Monday 20 May 2024

That power of living in the present time

“I’m not sure that it is faith that enables them to promenade the state sword about. It seems to me more that power of living in the present time which most people possess to such an extraordinary degree.”

George Moore - A Drama In Muslin (1886)

An interesting quote because there are some people who in one way or another are aware of the past and how we arrived at the present time. Hazy and hugely incomplete awareness, but awareness all the same. Older people have that awareness imposed upon them, an effect which is multiplied if they are also interested in more distant times.

Today we see it all the time - that power of living in the present time which most people possess to such an extraordinary degree. It tends to hide the inadequacies of our times, even major inadequacies. Don’t peer down the memory hole it says, it will do you no good.


James Higham said...

As the future looks increasingly uncertain, that leaves us with past and present.

Sam Vega said...

I was actually standing a couple of feet away from Mordaunt yesterday. I'm not sure what the point of her is.

I mean, she mildly stirs the emotions of elderly blokes in blazers and brogues who demonstrate their relevance by channelling Terry-Thomas.

Apart from that, this "Conservative" believes that we are whatever sex we choose, presided over destructive levels of immigration and the net zero blether, and failed to get a purchase on any of our real problems.

She has ignored or misappropriated our past, and lets hope her future is non-political. For the present, she can stand around and look home-counties regal.

DiscoveredJoys said...

But the past, even the immediate past, can only be known imperfectly. Even 'big' past events and personalities are subject to constant revision by historians trying to make a living by engaging in fresh 'interpretations'. Or activists retrofitting their modern sensibilities onto historical narratives to make them more supportive of their aims. As for the lives of ordinary people... little can be said. Perhaps the best we can hope for is to know of the past as a statistical abstract.

My analogy is to stand outside a house opposite a long row of houses... you can see, and even count, the individual bricks in the house directly opposite. But you soon lose the detail as you look further up and down the street until you can only make out areas of 'brick colour'. As you walk towards the 'future' end of the street the resolution travels with you... unless a bus or other event blocks your view.

Tammly said...

I would say that our understanding of both the past and present is imperfect, as necessitated by our imperfect perceptions, information shortage, misleading mediation, and a plethora of misunderstandings and misconceptions.

A K Haart said...

James - and many elements of the past would give us a better future.

Sam - standing around looking home-counties regal seems to be her main function. I don't know why she is a member of the Conservative party rather than the Lib Dems, although maybe she's a good indication that there isn't much difference.

DJ and Tammly - yes the past can only be known very imperfectly, but picking out themes and accepting that there are numerous themes does give us a reason to know something, if only to understand where revisionists are coming from.