Showing posts with label Civilisational Collapse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Civilisational Collapse. Show all posts

Wednesday, 4 July 2018


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

"We don't believe in what you're doing here, Sarah

Hey, you know what they keep down here in This Cave? 

Man, they got the books and the records of the top 100 companies. 

They got the Defense Department budget down here. 

And they got the negatives for all your favorite movies. 

They got microfilm with tax return and newspaper stories. 

They got immigration records, census reports, and they got the accounts of all the wars and plane crashes and volcano eruptions and earthquakes and fires and floods and all the other disasters that interrupted the flow of things in the good ole U.S. of A. 

Now, what does it matter, Sarah darling? 

All this filing and record keeping? 

We ever gonna give a shit? 

We even gonna get a chance to see it all? 

This is a great, big, 14 mile tombstone

["tombstone" echoes with distant moaning] 

With an epitaph on it that nobody gonna bother to read. 

Now, here you come. 

Here you come with a whole new set of charts and graphs and records. 

What you gonna do? 

Bury them down here with all the other relics of what... once... was? 

Let me tell you what else. 

Yeah, I'm gonna tell you what else. 

You ain't never gonna figure it out, just like they never figured out why the stars are where they're at. 

It ain't mankind's job to figure that stuff out. 

So what you're doing is a waste of time, Sarah. 

And Time is all we got left, you know.

What I'm doing... is all there's left to do. 

Shame on you. 

There's plenty to do. 

Plenty to do, so long as there's you and me and maybe some other people. 

We could start over, start fresh, make some babies... 

...and teach 'em, Sarah, teach 'em never to come over here and dig these records out. 
[distant moaning] 

Before Noyes floode there was a man called Lameche as it is written in the Byble, in the iiijth chapter of Genesis; and this Lameche had two wives, and the one height Ada and the other height Sella; by his first wife Ada he gott two sonns, and that one Jahell, and thother Tuball. And by that other wife Sella he gott a son and a daughter. 

And these four children founden the beginning of all the sciences of the world. And this elder son Jahell found the science of Geometrie, and he departed flocks of sheepe and lambs in the field, and first wrought house of stone and tree, as is noted in the Chapter above said. And his brother Tuball found the science of Musicke, songe of tonge, harpe, and orgaine. And the third brother Tuball Cain found smithcraft of gold, silver, copper, iron and steele; and the daughter found the craft of Weavinge. 

And these children knew well that God would take vengeance for synn, either by fire or by water; wherefore they writt their science that they had found in two pillars of stone, that they might be found after Noyes floode. And that one stone was marble, for that would not bren with fire; and that other stone was clepped lanterns, and would not drown in noe water.

Our intent is to tell you trulie how and in what manner these stones were found, that thise sciences were written in. 

The great Hermarynes that was Cubys sonn, the which Cub was Sen's sonn, that was Noyes sonn. This Hermarynes, afterwards was called Harmes the father of wise men; he found one of the two pillars of stone, and found the science written there, and he taught to other men. 

And at the making of of the Tower of Babylon there was Masonrye find made much of. And the Kinge of Babylon that height Nemrothe, the Kinge of Babilon, sent thither threescore Masons at the rogation of the Kinge of Nyneve his cosen. And when he sent them forth, he gave them a charge on this manner: That they should be true each of them to other, and that they should love truly together, and that they should serve their lord truly for their pay; soe that the master may have sorshipp, and all that long to him. And other moe charges he gave them. And this was the first tyme that ever Masons had any charge of his science.

Moreover, when Abraham and Sara his wife went into Egipt, there he taught the Seaven Scences to the Egiptians; and he had a worthy Scoller that height Ewclyde, and he learned right well, and was a master of all the vij Sciences liberall. And in his dayes it befell that the lord and the estates of the realme had soe many sonns that they had gotten some by their wifes and some by othe laryes of the realme; for that land is a hott land and a plentious of generacion. And they had not competent livelode to find with their children; wherefore they made much care. And then the King of the land made a great Counsell and a parliament, to witt, how they might find their children honestly as gentlemen. And they could find noe manner of good wan. And they did crye through all the realme, it their were any man that could informe them, that he should come to them, and he should be soe rewarded for his travail, that he should hold him pleased.

After that this cry was made, then come this worthy clarke Ewclyde, and said to the king and to all his great lords: "If yee will, take me your children to governe, and to teache them one of the Seaven Scyences, wherewith they may live honestly as gentlemen should, under a condicion that yee will grant me and them a commission that I may have power to rule them after the manner that the scyence ought to be ruled," And that the Kinge and all his Counsell granted to him anone, and sealed their commission. And then this worthy Doctor tooke to him these lords' sonns, and taught them the scyence of Ceometrie in practice, for to work in stones all manner of worthy worke that belongeth to buildinge churches, temples, castells, towres, and mannors, and all other manner of buildings; and he gave them a charge on this manner:

The first was they should be true to the Kinge, and to the lord that they owe. And that they should love well together, and be true each one to the other. And that they chould call each other his fellowe, or else brother and not by servant, nor his nave, nor none other foule name. And that they should deserve their paie of the lord, or of the master that they serve. And that they should ordaine the wisest of them to be master of the worke; and neither for love nor great lynneage, ne riches ne for noe favour to lett another that hath little conning for to be master of the lord's worke, wherethrough the lord should be evill served and they ashamed. And also that they should call their governors of the worke, Master, in the time that they worke with him. And other many more charges that longe to tell. And to all these charges he made them to sweare a great oath that men used in that time; and ordayned them for reasonable wages, that they might live honestly by. And also that they should come and semble together every yeare once, how they might worke best to serve the lord for his profitt, and to the own worshipp; and to correct within themselves him that had trespassed against the science. And thus was the scyence grounded there; and that worthy Mr. Ewclide gave it the name of Geometrie. And now it is called through all this land Masonrye.

Sythen longe after, when the Children of Israell were coming into the Land of Beheast, that is now called amongst us the Country of Jhrim, King David began the Temple that they called Templum D'ni and it is named with us the Temple of Jerusalem. And the same King David loved Masons well and cherished them much, and gave them good paie. And he gave the charges and the manners as he had learned of Egipt given by Ewclyde, and other charges moe that ye shall heare aftewards. And after the decease of Kinge David, Salamon, that was David's sonn, performed out the Temple that his father begonne; and sent after Masons into divers countries and of divers lands; and gathered them together, so that he had four-score thousand workers of stone, and were all named Masons. And he chose out of them three thousand that were ordayned to be maisters and governors of his worke. And furthermore, there was a Kinge of another region that men called Iram, and he loved well Kinge Solomon, and he gave him tymber to his worke. And he had a son, that height Aynon, and he was a Master of Geometrie, and was chiefe Maister of all Masons, and was Master of all his gravings and cravinge, and of all other manner of Masonrye that longed to the Temple; and this is witnessed by the Bible in libro Regum the third chapter. And this Solomon confirmed both charges and the manners that his father had given to Masons. And thus was that worthy science of Masonrye confirmed in the country of Jerusalem, and in many other kingdomes.

Curious craftsmen walked about full wide into divers countryes, some because of learninge more craft and cunninge, and some to teach them that had but little conynge. And soe it befell that there was one curious Mason that height Maymus Crecus, that had been at the making of Solomon's Temple, and he came into France, that height Charles martell; and he was a man that loved well such a science, and drew to this Maymus Grecus that is above said, and learned of him the science, and tooke upon him the charges and manners; and afterwards, by the ggrace of God, he was elect to be the Kinge of France. And when he was in his estate he tooke Masons, and did helpe to make men Masons that were none; and set them to worke, and gave them both the charge and the manners and good paie as he had learned of other Masons; and confirmed them a Chartor from yeare to yeare, to hold their semble wher they would; and cherished them right much; And thus came the science into France.

England in all this season stood voyd as for any charge of masonrye unto Saint Albones tyme. And in his days the King of England that was a Pagan, he did wall the towne about that is called Sainct Albones. And Sainct Albones was a worth Knight, and steward with the Kinge of his Household, and had governance of the realme, and also of the makinge of the town walls; and loved well Masons and cherished them much. And he make their paie right good, standinge as the realm did, for he gave them ijs. vjd. a weeke, and iijd. to their nonesynches. And before that time, through all this land, a Mason took but a penny a day and his meate, till Sainct Albone amended it, and gave them a chartour of the Kinge and his Counsell for to hold a general councell, and gave it the mane of Assemble; and thereat he was himselfe, and helpe to make Masons, and gave them charges as yee shall heare afterward.

Right soone after the decease of Sainct Albone, there came divers warrs into the realme of England of divers Nations, soe that the good rule of Masonrye was destroyed unto the time of Kinge Athelstone days that was a worthy Kinge of England and brought this land into good rest and peace; and builded many great works of Abbyes and Towres, and other many divers buildings; and loved well Masons. And he had a son that height Edwinne, and he loved Masons much more than his father did. Ane he was a great practicer in Geometry; and he drew him much to talke and to mcommune with Maasons, and to learne of them science; and afterward, for love that he had to Masons, and to the science, he was made a Mason, and he gatt of the Kinge his father a Chartour and Commission to hold every yeare once an Assemble, wher that ever they would within the realme of England; and to correct within themselves defaults and trespasses that were done within the science. And he held himself an Assemble at Yorke, and there he made Masons, and gave them charges, and taught them the manners, and commanded that rule to be kept ever after, and tooke ordinance that it should be renewed from Kinge to Kinge.

And when the assemble was gathered he made a cry that all old Masons and young that had any writeinge or understanding of the charges and the manners that were made before in this land or in any other, that they should show them forth. And when it was proved, there were founded some in Frencne, and some in Greek, and some in English, and some in other languages; and all of them was founden all one. And he did make a booke thereof, and how the science was founded. And he himselfe bad and commanded that it should be readd or tould, when that any Mason should be made, for to give him his Charge. And for that day unto this tyme manners of Masons have beene kept in that forme as well as men might governe it. And furthermore divers Assembles have beene put and ordayned certaine charges by the best advice of Masters and fellowes.

The above, in its original Middle English, has been taken directly
from the Dowland Manuscript from the early sixteenth century.


Friday, 18 August 2017

Barbarian History

"I, Herodotus of Halicarnassus, am here setting forth my History, that Time may not draw the color from what Man has brought into being, nor those great and wonderful deeds manifested by both The Greeks and The Barbarians, fail of their report, and together, with all of this, the reason why They fought one another."

In a speech in 1878--like many other speeches he gave in the last third of his life--Frederick Douglass was at that point, 1878, already fed up with Lost Cause arguments about what the war had been about.

He was also already, early in the process, fed up with the ways in which Americans were beginning to reconcile this bloody, terrible conflict around the mutual valor of soldiers, and in his view forgetting what the whole terrible thing might have even been about. 

And at the end of a magnificent speech he gave at a veterans reunion he said this: 

"The Civil War"--this is Frederick Douglass--"was not a fight between rapacious birds and ferocious beasts, a mere display of brute courage and endurance, it was a war between men of thought, as well as of action, and in dead earnest for something beyond the battlefield." He went on and on and on then to declare that the war had been about ideas, and he described the difference between those ideas, as he put it, was the difference between, quote, 

"Barbarism and Civilization."

Chapter 1. Introduction: The Southern Memory of the Civil War

Professor David Blight: Well, go South with me today. We're going to take up this question initially of — it's an old, old, old American question — how peculiar, or distinctive, or different is the American South? That used to be a question you could ask in quite some comfort. The "Dixie difference," as a recent book title called it, or "Dixie rising" as another recent book title called it. 

The South, of course, is many, many, many things and many, many, many peoples. There are so many South's today that it has rendered this question in some ways almost irrelevant, but, in other ways, of course not. 

We still keep finding our presidential elections won or lost in the South. Name me a modern American president who won the presidency without at least some success in the states of the old Confederacy. Look at the great realignments in American political history. They've had a great deal to do with the way the South would go, or parts of the South would go. 

We're on the verge now of the first southern primary in this year's election, in South Carolina, and everybody is wondering, is there a new modern South Carolina or not?

Now, this question is fun to have fun with in some ways because it's fraught with stereotypes, isn't it? The South: hot, slow, long vowels, great storytellers, and so on. Oh, and they love violence and football and stockcar racing, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Well I grew up in Michigan and I can assure you that Michiganders love all those things too and probably even more. But the idea of Southern stereotypes is very, very old. It isn't a product of the Civil War by any means. 

The South as an idea, the South and its distinctiveness was very much there even in the Colonial Period. Travelers from England and elsewhere, France, who would come to the American colonies and would travel throughout the colonies, would often comment on this, that somehow Southerners were different culturally, attitudinally, behaviorally.

And none other than Thomas Jefferson himself left this famous description of characterizations of Southerners and Northerners. He wrote this in the mid-1780s. He was writing to a foreign — a French — correspondent. And Thomas Jefferson described the people of the North — this was in the 1780s now, this is before the cotton boom and all that — he described the people of the North this way. 

Jefferson: "Northerners are cool, sober, laborious, persevering, independent, jealous of their own liberties, chicaning, superstitious, and hypocritical in their religion." Take that Yankees. 

But Southerners, he said, "they are fiery, voluptuous, indolent, unsteady, independent, zealous of their own liberties" — he changed jealous to zealous there. If we're doing close readings we might go into that for twenty minutes, but we're not. He's not over: "zealous of their own liberties but trampling on those of others, generous, candid and without attachment or pretensions to any religion but that of their own heart." 

Now we can debate what Jefferson got right or wrong there, or what's held up, but do note how he said both sides were either jealous or zealous of their own liberties. That could be an epigraph on this course, if you like, because in the end when this Civil War will finally come both sides will say over and over and over again that they are only fighting for liberty. 

Everybody in the Civil War will say they're fighting for liberty.

In one of the greatest books ever written on the South, by a Southerner, in particular Wilbur Cash's great classic in 1940 called The Mind of the South, he did something similar to Jefferson, although he's focusing only on Southerners here. Cash was a great journalist, intellectual historian in his own right, deeply critical of his beloved South. In fact it was Cash who wrote a book called The Mind of the South in which he argued, in part, that the South had no mind. He didn't really mean it. He said Southerners are "proud, brave, honorable by its" — The South is "proud, brave, honorable by its lights, courteous, personally generous, loyal, swift to act, often too swift, but signally effective, sometimes terrible in its actions. Such was the South at its best," said Cash, "and such at its best it remains today." 

Then comes a "but." But the South, he says, is also characterized by, quote, "violence, intolerance, aversion, suspicion toward new ideas, an incapability for analysis, an inclination to act from feeling rather than from thought, attachment to fictions and false values, above all too great attachment to racial values and a tendency to justify cruelty and injustice."

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Collapse : Before The Fall

" Hence a certain tension between religion and society marks the higher stages of every civilization. "

Anál nathrach, orth’ bháis’s bethad, do chél dénmha.

The Charm of Breaking AND Making, an incantation repeatedly uttered by both Merlin and Morgana, is in an Old Gaelic dialect that translates to :

"Serpent's Breath, Charm of Death and Life, Thy Omen of [Re-]Making."

• You Will Be The Land, and The Land Will Be You. 
• If You Fail, The Land Will Perish; 
• As You Thrive, The Land Will Blossom.

"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. 

• If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and 

• If I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and 

• If I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. "

Yours, A. Lincoln
Executive Mansion,
Washington, August 22, 1862.

"Hence a certain tension between religion and society marks the higher stages of every civilization. 

Religion begins by offering magical aid to harassed and bewildered men; 

It culminates by giving to a people that unity of morals and belief which seems so favorable to statesmanship and art; 

It ends by fighting suicidally in the Lost Cause of the past. 

For as knowledge grows or alters continually, it clashes with mythology and theology, which change with geological leisureliness. 

Priestly control of arts and letters is then felt as a galling shackle or hateful barrier, and intellectual history takes on the character of a "conflict between science and religion." 

Institutions which were at first in the hands of the clergy, like law and punishment, education and morals, marriage and divorce, tend to escape from ecclesiastical control, and become secular, perhaps profane. 

"We had a Deal, a Deal is a Promise and a Promise is Sacred."
The intellectual classes abandon the ancient theology and—after some hesitation—the moral code allied with it; literature and philosophy become anticlerical

The movement of liberation rises to an exuberant worship of reason, and falls to a paralyzing disillusionment with every dogma and every idea

Conduct, deprived of its religious supports, deteriorates into epicurean chaos; and life itself, shorn of consoling faith, becomes a burden alike to conscious poverty and to weary wealth

In the end, a society and its religion tend to fall together, like body and soul, in a harmonious death. 

Meanwhile among the oppressed another myth arises, gives new form to human hope, new courage to human effort, and after centuries of chaos builds another civilization."