David Hines
Memory of the future
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By David Hines
January 12, 2015

Kronos has recently yielded to his son Zeus. The infant is nurtured by the goat Amalthea and his presence hidden from Zeus by his guards, who make noise by beating on their shields when he cries. Saturnalia is a last binge for the Golden Age of Kronos, when men didn't need to work to sustain themselves.

That's how they told it millennia ago. These days Father Time, the old year, yields to Baby New Year. The constellation Capricorn is the goat nursemaid. The noisemakers come out at midnight, preceded by revelry and drinking.

Culture has staying power, despite the contention of many that this orbital cycle is designated by a particular number, hence everyone knows.... Practices are reinterpreted, given new meaning in a different paradigm. The familiar and comfortable is retained, while positing it as something entirely different.

Nowadays examples of this persistence of culture are called "memes." Some are artificially created, and spread through major media. Yet those memes not in touch with pre-existing thought patterns and habits don't spread all that well. It's the old ways that tend to linger, adopting new attire.

Ever notice that songs touted on radio as "brannoo" are quite often the same old musical idioms repackaged for fresh consumption? If it were truly brannoo, devoid of familiar idioms, only the pathologically avant garde would find it attractive. Most people would consign it to the "brand junk" bin.

A common meme, despite a thin veneer of democracy, regards the President as paterfamilias of the nation, like the Roman emperor. He is thought by many to have almost dictatorial power over his "children," including members of Congress. He can with impunity kill his "children" via drone. The ancient sacred king meme is alive and well.

Alchemists tried to change lead into gold. Nowadays it's called "quantitative easing," attempting to change paper, ink, and electronic blips into economic prosperity. It's a continuation of the ancient belief that the right king could appease the gods, who would then ensure good weather and a dearth of calamities.

The persistence of culture ensures that no matter what number the year and what everyone is purported to know, old thought patterns are not so alien as they're thought to be. Sometimes that ancient thought is wisdom; sometimes it's delusion. It may be a more complicated task knowing which is which than is generally accepted.

It's a fairly good bet that the culture of the future will look a lot like the present, but with a different description.

© David Hines

 

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David Hines

Born in a mill town, David Hines has seen work as a furniture mover, computer programmer/analyst, and professional musician... (more)

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