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Progress

August 18, 2010

I always tell my history students that the idea of progress is a fairly new invention. After all, the Christian view of the world is that we are in a slow (or fast) decline. Everything has been getting worse since Jesus, and only the Second Coming will redeem us. Actually, I don’t like how I just wrote that. But essentially the point is that “progress” is not some essential concept about the passage of time. It’s a thought that emerged during the Industrial Revolution.
Having made this caveat, it is possible that I made some progress, yes progress, on my manuscript yesterday. I wouldn’t go so far as saying that I improved it, but I have been snaking my way through the problems I am facing. After wrestling with Mary’s unsung novel about incest, Matilda, I was able to say: “Matilda (and Mary) experiences her emerging sexuality as the root of her father’s pain. In Matilda’s case her only crime is that she is an attractive young woman. But for this she castigates herself.” Then I rattle on about Mary. I feel like I am onto something very important here. That Mary was, too.
By the way, I was just on my friend’s very interesting website, (photosdie.com) dedicated to the idea that photos die if we don’t talk about them. I told him that I think all things die if we don’t talk about them.

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