Steven Hyden

If ever there was a period in modern American history that deserved to be described in Dickensian terms, it was November 2008. If you voted for Barack Obama (or just appreciated the historical significance of our country electing a black president) it was the best of times, the age of wisdom, the epoch of belief, the season of light, and the spring of hope. But if you paid any attention to the financial news pages (or simply owned a house that was now worth a year’s pay less than what you paid for it) it also seemed like the worst of times, the age of foolishness, the epoch of incredulity, the season of darkness, and the winter of despair.

Whether it was the best of times or the worst of times might have depended on your point of view, but it was more likely that these states existed concurrently, with the former masking the latter, but never completely. It was a period when change promised deliverance from steep pitfalls that appeared to be widening and deepening all the time. But the desire—nay, the need—to believe that idealism was enough couldn’t really stave off the void that was opening up below.

-Steven Hyden in, of all things, a review of Kanye West’s 808s and Heartbreak