It is not a case of romanticising the past when we look back and learn from it. It is an absolute necessity if we wish to learn to see what we’ve lost, and then to see. It tethers us to the earth, allows us to remember what is “human-scale” as Paul Kingsnorth says – an important task in an age where we have been so flattened by cravings for power, both internal and external, and so hubristically expanded to compensate.
The past helps us, in our fear, to resist the urge to find our saviour blindly in the technology that so easily binds when you happen to live, at least for now, in a corporatocracy.
Learning from the past helps us, Kingsnorth says, to resist romanticising the future.
It helps remember, whatever happens, what we were before we were consumers, before it was all monetised. It gives us a sniff of our dank dark spot, the bit that, despite the millennia, despite our being tamed into consumers, despite our dulled instincts, is inside us still wild.
Wild in the wonderful sense, wild as free. Down in those spaces, beneath the dulled edges, somehow we are still intact.
From that article above, this poem by R.S. Thomas:
The machine appeared
In the distance, singing to itself
Of money. Its song was the web
They were caught in, men and women
Together. The villages were as flies
To be sucked empty.
A tear. Enough, enough,
He commanded, but the machine
Looked at him and went on singing.
Whatever happens, we must not forget our true, real size.