Characteristics of Modern Condition


What can I say about the modern society? It reminds me of iron – it is very hard to mould and the process is very slow. Our society is very conservative. It resists any change, any innovation. And one is considered criminal if one tries to go against tradition, against customs, against morality. As Nietzsche said: “To be evil is “not to act in accordance with custom”, to practice things not sanctioned by custom, to resist tradition, however rational or stupid that tradition may be…” But no matter how slow or how difficult is to alter the principles that rule over our lives, it is still a constant process. I will refer again to the great German philosopher and his idea that “There is a continual moiling and toiling going on in morality – the effect of successful crimes (among which, for example, are included all innovations in moral thinking).” One can easily notice the distinction between the moralities of different ages and different generations. And together with the society all its diverse characteristics are changing. Because society, undoubtedly, has many various traits. And through the years some of them fade away, others are born to replace the previous, and still others are just changing until no resemblance can be found to the original. And who can say if we become better or worse? Not me, at least, and I have no intention to try. But I know one thing for sure. I know that there is one characteristic, one vital for our species characteristic, which is losing ground in our world of machines and technological progress. And this is what I want to talk about in the following lines. I want to express my concern about the little attention that we are paying to it and to prove that this is not doing us any good.


This trait, that I’m so engaged with, is the human imagination. I think that this is the most important feature of our so highly praised “humanity”. I think that this is what really makes us different from the other animals. Not our intelligence or our feelings, which have been proved to exist to some extent in our close relatives – the primates. But the imagination, which, as far as I know, is the single solely human characteristic. This is what directs our intelligence and our feelings; what shapes our view of the surrounding world and our perception. And by virtue of this one trait we are the most powerful, the ruling species on the planet Earth. Because, even though, as Nietzsche said, we are led by our desires and our necessities, our imagination is what makes us different, unique. Because, even though many of us share the same desire, the same necessity, there are no two men alike. And only thanks to this feature none of us have the same attitude towards life, the same dreams, the same goals.


But you will ask what troubles me about this wonderful, this magnificent characteristic of ours. We’ve been into possession of it for so long that we’ve stopped paying attention to its existence. We are taking this trait for granted, as if it is something inseparable from our mind, as if it is eternally ours. But is it really? Well, now you suppose that I’ll tell you the answer but it is not in my ability to say. I only know that I can see it fading away, slowly but surely. I can see that in every after generation it is less and less developed. The books, which are the best stimulators of our imagination, are being replaced by the television and the video games, which “show” you different things instead of making you “imagine” them as books do. Of course, by “showing” they can make you think about the things you’ve seen but they also prevent you from interpreting the message in a way different from the intended by their makers. But the case is not the same with the books. They leave vast space for your imagination to act and interpret the things being described in your own unique way. The author cannot control the fluctuations of your imagination and therefore cannot control the way in which you see the story,