The Austin History Center (AHC) occupies the 1933 Austin public library building overlooking Wooldridge Square. The library moved next door to the John Henry Faulk building in 1979, and freed the space for the AHC. All of this I know. This is common knowledge.
But, what came before? What happened during that century between Austin’s founding and the construction of this building? What isn’t commonly known? What past hides behind the facade of the present?
How did life come to be left out of Austin’s future?
Hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornados are considered forces of nature. With these, we expect the worst. A force of nature, beyond our control, is to be feared.
Life itself is a force of nature. Life, as a force, is inexorable, relentless. Life, too, is beyond our control. We can destroy life. We cannot create new life where none existed before.
Life expands and evolves to fit every niche and opportunity, given enough time and progeny. The more diverse the niches available (like a tropical rainforest), the richer and more varied the life that occupies them.
What stands between our heritage and the inability of man to control his greed is law.
Europeans came to this country over 400 years ago, and were blessed by what they believed to be limitless resources. The land seemed fertile beyond reason or imagination, and wildlife could be harvested without concern for its diminishment. Or, so they thought.
Actually, I stole the form, and then modified it to fit my specific need. Pablo Picasso is most often credited with the form (good artists copy, great artists steal), but I can find references from T.S. Elliott (the immature poet imitates; the mature poet plagiarizes), Igor Stravinsky (lesser artists borrow; great artists steal), and William Faulkner (immature artists copy, great artists steal). I suspect that they all stole the form from someone else.
Truth is ever to be found in the simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things – Isaac Newton
Interpretation gravitates to the complex. Maybe all human systems have a natural inclination toward convolution, like stormwater sprinting downstream. Bureaucracies certainly hint at this drift. There is refuge to be found in the minutia of complexity.
The principles of interpretation aren’t complex. The rules are limited; the doctrine is easy to grasp. The role of the interpreter is to simplify the complex, not to complicate the simple.