Time Essay: PUTTING THE PROPHETS IN THEIR PLACE

SOME societies are dominated by the past; America seems obsessed by the future. No sooner is a President elected than commentators begin to estimate his chances next time around. Hours after the discovery of a trend, someone is predicting how and when it will end and what will take its place. Why so much compulsive eagerness to read history before it happens? Perhaps it is an escape from an unsatisfactory present. Perhaps, also. Americans—and 20th century men generally—are deluded by the Faustian illusion that by predicting the future, they can control it. If...

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