Archive for February 23rd, 2023

Atop the Pyramid

GC Myers- Archaeology: Deja Vu

Archaeology: Deja Vu– At West End Gallery

Thought alone holds the tradition of the bygone life. The endless legacy of the past to the present is the secret source of human genius.

–HonorĂ© de Balzac, Seraphita, 1834

If time were a pyramid, we here in the present sit at the very highest point of that pyramid.

For the time being.

Eventually, time overtakes us and builds around us, leaving us to maintain ever lower positions on that pyramid. New, shinier, and supposedly improved versions of ourselves now sit atop the pyramid and we are lost in the rubble below. We become part of an artifact field held in secret until the archaeologists from future generations that then sit atop the pyramid either seek us out or stumble upon us.

I wonder why they might seek us out. What will be the legacy they might find in their digging? What shall we have added to the continuing and ever expanding (hopefully) continuum of human genius and knowledge?

The easy answer is that we added much in the way of invention and technology. Even in the length of one existing lifetime, technology has changed the world perhaps more than at any other lifetime in known history.

But have these changes improved us as human beings? Are we any better, as we perch temporarily atop that pyramid of time, than those who occupied that space in past generations? Do we love more? Do we trust and cooperate more? Do we respect and accept others more than those in the past? Do we have less hatred, greed and prejudice?

Take away the technical leaps forward and what have we added? Do we have greater understanding?

Don’t take this in the wrong way. This is not rant against technology’s progress. It is a plea to be more pro-human, to use our brief time at the top of time’s pyramid to show that we have made behavioral progress as a species, that we recognize our place in time and plan to make the best of it.

We are, after all, the sum and total of all that has come before us. We have the benefit of all known thought and invention, the legacy of ancestors going back an unknowable number of generations. We have often dug into that past and can see the mistakes that have plagued the past

Can we learn from those mistakes? Can we improve our behaviors and be less awful? Because, even with the benefit of all the technical improvements from the beginning of time to now, an awful person now is no better or more improved than an awful person living in a cave eons ago.

The question is: Do we have the will to be better now?

I don’t have any answers. You know that. And my asking questions without answers probably bugs some folks. It’s just what I do, my own little crusade every early morning against the hubris that comes with being at the top of that pyramid.

Here’s the late John Prine with a song I haven’t played here in a while, Living in the Future.

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