History ain't bunk, Harry.

Harry S Truman said "History is bunk" which just about sums up the man, his own and his nation's philosophy, his intellectual capacity as erstwhile 'leader of the free world'.

It is of course true that when you are adolescent you probably have little interest in that which came before; (or in that which is to come for that matter). What concerns you when you are young, whilst all the raging hormones threaten at any time to break out free as the wind is the here and the now and the how and the who. But as we mature, most of us realise that we truly are only that which are parents were and their parents were and ... into history. And, probably more importantly, that which they did. We are the inheritors of their physical and mental characteristics, their laws, their conventions and most of the devices, roads, machines and buildings we all use today in support of our 'improved stand of living'.

I won't even get into the 'are we happier' bit, because there's no measure for human happiness now or before, so far as I know.

But in common with the Elizabethans, Wm Shakespeare included, I have long been convinced that our species is on the whole going backwards rather than forwards. Even though we generally live longer, more comfortably and under less stress than those who came before, are we as individuals stronger physically, mentally, creatively? Could we today - would we even have the urge to try today - to build Rouen cathedral should we only have the foods and the tools at the disposal of those who did build it nigh on a thousand years ago? Ditto, the long ruined houses on the(then much, much more) remote hillslopes at Third Coast, just along from here in the Scottish Highlands.

Have a half day look at your National Gallery and another half day at your Tate Modern. Then take a look at the web-site http://megalithix.wordpress.com

Answers on a postcard.

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