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The gods of our past
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CrimsonPhantom Offline
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Post: #1
The gods of our past
Quote:Many of the stories about the gods and heroes of Greek mythology were compiled during Greek Dark Ages. Impoverished tribes passed down oral traditions that originated after the fall of the lost palatial civilizations of the Mycenaean Greeks.

Dark Age Greeks tried to make sense of the massive ruins of their forgotten forebears' monumental palaces that were still standing around. As illiterates, they were curious about occasional clay tablets they plowed up in their fields with incomprehensible ancient Linear B inscriptions.

We of the 21st century are beginning to look back at our own lost epic times and wonder about these now-nameless giants who left behind monuments that we cannot replicate, but instead merely use or even mock.

Does anyone believe that contemporary Americans could build another transcontinental railroad in six years?

Californians tried to build a high-speed rail line. But after more than a decade of government incompetence, lawsuits, cost overruns and constant bureaucratic squabbling, they have all but given up. The result is a half-built overpass over the skyline of Fresno--and not a foot of track laid.

Who were those giants of the 1960s responsible for building our interstate highway system?

California's roads now are mostly the same as we inherited them, although the state population has tripled. We have added little to our freeway network, either because we forgot how to build good roads or would prefer to spend the money on redistributive entitlements.

When California had to replace a quarter section of the earthquake-damaged San Francisco Bay Bridge, it turned into a near-disaster, with 11 years of acrimony, fighting, cost overruns, and a commentary on our decline into Dark Ages primitivism. Yet 82 years ago, our ancestors built four times the length of our single replacement span in less than four years. It took them just two years to design the entire Bay Bridge and award the contracts.

Our generation required five years just to plan to replace a single section. In inflation-adjusted dollars, we spent six times the money on one quarter of the length of the bridge and required 13 agencies to grant approval. In 1936, just one agency oversaw the entire bridge project.

California has not built a major dam in 40 years. Instead, officials squabble over the water stored and distributed by our ancestors, who designed the California State Water Project and Central Valley Project.

Contemporary Californians would have little food or water without these massive transfers, and yet they often ignore or damn the generation that built the very system that saves us.

America went to the moon in 1969 with supposedly primitive computers and backward engineering. Does anyone believe we could launch a similar moon shot today? No American has set foot on the moon in the last 47 years, and it may not happen in the next 50 years.

Hollywood once gave us blockbuster epics, brilliant westerns, great film noirs, and classic comedies. Now it endlessly turns out comic-book superhero films or pathetic remakes of prior classics.

We have been fighting in Afghanistan without result for 18 years. Our forefathers helped to win World War II and defeat the Axis Powers in four years.

In terms of learning, does anyone believe that a college graduate in 2020 will know half the information of a 1950 graduate?

In the 1940s, young people read William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pearl Buck and John Steinbeck. Are our current novelists turning out anything comparable?

True, social media is impressive. The Internet gives us instant access to global knowledge. We are a more tolerant society, at least in theory. But Facebook is not the Hoover Dam, and Twitter is not the Panama Canal.

Our ancestors were builders and pioneers and mostly fearless. We are regulators, auditors, bureaucrats, adjudicators, censors, critics, plaintiffs, defendants, social media junkies and thin-skinned scolds. A distant generation created; we mostly delay, idle and gripe.

As we walk amid the refuse, needles and excrement of the sidewalks of our fetid cities; as we sit motionless on our jammed ancient freeways; and as we pout on Twitter and electronically whine in the porticos of our Ivy League campuses, will we ask: Who were these people who left these strange monuments that we use but can neither emulate nor understand?

In comparison to us, they now seem like gods.

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10-11-2019 06:41 PM
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Lush Offline
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RE: The gods of our past
just found my band name
10-12-2019 08:08 AM
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Lush Offline
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Post: #3
RE: The gods of our past
Quote:In the 1940s, young people read William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pearl Buck and John Steinbeck. Are our current novelists turning out anything comparable?

i always wondered what it would be like to walk into a bookshop or whatever and pick up the latest 'rnst hemingway. homeboy (and the ilk you mentioned) was a living legend. we'd probably celebrate authors more if michael jordan didn't exist. imo, current literature has to age. and it probably won't very well. what authors that exist today will we care about fifty years from now? stephen king and a bunch of serial novelists. nora roberts. maybe we can sneak in a vonnegut but it's mostly not memorable. imo. at least we can claim david foster wallace
10-12-2019 08:28 AM
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Owl 69/70/75 Online
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Post: #4
RE: The gods of our past
I tend to find Victor Davis Hansen to be a very accurate observer of society.
10-12-2019 08:58 AM
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JRsec Offline
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Post: #5
RE: The gods of our past
(10-12-2019 08:28 AM)Lush Wrote:  
Quote:In the 1940s, young people read William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pearl Buck and John Steinbeck. Are our current novelists turning out anything comparable?

i always wondered what it would be like to walk into a bookshop or whatever and pick up the latest 'rnst hemingway. homeboy (and the ilk you mentioned) was a living legend. we'd probably celebrate authors more if michael jordan didn't exist. imo, current literature has to age. and it probably won't very well. what authors that exist today will we care about fifty years from now? stephen king and a bunch of serial novelists. nora roberts. maybe we can sneak in a vonnegut but it's mostly not memorable. imo. at least we can claim david foster wallace

I think if you want to find salient voices today you have to look to short stories, which aren't as popular, have little traction today, but may age well. Face it, today's public is TLDR which I translate as TDCT (Too Dumb Can't Think). It's why debates are kept to short clipped answers devoid of details. Your answer is too long if you can intelligently lay out your plan. Email has replaced letters, and texting has replaced too many emails, and the casualties have been language, precision in expression, and tone to one's remarks. The poor novel never had a chance after the 80's. And Kurt Vonnegut was really post WWII.

To have any chance of being seriously heard today you need to write nothing longer than a short story, and if you can possibly manage it a very fact filled condensed one, maybe two page essay. The public just doesn't have the systemic thinking skill sets or patience to go longer.
(This post was last modified: 10-12-2019 07:46 PM by JRsec.)
10-12-2019 07:44 PM
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ericsrevenge76 Away
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Post: #6
RE: The gods of our past
I know this goes in one ear and out the other of non believers, but consider this: most of this has to do with us turning away from God.

The things the article points to are typical examples of how He works when a nation turns away from Him. You can see it in the OT descriptions of Israel when they followed Him and did great works, and how they declined and became incapable of accomplishing things when they turned away.

The peak of our nation was the moon landing/space race. Its been a slow downhill slide ever since.

Which points to a rather chilling verse in the prophet Obadiah:

Obadiah 1:4
Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, from there will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.

What was the famous transmission when they landed on the moon? "The EAGLE has landed".

Now look at us.
(This post was last modified: 10-13-2019 04:28 AM by ericsrevenge76.)
10-13-2019 02:29 AM
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Captain Bearcat Offline
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Post: #7
RE: The gods of our past
(10-12-2019 08:28 AM)Lush Wrote:  
Quote:In the 1940s, young people read William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pearl Buck and John Steinbeck. Are our current novelists turning out anything comparable?

i always wondered what it would be like to walk into a bookshop or whatever and pick up the latest 'rnst hemingway. homeboy (and the ilk you mentioned) was a living legend. we'd probably celebrate authors more if michael jordan didn't exist. imo, current literature has to age. and it probably won't very well. what authors that exist today will we care about fifty years from now? stephen king and a bunch of serial novelists. nora roberts. maybe we can sneak in a vonnegut but it's mostly not memorable. imo. at least we can claim david foster wallace

I despise Faulkner and Fitzgerald. I don't see the redeeming value in their work. Were our grandfathers (well, those of them who went to college, which was almost no one) actually better off for having read Faulkner or Fitzgerald?
10-16-2019 08:17 AM
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Captain Bearcat Offline
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Post: #8
RE: The gods of our past
In the field of literature and storytelling, we are indisputably in a golden age.


It's too early to tell who today's great authors will be, because fame in any artistic endeavor is usually a generation behind. But JK Rowling is definitely one of them. Her work has redeeming value, and she's a billionaire - it's hard to argue that Hemmingway was more famous in his day than Rowling is today.

The most widely read authors today are probably CS Lewis and JR Tolkien. Those are relatively recent authors in the grand scheme of things. They write deep, deep books with astounding moral values.



We also have many other storytellers today who have picked a different medium that was not widely available before the 1940s: film. George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Stan Lee, Jon Favreau, Ron Howard, Quentin Tarantino, Luc Besson. One-hit wonders like Fight Club, The Matrix, and Groundhog Day have become embedded in our society to a much greater degree than even Mark Twain's novels were in his time. Those are our cultural Gods today.
10-16-2019 08:46 AM
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TigerBlue4Ever Offline
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RE: The gods of our past
(10-12-2019 08:08 AM)Lush Wrote:  just found my band name

Not bad! I always liked Quaalude Gumbo myself.
10-17-2019 08:33 PM
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