Marshall Berman/Defender of Modernism


Marshall Berman, professor, philosopher, author and defender of Modernism
Born 1940-He died September 11, 2013 in a diner in NYC.

I have only become aware of Marshall Berman this week. I wish I could say that I’ve read everything he’s written and did scholarly work about him and his ideas. I haven’t. I did however hear this quote about Modernism on NPRs “On The Media” program Sunday afternoon. I particularly like the line about “To be a modernist is to make oneself somehow at home in the maelstrom, to make its rhythms one’s own…” I know that I fight the world sometimes/often. Too loud. Too messy. Too cruel. However, to think about being a part of it and to make my own rhythm within seems like something to keep in mind. This is especially true when I get long stretches alone in my studio. To be modern in art is a great challenge…but finding one’s own rhythm—well, that opens some possibilities. This is what I worked on yesterday. A leather piece based on a quick sketch I do with an empty road heading into the great wide open.

Lillibridge, Dakota 1966, leather, 100 miles of two lane

Marshall Berman
“…To be modern, I said, is to experience personal and social life as a maelstrom, to find one’s world and oneself in perpetual disintegration and renewal, trouble and anguish, ambiguity and contradiction: to be part of a universe in which all that is solid melts into air. To be a modernist is to make oneself somehow at home in the maelstrom, to make its rhythms one’s own,…”

“Some people say they’re worried that a life without dread will lose its savor. I tell my students and people I know not to worry. If they just scrutinize their lives, they will find grounds for more than enough dread to keep them awake. While they’re up, they should seize the day and take a midnight walk.”

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