Psychiatrists said that in many people the First World War provoked traumas that had been previously hidden in the unconscious, and in the 1920s and 1930s the people started to be neurotic because they were not adapted to their inner or outer state, and in Europe in the 1960s, 25% of women and 15% of men were neurotic, and journalists called it the disease of the century. And in the 1970s the number of people suffering from depression also started to rise, and at the end of the century every fifth citizen of Europe was depressed. Sociologists said that neurosis and depression mirrored the cultural transformation of Western society in the twentieth century. And neurosis mirrored a society dominated by discipline and hierarchy and social taboos and that it was a pathological expression of a sense of guilt. And depression was a pathological expression of a feeling of helplessness and an awareness of emptiness. And people were originally neurotic because they would have liked to do forbidden things, but they could not because they were taboo, and when they violated the taboo they felt guilty. And later, when almost everything was permitted, they started to be depressed because they did not know what they would like to have done, and they were transformed into new pathological subjects and psychiatrists said that the pathological subject had been totally transformed during that period. And sociologists said that depression was a compensation for a world in which individual freedom no longer represented an ideal that we must painfully struggle toward, but a barrier that we must painfully surmount. And neurosis was anxiety over the violation of taboos and depression was anxiety at the burden of freedom. And some people wanted to find some meaning in everything and suffered existential frustration. And psychologists said that looking for meaning in life was the result of a need to drive emptiness and death out of it and that it allowed one to live more intensely. And at the end of the 1980s, the World Health Organization issued a declaration that depression was the most widespread pathology in the Western world. But meanwhile new social prohibitions started to penetrate Europe from the United States, such as that one should not smoke or use salt or tell jokes about homosexuals or lead an indolent existence, etc. And on the contrary, lots of things were now permitted that were previously prohibited. And some people were neurotic and others depressed and yet others were neurotic and depressed at the same time and they used psychotropic drugs and psychoanalysts said that people abused psychotropic drugs and did not attend psychoanalysis often enough. And that drugs simply shifted traumas deeper into the unconscious, but the only way to cure people was by verbalization of anxiety and rediscovering one’s self-awareness.
In the Golden Age people were racists, but they did not know it yet, and they were Curious about Negroes and Papuans, etc., and zoological gardens in big cities organized ethnographic spectacles, with savages sitting in front of bamboo huts with skins around their loins and making various things, and people went to watch how the Papuans and Ashanti and Zulus lived and threw them sweets and sugar cubes. Ethnographic spectacles enjoyed great success because people wanted to know how people lived elsewhere in the world, and at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900 the advanced countries exhibited not only technical innovations and new art and new architecture but also examples of the aboriginal populations of their colonies—Nubians and Dahomeyans and Caribbeans and Malays and Kanaks. The Kanaks sat at the exhibition in front of bamboo huts with skins around their loins and ground stone clubs with flints, even though they had never before held a flint or a stone axe in their hands because they were junior clerks in the colonial administration recruited by the French government in the interest of the state. And when the World Exhibition ended, the Colonial Museum sent them on a tour of Belgium and Germany and Denmark, and the Kanaks wrote letters to the Director of the Colonial Museum asking when they would be allowed to return home and take up their duties but they never received any reply and one day all the Kanaks escaped from the railroad car they were being taken around Germany in and they returned to France and secretly boarded a boat that they heard was bound for New Caledonia, but the boat was actually sailing to Lebanon. And when the seamen found the stowaways and discovered they were the Kanaks from the World Exhibition they were proud that they had chosen their particular boat and they brought them food and did not want to let them work and they asked how many stone axes were manufactured in New Caledonia per year. After the First World War, ethnographic spectacles gradually became fewer, because 1,700,000 Zulus, etc., fought during the war in the ranks of the Allied forces and people became used to them and were not so curious.
Young people said that racism was a result of the old world and that it was necessary to rethink the world, and televisions and refrigerators were less important than love and happiness. And they did not want their parents to tell them what they had to study and to forbid them to smoke and have sexual intercourse and wear long hair, etc. And in 1968 there were student riots in Western Europe and students erected barricades and went round the factories persuading the workers that society had to be changed from the foundations and they wrote on the walls BLUE WILL REMAIN GRAY UNTIL IT
HAS BEEN REINVENTED and BE REALISTIC DEMAND THE IMPOSSIBLE and NO FORBIDDING ALLOWED and POWER TO THE IMAGINATION and they occupied the lecture halls and theaters and smoked and had sexual intercourse in various ways and discussed politics. The 1960s represented an important watershed in the history of Western society because material prosperity prevailed and women had access to contraception and young people became an important component of public opinion and in time older citizens started to engage in sports also and dress in young fashions and have sexual intercourse in various ways and voice novel and radical ideas and when someone was not young in spirit at least they belonged to the old world. And sociologists said that bourgeois society was extinct and had been replaced by a new form of society that they called adolescent and they said that it indicated a radical change in the evolution of Western society and that it was necessary to reflect on this. And some philosophers said that the cult of youth was one of the silliest things in the history of the human intellect and it was indicative that it was invented by the Fascists and Communists, and democratic societies were foolish enough to borrow the cult of youth from the Fascists and Communists, but others said that it was all right, that youth was possibly silly but it was dynamic and that was positive. Sociologists said that being positive was a new value in Western civilization and it had replaced traditional humanist values that were no longer appropriate to the state of society. Being positive meant that people would look forward to the future with confidence and take part in sports and live healthily and harmoniously and visit the doctor regularly and live to an advanced age and work hard in order to enjoy their retirement and wear young fashions. And no one wanted to be poor anymore and everyone wanted to have a refrigerator and a cordless telephone and a dog and a cat and a tortoise and a vibrator and take part in sports and attend psychoanalysis. Catholic philosophers said it was the fault of Protestants because they emphasized the importance of material success and GOD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES, Whereas the Catholics believed more in WHOM GOD LOVETH HE CHASTISETH. Protestant philosophers, on the other hand, said the decline of the Catholic Church proved it was unable to move with the times, and that mentalities evolved, and pastors could marry and satisfy themselves sexually and so better propagate Christian ideas in a society dominated by nihilism. And people in cities got themselves dogs and cats and tortoises and guinea pigs for their homes, because dumb animals were faithful friends even in an alienated world. And dogs and cats had their own hairdressers and beauty salons and fitness centers and convalescent homes and morgues and cemeteries, etc. And American soldiers returning from the Vietnam War joined together to build a memorial to the 4,100 American dogs who fell in Vietnam for freedom and democracy. And in the developed countries farms were set up that were known as countryside museums or countryside corners and city people would visit them to see what a horse or a cow or a hen looked like because farm animals had gradually disappeared from cities. And other animals became scarce too, such as badgers and owls and tree frogs and butterflies and beetles on footpaths, and ecologists said that it was the fault of environmental pollution and pesticides and exhaust gases, etc. And some ecologists used to carry out night raids on medical and pharmaceutical research facilities where tests were carried out on animals, and they released monkeys and rabbits and hamsters and dogs and snakes and frogs, etc.
And more and more people thought that it was necessary to protect animals and they set up societies for the protection of animals and sometimes they dressed up as bears or falcons and demonstrated in city streets against hunters and against bullfights and against scientific experiments on animals and said it was inhumane to kill animals. Some of them were vegetarians and ate carrots, etc. Hunters said they hunted animals in order to maintain tradition, that traditions were being lost and that traditions were important in the modern world. And every year some hunter killed another hunter instead of a wild boar by mistake and the other hunters joined together and bought his widow a new washing machine or something similarly useful for the home.
Translated by Gerald Turner. Published by Dalkey Archive Press (USA) in 2005, 2006 and 2008.