That odd feeling when time comes unstuck in us. To read Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night (1934) and find the name “Miss Television,” or see in his Gatsby (1925) a swastika. Realizing with a start I was born only 18 years after the liberation of the camps, or that I joined the army myself only seven years after Vietnam. My students’ gasps when I tell them my grandfather was born in 1883. How is it possible? A comic hurt at the betrayal by time, become suddenly nonlinear, surprising.
And this is why we have books, television, internet, and before them the pencil: We must be reminded constantly. Empires fall? we say. How strange. Are you sure?