Thursday 8 March 2012


With the deadly cruise ship fiascos of the recent weeks, the somber commemoration of the hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic coming up in mid-April probably constitutes one of the most infamous events of the year 1912, but that year, on the cusps of revolution, exploration and war, was filled with a calendar of events. The year, framed by drug issues, begins with the International Opium Convention, ratified at Den Haag and ends with a Germany pharmaceutical concern developing and patenting the amphetamine that would become known as Ecstasy. In between, a biochemist identified and defined the concept vitamins, isolating essential nutrients, and another pharmacist developed an organoleptic scale to rate the relative spiciness of chili peppers. The studio system in Hollywood was formed at this time, man reaches the South Pole and the Balkan Powder Keg began to rumble. Monarchy was not the exception but rather the rule in Europe, with only the Swiss Confederation and twee San Marino as republics, and European colonial possessions formed a patchwork in Africa and Asia for later strife by proxy.
 There were firsts for aviators and aviatrixes, with national air defense forces formed in earnest—and the auto-pilot came into being. Bold experimentation in the arts took place, during the active periods of the likes of Picasso, Kandinsky and Duchamp, as well as the literature of Joseph Conrad, Willa Cather, DH Lawrence, Jack London and Thomas Mann--Bertrand Russell also philosophizing and Carl Jung probing the collective unconsciousness. Some of the art and personalities seem distant and unreachable—not dismissed and forgotten, but only just so, on the advancing edge of modernity. I wonder how people might remember about 2012 and how vital those far-off ripples from our time might heave or wash-out.