effort which people put up to avoid thinking might almost enable
them to think and to have some ideas. But having ideas produce
anxiety and malaise and runs counter to the deepest instincts
of human nature, which loves symmetry, repetition, and routine. Mine
certainly does, and to such a degree that I get sick of them, and
then notice that proclivity in others and criticise it.
would expect people to remember the past and to imagine the future.
But in fact, when discoursing or writing about history, they imagine
it in terms of their own experience, and when trying to gauge the
future they cite supposed analogies from the past: till, by a double
process of repetition, they imagine the past and remember the
is a mistake to suppose that people think: they wobble with the
brain, and sometimes the brain does not wobble.
Namier: Symmetry and repetition (1941), in The Oxford Book
of Essays, Oxford University Press, 1991.