Even though it seems that every month rushes by in a blinding flash for me where Bookish Temptations is concerned, it seems to drag at an agonizing pace as I eagerly wait for and anticipate the monthly email from Morgan with his next Wordslinger post.
I enjoy Morgan’s writing tremendously, and I’m always grateful that he’s a part of the Bookish team.
I know how much y’all enjoy his posts as well, so let’s go check out what he wrote for us this month…
Hello once again and welcome to Wordslinger. Tamie has occasionally reminded me that I am free to discuss any topic despite the fact that this is a writing column presented within a writing website, and while I have resisted until now, I find myself compelled to contemplate the Dark Ages and where we’d be without them.
Fortunately, I don’t think it will be very difficult for me to involve writing and it’s influence (or lack there of) on European culture at that time so I may even be able to justify my musings here.
First, let’s go back in time. When Rome was sacked in 410, it was beyond shocking. The Eternal City in ruins? Impossible, unless it was the result of displeased gods.
But it wouldn’t be the first time Rome was turned over, and it destabilized a whole region. What took its place was a more tribal culture. Power was seized along with the land that granted it, and for the next one thousand years mid-European culture was little more than forced servitude and oppression through violence, fear and denying common people any basic education. Only certain individuals were allowed to read.
But I digress…It would be nice to indulge in a discussion about these social devices, but I am eager to attend to my main observation.
Not surprisingly, it was the invention of the printing press in the mid 1400′s that is credited with ending the Dark Ages. After a very successful first run of the wildly popular, ‘Calendar of 1448′, (a quick but weighty summer read) the press was put to work making two-volume sets of the Bible.
The whole world learned to read because of this. Anyone could own a book! This was about as significant as our mastery of fire or the mobility that automobiles gave at the turn of the modern age.
The industrial revolution was the result of smart people getting a chance to educate themselves. Brains, instead of luck or strength, began to determine the course of people’s lives. They invented machines and for the next five hundred years it brought forth a time of human prosperity that had never been thought possible.
But I digress again…While I am fascinated with the Industrial Revolution and in particular the Victorian era inventions, it is still not my primary reason for writing today.
Oh yes, I would love to discuss how we are now squandering that prosperity and how we are headed for a repeat of history if we don’t rediscover out sense of ‘community’, but here’s my point:
If it weren’t for the Dark Ages, we could have been a thousand years ahead of where we are right now in technology.
This is significant because in less than a hundred years from right now we will have advances in medicine that will raise the life expectancy of humans by double their current numbers. Yup, it’s true, and that’s only the beginning; Imagine a matrix-like world where your consciousness in allowed to live in a digital body. Think I’m crazy? You grandchildren might be the first generation to be offered that choice.
The scientific community is up to some epic shit right now and that’s just the first century of a thousand years that could have happened already.
Our grandparents would have been stunned at the sight of a cell phone or a compact disc in the 1950′s, but to us they are common place items. Imagine what future devices would surprise us.
We mapped the brain a century ago and for the last hundred years we have been perfecting that map. The whole body in fact. It’s something we are obsessed with learning about (duh) and it will only take another century or so for us to go beyond even Star Trek sick bay technology.
No transporters though. Sorry.
In his book, ‘Physics of the Future’, Michio Kaku tells us that we are no closer in developing true artificial intelligence then we were in the sixties, but that other areas of science have taken off beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.
Space colonization, for one example, isn’t a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’ and believe it or not, the first long-range starships will most likely run on steam. Also, I’m certain that the first country that starts a construction project on the moon will find neighbors soon. It’s prime real estate and it’s going to be first come first served.
We still have to deal with energy and water issues up there, but if we find ice at the Lunar poles, it’s on.
I just can’t help but dream of how different the world would be today if we hadn’t had such a species-wide backslide. If you look at what has changed in just the last ten years, you can begin to imagine how fantastical the world could be in just a few decades.
Universal translators and hand-held devices that can peer into the body will be used widely by 2020 and all these 4G phones you see commercials for…they are already out dated by Christmas models that boast, you guessed it, 5G. Soon it will jump by fives and soon we will be finding tablets in our doctor’s offices instead of magazines.
The world has changed, but humans haven’t. It’s that lesson that is the most advantageous for our leaders to learn and learn fast. We are emotional creatures and even our gadgets and devices are there to assist us in our quest for belonging.
I encourage you to find the humanity in all the technology around you. It’s really not hard to spot. We are trying to make our lives safer, easier, and more fun than our predecessors. Let’s take time to enjoy it, but not let it us fatten us up too much. We need to be ready to do our part for the generations yet to come.
This website is a good place to start. Let’s remember our community and celebrate our varied views. Let’s learn from each other and understand that we are a part of an age where the free exchange of ideas is finally a reality. We are communicating so efficiently, but what is it we are choosing to say? I believe that we owe it to ourselves to try to say only helpful things to each other.
The Dark Ages was just that, dark. Today, we have whole cities that never turn out the lights, but the term is just more appropriately applicable to the blindness humans in power had towards the value of education and equality.
The lights may still go out, but I like to think that we will never deny any human the right to read again. That, sadly, is not a global reality yet but once all people are free to live free and learn freely we will have accomplished something truly historical.
Giving all minds the chance to grow can only help our species progress because readers become leaders, and we need the best ones we can get.