The Future of Time • Introduction

7 Oct


By Humphrey Osmond


We are such things as dreams and nightmares are made of and our lives are set in an amalgam of space and time from their beginnings to their end.  Some of us make prodigious efforts to ensure that our nightmares or dreams spread through time and remain behind us long after we are gone.  In their different ways, Stalin and Hitler each tried to ensure that something of them should be remembered in time to come.  Stalin was indefatigable at having towns and streets named after him.  Dozens of statues, perhaps hundreds, some of them enormous were erected during his lifetime.  Soviet history was revised continually as he grew older to emphasize his pervasive influence on every aspect of Russian affairs.  Before he died Stalin had become Lenin’s closest collaborator, friend and alter ego, though in fact Lenin had come to dislike, distrust and fear the sinister Georgian, whose demotion he advised in his will.  Had Stalin lived longer, he might well have written himself into history as the friend co-worker of Marx himself.  Yet within a few years of his death, towns and streets were renamed, statues were pulled down, and the unrevised histories were liberated from the libraries where they had been carefully stored.  Thus the record reads rather differently now than it did in Stalin’s prime.

Hitler,  however, did not concern himself with revising the past to conform to the present; he used his astonishing energy to establish a future branded irrevocably with his crude, sentimental, and unusually commonplace vision-The Thousand-Year Reich.  Unluckily he inspired one of the most energetic, precise, well-organized, and determined people in the world to join him in pursuing this bloody mirage.  When the venture collapsed after coming dangerously close to success, Hitler, in keeping with his Wagnerian taste, did not hesitate to bring down the whole Third Re ich with him.  These recent experiences suggest that we should be discriminating about translating our own dreams- and those of our leaders-into reality.

From our first moments we are thralls of time…


The Future of Time Man’s Temporal Environment

Edited By Henry Yaker, Humphry Osmond AND Frances Cheek(Anchor Books Doubleday & Company, Inc. Garden City, New York, 1972) pp. 1-2



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