Now there's a fine traditional, 18th Century assertion.
Newton would be proud! Euclid would be ecstatic!

Eliot would probably be assessing to what degree such
an assertion changes our perception of the past.


Dr. Peter C. Montgomery
Dept. of English
Camosun College
3100 Foul Bay Rd.
Victoria, BC CANADA V8P 5J2
[log in to unmask]

-----Original Message-----
From: Carrol Cox [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2003 1:56 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Pachel rings a bell backwards

[log in to unmask] wrote:
> ". . .history is a pattern/Of timeless moments . . ."

I don't have time right now to develop the point, but this is _exactly_
what I mean by the "denial of history." History is precisely
irreversible (and non-repeatable) _change_, _not_ a pattern (except in a
very generalized way). A good introduction to the perspective I'm
suggesting here is Stephen Jay Gould's _Wonderful Life_. The thesis of
that work (or rather the metaphor that encapsulates the thesis) is that
if one were to play the tape of life (i.e., the last several billion
years) over again,it would _not_ repeat itself. That is history -- i.e.,
our very existence as a species is contingent, and except for the sheer
contingency of an asteroid hitting the earth 60 million years ago, there
would be dinosaurs feeding in what is now central illinois instead of me
typing this post.

Even the existence of eukaryotic life forms is probably a sheer
contingency. The probablility would have been that when the sun went
nova some billions of years from now, the only thing on earth to
"observe" the sight would have been a mat of gray-green algae.