Do the interests, concerns and experiences of writers in the 20th century assist the 21st-century human beings in their understanding of the purpose of existence?
It can be fairly easy for one to agree or disagree with writers in general. Each person is unique and that exclusive beings thoughts and feelings are different to the next. One idea topic that always ends up being A-line is the question of one’s existence. The way individuals perceive this motion can be expressed through physical, mental or emotional circumstances. However, there is something incredibly special about 20th Century writers and their pieces that grasp a 21st Century human beings attention and educates them about the purpose of existence.
The purpose of existence is questioned in Wilfred Owen’s poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth”. The focus in this poem is the aftermath of letting the ‘Youth’ participate in war when they are destined for fatality. Owen points out the dehumanisation of soldiers as they are treated as cattle, valid objects of dying. Owen pinpoints the exact moment the “rifle’ rapid rattle” forcing the readers to feel the depth of emotional pain which is the deafening sound of death. Readers can comprehend a story such as this one as it shows a genuine side of war that wasn’t authorised to be publicised back then and the increased worth human beings received now compared to older times.
Visual texts are one form of work, which appeals to the 21st-century human being. The “Three Bathers” painted by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner envision the scarce times in the 20th Century, which also was war. For some reason, I had a unique interpretation. I knew the back-story but something about the three, afraid, naked women spoke to me. The woman who is in the back is larger and seems more scared than the rest compared to the woman at the front. The weight scale difference I believe is due to the strong and the weak. Women today can relate to this same concept because this idea has grown into the 21st Century.
A writer who I believe has turned the English language on its head is George Orwell. His essay “Politics in the English Language” corrects in his opinion, what is being shown as the wrong way literature is being produced. It provokes writers of the present and past day and is still a timely piece for students of language. The “staleness of imagery” and “lack of precision” is his main advice that he brings to this essay. He deems that writers should be unique and not a carbon copy of what has been done before. Which is something 21st-century writers should take into consideration?
My favourite piece to read, listen to and connect with was Marlene Nourbese Philip poetic spin in “Discourse on the Logic of Language”. Her unique spin on language, adding 5 different typographic styles engages the audience in such ways of tone, structure and design when the words and horizontal, vertical and even in tiny paragraphs. Philip’s is determined to portray that language has become a “foreign anguish”. Many tongues speak many languages but English is her own foreign anguish. For many 21st writers, a difficulty may be language, race or nation that they are trying to connect with.
All in All, 20th Century writers have an immense impact on beings in the 21st Century through their own ideas. With just a few of the writers I became interested in such as Wilfred Owen, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, George Orwell and Marlene Nourbese Philip all envisage that the experiences in the 20th Century can be understood by 21st Century human beings.
“Anthem for Doomed Youth” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/47393
“Three Bathers” http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/158.1984/
“Politics in the English Language” The Norton Anthology of English Literature: 20th Century (Beginning on Page 2610)
“Discourse on the Logic of Language” Youtube Video. Start: 1:08 https://youtu.be/424yF9eqBsE