"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen." --Albert Einstein
Modernism has a lot of ties to our world today. From the definition, modernism includes a "sense of cultural crisis which [is] both exciting and disquieting." Important general features are the loss of a sense of tradition and the increasing dominance of technology (which is both condemned vehemently and embraced as the flagship of progress).
A key element of modernism is the break with the past. Albert Einstein's general and special theories of relativity are a beautiful example of this. Here's an explanation of relativity from Jake's blog.
You've heard of E=mc^2. Did you ever understand it? Probably not, but you memorized the equation. I took physical science 100 last year and learned for the first time what it means that E=mc^2. It rocked my world--in the simple way that I understand it, Energy = mass x the speed of light squared means that enough energy can actually turn into mass. That's right! It creates mass! Doesn't that fly in the face of that rule that matter can neither be created nor destroyed? Well, yes! That's why science people now have a rule that energy and mass are conserved together.
(P.S. I highly recommend physical science 100)
Einstein's theories took some time to become mainstream in the world of science. Why? Well, because they didn't jive with common sense! (Remember those prejudices?) Einstein is a figure in modernism because he broke from the past; his work didn't follow the work of every scientist who'd gone before him.
We're living in a time that challenges common sense traditions just like Einstein challenged the law of mass conservation. My digital civilization class is a case study of this--we don't have a single assigned textbook but we are required to read blogs like mad. Really? Is reading my classmate's thoughts superior to reading a textbook? How could someone listen to music on YouTube without being willing to buy it on iTunes? How could I Skype someone in India without paying some sort of fee? It is good to leave the past (which included typewriters and excluded word processors) behind, but we still feel the effect of breaking with tradition.
This is ironic that I'm writing this way since one of my arguments in my ORCA application is that digital literacy preserves culture. I think the Tibetans in India believe in this, too, or they wouldn't raise their children as they are. So, which is it? Is our digital literacy preserving our traditions or breaking from them?
Photo credit д§mд