Monday, March 20, 2006

The Time Traveler's Dilemma

I was just listening to the audio book of Spider Robinson's classic "Callahan's Crosstime Saloon" (which is a collection of short stories put into novel form detailing the lives and experiences of a group of people who gather in a rather unique tavern run by an Irish gentleman of mysterious origins) and I was struck by a realization.

The story itself is that of a man who was imprisoned for 10 years between 1963 and 1973, cut off from all accounts of the outside world. He is a time-traveler of sorts, who has been left adrift in a world he does not quite understand, a world that saw the horror of the Vietnam war, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, the moon landing, and Watergate.

I was left WOULD a time-traveler fare going from 1963 to 2006? Would anything be comprehensible to such a person? Nearly half of Americans who have lived through the past several years and decades don't 'get it.' Imagine if you somehow missed everything that had occured in the past four decades. Would you understand ANYTHING of what's going on now, or would it just seem like an alien world?

Future Shock, they call it.

We are a product of our times--not only us, but the Neocons. They act, in part, in retribution to what was "done to" Nixon. An amusing line out of the story talks about how this man, this missionary who'd been jailed, being taken to meet the President after his release and being surprised to find Nixon--especially considering the last HE'D heard of the man, he'd just lost the Governor's race for California and had petulantly told the Press they'd "no longer have Dick Nixon to kick around."

This all brought me to the revelation of how little sense any of what's happened would make to someone who hadn't been brought up in it. Imagine. The Beattles, the sexual revolution, the Civil Rights movement, the "Me" generation, the Reagan Years, the 1st Gulf War, The Clinton Years, The Contract With (On) America, the "Revenge of Bush."

Wow.What a ride these four decades have been.


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