“To believe in progress and in science you had to know what science was and what progress might be. Having been born in the nineteenth century it was natural enough to know what science was. Darwin was still alive and Huxley and Agassiz and after all they all made the difference of before and after. And now in 1943 none of it means more than it did. Not so much more as not more. Not more at all.
And I began with evolution. Most pleasant and exciting and decisive. It justified peace and justified war. It also justified life and it also justified death and it also justified life. Evolution did all that. And now. Evolution is no longer interesting. It is historical now and no longer actual. Not even pleasant or exciting, not at all. To those of us who were interested in science then it had to do tremendously with the history of the world, the history of all animals, the history of death and life, and all that had to do with the round world. Evolution was as exciting as the discovery of America, by Columbus quite as exciting, and quite as much an opening up and a limiting, quite as much. By that I mean that discovering America, by reasoning and then finding, opened up a new world and at the same time closed the circle, there was no longer any beyond. Evolution did the same thing, it opened up the history of all animals vegetables and minerals, and man, and at the same time it made them all confined, confined within a circle, no excitement of creation any more. It is funny all this and this was my childhood and youth and beginning of existence. War oh yes was but logical and incessant war, and peace of yes, peace because if war is completely understood then peace was the ideal. It was just like that.”
(Gertrude Stein, Wars I Have Seen, p. 61.)