Tradition and the Individual Talent. T.S. Eliot. 1921. The Sacred Wood; Essays on Poetry and Criticism:
The linked essay is not very long, but quite difficult -- at least to me. The overall effect it had on me is related to the current force of the the collective present "you didn't build that" in the attempt to destroy the idea of "individual effort", and the related (and largely successful) focus to cut off the "now" from the past so fully that only a tiny minority of people in the present have even a tiny awareness of the richness of the culture and tradition that made this present but dying world possible.
It might be said that it is dying of "natural causes" in that it requires at least some level of effort for even a genius to be aware of the richness of the past that made the present exist. The decision to willfully cut ourselves off from the massive collective triumphs and failures of history, and at the same time create an ethos in which the individual of the present is devalued except in relation to an imaginary collective of the present -- and ever the present, moment, bereft of even the events of very recent years. This may be "natural", but it is not culture nor civilization.
I say "imaginary collective", because what passes for some vast "collective wisdom of the present" is really only the "story of the day" ... whose "value" is only relative to whatever today's narrative is from the vast manipulative organs of the "The Party".
Thus, there is NOTHING "timeless" ... all is temporal, and temporal only in the sense of NOW, meaning this minute. So, at this minute, I went to Moveon.org and was completely unsurprised to find the very organization named to "Move On" from any "distractions" relative to sexual harassment by Bill Clinton engaged in disqualifying Trump based on ... allegations of past harassment charges!
TODAY, the "values" are completely changed -- and that is perfectly in tune with the operation of "the Party". There is no history at all -- even of the past hour. The vast bulk of the populace knows nothing but the moment, because that is the way "The Party" finds the most effective to attaining their goals.
The whole essay is well worth the time -- the following is just a snippet that captures a bit of what has befallen us.
" Yet if the only form of tradition, of handing down, consisted in following the ways of the immediate generation before us in a blind or timid adherence to its successes, “tradition” should positively be discouraged. We have seen many such simple currents soon lost in the sand; and novelty is better than repetition. Tradition is a matter of much wider significance. It cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labour. It involves, in the first place, the historical sense, which we may call nearly indispensable to anyone who would continue to be a poet beyond his twenty-fifth year; and the historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence; the historical sense compels a man to write not merely with his own generation in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order. This historical sense, which is a sense of the timeless as well as of the temporal and of the timeless and of the temporal together, is what makes a writer traditional. And it is at the same time what makes a writer most acutely conscious of his place in time, of his contemporaneity."'via Blog this'