The Vertigo Years

I just heard an interview with Philipp Blom the author of The Vertigo Years on WNYC. It sounds like a great book:

Virginia Woolf famously declared that human character changed in the year 1910; this dizzying survey of European history and culture before WWI elaborates. Historian Blom (Enlightening the World) examines every innovation of the turbulent period that, in his estimate, gave birth to modernity and its discontents. Automobiles, airplanes and electricity gave humans unprecedented speed and power; the explosive growth of industry, cities and consumerism shattered and rebuilt communities; women, moving into schools and workplaces, demanded new rights; mass politics and mass media challenged traditional authority; psychoanalysis and the theory of relativity challenged ideas about humans and about time and space. The panorama is almost too much to take in, especially since Blom rightly complicates the picture by exploring the diverse ways in which different countries experienced these upheavals. His stab at a unifying theme—a perceived crisis of masculinity that panicked everyone from Proust to proto-Nazi racists as sex roles changed and a machine-driven, bureaucratic economy made muscle-power and martial virtues obsolete—is fruitful, but it only partially illuminates the times. This is a stylish, erudite guide to an age of exhilaration and anxiety that in many ways invented our own. Photos.(Nov.) 

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If someone wants to send me a review copy – or send it to my kindle!! – I’d love to read the whole thing. Otherwise I’m waiting for paperback.(It’s the economy, stupid!) But the big question is, “what can we learn from history?” are these the vertigo years of the 21st century? can we harness hope and embrace velocity or will we descend into chaos and carnage? RoseLee Goldberg will be investigating 100 Years of Futurism in PERFORMA this year – who else is exploring these ideas? Let’s go!!

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