuses of power and the repression of civil liberties. Political rhetoric during times of conflict often used socialist language to drive people to war, for example, the famous “Uncle Sam Wants You”. In this context, language is used to create a desire and even a sense of obligation to commit grotesque acts of violence in a foreign place with a slim chance of survival. This is a clear example of political writing defending the indefensible, as language is used to turn the undesirable into the desired. When studying Donald Trumps “America First” speech in his bid for the presidency in the United States, we find many similarities to political speech and writing of the 1st and 2nd World Wars. Trump begins by building an incredible sense of nationalism. In an article by Tal Kopan which can be accessed here: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/27/politics/donald-trump-america-first-nationalist-history/, she likens Trump’s speech to the America First movement which formed in the lead-up to World War II and was associated with anti-Semitism and U.S. nationalism. This sense of national pride is then followed by an imperialist sense of Militarism, as Trump pledges to build the American military to overcome any and all opposition to the drive of the U.S. The language used entices the listener with a sense of ‘domination’ and a ‘return to power’ through a dominant economic position that will be achieved only by force as Trump states “We will develop, build and purchase the best equipment known to mankind”. This echoes the language of War and conflict in “defence of the indefensible”. Essentially Trumps speech is a call to arms, making war appear fantastical and elite. In reality, the sheer scale of growth proposed to reach this military ‘supremacy’ would have a severe impact on the economic standing of the Unites States and decrease its ‘domination’ in the Global arena. This political speech seeks to make the reckless sound rational.
A beautifully expressed argument you make here. I agree that there ‘needs to be a balance’. However, do you not think Baumer was being hypercritical? I support almost all of your statements but as humans shouldn’t we be mindful of the individual? Baumer gave a very direct opinion of the people he comes across but gives no mind to circumstance and individual preference. I think we should be wary of sweeping generalizations.
An interesting theme that has come up in our in-class discussions of 20th-Century literature is the challenge many modern artists measured against social consciousness and political perspective. Through my research into the 20th Century, the Dada movement stood out as it directly expressed this principle of thought. With many Dada artists reacting to the desolation and distress of WWI, rebellion against authority,the power of the state, and the accepted artistic institutions created a disruptive artform opposed to hierarchy and artificiality. Dada artists used objects from the fabric of everyday experiences, believing in the power of language as a creative tool.
I came across this instruction by Tristan Tzara on how to create a Dadaist Poem which incorporated the everyday object of a Newspaper. I tried my hand at recreating a version of this poetry by using only the Titles of Articles; responding to the way language is used as a lure to capture the reader in our world today.
This is the result of my Dadaist poem ‘Infinitely original’. I followed a poetic structure in the way I removed the scraps from the hat, placing each single scrap in a 3-4-4-3 line formation.
Deported dark face World crackdown the being Giants breached 1927 hangover Taking could?
Avoid of now Access Russia for offer Money depression to Risk Australian bad-boys condemns
Inhabits lunch ethics
I created this second poem without randomising the placement of words, but deliberately arranging the scraps to read as somewhat structurally sound sentences. Grammar and word choice was restricted by the use of only article headings and encouraged a creative and humorous composition.
Avoid a meaningless party Your hangover could probably ruin lunch Russia in 1927 was dodgy Depression inhabits a dark being Hansome bad-boys puzzles women Australian people taking money World now launches war Innocent giants can be deported
A very eloquent poem which shows a beautiful command of language.
I would love to know a bit more about the context or inspiration for this post. A small explanation or even a title would give greater meaning to your work
Well done on your blog post, I agree with your opinion that May Wedderburn understood the nature of war and felt deeply passionate about expressing her experiences. Some of your sentence structures need revising as your language feels inconsistent. You give us information but I’d love to know more about the context, for example, an explanation of ‘VADS’ why were they important and how did they impact this statement? Working on the flow of your sentences and tying in each paragraph with the previous would be beneficial to you writing.
Thankyou for your honesty and self-expression in this post. The way you consider how grief may change under different circumstances such as ‘The constant threat of death’ is particularly interesting. I don’t believe we would react to death in the same way we do now, compared to Pauls experience. When death is your entire reality, grief becomes complicated.
A great post with just a small attention to detail required (some words accidently missing which affect the flow of reading)