“After tele-photography humanity will continually invent graphies and scopes and phones, all of which will be tele, and one will be able to go around the earth in less than no time. But it will always only be the temporal earth.”
Charles Peguy (written circa 1912)
Over a hundred years ago he already saw it. We became obsessed with overcoming distance and time. It’s understandable. Time and space certainly place limits on us.
But perhaps finally we have started to see that limits can be a gift. Overcoming limits too often is a Pyrrhic victory; we actually end up defeating ourselves. When you fly so close to the sun that your wings melt, you lose the gift of flight. Alas, our obsession with overcoming time and space has been undermining our ability to live a human life, in this time and this place. With these people right here.
We are so concerned to save time, that we don’t know how to live in the present. We are so enamored of being able to do things ‘at a distance’—by our various ‘tele’ technologies—that we (and I think especially of our dear youth!) scarce know how to do things in the flesh, in person, right here.
Is this an exaggeration? We can only begin to improve if we reckon honestly with where we stand. If we realize we are standing in a trap, we can begin to make plans for our escape. Our escape back, or forward, to a richer human life.
“But it will always only be the temporal earth.” Yes, how right Peguy was! Perhaps we find ourselves thinking, “Oh drat, he’s right; we’re trapped in the temporal earth.” But this is part of our problem—this is how our technologized approach has infected our very fiber. We are failing to recognize the gift we have been given. This life is a life in time and space. It is the only life we have right now, and this is no accident.
If we rush through time and space, always trying to leap-frog, what will we have achieved in the end? Why are we trying to ‘save’ time and hurry to remote places? There is a better preparation for a life beyond time, when time as we know it will end, and the ‘present’ will move to center stage. We can practice living in the present, here, and now. We can say ‘no’ to what in the name of progress takes us away from our own life. No matter what, “it will always only be the temporal earth,” which means we can start again to accept and live in time. This itself is part of the gift!
This brief VIDEO offers LEISURE as grounding a new approach to TIME…
Charles Peguy (1873-1914) was a French poet and essayist. He died in battle in World War I. This quotation is from an (English) edition of his essays called Basic Verities.
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Husband, father, and professor of Philosophy. LifeCraft springs from one conviction: there is an ancient wisdom about how to live the good life in our homes, with our families; and it is worth our time to hearken to it. Let’s rediscover it together. Learn more.
I was just musing on the notable contrasts between Icarus and S. Joseph of Cupertino with an Abbot.
So much for the Areopagus.