“the unbridled onward rush into the abyss”

From “Timekeepers: How the World Became Obsessed With Time” by Simon Garfield:

“Optimistically, the more benign form of frenetic standstill is not a new thing. In the terminology of popular media we have been ‘living on a hamster wheel’ since the 1950s, while we have been ‘on a treadmill’ since the 1970s. And we can go further back still. In February 1920, in a letter to his colleague Ludwig Hopf, Einstein observed how he was ‘being so terribly deluged with inquiries, invitations, and requests that at night I dream I am burning in hell and the mailman is the devil and is continually yelling at me, hurling a fresh bundle of letters at my head because I still haven’t answered the old ones’. And further back still. ‘Everything is now “ultra”,’ Goethe wrote to the composer Carl Friedrich Zelter. ‘Young people are . . . swept along in the whirlpool of time; wealth and speed are what the world admires and what everyone strives for. All kinds of communicative facility are what the civilized world is aiming at in outpacing itself.’ That was in 1825. Regrettably, not all of our new acceleration is benign. Rosa concludes his book with a worst-case scenario, an endgame he calls ‘the unbridled onward rush into the abyss’ – death by time. It will be caused by our inability to balance the conflict of movement and inertia, and ‘the abyss will be embodied in either the collapse of the ecosystem or in the ultimate breakdown of the modern social order’. There may also be ‘nuclear or climatic catastrophes, with the diffusion at a furious pace of new diseases, or with new forms of political collapse and the eruption of uncontrolled violence, which can be particularly expected where the masses excluded from the process of acceleration and growth take a stand against the acceleration society’. Happy days.”

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