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Among the most tragic events in human cultural history was the destruction of works from the great library of Alexandria. Blamed on Julius Caesar as well as later Christian and Muslim zealots, the net loss of knowledge from this font of ancient wisdom roughly coincided with what we call the Dark Ages, and we may be repeating history.
From its beginnings one of the great promises of computer technology was the possibility of maintaining a library of all human writing that could not burn, that would neither fade nor wither. The irony, that has not been considered closely enough, is how easily this same technology can revise or fabricate literary and historical classics, which is tantamount to destroying them.
In recent months we have learned that major publishers are using sensitivity editors to censor the works of Roald Dahl, Agatha Christie, PG Wodehouse, and many other classic writers. Forthgoing, all new print and digital versions of their works will reflect the moral sensibilities of the current year, as the originals make their way from used book stores to landfills, never to be seen again.
Make no mistake, this is every bit as much a tragedy as the flames licking through the walls of Egypt’s great library, in fact it might be worse. At least the lost works of Alexandria may rest in eternal peace rather than have their mutilated corpses played like macabre marionettes through the ages.
The goal of preserving human knowledge is being twisted into the goal of reconstructing and rehabilitating human knowledge. It is a kind of imposed, culture-wide forgetfulness of the fact that people ever held beliefs or said things offensive to modern sensibilities.
History may be written by the victors at first, but we are learning that in the age of computers and sensitivity publishing it is rewritten by the aggrieved. But where will this lead us?
What goes dark in a dark age is the past. Things that had been common knowledge in science, history, ethics, legend, erode and disappear, most often replaced with presentist dogma, be it that of the Medieval Catholic Church or the modern priestesses of Wokeness.
Once this process begins it is difficult to slow. As the supposed racism is squeezed out of Jeeves and Wooster, as the founding of America changes from 1776 to 1619, as the N word is removed from Huckleberry Finn, as Queen Elizabeth I becomes trans, a new fabricated history of mankind is wrought.
This new version of events is reinforced by every Chatbot, every digital textbook, every Google search result, and every passing reference in entertainment.
As William Faulkner famously said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” He means that it is only the past that can give meaning to our present lives and culture, there is nothing else to compare it to.
By imposing present morality on the past we erase the struggles that our ancestors went through to arrive at where we are. Instead of a complex tapestry that can aid us in our own cultural battles and divisions we see a past that does nothing but confirm modern progressive ideology.
Is it any wonder that so many people feel disconnected, desolate, lacking meaning and purpose? There is nothing to strive for.
So certain are the arbiters of our present day culture that their beliefs are the only right and just ones that they not only impose them on us, but on the dead as well, leaving no light behind us to guide our way forward. Because there is no forward, there is only now.
A digital and publishing wildfire is spreading across the vast and ancient forest of human endeavor. It leaves us empty, cold, and pointless. Yes, the flickering begins with stories, and history, then it moves to math – computers can do that for us anyway – soon scientific knowledge, such as the definition of sex is destroyed, and on and on.
If pride goeth before the fall it also goes before the rise of dark ages. Those books on our shelves are already relics, soon they will drift into the abyss of lost wisdom, all because modern man thinks he knows better.
It’s time to pump the brakes on this madness, the collected writing of our ancestors is every human being’s birthright, his inheritance, and nobody, no matter how pristine they believe their motives to be, has a right to deprive us of that legacy. The only way to protect the future, to protect against a new dark age, is for us to protect the past. Right now, we are failing.