Annals of Ahistorical Thinking

Or, This is Why We Can’t Have Smart Things

White Horse

Here’s Andrew Sullivan, on Beast Books, the current bête noire of professionally nostalgic media entrepreneurs.

I miss the days when books were written because an author simply had something to say and took her time to say it well.

May I propose a thought experiment to see whether Sullivan’s nostalgia is just lazy thinking or a justified use of the world-weary declension card? When was that golden age? When books were written by disinterested Serious People, for pure thought, seriously? Precisely, I mean. I’d like dates.

Perhaps Sullivan is referring to that one golden afternoon of September 25, 1965, or perhaps those madeleine-encrusted years between 1913 and 1927. But probably he dates the true end of the golden age to October 10, 2006, no?

Somehow, I doubt any precision will be forthcoming. One hears lots of talk about the dangers of scientific ignorance, but I think ignorance of historical thinking is a problem that goes to the highest levels, too. If even our paid thinkers don’t understand how to think historically, what then? Goodness me, wreck and ruin, I suppose.

Pointless nostalgia will out, though. Écrasez l’infâme!

Update: links fixed.

Image cite: cybertoad, “White Horse,” Flickr, CC License