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Hannes Meyer, "The New World" (1926)

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The New World

The North Pole voyage of the Norge, the Zeiss Planetarium in Jena, and [Anton] Flettner’s propeller ship are the most recent heralds of the step-by-step mechanization of our planet. As fruits of conceptual precision of the highest degree, they offer visible proof of the ongoing permeation of the world around us by science. Thus does the diagram of the present everywhere display, amid the tangled web of its social and economic force fields, the straight lines of mechanical and scientific provenance. They offer palpable proof of the victory of human consciousness over amorphous nature. This knowledge shakes the foundations of existing values and alters their form. It decisively shapes our new world.

Automobiles storm the streets: in the evenings from six to eight o’clock on the pedestrian island of the Champs Élysées in Paris, we are surrounded by the grandest possible fortissimo of the metropolitan dynamic. Ford and Rolls-Royce burst the confines of the city center, nullify distance, and efface the boundaries between city and countryside. Airplanes glide through the air: “Fokker” and “Farman” increase our mobility and distance us from earth; disrespectful of national borders, they overcome the separation between one people and another. Neon lights glow, loudspeakers screech, sirens scream, billboards advertise, display windows shine: the simultaneity of events expands our concepts of time and space out of all proportion; it enriches our lives. We live faster and therefore longer. Our sense of speed is sharper than ever, with speed records signifying indirect winnings for all. Glider flights, parachute experiments, and Vaudevillian acrobatics refine our sense of balance. The precise division of hours in the plant and at the office and the minute-by-minute regulation of travel schedules impel us to live more consciously. With the swimming pool, sanitarium, and public lavatory, hygiene bursts onto the local scene, creating a new generation of sanitary pottery in water closets and Faenza sinks and tubs. Fordson tractors and Von Meyenburg rotary hoes displace residential settlements, accelerate the tilling of the soil, and intensify the cultivation of the fields. Burrough’s calculating machine frees the brain, the parlograph, our hands; Ford’s motor unsettles our sense of the stationary and Handley-Page liberates our earthbound spirit. The radio, Marconigram, and telephoto release us from national differentiation into the community of the world. Gramophone, microphone, orchestrion, and pianola accustom our ear to the sound of impersonal, mechanized rhythms: His Master’s Voice, Vox, and Brunswick regulate the musical needs of millions of our countrymen. Psychoanalysis explodes the all-too-narrow edifice of the soul, and graphology exposes the essence of individual being. Mazdaznan, [Émile] Coué, Die Schönheit are heralds of the will for renovation breaking out everywhere. Dress gives way to fashion and the outer masculinization of woman manifests the inner equality of the sexes. Biology, psychoanalysis, relativity theory, and entomology are becoming the common intellectual property of all: [Anatole] France, Einstein, Freud, and [Alfred] Fabre are the saints of recent times. Our dwellings become more mobile than ever: mass apartment blocks, sleeping cars, residential yachts, and the Transatlantique undermine the local concept of the homeland. The fatherland fades away. We learn Esperanto. We become citizens of the world.

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