The Alienation of Modern Man: An Interpretation Based on Marx and Tonnies

The Alienation of Modern Man: An Interpretation Based on Marx and Tonnies

The Alienation of Modern Man: An Interpretation Based on Marx and Tonnies

The Alienation of Modern Man: An Interpretation Based on Marx and Tonnies

Excerpt

Among Goya's "Caprichos" is one which the artist called A caza de dientes (On the Hunt for Teeth.) The etching shows a woman who, possessed by the superstition that the teeth of a hanged man can yield magic power, has sneaked up to a body dangling from a noose. Holding a piece of cloth between the corpse and her averted face, she is torn between horror and a determination to get hold of the invaluable teeth. Standing on tiptoe, her arm stretched out, with a shudder of revulsion she makes her hand reach the mouth of the stiff, dead body.

The morbidity of an age which has long gone by? We should not be too sure of such an interpretation. There is much evidence that Goya's etching has not lost its significance in the world of today. Some years ago a popular magazine published the results of a photographic contest. An award was made for the picture which gave the freshest on-the-spot news. One of the photos chosen presented a traffic accident in which two automobiles were completely demolished, and showed the pain-stricken face of one of the victims in the moment before death.

The motives of the woman in Goya's etching and of the photographer who participated successfully in the prize contest may have been quite different. The one was driven by superstition; the second by the desire for monetary gain or recognition. There seems however to be an . . .

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