Essays About

The History of the Present

There is a paradox in venerating traditions, namely that traditions were not, in their time, traditional. All religious founders were progressive innovators, yet their followers are often conservatives. Politicians look reverently back to the founding fathers, but the founding fathers looked experimentally forward, irreverent toward their own traditions. The historic houses that preservationists praise, disparaging modern construction, were brand new when they were built, their gingerbread trim and bay windows breakthroughs and their architects avant-garde. To worship the past is a misunderstanding, for the past has never existed, only a history of previous presents.