May 1914

Writing in the May, 1914 issue of The World’s Work,  David Starr Jordan set out to explain to Americans what Europeans thought of them, and why. He quoted an unnamed German:

“We have an old tradition that ‘Germany is the land of the thinkers and the poets.’ We have in Germany everything well-ordered. The military training of the people gives them order and organization.  We have, therefore, fewer criminals, fewer accidents, no “American bribery,” no corruption of judges or public officers.

“Moreover, in Germany, we have more culture, more idealism.  Our science stands at the apex of the world.  Our philosophy, our music, our theatre, our army, our railroads, our order. Thus it goes: ‘Germany above all, above all in the world.”

And so it went. Just a brief summer away from the first cataclysmic event of the twentieth century, one  which not only shattered the self-regard of Jordan’s  complacent German, but of the entire pantheon of Powers of that composed the acme of the era, leaving F. Scott Fitzgerald to express the profound sense of loss through his character Dick Diver: ” All my beautiful lovely safe world blew itself up here with a great gust of high explosive love.”

Welcome to Cultural Forensics. It is not so much a history blog as a history-in-the-making blog. With the past a preamble of the future, we are as much interested in where we are going as where we have been. And so it goes that we try to grasp that future by examining, in a metaphorically forensic way, the past’s entrails. We are forever betwixt the two, past and future, an interesting place to be.

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