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View Diary: Asperity, Austerity, and Control: Huxley, Orwell, and 1984 (87 comments)

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  •  I recently read in a book about Lucretius, (0+ / 0-)

    The Swerve, that one reason only a few of the ancient Greek and Roman classics have survived is that for centuries in Europe few people read much of anything. I had always thought the loss of the ancient works was due to war and the deliberate destruction of libraries and pagan texts, but it was more than that.

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 04:01:26 PM PDT

    •  It's a bit more complex (0+ / 0-)

      That's true, but what we have to recall is that paper depends upon trade and complex networks. When civilization is shabby, paper is hard to get. Vellum is labor intensive. Before the printing press, copyists are not so very common, so. . .
      1. Literacy grows less and less common as
      2. Books grow more and more expensive as
      3. Ecclesiastical and secular authorities ask, "Why waste your time on that?"

      So, yes, things disappeared out of neglect, mainly, but the neglect was an indirect consequence of the wars you suspected before. By the 14th century, the ancient Greek language would be confined to a very few European scholars.

      In other words, by the time Europe's civilization had rebounded enough to have literacy, paper, and transmission of information, there was no capacity and weren't the texts. Then the Reconquista happened, the Fall of Grenoble, and a dawn of the Renaissance as the Europeans got their hands on Aristotle and a bunch of Arabic science.

      Every reductio ad absurdum will seem like a good idea to some fool or another.

      by The Geogre on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 07:40:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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