The Goddess of Progress

San Francisco City Hall after the devastating earthquake in 1906. Amidst the ruins stands a towering dome ordained with a mighty female figure, the goddess of progress*.  This is interesting because in the  ancient Greek mythology, where all European (type) gods and goddesses come from, there is no such goddess at all.  The very idea of progress was alien to the classical way of thinking where gods and people participated in the circular fulfillment of fate. Progress on the other hand is an inalienable American political idea. And economic idea too. Which stems from the epoch of the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, when mankind (again European) stopped consulting God on its  every  day activity and unleashed its exponential creativity in order to construct its own fate. So the lady atop of the San Francisco city hall is a controversial concept, a goddess of something that needs no god!

But what is progress? Surely the Americans would know something about progress. But surely they (at least some) know a bit about Greek Gods.  So why then erect a giant statue of something contradictory and non existent? Because we can! No, that’s why we built Vegas. Because victory and liberty were already taken? Or maybe because progress is nothing less than the ability to make your own God.

*The Goddess of progress survived the earthquake but was damaged during transportation and was never reinstalled. Her head can be seen in the City Hall exhibition court.