The modernist project of redemption in charisma has been unable to melt frozen melancholy, not for lack of ardor, but for the apparent solidity of real conditions that have overpowered the overestimated strength of literature. Modernism has recognized those conditions, however, and has articulated their critique, and therein lies its continued relevance and the prematurity of a postmodernist quietism that bears the marks of the neoconservative era in which it has arisen. [...] Yet the question of modernism is ultimately not purely formal; it is a question of translating aesthetic innovation into strategies of societal emancipation, and until that project is achieved, modernism and its charismatic promises remain the order of the day.There's a necessarily large corpus of jargon in this, the concluding remarks of Berman's monograph. Much as I pretend not to write in a didactic tone, let me parse it, quickly: Modernism as a literary trend in Germany at the turn of the century was defining itself against institutions. Everything was Hegelian, thesis and antithesis, sets and series of oppositions and antinomies. One "third way" out was through charisma, the "grace-giving spirit of community." Modernist writing, therefore, was just as much for providing social commentary as it was against the idealist institutions (of literature and of society) that proceeded it.
-from Russell Berman's The Rise of the Modern German Novel: Crisis and Charisma
Enough explicit exposition. I'll comment only obliquely, then, on the reason why I'm quoting my schoolwork on my blog, instead of in the historiographic paper I'm meant to be writing right now. The modernist project of redemption in charisma has been unable to melt frozen melancholy....a question of translating aesthetic innovation into strategies of societal emancipation.
I'm answering a question I hardly realized I was posing, even though I specifically postulated it earlier.
Frozen Icarus ain't going nowhere.