Monday 4 February 2019

Picture Post #43: The Signpost

'Because things don’t appear to be the known thing; they aren’t what they seemed to be neither will they become what they might appear to become.'

Posted by Thomas Scarborough


A  signpost on a public road in South Africa’s remote Suurveld. What stood out for me immediately was the letter ‘O’. The signmaker, a long time ago, clearly made a better job of the ‘O’s than the other letters. Some day, I thought, one may make out little more than the ‘O’s.

Great men and women of the past left our civilisation with vital signposts: the rule of law, universal suffrage, equal rights, and more. Some of their signposts are no longer clearly seen, nor are the reasons why they put them there. How well are our signposts made today, for tomorrow?


Keith said...

With the burgeoning of autocracies around the world, the directional ‘signposts of civilisation’ listed here — ‘the rule of law, universal suffrage, equal rights, and more’ — seem to be correspondingly fading, too. Let’s hope future historians and cultural anthropologists will have abundantly more to discover and salvage than just O-like remnants of democratic values.

Martin Cohen said...

To me the signpost looks pretty forlorn anyway, seemingly stranded in a scrubby field, rather than on any path. In other words, the paths grown over long ago, the indications more hopeful than practical. Does that link too to your grander narrative?

Tessa den Uyl said...

Dear Gentlemen,
Every day when we wake up, we only keep a fragment of the tapestry of our existence, that weaved oblivion within us. And every day undoes the texture, the ornaments of oblivion with practical acting. A lived experience is finished, while an event that is remembered is limitless. The unity of the texture is the work of remembrance; what is remembered is the other side of the tapestry. In this view, what is remember is always a minority. Perhaps a perspective to enter your question Thomas?

Thomas O. Scarborough said...

There would seem to me to be a sea change today, which is a shift away from hard won democratic principles -- to opinion, interests, populism, voluntarism, movements, trends -- alternatively neglect, disinterest, fears. These now often take the place of democratic structures and processes, and no one seems to notice it much.

Keith: I would think that the fading of signposts is closely related to trending autocracy.
Martin: That road is still in regular use, although the signs are forlorn. Perhaps a metaphor for abandoning the signs once we have the routine? When someone new comes on the scene, they'll miss them.
Tessa: We forget too easily the reasons for our traditions. It seems that we may need to relive them to renew them?

Tessa den Uyl said...

A phrase by W. benjamin : Perhaps Stone Age man produced such incomparable drawings of the elk only because the hand guiding the implement still remembered the bow with which it had felled the beast.

To extend your signpost question; will we leave drawings in the future?

Martin Cohen said...

I've always felt this one, on the side of the Pioneer space probe that presumably will ong outlast planet Earth, is really NOT a great tribute to human art. Strangely, it might have been etter if we had attached a copy of a stone age painting...

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