The lost innocence

Innocence, when lost, is lost irretrievably. Innocence can be lost on a personal level, like virginity, but also collectively. The latter is particularly cruel, for it means that simply in virtue of belonging to a later generation, one may have lost an innocence one never even had a chance to possess. But then, of course, we are frequently quite unaware of the innocence we are missing out on. In fact, as we become aware of it, we might think of the state of innocence of a previous generation as hopeless naiveté. We might pity them, where we should be envious.

Modernists are innocent in just that way. Their faith in humanity, in progress, in the possibility of radically changing themselves and the society they lived in. It is astounding to us, who have witnessed the consequences of just those beliefs, which turned out to be atrocious in just about every single case. They seem naive, and of course they are. But what an incredibly happy naiveté indeed.

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