Fandango’s Provocative Question #41

FPQWelcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week I will pose what I think is a provocative question for your consideration. By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

This week I came upon a quote from Zadie Smith, an English novelist, essayist, and short-story writer.48F9BB42-DD80-4A1C-BEED-1D12CC1DB85EI was originally going to use her quote for my response to Linda G. Hill’s One-Liner Wednesday prompt today, but the more I thought about the quote, I decided that it would be better suited for this week’s provocative question. Here’s her quote:

“The past is always tense, the future perfect.”

I love this quote. It’s a play on words with respect to verb tenses (past tense and future perfect tense). But it’s also more than that, isn’t it?

Our pasts are filled with many moments and memories, both good ones and bad ones. Yet when many of us think about our pasts, we often tend to focus on the negative moments, those times and events that we may regret or where we wish we’d done or said something different.

But our pasts are what made us who we are today and because of what we have learned — hopefully — from our pasts, we have a chance to make our futures better and brighter. And maybe even perfect.

So this week’s question is for you to discuss what you think about Zadie Smith’s quote. Do you believe that the past is always tense, the future perfect?

If you choose to participate, write a post with your response to the question. Once you are done, tag your post with #FPQ and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments.

The issue with pingbacks not showing up seems to have been resolved, but you might check to confirm that your pingback is there. If not, please manually add your link in the comments.

29 thoughts on “Fandango’s Provocative Question #41

  1. PCGuyIV September 18, 2019 / 6:28 am

    I don’t believe it at all. The past is tainted by our own personal perspective. Certainly, some things were bad, and others wonderful, but depending on whether filtered through nostalgia or bitterness, the past is usually not quite as rosy or bleak as we tend to remember. LIkewise, our view of the future is tainted by our own levels of optimism and pessimism, as well as our own personal beliefs on whether mankind is inherently good or inherently evil, and to what degree. Also, a lot depends on how you define “future” and whether you believe or not in an afterlife, and if so, which side of that afterlife you are destined for.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Fandango September 18, 2019 / 7:48 am

      All very true. Everything we have done and will do is “tainted” by our perspectives and attitudes. Thanks for taking the the to posts your reaction to the quote in your comment.


  2. Marleen September 18, 2019 / 8:31 am

    You’ve caught me in a moment. The past is hopeful, and future is tense.

    My dad died about two-and-a-half years ago (which might seem like kind of a while but is still present and right now seems like eternity, and is). In addition to the reality that I miss him, my mother …

    BLah. My heart sinks.

    She started before my dad died but is still enthralled with scammers.
    She owns (inherited) half of my dad’s home — which all of my children had hoped would stay in the family for generations — along with me and is endangering both that and her own well-being. She basically won’t listen to anyone but the scammers.

    There is a small extent to which she values my dad’s last remaining sibling and her husband, but: it’s like, from their angle, if you had a standing lunch engagement with a person who you didn’t know was sex addicted and involved at every other moment in risky behaviour. (Saying this gives me an idea; maybe I should tell them everything and enlist their perspective.) [She also has a twin sister she cares about, but there is no optimism to be found there.]

    Her current obsession is in fact comparable in her own history, and not only as a metaphor, to sex addiction. She had at least one affair when I was very young, then divorced my dad and had more than one subsequent affair with other married men. Always telling herself the relationships would pan out to be something worthwhile. Never did pan out, obviously.

    From what I’ve heard, this current behaviour began with her being told she’s won something but had to pay “the taxes” upfront before she could get it.

    It’s all disorienting in a way, because she was very strict as a mother. But my upbringing was tolerable, nevertheless, because my dad was caring and provided for my future in ways such as sending me to good schools. I’ll always be thankful in that.

    It’s a mortal kind of thankfulness, the knowledge of having been imputed a soul despite being oppressed by someone who spent and wasted life without.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango September 18, 2019 / 1:24 pm

      Wow. Yes, I can see where it’s disorienting.


      • Marleen September 18, 2019 / 6:34 pm

        And they both had steady careers in very close to the same profession, went to the same college for their undergraduate degrees. He went on to get a master’s degree, elsewhere.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. pensitivity101 September 18, 2019 / 8:38 am

    We believe our past began on May 10th 1989, the day we met. Both f us had a lot of ‘baggage’ but had things not happened in my previous past the way they did, I would not be the person I actually like now. Likewise, Hubby’s past before we met had moulded him.
    However, whatever had gone before didn’t matter to the ‘US’ we were to become as we grew together from that day.
    So, yes, my past has had its tense moments, and my future will never be perfect, but whatever the future does hold for us, hopefully we will face it together for many years to come…….. and to me, that’s what matters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango September 18, 2019 / 1:28 pm

      I’m convinced that nobody and nothing is “perfect,” but it sounds like you and hubby have a promising future.


  4. Stroke Survivor UK September 18, 2019 / 9:17 am

    But there is also am imperfect tense. That’s where I must be – my wife tells me so all the time!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Stroke Survivor UK September 19, 2019 / 12:02 am

        Okay, a serious answer. I think the quote is a lovely construct of words, but a bit meaningless.

        Future Perfect? Of course. I spent my life thinking about how good we can be. I use my phone, get in a car even, and marvel at how inventive we can be. If that talent is directed properly, the future *can* be perfect. I am resigned to spending the rest of my life thinking, “what if…”
        But as if to douse my enthusiasm, I get nothing whatever from “past always tense”. The past is what it is.
        But her use of the language is excellent.
        When I read things like this, I realise that I only ever appreciated things like imperfect, perfect, future perfect, even terms like past participle, when I learned a foreign language. So I wonder how many people who just speak their own language, are blissfully unaware.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Fandango September 19, 2019 / 7:30 am

          How many foreign languages do you speak?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Stroke Survivor UK September 19, 2019 / 7:47 am

            I have passable French, enough to get by in shops and restaurants, and schoolboy German. We used to go to France 4-5 times per year, sometimes just for the weekend to do the shopping, but I haven’t travelled over since a few months before the stroke, that would’ve been 2015, so I’m very rusty. I challenge myself these days by being in a few French-language groups on Facebook, that’s about all I use it for these days. When I’m tired I give in and hit “Translate” 🙂
            I used to cycle a lot and was drawn to Flanders (in Belgium, mostly), because of the cycling-related history, that led to attempting to learn Flemish probably in just the last 10 years, but I never got very far and can remember even less since the stroke. Please and Thank You. I wanted to spend more time over there, but that kinda got scuppered.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Stroke Survivor UK September 19, 2019 / 8:02 am

              (alstublieft and bedankt). It’s quite similar to German in many respects but they get sore if you say so 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

            • Fandango September 19, 2019 / 9:07 am

              I speak high school-level French. And because I live in California, where Spanish is a close second to English, I have taught myself enough Spanish to eavesdrop on conversations in that language. 😱

              Liked by 1 person

            • Stroke Survivor UK September 19, 2019 / 9:59 am

              I know people who love Spain, but I have only ever spent a few days there. I like the sound of the language but again, no more than a few words. I love Mexican food, there was a lot of TexMex when I was on the east coast.

              Liked by 1 person

  5. September 18, 2019 / 5:23 pm

    I can see why you love Zadie Smith’s quote… IT really does make one think. I’m so happy you shared this as part of the provocative question.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. tiredhamster September 18, 2019 / 7:05 pm

    I interpreted the quote as being about how one perceives his past and possible future in which case I disagree with the quote. Not everyone considers their past as necessarily “tense” nor their future “perfect.” But your interpretation is interesting, and maybe that’s what Smith was going for: that our pasts are tense, but they can lead to a better future in which case I would agree.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango September 18, 2019 / 7:14 pm

      Another blogger pointed out that the full quote is “…the wicked lie, that the past is always tense and the future, perfect.” If that’s true, the quote has an entirely different interpretation.


Comments are closed.