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. An aristocrat 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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