Experimentation And Ipseity In The Modern World As Depicted In Ulysses

Modernism was an era that emerged at the dawn of the 20th century. It lasted for approximately 65 years. Modernism was born out of cultural shocks like World War I. While the war was intended as the end of all wars and would not have any effect on other wars, it shocked people who couldn’t comprehend how such an event could be happening and the dire consequences for humanity. Within one generation, World War II erupted and the Western civilization’s morale was shaken. Discontentment led new ways of thinking and writing. Modernism emerged as a way to deal with the emotional, mental, or physical upheaval.

Modernism was created as a protest to the rule of traditional custom. Modernism was a protest against the rule of established custom. It condemned “instrumental reason and marketplace culture.” It also provided a way for people to deal with the unanticipated emotions caused by cultural shocks. It was a way for people to identify themselves in the face of inconceivable change and unbearable instability. Modernism was a determined attempt to create a place that allowed for individuality and creativity in a homogenous and bourgeois world. Armstrong 15). Modernism’s spirit is often compared to cultural despair. This view sees an individual trapped in a “world that allows for inner freedom.” Such ideas show modernists’ desire to leave behind the past and reject outdated traditions. Individualism was valued more than anything else, making experimentation a desirable trait. Ironically, Modernism’s core theme of experimentation and individualism is what makes it cohesive amongst authors and artists. Modernism is not something writers just do. They deliberately chose to embrace it. They all shared the desire to question traditional art forms and create new ones. Waldo Pierce was an artist, Gertrude Stein was in literature, Isadora Durand in dance and Frank Lloyd Wright was an architect. He writes, for example, Ulysses by James Joyce: “A soft feeling of regret, flowed down the backbone of his body, increasing.” Will it happen? Prevent. Useless: can’t move. A girl’s light, sweet lips. It will happen. The flowing qualm swept over him. It was pointless to move. Lips kissed, kissing kissed. The woman’s lips were sealed tight as if glued together. (Joyce 65). In the sensual experience, hesitancy or the desire to kiss a girl, we can see a focus on the inner and conscious self. This book is a stream of consciousness, which lends itself well to Modernism as a literary style. But it will also change the nature of novelwriting for generations to follow. The novel’s ambiguous direction allows for enough confusion to make the reader question the very basics of the story. Therefore, the emphasis on form and structure is less important than an actual exploration of the inner-workings and human consciousness.

Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot is another example of a plot flaw and departure from the traditional narrative format. This rebellion against the traditional standards is a sign of modernist’s general omission from the past and sets forth a new path for absurdism surrealism, existentialism, and even surrealism. Lucky opens a lengthy, almost endless monologue. The Modernists’ first impulse to create is the same one that spurred it all: the lack and absurdity of the world. Modernism relied almost entirely on the destruction of nature and increased isolation of its creators to create the literature it produced, as opposed to the Romantic era’s almost religious-like reverence of nature. Modern society’s sterility actually encouraged the creation of new and innovative forms of literature and art.

The West was in turmoil after a series if cultural travesties. The Modernism era emerged to offer strength, resilience, reflection, and unique expression. The desire to find new ways of communicating literary ideas was reflected in the creation of new literary forms. In place of the modern machinery, creativity was favored. The mind turned inwards and tried to express the language that it knew. They didn’t embellish their work by using elaborate words or perfect artistic forms. Instead, they challenged the established and sought to awaken the inner genius and consciousness within each person. Creative vision also emerged from coping with grief and loss. Modernists realized that truth is relative and that knowledge can be obtained. This gave them the opportunity to express themselves freely, while also being aware of the fragility and limitations of modern-day systems that support their existence.


  • tobyevans

    Toby Evans is an educational blogger and school teacher who uses her blog to share her ideas and experiences with her students and fellow educators. She is passionate about helping her students learn and grow, and uses her blog as a way to share her knowledge and insights with the world.