Everything comes now under the gaze. Modernity brought about mastery of the world and of events. 20th-century man thought of himself as being at the apex of his power. He believed that this century would lead to the triumph of progress and the Enlightenment, that man would finally become the master of the world and its destiny. In the end, this century turned out to be the century of his most tragic powerlessness. In the 20th century, man was master of nothing, neither of nature nor of his own history, not to mention the fact that he has been blind to what is worst, powerless in the fact of his destructive will, motionless in the fact of his own capacity for self-destruction. The unforeseen was an exotic concept. And it was the unforeseen that happened. Nowadays, everything is done as if trying to exorcise the disastrous 20th century: we believe that our eyes are finally open, that we are ready and willing to do everything to prevent the worst from happening and save ourselves from all catastrophes. But that will never happen! We expect the new century to be the one in which our Cartesian destiny is finally fulfilled: when man, like Corneille’s Auguste, will become the master of both himself and the universe. But, as could be seen after September 2001, things are already off to a bad start.
In fact, recent history has been strewn with devastating irruptions: huge massacres, terrorist attacks, tsunamis, financial crises and flu pandemics, which were unexpected and left us completely petrified. In the foresight century, the unforeseen is a main trait of the hypermodern age, its mark.