One of the Largest and Most Visited Sources of Philosophical Texts on the Internet.


The British Archive of  the American Writer's  Poems, Prose and Political  and  Philosophical  Criticism

Published by

The British Sansom Society
Preston  England

With the kind permission of the author


Am I happy to be alive here and now in this fast moving century? No, I am not. But then if one asked anyone in the past who tried to think about things if they would choose their current era over another, they might say the same thing.

Looking Forward – Looking Back

We either want to go back or forward in time – back to join the ranks of those we assume were of like minds, where things were exciting, new, bubbling over with change and adventure of the mind – like, say, the turn of the 19th Century, with Darwin fresh on the taste buds, Freud looming with his strange and frightening theories, then the advent of quantum physics, etc. Or go forward to a different time of our safe and loving fantasies. We are enmeshed in the moment and its contents to the point we cannot see it for what history will tell us it was; we can only experience it as it actually is, and far less perspective of purpose, intention., meaning and effects can be seen here and now.

Where would I like to be? Probably Vienna in about 1905, but then all that I can imagine is just that, a dreamy invention of what my books tell me of that waltz-soaked, pastry beribboned, intellectual cauldron that I would love so passionately – sitting in one of the side walk cafes, reading the latest writing by someone like Karl Kraus or Fritz Mauthner, recalling Mahler’s 5th symphony, thinking on the paintings of Gustav Klimt, pondering Schonberg, Kokoschka and Ernst Mach, sipping absinthe! That is, of course my dream world.

I cannot begin to imagine the surroundings of misery, the vicious bigotry and anti-Semitism, the faltering and doomed Hapsburg Empire, and I choose to focus on what is merely appealing to my sensibilities.If I try to leap forward a hundred years and consider me there, thinking about the past and where I might enjoy returning to, this present era might seem every bit as attractive as that of the fin de siecle  world of Vienna. But today I see a squalor of the mind here in this country – I cannot raise myself above the detritus of this cultural morass, with its virtual this and virtual that; its horrible killing computer games; its unnecessary killing wars; its tilting toward a religious government; its uneducated masses; its wanton materialism and greed, and thus, who the hell would want to come back to this? But, those future time travelers might find our era exciting, with the advances in computer technology, communications, space travel, biology, medicine, etc. and all the rest, that squalor of the mind, might have faded into obscurity by the

We must be satisfied with where we are, as dark, as uninformed, as seemingly dangerous as it might be - there's nothing that can be done anyway. If I think long and hard about it, I might even be able to invent my time-traveling self from the future and find all this amalgam of invention and discovery to be tasty and perhaps even wonderful in some dimension. All I have to do is adjust my filter, my stupidity and squalor filter, and try to see the pieces of the present that might offer some decent steps to our tomorrows that have little of the garbage hanging on to them. This takes some effort.