Monday, August 17, 2009


The Russian author Ivan Alexandrovich Goncharov published in 1859 the novel Oblomov. Today, the main character of this novel is famous for Oblomovism, which is a synonym for someone who is a sloth characterized by extreme laziness, indolent apathy and indecisiveness (which he has in common with Shakespeare’s Hamlet). Oblomov dreams of an eternal present of bliss where nothing changes because everything is already perfect: “in those days parents did not hurry to explain to a boy the meaning of life, and to prepare him for life as for something at once difficult and solemn. No, they did not weary a child with books which would cloud his head with questions likely to devour the heart and the intellect, and to shorten existence. Rather, the standard of life was furnished him and taught him by parents who had received it ready-made from their parents, together with a testamentary injunction to preserve the integrity, the inviolability of that standard as they would have done that of the Vestal flame.” However, according to Anthony Giddens, we all live now in post-traditional societies. Modernization has detraditionalized societies. Detraditionalization, though, does not mean there are no more traditions, either they become reflexive, i.e. we are aware that these are traditions and this awareness changes them, or become a form of fundamentalism. We can no longer speak of a natural order concerning our values and norms, values and norms can be renegotiated because they have to be justified in the light of social action. Of course, while we cannot simply return to a closed-off tradition, we should also not hold a utopian belief in inevitable progress.

No comments: