So what is it that has got lost? Something imponderable. A prognostic. An illusion. Like what happens when a magnet lets the iron fillings go and they tumble together again ... Or when a ball of string comes undone ... Or when a tension has slackened ... Or when an orchestra begins to play out of tune ... All the relations between things had shifted slightly. Ideas that had once been of lean account grew fat. Persons had previously had not been taken altogether seriously now acquired fame ... Sharp borderlines everywhere became blurred... There positively seemed to be certain proportions in which these elements had to be blended for maximum success in the world ... It is as though the blood or the air had changed; a mysterious disease had consumed the earlier period's little seedling of what was going to be genius, but everything sparkles with novelty, and in the end one can no longer tell whether the world has really grown worse or where it is merely that one has grown older oneself. When that point is reached, a new time has definitely arrived.
— Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities