Time Filters

By Praveen Chunduru

Time is the best filter of all that is fragile.

Think of the Great Pyramids of Giza, ‘The Republic’ of Plato, or the Magna Carta. They are centuries old, and yet, they are as relevant as ever.

Compare them to the fresh Wall Street Journal edition, Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’, or the Empire State Building. Which set would you expect to see around in five hundred years (actually, you fall in the second category which time will filter out, so you may not be around five hundred years from now. Sorry).

I would certainly pick the first category – Plato, having survived 2500 years through his writings, is likely to be relevant five hundred years down the line than is Dan Brown through his timely ‘DaVinci Code’.

Time’s filtration system is remarkable. It allows for the hype surrounding a work to die – something new will catch the fancy of the audience. In nearly all cases, the work themselves fade into oblivion. Very, very few stand the test of time, and the longer they stand, the longer they can be expected to stand. EL James, the author of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, is likely to be less relevant than JK Rowling, whose works have survived longer. JK to be less relevant than Dickens; Dickens to be less relevant than Shakespeare, etc.

That way, you can expect the present to be prism that forecasts the image of the past into the future. The old are expected to survive longer, the young expected to die soon.

I believe we are fools if we completely root ourselves to the present time. We have only about 50 years of life left and yet we waste it absorbing information that expires soon. We are citizens not only of our present time, but of all time. Nothing stops us from absorbing the wisdom of the ages. Read only what is robust, what was too good to be weeded out by time. Nothing stops us from taking advantage of time’s great filtration system.