Dreamed 1998/8/20 by Chris Wayan
A friend tells me her theory of history. The steepening gradient of change is well known, but she thinks our psychological responses have changed. She see three stages:
Between the agricultural and industrial revolutions, though the CUMULATIVE change was already quite fast by biological standards, there was little cultural or technological change in a whole lifetime, so people still saw life as a given.
Then it became visible in a lifetime; and our response was to assume that each GENERATION was a bit different. That lasted a couple hundred years.
But in this century we learned to expect cultural and technological changes WITHIN a generation--to expect everyone to face culture shock as individuals, constantly, just by living. Oddly, despite the steepening technological and information curves since then, the SUBJECTIVE rate of change may be flatter--simply because we grow up expecting it. HOWEVER it changes, it's what we expect!
At first I'm doubtful, but after reading a lot about the last revolution, I have to admit "I think you're right. We're underestimating change."
NOTES ON WAKING UP
Saw The Avengers tonight: a man sets up suites in his ancestral home in styles from 1500 to present and fools people into thinking he's invented a time machine, selling them an escape from the present. I couldn't easily tell one era from the next--generations passed with modest technological change. Just the decor.
The dream is right. I grew up used to change/progress, so I take for it granted--and therefore underestimate it!
Or is the dream talking of personal change? Because there, too, I think I've grown to expect it. And perhaps, as a result, overlook it!
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