And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
—T. S. Eliot
Five hundred years ago, Niccolo Machiavelli, the Second Chancellor of Florence, was asked by the city's ruling council to investigate why Pandolfo Petrucci, the Lord of neighboring Siena, was so inconstant in his behavior and so prone to intrigue. Machiavelli was deeply impressed by Petrucci's explanation: “Wishing to make as few mistakes as possible, I conduct my government day by day and arrange my affairs hour by hour, because the times are more powerful than our brains.”
“The times are more powerful than our brains.” The phrase is remarkably resonant today, in these early years of the third ...