I like to look backwards. I like older books. I like history. I like to spend hours on Ancestry. I like nostalgia. I tend to live in the past. I find it both scary and comforting that so much has come before me. Cather’s scenes about long gone Native American cliff dwellers in both The Professor’s House and The Song of the Lark make me think deeply about lives lived so long ago. And this passage from Let Go My Hand by Edward Docx gave me a similar shiver of revelation.
One of the things that Dad blames ‘it’ on is the sudden acceleration of human ‘progress’. Think about it, he used to say, invitingly, calmly: in ancient Mesopotamia 7,000 years ago – rough figures, rough figures – the fastest human communication could move was the speed of a horse, pigeon or sail; in the England of the 1820s, the situation was much the same…That’s 6,800 years (or three hundred-odd generations) of the same pace for everything. No change. (Not to mention Homo sapiens‘ one hundred and ninety-five thousand pre-civilization years.) And then (here he used to become more animated), in the withering flash of two hundred years, or a mere eight generations, we get…we get this. All of it. Modern Life.