Recently, for instance, Scalfari was able to report that, “Pope Francis has abolished all the places we were supposed to go after death: Hell, Purgatory, Heaven.” … Then in his L’Espresso column, Sandro Magister (the doyen of Vatican-watchers) quotes from one mechanically-recorded audience and homily after another, in which the Holy Father gently assumes not only the character but the lines that Scalfari has attributed to him.
Now, from our present vantage we may deny all this. Yes, it was a time when “father knew best,” and the young were not all juvenile delinquents. Dead white males were in each college course, and the colleges themselves were vastly expanding, in the naïve belief that knowledge is a cure. The “counter-culture” was confined to a few jolly beatniks. Communists and perverts had to hide in the closet. Let me not go on: repression was everywhere! … (How I miss repression.)
The more glitzy chain branches remain open, scattered through the city’s middle-class enclaves. Many of this world’s more famous bookstores have hollowed out in this way. Most started as serious publishers, more than a century ago. (Ferozsons began thus in the 1890s, and still publishes in English and Urdu.) They discover that selling other people’s books is more remunerative. The imprint gives the retail brand cachet; the store becomes a landmark. Then, with the metastasis of modern half-education, it opens those branches. It is a business model that has, only recently, begun to fail. The big main branch with its big overheads is first to close, then the little candles snuff one by one. For the chain stores are mere utilities; each carries the same shortlist of (mostly lurid) bestsellers, now available cheaper from Amazon. They become magazine shops, and coffee shops, and trinket shops, and anything but book shops. They hire people who know nothing about books. By the time they terminate, there seems no cause for mourning.
We encounter the same problem whenever we reverse time. It changes everything going forward. We enter an entirely new time series, in which the shares we buy in, say, the Apple corporation, turn out worthless. Gold will rise and fall in different order, and so our scheme to get stinking rich quickly ends in the usual bankruptcy. Similar things happen on all other channels, so that our plan to fix history also comes apart. This is a problem with alternative worlds; bigger than we guess in any Faustian bargain. Best leave God in charge of this one; and the young to endure the advice of the old.
Be not too sensible, or too remembering, of thyplace in conversation, and private answers tosuitors; but let it rather be said, When he sits inplace, he is another man.This complete text of Essays of Francis Bacon is in the public domain.