Time Essay: The Usefulness of Obsolescent Ideas

... And what there is to conquer... has already been

discovered

Once or twice or several times ...

There is only the fight to recover what has been lost ,

And found and lost again and again.

—T.S. Eliot, The Four Quartets

Perhaps universal history is the history of a few metaphors.

—Jorge Luis Borges, The Fearful Sphere of Pascal

This appears to be a time when Americans are running out of new ideas—and perhaps not a moment too soon. Many of these ideas have not worked out very well. In the tooth-and-claw combat of the intellectual...

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