From This Moment On

No more blue songs.

Jeffrey Hart, Professor Emeritus of English at the College, has a great new essay in January’s issue of The New Criterion. It’s about the 1940 World’s Fair. The whole essay is powerful, I think, but here are some remarkable excerpts:

Its theme was ‘The World of Tomorrow.’ It was also the last great Fair, innocent in its faith. It believed in Progress as a comprehensive idea. We no longer have that kind of belief. We believe in advances— in transportation, medicine, communications, computers, longevity, and so on, but not in Progress as a central animating idea, one that gives meaning to life.

And:

I have a copper penny rolled oblong with the image of the Trylon and Perisphere stamped on it, a souvenir of the Fair. I wear it on a silver chain as a necklace along with a silver cross. The Trylon and Perishpere were symbols so powerful that they possess continuing imaginative life. They are both severe, timeless geometrical symbols, the signature of their era, immortal but gone.

“Read the whole thing” and all that.

Professor Hart also wrote a book called From This Moment On about 1940– the historical moment of it.

Thanks to Scott Johnson for convincing Roger Kimball to put the essay online.