Looking forward to the past

MODERNISM: Have we really moved forward? Photo credit: Shutterstock

I ONCE thought that changing fashion was uncontrollable and came with the human condition. Only later in life did it occur to me that fashion changes not because people change; fashion changes because people change fashion.

Who these people are and what their agenda is remains a matter of speculation.  I do know that change isn’t always for the better; that all too often the baby is thrown out with the bathwater.

Put your mouse to one side and reflect that the greatest and most enduring music was composed over 200 years ago. Turn off the television and consider that there isn’t an artist today who could hope to match the great painters of yesterday.

Before we marvel at computer generated Lego buildings wander around Europe’s historic palaces, buildings and cathedrals. Now, take a look at recently built prefabricated buildings and churches – if after 50 years they are still standing.

There is nothing today that remotely compares with the genius of yesterday. I can only imagine the despair of yesterday’s pioneers. Without any of the aids we find essential today they made advances in medicine, hygiene and civil engineering that continue to benefit mankind and will continue to do so for as long as man walks the earth.

Where are the literature, the music, and the poetry that causes one to reach for one’s handkerchief? Yesterday’s simple advertisements for Guinness, cars, travel and washing powder were far more inspiring and enduring than anything created by today’s advertising agencies. I recall with affection Murray Mints, Blue Shield Stamps, Go to Work on an Egg, Guinness Toucan, Persil and Pepsodent advertisements.

During a hospital visit the light-hearted staff weren’t listening to contemporary ‘music’ but were delighting in the music of the 1960s.

My parents, who were schooled over 100 years ago, were far better educated in the three Rs; music, literature, geography, history and human achievement, than today’s generation dabbing away at their dumb phones.

There are still benefits experienced by those of us who are getting on in years. One blessing is that we can look forward to looking backwards and you can’t put a price on nostalgia.

I feel sorry for today’s generation. When they too are less agile and their lives are mostly spent in the slow lane how will they recall their past? Will they feel that they have been short-changed by life? I don’t.

It occurs to me that future generations, if there are any, will gaze anew at the past and then mournfully look at the broken smartphone at their feet.