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‘Its First Lesson is Modesty’
The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant: Summation 2
II. History and the Earth
Just as the academic establishment abandoned and declared apostate any cataclysmic forces impacting Mankind in the bright and brutal echo of the birth of the Atomic Age as defined by Asimov as ending the Industrial Age[1], Will and Ariel maintained the dogged conviction that the earth and its relationships with other heavenly bodies has often impacted man most heavily. They cite the sinking of the Titanic indirectly, the remorseless closing of jungle growth about a proud masonry civilization and speak of history as a collective journey of souls, “…cities disappear under the water and cathedrals ring their melancholy bells.”
The authors place geology as “the matrix of history, its nourishing mother and disciplining home,” not yet abandoning the metaphor of the family in human affairs, failing to consign geology to the slow Darwinian progress of the mindless ooze which had overtaken most of academics by the time they wrote these pages.
They then suggest the possibility that “…Oriental fertility, working with the latest Occidental technology, bring the decline of the West?”
The fact that abundant coastlines in the agrarian and industrial ages of sea power doomed large nations like China, Russia and Brazil to stagnant economics and that aviation progress may reverse this is discussed as human mechanisms at work within the geographic matrix [just as Dick’s visions are spiritual mechanism at work within the consciousness], followed by a reminder that, “Man, not the earth, makes civilization.”
This reminder that civilization is unnatural and therefore must suffer the pull of nature in its decline, suggests Dick’s visions as perhaps a natural, human response to the inhumanity implicit in civilization, that man’s attempt to create a lived in God will fail and reignite the search for the external God.
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