A curious reflection took place in my mind earlier this evening. As I was watching a video about the ancient Greek and Roman arts a terrifying and threatening thought came to mind. Let me try to capture the sequence of this reasoning. The Greeks attained such perfection in sculpture perhaps unequaled in subsequent times. They idealized the world of man and conceived a universe of harmony, balance and beauty. They portrayed the human body in all its subtleties and achieved an uncanny realism in the reproduction of the human form in three-dimensional space. Yet in all their glory they also acknowledged the frailty of men. Even their gods are seen as creatures that battle with an ongoing conflict within themselves. Their sculptures often present the contradictory impulses of the rational and irrational in men and women. They urge us to restrain our insatiable whims with the bridle of Reason.
The Greeks are remembered and identified by such ideas. I was left wondering what ideas would identify our age. What monuments have we created that, if they were to survive the caprices of Time, would speak for a set of ideas that were born out of the last few generations. I speak of the themes of despair, existential anguish, cynicism, and the awareness of transience. Since the times of the World Wars artists, writers and thinkers left a bitter flavor in their creations; our collective self-esteem has not fully recovered from the blows of those violent times – in fact we still live in such times. Perhaps human history has and will always be a story of wars and catastrophes. We also recognize a turbulent loneliness and alienation inseparable to the world of globalization and capitalism. Our advanced technology enables us to become fully aware of our brutality and all these modern themes become unavoidable to any spectator of the world. Do we have any monument that will reveal this to posterity, as the Pantheon makes us recall of the Roman adoration for absolute perfection in the Heavens?
That’s to be answered by those that shall come. But at this point a startling and dreadful possibility interrupted my meditations. Even if our age has turned slightly pessimistic and lives in a perpetual state of convalescence, has it yet considered the possibility that it will not survive? Didn’t the Roman Empire with all its grandeur and power fall to ashes and now lies in ruins? Why are we to suppose that our current liberalistic society will prosper to the end of time and not come to a disastrous finale?
This possibility seemed very real. Our current ideals of materialistic prosperity might not be the most wholesome and can one day, in times of desperation and lack of resources, claim the whole world as its prey and our world: only another rotten carcass of a deceased civilization.
Let the millennia tell the truth…