Tag: Dark Ages

Step in Time

This will be so random.

I thought about the Dark Ages yesterday. It’s such a curious term, of an uncertain grouping of decades and centuries. Most respected recent historians attempt to avoid characterizing that Western-based concept of a time of unlearning and no learning as the “Dark Ages”. Whatever. When I was young, the Dark Ages were considered to be somewhere from the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century through either the coming of the Conqueror in the early 1000s or the growth of the Renaissance around the 14th and 15th centuries. A mean, lean five hundred  years, or at least it was in Latin literature as posited by Petrarch.

I wondered if one was aware then that they were living in a stunted time, or if they could perceive without envy that future generations might blossom. Most living in those earlier centuries must have seen their lives, their parent’s lives, and their children’s lives, all far shorter generations on average, pass by without measurable advancement in human and cultural development. Health, medicine, philosophy, religion, living conditions, hunger, disease, pestilence, articles and materials of war or peace, tools, wonders of the world.  

Sing C. Chew: ecology, history, and the future

This is, in short, a book review of Sing C. Chew’s new book Ecological Futures: what history can teach us.  Chew is important because he wants to incorporate ecological data into historical discussions of the rise and fall of civilizations; his most recent book attempts to use this “ecologized” version of history to make a solid (if somewhat scary) prediction about the future of the human race.  Chew doesn’t mean to scare us, however; what’s scary are the implications of his naturalistic point of view when it comes around to analyze the disastrous course our civilization has taken in its relations to the natural world.

I will end with a short set of prognostications of my own, related to reflections in the book review.

SING C. CHEW is Associate Professor of Sociology at Humboldt State University and editor of the Humboldt Journal of Social Relations.

(crossposted at Big Orange)