“Our new organisation of simultaneity”

“To give witness of this tense, dramatic life of ours, filled with the unexpected, seems to me a duty; for, I repeat, everyone was a witness of this gigantic transformation, everyone was forced to be a witness. There was no escape for our generation, no standing aside as in times past. Thanks to our new organization of simultaneity we were constantly drawn into our time. When bombs laid waste the houses of Shanghai, we knew of it in our rooms in Europe before the wounded were carried out of their homes. What occurred thousands of miles over the sea leaped bodily before our eyes in pictures. There was no protection, no security against being constantly made aware of things and being drawn into them. There was no country to which one could flee, no quiet which one could purchase; always and everywhere the hand of fate seized us and dragged us back into its insatiable play. Constantly men had to subordinate themselves to the demands of the State, to become the prey of the most stupid politics, to adapt themselves to the most fantastic changes. Always the individual was chained to the common lot, no matter how bitterly he objected; he was carried along irresistibly. Whoever went through this period or, rather, was hunted and driven through it-we knew but few breathing spells-experienced more history than any of his ancestors. And today we again stand at a turning point, an end and a new beginning.”

– Stefan Zweig, The World of Yesterday (1944)

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