The Ideal Opposites

“The world is thus faced by the paradox that, at least in its higher actualities, it craves for novelty and yet is haunted by terror at the loss of the past, with its familiarities and its loved ones. It seeks escape from time in its character of ‘perpetually perishing’. Part of the joy of the new years is the hope of the old round of seasons, with their stable facts -of friendship, love, and old association. Yet conjointly with this terror, the present as mere unrelieved preservation of the past assumes the character of a horror of the past, rejection of it, revolt:

To die be given, or attain,
Fierce work it were to do again.

(…) is the question whether the process of the temporal world passes into the formation of other actualities, bound together in an order in which novelty does not mean loss.

The ultimate evil in the temporal world is deeper than any specific evil. It lies in the fact that the past fades, that time is a ‘perpetual perishing’. Objectification involves elimination. The present fact has not the past fact with it in any full immediacy. The process of time veils the past below distinctive feeling. There is a unison of becoming among things in the present. What should there not be novelty without loss of this direct unison of immediacy amongst things?”

Alfred North Whitehead