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Violence and Technology


The level of violence varies, however, and in some societies it is considerably less than others. The reasons for this variance are hard to ascertain; but, I suspect, those reasons are of crucial importance if we are to fathom this subject.

From this view of the work of certain selected major American artists, work clustered roughly around the years 1930, 1940, and 1950, it is apparent that the artist was affected by technology, and more often than not one of the results of this influence was violence in the art. The two painters, Davis and Pollock, reflect a violence in their abstractions, non-destructive, to be sure, but still potentially explosive. And the three writers, Hemingway, West, and Heller, deal directly with violence as subject matter. Hemingway seems at first to have an answer in the devotion to the simple, creative act, nearly existential, if you will, but this may not be sufficient in the end. It certainly is not for Miss Lonelyhearts in West's novel; Miss Lonelyhearts, in his role as "humanity lover," tries to go far beyond the level of simple existentialism, but is frustrated finally, and dies a violent death. And there cannot really be much hope for Yossarian in Catch-22, another humanity-lover, who finally has to try to escape to Sweden, in the manner of Orr, because he is repeatedly blocked in his attempts to impose his reason and humanness upon a mad, violent world.