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MODERNITY AND CULTURE

Ömer TAN

Ömer TAN

Culture is like a bridge between old generation and new generation. Through culture, physical and moral values can exist among with generation such as beliefs, traditions, protecting the motherland, customs, art, some political and economical ideas and so on. Human culture varies around the world, every community has their own values which are so important for them. For example: we have different kind of cultures, customs, traditions and excellent history. Our duty is to keep our culture alive, customs, traditions and to explain our history to the next generation to enable them to understand value of their culture. Hereby, next generation can adhere their country and work to enrich Turkey.

On the other hand, human beings have always tried to renew themselves through history. People have become more knowledgeable, cultured, skilled, educated. In other words, people want to enhance themselves from different perspectives and we call it ‘modern’. “The term ‘modern’ has a long history one which has been investigated by Hans Robert Jauss. The word ‘modern’ in its Latin form ‘modernus’ was used for the first time in the late 5th. century in order to distinguish present” (Jauss, qtd in Habermas, 1983, p: 3). Habermas thinks “with varying content the term modern again and express the consciousness of an epoch that relates itself to the past of antiquity in order to view itself as the result of a transition from old the new” (Habermas, 1983, p: 3). “For historians (but not art historians) the term modern period actually begins with the Renaissance” (Witcombe, 1997, p:1).

We can say that we live in modern time or 12th century people think that we are modern. It is a relative notion so, nobody claims that modern time starts with this time and end up with this time. Besides good things of modernity, sometimes causes to negation of culture. It creates a gap between intellectual and common people or causes to some different ideas between people or causes to clashing of ideas about faiths, values, beliefs, economics and politics. Therefore, the gap starts to enlarge relationship between people. Our society becomes two different societies. When we deeply look at this problem, especially this situation affects art and beliefs, which creates negation of culture. Art for art’s sake and art for society’s sake or conservatism and neo-conservatism are the two significant causes of the negation of culture.

The negation of culture creates differences in beliefs, separate people who support conservatism and who support neo-conservatism. “Conservatives who believe in the importance of a balance between freedom and responsibility. While for limited government, this group does not denigrate or dismiss the importance of government and other institutions like religion, military (Segal, 1998, p: 3)”. Conservative people are who believe in change, are very strict about their ideas and do not believe progress is possible with change, and think that people should protect their culture, because cultural values are so significant for them, especially family values are essential for them since societies consist of families. If family system deteriorates, culture would be damaged. They also think that government should be limited, society can judge what government does or whether they are enough for society. Actually their main point is that conservatives do not want modernity, as reforms create chaos among people. Edmund Burke, supporter of conservatism, is too strongly against France Revolution. He writes a book which is “Reflection on the Revolution in France (1790)” helped conservatism gain prominence. He says “I saw violent and chaotic” (Wikipedia.com) and he writes “a state without the means of change is without the means of its conservation” (Burke, 1983, p: 29). He clarifies that if changing is unnecessarily why we protect it. Furthermore, in the Middle Ages, church rules were harsh and nobody could not querry about church system or cannot charge priests. Rules are too conservative, pope forbidden every new things and priests commented the religion for their benefits. Due to them, people started to become distant from church. Thereupon, conservatism creates space between church and people because of their ideas. In basically conservatives think that every person are not equal innate. Some people should manage and some people should work for them. That’s why, French and American revolutions happened. Conservative trend are not close to society.

On the other hand, World War II emerged new concept which is ‘neo-conservatism’. Meaning of neo-conservatism “in nineteenth- century liberalism, this group values freedom as the core value- far more than responsibility to each other or to the common good” (Segal, 1998, p: 3). This notion is opposite of conservatism. Neo-conservatism people think that government should be more free especially, in economic, should be free market between countries, and economic rules should be flexible, so we call them ‘liberal and capitalist’. “In economics, unlike traditional conservative, neo-conservatives are generally comfortable with a welfare state; and, while rhetorically supportive of free markets, they are willing to interfere for overriding social purposes” (Tanner, 2007, p: 33-34). Beside economy; social life, political life, thought, relationships between people should be free and their motto is ‘permissive’. Moreover, every single person has human rights inherently and all people are equal to each other. Unlike conservatism, neo-conservatives think that modernization is very important. They are open to other ideas and think that progress is very easy with combination of different ideas and their aim is that human being is not bound up with traditions. People do not think always of past, people should foresee and think of future life. Hence, people must be sophisticated, skilled, schooled, cultured. Their target is that educate all people the same level to prevent the gap between intellectual and public. Therefore, neo-conservatism trend is more close to society.

As mentioned above, there are differences between conservatism and neo-conservatism, basically concept of society is so different from each other. We can see the conflict in art. Art is for art’s sake and art is for society’s sake? Art is for art’s sake is “is the usual French rendition of a French, from the early 19th. Century, “l’art pour l’art”, and express a philosophy that the intrinsic value of art, and the only “truth” art, is divorced from any didactic, moral or utilitarian function” (Britannica.com). Supporter of art is for art’s sake, they think that art just fascinated by oneself. Art has just one aim which is ‘art’. Art should not have tendency to anything except from art, art does not care individual or society’s utility, merely creates beauty. If artists take into consideration society’s expectations, they cannot be free within their ideas. They compose their art what society want, how they react. These event causes to distant from originality. Supporter of art is for art’s sake. Edgar Allan Poe says:

We have taken it into our heads that to write a poem simply for poem’s sake and to acknowledge such to have been our design, would be to confess ourselves radically wanting in the true poetic dignity and force: but the simple fact is that would be but permit ourselves to look into our own souls we should immediately there discover that under the sum there neither exists nor can exist any work more thoroughly dignified, more supremely noble, than this is very poem, this poem per se, this poem which is a poem and nothing more, this poem written solely for the poem’s sake. (Thompson qtd. in Poe, 1984, p: 75)

We can comprehend that art should be as what artists fell in their soul. They should reflect what they are feeling, but these kinds of artists do not know what society think about art. And can not show us what people’s emotion. In this trend, intellectual and public relationship are disconnected. They are alienation from public.

In contrast, art is for society’s sake as you can understand from the name is for public. It means “The term community art refers also to field of community, neighborhood and public art practice with roots in social justice and popular and informal education methods. In the art world, community art signifies a particular art making practice, emphasizing community involvement and collaboration.” (wikipedia.com) Supporters of this idea think that art and artists are created by society. If there was no society, there would not be art. Moreover artist is a member of society, so artists produce art for society. In the world, everything is for society, thus if art becomes beneficial it becomes valuable. If artists do not reflect society in their arts, there is no value. How we can not say science is for science’s sake and also we cannot use this terminology for art is for art’s sake. Artists should watch society and should know both bad sides and good sides of society, so artists can criticize public’s missing parts or right parts in his or her work. Their duty is showing people their society. In this trend, intellectuals, artists, common people, societies close to each other. There is no big gap between intellectual and people as much as art is for art’s sake supporter.

Over history, every community’s culture has been changing. Cultures integrated with each other. Nobody ignores it. With the help of the technology, every age people are closing to each other. They start to be aware of what is going on around their world and all over the world. All culture start to interaction between each other. Hence, every culture can not be pure, All of them are affected from each other. That’s why, it creates some differences in one culture. Before and later generation’s concept of culture can be difficult. This event causes to some issues such as economic, politics, beliefs and so on. Beside this, being knowledgeable creates new thought ideas such as conservatism, neo-conservatism or art is for art’s sake, art of community. People start to clash each other and try to insist their ideas on other people to become more powerful and more spread, and have some supporters or opponents. This situation causes to problem in one society. All mentioned above, we can understand that in society whether intellectual and common people become together or negation of culture between society is in process.

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Ömer Faruk TAN

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Bibliography
Burke, Edmurd (1989). “Reflection on the revolution in France”. USA: Doubleday
Conservatism. In Wikipedia. Retrieved March 22, 2010, from Wikipedia online: en. Wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservatism
Habermas, Jürgen, (1983). “Modernity-an incomplete project”. “In the Anti Aesthetic” (p: 3-15).USA: Bay Press.
Segal, Hugh (1998). “A Traditional conservative confronts neoconservative excess”. USA: Stoddart Publishing Co. Limited.
Tanner, Michael (2007) “Leviathan on the Right- How big government conservatism brought down the republican revolution”. USA: Cato Institute.
Thompson G.R (1984). “Edgar Allan Poe: Essay and reviews”. “The Poetic Principle” New York: Library of America (p: 71-94).
What is art for art’s sake? (2010). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved March 22, 2010, from Encylopedia Britannica Online:
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/art is for art’s sake.
What is the art of community, (2010). In Wikipedia. Retrieved March 22, 2010, from Wikipedia Online: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Communities –art.
Witcombe, Christopher L.C.E (1997). “Roots of modernism”. In what is art? What is an art? (p: 1-10).

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