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Posts Tagged ‘decadence’

One of the many interesting questions raised in yesterday’s final session of the series of workshops I’ve organised to explore ‘The Politics of Decadence’ was this: would you describe the current UK government as decadent, and why (not)? Corrupt, undoubtedly, among many other things; but, while decadence always involves corruption, it’s fair to say that not all corruption is a sign of decadence (h/t Shushma Malik, one of the loyal workshop participants, and her work with the Potsdam-Roehampton project on corruption in antiquity). The best questions get to the heart of a range of issues and open up the problems inherent in a concept or approach; while ostensibly light-hearted and trivial, this is one of those questions… (more…)

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Across the Barricades

Obviously one always hopes one’s work will be read by people working on relevant topics in other disciplines – not just because of wanting to have as big an audience as possible, but with a quiet sense that perhaps extra-disciplinary readings will be somehow purer and more objective, rather than conditioned by prior knowledge and expectations. (And, for some of us, a vaguely optimistic “a prophet is not without honour…” hope that surely sooner or later someone will get what we’re trying to do). It’s fair to say, I think, that we do anticipate particular secondary audiences, and so there is always the possibility of being taken completely by surprise that someone else has actually come across our work, and apparently liked it. (more…)

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If ever there was a figure to be taken seriously but not literally, it’s Oswald Spengler. The catty remark of A.L. Rowse, that “because the Germans were defeated, Western civilisation is to be regarded as coming to an end”, is unfair but not completely untrue. There’s a lot more to Spengler’s ideas than that characterisation (not least because much of his framework of thought predated WWI), but they are pervaded with the masochistic joys of apocalyptic expectation, and a sense of superiority over everyone else who hasn’t yet realised that they’re living in decadent and pathetic times. Spengler represents a fascinating offshoot of C19 critiques of modernity, throwing biological analogies and the second law of thermodynamics into the mix as explanations and justifications of feelings of Weltschmerz and cultural malaise. (more…)

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