Novelty beckons Americans as never before. As the wreckage of our headlong race for the next new thing recedes in the rearview mirror, will we remember what we’ve lost?
Nothing new was once the norm. think of how
many centuries our ancestors lived out their lives in circumstances that
changed not at all from cradle to grave—that cycled through
the seasons untouched by material advance or technological invention,
following patterns that seemed beyond alteration. If they’d had
clocks, it wouldn’t have mattered whether the hands moved. The
exacting second hand on a modern clock and those ubiquitous digital
displays, with a colon sometimes pulsing the seconds between hours and
minutes, locate us in every moment. We expect time to go not in a circle
but like an arrow; if it lands in unfamiliar terrain, so much the better.
We’re suckers for the new, and “putting things behind
us,” whether the things be lovers, careers, addresses, attitudes,
fashions, gadgets, or disasters, is our norm.
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James Morris is an editor at large of The Wilson Quarterly.more from this author >>