I came across a beautiful phrase, while reading Peter Watson‘s door-stopper A Terrible Beauty. This incredible book is an intellectual history of the twenty-first century. In a chapter concerning the birth of modernism in its myriad forms, we are told of how the composer Arnold Schoenberg made it possible to move on from Richard Wagner. To describe this, Watson relates fellow composer Claude Debussy’s remark that Wagner’s music was “a beautiful sunset that was mistaken for a dawn“.
This wonderfully and beautifully encapsulates all manner of ideas that appear revolutionary but are, in fact, dying, ending, or being superseded. The application is numerous and I’m thinking this might – and perhaps must – appear somewhere in my thesis.