Tuck This Amazing Little Prism In Your Pocket

If you feel overwhelmed by your world of 24/7 media, messages and manipulation, this may help. A finely ground prism through which to better see and figure out that world. It’s hardly the only prism you can use, but it has its comforts. Think of its three sides as: ‘Now’…’New’…’Original.’

One part refracts the world of ‘Now,’ allowing you to see what’s happening in our torrid present. The second or ‘New’ part lets you see what’s being promised in the immediate future. The third or ‘Original’ part permits you a glance back to how-it-was. In the time-space continuum that is your life, a prism like this can help sort out a lot of your otherwise jumbled existence.

In a high-energy, go-for-broke culture like ours, ‘Now’ is so relentlessly existential, it’s often hard to do much more than simply hang on.

‘New’ is that world just out of your reach, yet poised in Detroit and Silicon Valley assembly lines. ‘New’ has always had a special appeal for Americans, because our past is so relatively brief, while our future looks wondrously forever.

Then there’s the ‘Original’ part of the prism. It suddenly seems more crowded than ever. It’s a term that nicely translates the dusty word “past” into something that bubbles with the charm and comfort of what we may have all lost in our can’t-stop-rush from ‘Now’ to ‘New.’

Case in point. While modern America may appear to be all blue-jeans, rock music, fast cars, big sports, hot celebrities, and sizzling social media….whence these remarkable longings for things past? Take the Jane Austen fan clubs becoming a sub-culture like the Confederate re-enactments. Her once-forgotten novels Pride & Prejudice,” “Emma,” “Sense and Sensibility,” and Mansfield Park” are once more hot!

But goodness, everything in Jane’s 18th C world was so much form and formality. Forever masking feelings from the light of polite company and manners. The very opposite of today’s looser, if-it-feels-right-it-must-be-right youth culture. How could little Jane suddenly have such felicitous mass appeal to readers and movie goers alike? The short answer may be this. Human nature — even here in kinetic 21st C cool America — may plunge forward, but can never quite resist looking backward. To the-way-we-once- were. To the original us. To a sweet-used-to-be we miss more than we know.

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