Political society

War, epidemics and a collapsing society – why 1922 seems oddly familiar

It was also, perhaps most important of all, the birth of radio. The BBC and Radio Moscow made their first broadcasts in 1922 and 500 radio stations were launched in America when the very first radio was installed in the White House. This new form of communication, bringing voices directly into your home, rippling in and out of the signal, meant an unpredictable and unpredictable invasion of the future into everyday life. It was the sound of modernism.

Sweet’s series takes on a wide range of influence from modernism, illuminating the links between 1920s Moscow architecture and its influence on later international buildings, including The Gherkin in London. He considers Egyptomania and the experimental publishing scene that gave us Joyce, Eliot, Woolf and Pound, writers probing new and old darkness and exploring streams of consciousness.

He’s not the only one giving it some hype, either. “Everything broke, cracked and popped” in 1922, according to Kirsty Wark on start the week (Radio 4, Monday), perhaps starting its morning show shortly after finishing a bowl of Rice Krispies (arguably a modernist invention in itself, first put on sale in 1928). This discussion was a general overview of modernism, with contributions from Sweet as well as literary scholar Suzanne Hobson, science historian Charlotte Sleigh, and musician Soweto Kinch.

Kinch made some of the most enlightening observations. He spoke of the rise of atonal music in the 1920s in search of a “cacophonous sound” encapsulating age, and skillfully compared Louis Armstrong’s scat singing with TS Eliot’s The Waste Land, as the two men dispensed and experimented with language and grammar in musicality. of sounds. The visionary Armstrong took a decisive step into the Chicago music scene in 1922, and Kinch explained how he played the trumpet in a way that mimicked the voice, while using his singing voice in a way that mimicked his instrument. .