Saturday, 7 November 2015

Quote of the Day: On “the last afterglow of the most radiant cultural atmosphere in human history”

“As a child, I saw a glimpse of the pre-World War One world, the last afterglow of the most
radiant cultural atmosphere in human history … If one has glimpsed that kind of art—&
wider: the possibility of that kind of culture-one is unable to be satisfied with anything less.
I must emphasise that I am not speaking of concretes, nor of politics, nor of journalistic
trivia, but of that period's 'sense of life.'
    “Its art projected an overwhelming sense of intellectual freedom, of depth, i.e., concern
with fundamental problems, of demanding standards, of inexhaustible originality, of unlimited possibilities &, above all, of profound respect for man.
    “The existential atmosphere (which was then being destroyed by Europe's philosophical trends & political systems) still held a benevolence that would be incredible to the men
of today, i.e., a smiling, confident good will of man to man, & of man to life. …
    “It has been said and written by many commentators that the atmosphere of the Western
world before World War I is incommunicable to those who have not lived in that period…
    “It is [certainly] impossible for the young people of today to grasp the reality of man's
higher potential & what scale of achievement it had reached in a rational (or semi-rational) culture. But I have seen it. I know that it was real, that it existed, that it is possible…”
~ Ayn Rand, from her introduction to her book The Romantic Manifesto (quoted in my post ‘WWI: What we lost’)

NB: The quote and the video seem to belong together. It could portray anywhere in the pre-war western world; that it depicts mainly Berlin and Munich gives it added poignancy.
The video has been compiled, edited, cleaned and coloured by Paul Hardy Phoenix, aka The Time Guru, and has now enjoyed over half-a-million Facebook views. He writes of it:

Mainly Berlin and Munich in Germany although there may be other locations and slightly varying time 
zones… This is truly magical, moving film footage that I've cut and edited to my favourite piece of classical music in order to evoke positive happy, yet sad emotions.
    The original film which I gained the footage from is much darker and also shows lots of military segments. I wanted to edit this however to show the positivity and pride that these people carry with them in their everyday lives and all the splendour of that time era on a human level..
    Beautiful music and beautiful images presented in the right way can be incredibly emotive and powerful. All these forgotten souls are left rotting on old grainy dark film with ugly music thrown on and It's my belief that they deserve better.
    I've worked hard to convey that sense of splendour and make people see and feel that a sunny day then ...looked just like a sunny day today. They lived, loved, laughed and cried and were real people that did not live in darkness with grey sky and grainy mist as they appear to on old films.
The wonderfully emotive music is the soundtrack for 'Somewhere In Time' and was actually written by Film Composer John Barry and not to be confused with 'The Eighteenth Variation of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini' which also runs throughout the film.
Savour this as you watch it. All these people whose lives were just as important to them in their time era as we think ours our now.
I noticed how happy they seem to be going about their business and I tried to study different characters.... who were they? what was their story?
Watch the woman adjusting her hat for example at the end of the film. She seems very concerned about her image as she proudly sports the latest fashion..and see how happy the kids are playing in the street,
The more you study these people the more it will fascinate you. Their lives are less complicated than ours in terms of technology but you can clearly see the overwhelming community spirit here without video games, TV or computers.
Somewhere in time, all gone forever..all just ghosts....yet frozen here for you to glance upon as if through some magical time machine window.
The Time Guru
[Hat tip Abiodun Olaku]


  1. Until August 1914 a sensible, law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the state, beyond the post office and the policeman. He could live where he liked and as he liked. He had no official number or identity card. He could travel abroad or leave his country for ever without a passport or any sort of official permission. He could exchange his money for any other currency without restriction or limit. He could buy goods from any country in the world on the same terms as he bought goods at home. For that matter, a foreigner could spend his life in this country without permit and without informing the police.

    All this was changed by the impact of the Great War. The mass of the people became, for the first time, active citizens. Their lives were shaped by orders from above; they were required to serve the state instead of pursuing exclusively their own affairs.

    The Effects and Origins of the Great War

    A. J. P. Taylor

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  3. Great post - I watched it through several times, and with the music, I can really see what Rand was communicating. So terribly sad considering the events which were to follow. They would have seemed impossibilities I'm sure to the men and women and children in this video.


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