Free Essay


In: Social Issues

Submitted By Fireboy
Words 1733
Pages 7
Sociology Major Essay – Modernity
“To be modern is to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world - and, at the same time, that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know, everything we are.” – Marshall Berman, All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, (Verso, London, 1988 p.1).
Drawing on a variety of sociologists writings on modernity explain the idea of modernity as both positive and negative. Modernity is defined in the Collins English Dictionary as the quality or state of being modern. (Hanks 1979) This state of modernity, as described by M. Berman, is one that has positive and negative influences on both the private and public spheres. The modern world in which we live is one that is heavily influenced by the havoc of war and the ongoing process of capitalism. In order to understand the complexities of modernity, one must weigh its pros and cons. Ex-Cambridge Lecturer and sociologist T. Bilton pinpointed the origins of modernity to be during the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century. He discusses the slow industrialisation, new attitudes towards capitalism, and mass urbanisation. These attributes of modernity saw positive growth in wealth and the creation of bigger and more fluid markets. The trends that originated in 1780s England were to soon spread globally, with an increasing concentration of workers in larger workplaces, in tandem with deteriorating work conditions and an increase in the formation of unions. Thus, despite the periodic economic advantages of the modernisation in the workplace, there was a significant degradation of the social structure that supported the workforce as a whole. The growing distance between employee and employer, in addition to the sharpening gender and age difference, was a ‘disadvantageous’ consequence of a capitalist economy gone so right. Modernity had seen grand economic ‘advantages’ throughout the Industrial Revolution, in both England and the rest of the world as colonialism and exploration catalysed the process of globalisation. However, both the social life and political structures began to change in a ‘disadvantageous’ fashion. The so-called ‘rational’ bureaucratic system that was born from the process of modernity posed a serious threat to the social structure of any nation that had endured the Industrial Revolution. As T. Bilton asserts: “These systems of rational thought and organisation can be inhuman or dehumanising, and, ironically, in some circumstances they can be irrational and inefficient.” (Bilton 2002) Thus, it was the process of modernity, especially that of the growth of capitalism, that saw both ‘advantages’ and ‘disadvantages’ in communities worldwide. The extremities of these economic and social advantages and disadvantages of capitalism can find their sources in the process of modernity itself. This point is illustrated by the Marxist scholar E. M. Wood with her statement: “In the evolutionary process leading from early forms of exchange to modern industrial capitalism, modernity kicks in when these shackled economic forces, and the economic rationality of the bourgeois, are liberated from traditional constraints.” (Wood 1997) Hence, modernity had created some fantastic capitalistic opportunities, however, socially and politically the world was not ready for these changes. Even today’s modernised global society, multinationals and other capitalist figure-heads have blindly sought wealth at an ever increasing social cost, not only within the developed OECD countries, but also within (and more recently prominently) in the developing third worlds nations. This process of globalisation has seen the economic stimulation of many corners of the globe, and simultaneously a degradation of social structures within third world countries. On a political scale, many countries, especially those of the developing world, are not capable of facilitating large economic growth and the housing of huge amounts of foreign direct investment (FDI). Economist Chandan Sengupta illustrates this point by arguing that these social consequences, as a result of the globalisation phenomenon, are because the third world is blindly following in America’s footsteps, in an effort to develop their economy. He emphasises the importance of regulation and government control over how fast an economy is growing, in order to counteract the disadvantageous consequences of the dominance of capitalism in the developing world. “In the 10 years from 1988 to 1998 almost all governments in the world, regardless of ideology, downsized their activities while private sector expanded theirs thus gradually replacing governments as major economic players on the world scene” (Thompson 1999) Hence, the slacking of political institutions was (and currently is) the reason behind the social degradation within developing nations, who have blindly adopted a first world economic system to a third world political and social structure. In fact, political economist argues that globalisation is not ‘advantageous’ to the third world at all, alluding to the economic conditions in both China and India. He states, “…despite all the sound and fury of globalisation, India’s share of FDI is miserable.” (Ambirajan 2000) According to his statistics, India was receiving only $169 million when the nation was in the midst of FDI in 1990. This is far from the amount required to deal with the social issues and wealth inequality that now plague the country. Ambirajan continues his argument against globalisation, highlighting the environmental degradation in India and other developing countries, and its impact on the health of the populous. “By making even 'hazardous waste' a tradable commodity, poor countries are induced to accept it with grave consequences for their well being.” (Ambirajan 2000) In this state of modernity, capitalism and globalisation have been predominately a disadvantage for the third world. The developed economies have reaped most of the benefits from the FDIs with huge boots to their production sector as a result of cheap international labour. This unbalanced global society is as a direct result of modernity and its influence on the dominance of capitalism in modern society. Ambirajan continues his examination of modernity, linking the effects of capitalism on society to the causes of war. “Such churning in society creates enormous tensions that result in conflict.” (Ambirajan 2000) The havoc of war is a complex aspect of modernity, which rarely provides an individual or even a nation with an ‘advantage.’ As Chandan Sengupta asserts: “[It is the] certain global processes of modernisation such as the effects of global environmental degradation and nuclear war that have given rise to a 'risk society.’” (Sengupta 2001) Not only does war and its raw destructive power pose a great ‘disadvantage’ to the global society, it also reveals many disadvantages within the process of modernity. Indian journalist Arundhati Roy explores the socio-political side to war, and how the process of modernity is changing not only the way modern conflict is fought, but also the ever-increasing manipulation of free thought by politicians and congress. Roy uses the current ‘War Against Terror’ and examines the concept of terrorism in tandem with US politics in order to illustrate these ideas. Roy introduces the reader to the modernisation of war, by stating: “Here’s the rub: America is at war against people it doesn’t know, because they don’t appear much on TV.” (Roy 2001) This dehumanises the idea of war and categorises it as a means of political gain, and a social disadvantage. She goes even further to say that the American people are being told by the government who the enemy is, and why they are fighting them, calling it “two leaps of faith.” It is this ‘modern’ type of war that forces the public to really question the purpose of conflict and the behaviour of their government in this period of modernity/ post-modernity. Additionally, Roy examines the modern phenomenon of terrorism, comparing it to the modern evolution of capitalism, cleverly saying: “Terrorism has no country. It’s transnational…terrorists can pull up stakes and move their “factories” from country to country in search of a better deal.” (Roy 2001) The ‘modernisation’ of war and capitalism are very closely related, and Roy emphasises this theory with her thoughts of American foreign direct investment: “Any third world country with a fragile economy and a complex social base should know by now that to invite a superpower such as America in would be like inviting a brick to drop through you windscreen” (Roy 2001) The impact of war is as much, if not a greater, ‘disadvantage’ to individuals and nations, as capitalism is capable of being. Modernity has changed the reasoning and the ways in which conflicts are resolved, making war of a more ‘disadvantageous’ nature. Like globalisation, war wreaks havoc in the countries that take part in, or are victim to, the sources of conflict. However, due to the ever-growing global community as a result of modernity, nearly every nation and individual is unfortunately brought into war. Marxist writers Ziyi Feng and Lijun Xing strongly believe that:
“Capitalism is necessarily connected with modernity. Modernity developed in the capitalist society is not only a result and outward exhibition of capital logic, but is also a prerequisite and an inner mechanism of it.” (Xing 2006) Also, the development of war throughout the periods of modernity has seen an ever-increasing ‘disadvantage’ on a socio-political scale. Both capitalism and war are undeniable offspring of modernity, however neither provide an economic advantage that outweighs their social or political disadvantage. Modernity has influenced many aspects of the globe in a positive way, however its negative effects on capitalism and war are putting our global society at a disadvantage. Governments, firms and individuals globally should be rethinking the paths that these two aspects of life are taking, in order for the global society to be at an advantage as a result of modernity.


Ambirajan, S. (2000). "Globalisation, Media and Culture." Economic and Political Weekly 35(25): 2141-2147. Bilton, T. (2002). Introduction to Sociology. London, Palgrave Macmillan. Hanks, P. (1979). Collins Dictionary of the English Language. Collins English Dictionary. P. Hanks. Glasgow, Collins: 1690. Roy, A. (2001). The Algebra of Infinite Justice. Guardian UK. London, Guardian UK. Sengupta, C. (2001). "Conceptualising Globalisation: Issues and Implications." Economic and Political Weekly 36(33): 3137-3143. Taylor, C. (2001). "Two Theories of Modernity." The Hastings Center Report 25(2): 173-196. Thompson, G. (1999). "Introduction: Situating Globalisation." International Social Science Journal(160). Wood, E. M. (1997). "Modernity, postmodernity or capitalism? ." Review of International Political Economy 4(3): 539-560. Xing, Z. F. a. L. (2006). "A Contemporary Interpretation of Marx's Thoughts on Modernity." Frontiers of Philosophy in China 1(2): 254-268.

Similar Documents

Free Essay

Postmordenism Essay

...‘Society has now entered a postmodern age and we need new theories to understand it.’ Assess this view. Society has experienced important changes in recent times. Some sociologists argue that these changes are so reflective that they represent an important shift, from the modern society of the past two centuries, to a new, postmodern society from the era of modernity to the era of postmodernity. Other sociologists disagree and argue that although recent changes have been very significant, these are actually part of modernity itself. In addition to this, opinions are also divided on what theory we need to understand these changes in society. Some have adopted the perspective known as postmodernism to describe society today while others have adopted existing modernist theories such as Marxism. Most sociologists agree that modern society emerged during the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century in Western Europe. Before understanding whether our current society is modern or postmodern, it is important to define a modern society. Modern societies are nation states; they are a key political unit in a bounded territory ruled by a centralized state and the people usually share the same language and culture. Another aspect of modern societies is capitalism, based in private ownership of means of production, maintaining the conditions under which it operates. Lash and Urry describe this as `organized capitalism. Wealth distribution in modern societies is uneven and Fordist......

Words: 2155 - Pages: 9

Free Essay


...perspectives surrounding the state of our society today and the background for these perspectives, as well as highlighting their relevance to modern Britain. The postmodern world and postmodernity may be defined as a large, mainly cultural change from modernity which has seen a greater emphasis on pluralism and variety within the society (Macionis, 2011), we can relate such concepts to the likes of Bauman, Baudrillard and Lyotard who additionally place a large amount of importance on the size of such change and disruption (Stones, 2008). In contrast, a late modern world in relation to late modernity is defined as a society which has seen a rapid and almost uncontrollable growth of issues and institutional ideas pre-set and sustained within the philosophy of modernity, as well as the disappearance of boundaries which formally split such societies. (Macionis, 2011). With many features of modernity including technology and identity, as well as seemingly smaller issues such as anxiety, there is plenty to discuss in such a debate over postmodern and late modern worlds. As is clearly evident from the definitions above and as pointed out by Bauman, within Sociology and in the greater world there is no agreement on the existence of modernity and whether or not we live in a postmodern or late modern world in the UK today (Smith, 1999). Overall however it would seem that with specific evidence from and reference to the UK that we are...

Words: 2077 - Pages: 9

Free Essay

New Age Groups

...result people are turning to New Age groups to help them on a journey of self-spiritually rather than the metanarratives of traditional churches. There is also loss of faith in science due to problems caused by science and technology New Age groups can also be appealing because it is part of late modern society. In the modern era, as we have tried to become enlightened and New Age groups fit part of it also being modern and individualised. We are now trying to know ourselves, especially expressive professionals such as scientists and doctors who are interested in human potential. However, Bruce would argue that this can’t possibly be real religion because of its relaxation elements. Heelas also believes that New Age groups apply to modernity in serval ways. New Age groups give a source of identity because an individual may...

Words: 651 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay


...Modernity In the 18th century, the enlightenment began to take fruit in the world. In France, the people began to get upset and in the french revolution they took over their monarchy. Which later they gained an emperor named Napoleon Bonaparte. His thoughts were to conquer all Europe and to make it all Frenchify. In Great Britain, the Industrial Revolution began to take place and to affect in a beneficial way to all Europe and America. Modernity is a time period where the people believed in the secularization, being social and having the most modern things in the science area was the best of the best. The movie Metropolis directed Fritz Lang has a very big image in how modernity was represented. In the film, secularization was a big part. For example, this meant that it was a typical post-medieval and post-traditional and became a historical period. The Secularization of modernism is that religion was emancipated. In the movie religion was something difficult to talk about. The workers were making plans in order to see a woman, Maria, give basic lessons of the bible that was christianity. The workers or slaves seen her as a god because she gave them the hope they needed to keep having strength for their family and themselves. The owner of Metropolis, Joh Fredersen, wanted to keep everything under control which meant he didn't want the workers to feel any type of hope in being free. That meant he had to prohibit any type of religion and beliefs. In order to get rid of......

Words: 1448 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay


...Integrative View of Africa’s Chaos Basil Davidson’s The Black Man’s Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation-State denies the assertion that Africa is doomed to endless political and economic turmoil as a consequence of an inherit defect. It proposes instead, that the indigenous political systems, with checks and balances on power, existed long before European came to Africa. Davidson argues that contemporary Africans can draw on their own experience to develop a successful political system appropriate to Africa. Davidson blames many of the political chaos on the rate of change and the separation of political structures from the lives and needs of the population. He identifies the nation-state as a European colonial-legacy that is the cause of many of Africa’s problems. He points out that, even in Europe, it has not always worked well. According to Davidson, for the future of Africa to be bright, there needs to be more participatory political systems that recognize differences through decentralization. Davidson begins his discussion by explaining that historically, the educated African elite who sought self-governance were estranged from their own history. Many of them were "Recaptives" who had been enslaved, liberated by Europe and released in Sierra Leone or Liberia and in an effort to form a government, they adopted a European nation-state model. Alienated from Africa, they become the agents of "Christianity and Constitution." (Davidson, 27) Ironically, the colonizers...

Words: 873 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Consequences of Modernity!

...I: IntroductionIn what follows I shall develop an institutional analysis of modernity with cultural and epistemological overtones. In so doing, I differ substantially from most current discussions, in which these emphases are reversed. What is modernity? As a first approximation, let us simply say the following: "modernity" refers to modes of social life or organisation which emerged in Europe from about the seventeenth century onwards and which subsequently became more or less worldwide in their influence. This associates modernity with a time period and with an initial geographical location, but for the moment leaves its major characteristics safely stowed away in a black box. Today, in the late twentieth century, it is argued by many, we stand at the opening of a new era, to which the social sciences must respond and which is taking us beyond modernity itself. A dazzling variety of terms has been suggested to refer to this transition, a few of which refer positively to the emergence of a new type of social system (such as the "information society" or the "consumer society") but most of which suggest rather that a -- 2 -- preceding state of affairs is drawing to a close ("post-modernity," "post-modernism," "post-industrial society," "post-capitalism," and so forth). Some of the debates about these matters concentrate mainly upon institutional transformations, particularly those which propose that we are moving from a system based upon the manufacture of material goods to......

Words: 40503 - Pages: 163

Free Essay

Tadition and Modernity

...Tradition And Modernity In the instinctive mode of western scholars, I had once thought of Tradition and Modernity as individual chapters, each of them thinking about its topic as an entity to be understood in its respective essence and unity. But I have come to understand in perhaps an equally perennial move by western students of Indian culture that these two terms do not in themselves exist. But they do function, dialogically. They work in relation with each other. Modernity functions as an economic and social tool to achieve some wealth, flexibility, and innovation for individuals and groups; Tradition functions, partly and at times largely, as a mythological state which produces the sensation of larger connectedness and stability in the face of shockingly massive social change over the last half-century. One might also say that Modernity is an economic force with social, cultural, and political correlatives; Tradition is a cultural force with social, economic, and political correlatives. Satisfyingly asymmetrical in their relation, they require us, in talking of one, to talk also of the other, just as they induce us to move as nimbly as possible between theoretical abstraction and experiential reality. But their separation is itself part of the mythological drama in current Indian thought, just as their mutual implication is the import of the same ironic smile that brings to an effective close any conversation one hears here about them. And so we take them in turn......

Words: 21056 - Pages: 85

Premium Essay

Modernity of Japanese Women

...Both “Naomi” and “The neighbor’s wife and mine” are representative stories of westernization of Japanese culture. Naomi was written by Junichiro Tanizaki and published in newspaper in 1924. It demonstrates aestheticism and created the word naomism that represents the modern girl. The neighbor’s wife and mine is also a story that shows how Japanese people were longing to be like westerners. Both are stories of transition from classic Japanese culture to modern western style culture. I would like to describe how each story represents modernity and the difference of each women modernization. The neighbor’s wife and mine is the first sound effect movie in Japan. As we can see, the title is written in horizontal line instead of traditional vertical direction. The whole movie shows the influence of the western culture. First, in the beginning of the movie, the painter was drawing a western style house that was rare to see it at that time. He was inspired to the western style architecture and boast to Shibano, the main character, about how beautiful he drew it. Second, when Shibano goes to his neighbor house to claim the loud music, he realized that the house was totally western style, and he even did not know how to use the slippers. The interesting thing is that the music, Jazz, he supposed to feel disgust, was really amazing that he ended up dancing and singing with the people around. The music, Age of Speed, is also interesting because it implies the quick development of......

Words: 1179 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

American Art and Modernity

...Urban Modernity in NY (1908) and Ash Can artists General: The thrills of technology, such as coney island, city of wonders, also had the nitty gritty, more poverty and realistic side of the city with the ash can artists • Song Slide: nickelodeon o Diversity, adults children white black o Let the audience feel as a presence w/in performance o Act of watching was also entertainment • Coney Island at Night- film frame o Electricity changing what nighttime meant in urban setting • Before it was to be avoided and now it is not. Led to growth of nightlife • Footlight flirtation o Vaudeville established itself from burlesque/cheap entertainment • Create a form of entertainment that could be viewed by all, no vulgarity • Movies: five cents o Films mixed with live acts, broadened nighttime environment (attended by unescorted women, creating unsupervised encounters b/w men and women) • Started consumer culture- break down Victorian gender • Mixed audience represented experience of urban life (black/white, men/women)  Exciting, instability, city new visual experience • Lone Tenement (George Bellows) o Wanted to facec the ugly in city as well as beautiful o Worked against Whistler (avoided aesheticism) • Rawness of city, depicted vaudeville (which is like mixture of acts such as burlesque, comedians, music, etc) o Liked to show economic conditions of urban poor • Ash Can painting style: thick and messy, meant to look like it was applied slap-dash...

Words: 3722 - Pages: 15

Premium Essay

Girl's Generation and Modernity

...Throughout years, we had to follow social norms which dictated how people should behave based on gender. The members of the band Girl's Generation have to fit to one image (plastic surgery, no-boyfriend, or no-date rule), to look in a certain way and appear more attractive and desirable; to be more famous and please the society. It degrades women as they are being juged for their appearance rather than their talent. It also shows that the singers are examples for the young fans who will try to look like them and will think that they became successful thanks to their beauty. It can create a feeling of dissatisfaction and failure for some girls. Although the name of the band and their songs seem to consider female empowerment, their image is contradicting all of it. The members of Girl's Generation can be compared to Nora in Ibsen's “A Doll's House”. Nora has to behave and act in in a certain way to be the perfect woman and to be loved by Torvald. She obeys to rules and norms for her husband as the Girl's Generation for the audience. She is controlled by Torvald who refers to her by diminutive pet nicknames and considers her as his property. Both Nora and the band have to abide to certain duties in order to fit in the society. Women are ask to look in a certain way which is the result of the society telling us how to behave. The gender roles are still active today in the society and misogyny is still an...

Words: 264 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Educational Initiation Into Culture in Post Modernity

...American Studies BA 3rd year Course title: American Educational System Student name: Mircea Stănciucu Educational initiation into culture in post modernity A. Educational initiation into culture Initiation in culture and the acquisition of cultural tools are the most stringent requirements that school should meet now and always. Knowing to cultivate oneself, learning how to carefully use power to judge, to reason, to distinguish the false from the truth, good from evil, ugly from beauty, are qualities that have formed through schooling and this need increases itself as soon as it is stimulated. At some point, one does not even require guardianship regarding culturalization. Cultural plurality, once internalized, awakens and opens new possibilities. Thus, culture gives birth to culture. School should potentiate and develop in students the capacity for adaptability and understanding not only in terms of knowledge, but also that of true culture, knowing how to use what one knows to behave intelligently and lead a remorseless existence. Conditions of modern life require that every human has to learn every day; school is where learning starts and this learning that the child receives should provide what is necessary so that, in the future, self-improvement would be employed: education and teaching are thus an initiation, an opening. A series of acquisitions of cultural goods, by their presence, does not guarantee empowerment of individuals. A genuine culture is......

Words: 2069 - Pages: 9

Premium Essay

Feudalism to Modernity: Japan's Transition

...Question: What steps did Japan take to reform its system of feudalism to a more modern form of government? The 18th through 19th century was truly an imperialistic era orchestrated by military superiority by the West. In the interest of avoiding battles they undoubtedly would have lost, East Asian nations signed lopsided treaties that benefited the West. Not only did the treaties open East Asian ports for trade, a demand the West insisted on, but in some cases they included land cessions to the West. The Japanese, having witnessed the demise of the once great Qing Dynasty, were determined to avoid the same destructive folly in their homeland. Japan embarked on a thorough introspection and restructuring that resulted in a modern form of government. Japan was in a new era and they would soon become East Asia’s greatest power. The Shogunate unintentionally sparked the beginning of the restoration period in Japan when he reversed the nation’s long standing sakoku—closed door policy. Many of the samurai and nobles thought the Shogun was showing weakness when he conceded to America’s demands and signed an unequal treaty favoring the West. The first step towards reform began when Japanese troops seized the Imperial Palace and convinced the young Emperor that the Shogun must be overthrown in order to usher in a new imperial era of leadership in Japan. This led to the Boshin War which was a civil war led by imperial forces to uproot the Shogun and his supporters. The Shogun......

Words: 663 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Sociology - Modernity vs Postmodernity

...As Item A states’ there is a divide over views on the extent of family diversity these Sociological views on family diversity divided into two groups; the modernists and the post-modernists. The modernists include the functionalists, the new right, the neo-conventional family and the Rapoports: five types of family diversity. The functionalists and new right only see the conventional nuclear family as normal and all other family types as deviant, and Chester believes there has been one major change which is the neo-conventional family and finally the rapoports have identified five different types of diversity. The post-modernist include life course analyse, family practices and include sociologists such as Giddens, Beck, Stacey and Weeks. Postmodernism rejects the structural views of society and believe individuals have more choice in their relationships and family practices. The functionalist view on society as fixed and predictable structure. They see the nuclear family as the best family type and helping to maintain structure by preforming vital functions. Talcott Parsons believes there is a ‘functional fit’ with the nuclear family and society, and Parsons sees the nuclear family as suited to meeting modern societies needs for a geographically and socially mobile workforce. He also believes the nuclear family as preforming two ‘irreducible functions’ which are the primary socialisation of children and the stabilisation of adult personalities. As a result of this in the......

Words: 1297 - Pages: 6

Free Essay

Asian Modernities Exist in “the Development of Abstract Art”

...ASIAN CUBISM 1910 YŌGA late 1800s YŌGA late 1800s NIHONGA 1898 NIHONGA 1898 Word Count: 790 Word Count: 790 Xueyan (Jessica) Wu Professor Hong Kal FA/VISA 2340 02 March 2015 ASIAN MODERNITIES EXIST IN “THE DEVELOPMENT OF ABSTRACT ART” Asian modern art has been largely neglected by Western audiences; a simple reference to Rita Gilbert’s “Living with Art” timeline confirms this notion. As such, Alfred H. Barr, Jr. neglected to include Asian modern art in his seminal 1936 map, The Development of Abstract Art, and consequently, I have provided a revision. Barr’s depiction epitomizes a European-dictated arrangement of art history, which excludes all versions of modernity not part of ‘his’ visual. I question the legitimacy of this omission. Modernity is not a singular definition, not solely manifested in one structured European interpretation. It is not necessarily residing in one place, but migrating and shifting, following the social conditions and traditions which surround different geographical contexts. One may contend that Asian modernist art does not belong within Barr’s space or that it does not fit any prescribed definition of modern art. There are valid reasons for this belief; the most widespread insisting it is merely a ‘copy’ of European modernity, and therefore, already included within Barr’s interpretation. This is untrue on many levels. Tatehata Akira writes in Why Cubism, that “…we must admit that a large part of Asian cubism is......

Words: 973 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

A Shattered Visage: Modernity and Its Visual Role in Shelley's Ozymandias

...A Shattered Visage: Modernity and its visual role in Shelley's Ozymandias Barring some unforeseen individual circumstance, you can always count on your eyesight as one of your primary avenues of perception. This has always been the case for mankind, our gift of vision has allotted us the ability to reproduce images of the world around us in our own right. We can craft a version of the world entirely out of our minds. We have created billion dollar industries on the reproduction and sale of images and effectively monetized one of the most basic forms of perception. But what if vision, something we like to swear by in our media-saturated society, doesn't work the same ways at the same times? Does the experience of looking at the Mona Lisa in 1814 differ from looking at it in the year 2014? Did the Sistine Chapel mean something completely different to someone first seeing it as opposed to someone seeing it on some tour in the present day? The two pieces I chose to discuss deal with these questions a lot. Percy Bysshe Shelley's seminal sonnet “Ozymandias” deals with a traveler looking at the remains of a massive statue and empire hundreds, if not thousands of years later. Jonathan Crary's “Modernity and the Problem of the Observer” deals with how our modes of visual perception have changed drastically from the pre-industrial era into the digital age, where the infinite replication of images is the norm. In marrying commentary on both of these literary artifacts, I will......

Words: 1366 - Pages: 6