Parochialism in time

There is, writes Dalrymple,

no more evanescent quality than modernity, a banal observation whose import those who take pride in their modernity contrive to ignore. Having reached the pinnacle of human achievement by living in the present rather than in the past, they assume that nothing will change after them; and they assume that the latest is best.

He notes that in certain fields the latest is inclined to be best. For example,

no one would wish to be treated surgically using the methods of Sir Astley Cooper.

But

if we want modern treatment, it is not because it is modern but because it better as gauged by pretty obvious criteria. If it were worse (as very occasionally it is), we should not want it, however modern it were.

Alas, says Dalrymple,

the idea of progress has infected important spheres in which it has no proper application, particularly the arts.

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