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Dark Age Ahead
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In this short volume, Jane Jacobs articulates her fears of a coming Dark Age, choosing to focus on a few specific indicators. So this isn't an all-encompassing look at what's happening right now, buttressed with copious references & facts. It's more of a personal cri de coeur -- certainly drawing on a lifetime of study & knowledge, but ultimately speaking very much from the heart of old age, watching as the world eagerly marches closer to the edge of a cliff.
What particularly struck me was the emphasis on how easily so much can be forgotten, how a culture can wither on the vine without anyone really noticing until it's too late. As Jacobs points out, there are places in America that already live a Dark Ages existence -- there always have been -- but the number of such places is growing. People who once thought themselves secure are now sliding into the dark.
But how can so much be forgotten in the digital age? As Jacobs also points out, the digital library is an especially fragile thing, one that will deteriorate far more swiftly than an old-fashioned printed book. More than that, though, memory has begun to deteriorate at a frightening pace; supposedly educated people are ignorant of knowledge that a typical grade-schooler once knew.
In addition, the changes in society, the glorification of profit & power above all, the disregard for what we now call the 99% by the 1%, are all having a nagative effect on the fabric of life. Basic survival is becoming precarious, even as the arts & wisdom that sustain a culture are ignored & discarded. No wonder Jacobs was so concerned as she approached the end of her own life!
Again, a smaller book, but well worth reading -- recommended!
we are not like to Roman empire but like the Byzantine one - see how the income shifted up wards, wars used to profit the wealthy, the grass roots people refused to fight "their" economic wars and it broke into pieces - google it!
Good thing she helps us see the light at the end of the tunnel
Jacobs is always clear minded and often witty. She makes the same point again and again: decline is not so much a failure of society or of structure as it is of imagination, our inability or unwillingness to look beyond the immediate problem or to consider unusual but promising alternatives. Sometimes the solution is so obvious as to be overlooked, such as that the reason for a high death toll among the elderly in one Chicago neighborhood during a heat wave was not neglect or failure to provide information, but rather that there was no viable community to give the support and help that was needed.
Jacobs will not please those who have permanently bound themselves to either the Left or Right, but those of us able to look beyond ideology in search of real solutions will find much to ponder here.
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