Monday, February 20, 2012

May You Live in Interesting Times

One of my favorite Dan Carlin "Hardcore History" Podcasts is the one he did with James Burke. As many of you may know, I happen to be a huge fan of James Burke, and his series "Connections 1", "Connections 2",  "Connections 3" and "The Day the Universe Changed". One of Dan's first questions to   Dr. Burke was if he thought we lived in interesting times (the famous double edged Chinese Proverb of uncertain origin, but familiar to many).

Dr. Burke's answer was that pretty much anyone felt that they lived in interesting time based on the context of their age. Even the so called Dark Ages had brilliant flashes and amazing things happening (and we must remember that while Western Europe was dealing with its so called Dark Age, Arabia, India, China and the civilizations of the Americas and many civilizations in sub-Saharan Africa were celebrating a Golden Age.

This cartoon from Two Leaf Clover artist Aaron Scott reminds us that, even in the wonders of the ancient world, we don't really know the whole story. Because of that, we have made our own speculations and attached much of wonder and mysticism to places like the pyramids, the Kurgyns of the Eurasian Steppe, the Barrows of Europe and, of course, the various henges within the British Isles, of which Stonehenge is the most famous.

It makes me wonder... what will people 3,000 years from now think of our age? Will we be looked at with some sort of wild-eyed mysticism? Will we be seen as horribly backward by their standards, or will we appear to be very much like they are? Likewise, how much were our ancient ancestors more like us than different from us? How do we know that Stonehenge wasn't the office park of its day? the fact is, we don't know, but in a way it's kinda of fun to think about :).

No comments: