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John Downman: Attention
(n.d., late 18th, early 19th Century)

"Whoever created this clockwork universe seems to have installed it backward."

We deem old stuff as MoreAuthentic than more modern things. We seem to revere the good old days with our language, for it seems to disparage newness. They must actually not build them like they used to; every updated everything, worse, slower, and ultimately more expensive rather than better, faster, or cheaper. Upgrades degrade performance and disable familiar capabilities and should be deferred as long as possible. Replacement parts invariably fail to fit properly or seem so much more cheaply manufactured that they never quite match original surroundings. New and improved prove to be an oxymoronic marriage incapable of fulfilling its promises. We remain wary of improvements and most likely should be. Progress never was anybody's most important product; entropy was.

When penny candy costs a quarter, the future has arrived as feared.
It might have always been mere prudence to fear the future since the future will eventually do us in. It might make more sense to revere our pasts, however impossible it has always been to make that last. Pasts are born to slip away and to be remembered more generously than they probably deserved. When I was a kid, back in those revered Good Old Days, cars drove around spewing lead, ultimately poisoning every living being and every ecosystem on this planet. Our more modern Subaru doesn't do that, and so, by that measure, if by no other, it's demonstrably better. I admit that it lacks window wings and all the satisfaction only window wings could ever bring, but by most standards, for most things, the modern Subaru proves much, much better than what it replaced.

I remember excitement as a daily experience. Heck, I could get all wound up over a visit to the County Extension Agent with my mother, for much of my world was still unexplored territory then. Now, I've been around the block so many times that I no longer even see what I'm passing. My familiarity breeds a passivity that compares poorly with my originally adventurous spirit. The new seems banal by comparison.  The past did seem more exciting, more inviting, if only because it always was. Decades of carefully constructing my rut have left me with narrower horizons and an overall less satisfying existence. It feels like I've been working myself out of a life rather than into one. My past seems like an old friend, while my present and future seem like suspicious newcomers, probably up to some surreptitious something. My future will eventually do away with me. My future, therefore, must be my enemy.

The Muse and I revere our 1907-built Villa Vatta Schmaltz. It absolutely reeks of authenticity. I brag on having retained the original double-hung windows, which might not be nearly as efficient as more modern plastic, aluminum, or even double-glazed wooden ones; they're at least MoreAuthentic than any replacement. And while MoreAuthentic hardly pays the heating bills, the knowledge that I'm preserving the past for posterity produces a warming sensation near my soul. I remain objectively crazy, precisely like everybody around me. We struggle to imagine our future carbon-free economy because it correlates poorly with what we trust, which was always the obsolete, our far-past-pull-date past. We will move forward if forced and faunch when placed into any new driver’s seat, especially if it's objectively better than whatever it replaced. We were born to disappoint ourselves because time only moves in the wrong direction. Whoever created this clockwork universe seems to have installed it backward.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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