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A continual cycle

A continual cycle
March 19, 2014, 02:02:32 AM
Recently I've been looking at a multipart documentary on the rise and fall of civilizations. One of the recurrent themes that real stuck out in my mind is the ongoing process of destruction and regeneration.

In Europe, there are seemingly as many old ruins of monuments and churches as there are those that still stand. Most ruins being the result of human destruction. I ask myself ‘how can this be’? If a group comes across a sacred site or work of artistry from another group, how do they fail to appreciate its beauty and the human devotion that went into creating it.

The most obvious answer of course is that they see it as a foreign monument on their land, a mark of proposed dominion. And so destroy it for political/ideological reasons.

Perhaps some weird parallel could be made between this and the phenomena of converting old churches to luxury homes in the modern age (an age where Christianity has largely died in the hearts and minds of it’s people).

But to those that were able to destroy while fully appreciating that what they were destroying was a beautiful and irreparable part of human history, I can only guess that they saw themselves as the coming of something better. Destroying what was to create what could be.

Is this the way our history is?

Re: A continual cycle
March 19, 2014, 02:33:37 PM
The collapse of the Roman world left sprawling urban centers which, despite their utility, were largely abandoned or stripped for their raw materials. The beauty and utility of something is usually outpaced by the economic requirements of maintence and operation. In the wake of collapse, there is considerably less wealth available to the emerging populations than was when the urban centers were built. Repurposing the raw material or abandoning the cities to meet the pressing needs of the time took precedence and will always take precedence. So it will be with our cities, monuments and technologies.

The microcosm:

When I am dead, my body will be stripped for its raw materials by fungi, bacteria, worms and potentially wildlife if unearthed to be repurposed by those organisms into energy to do whatever work they must do. A far distant relative may stumble upon my bones and fashion ornaments or weapons of war even with little regard for their former constitution.

Re: A continual cycle
March 19, 2014, 03:41:38 PM
I see civilizations as houses of cards. They grow so tall that their populations forget the significance of the bottom cards. They steal those cards, for their own selfish use, oblivious to the consequences of their actions. One by one. The house may stand for a long time, but the fall, when it comes, is quite sudden, and there is no stopping it.

Re: A continual cycle
March 19, 2014, 10:40:54 PM
I was thinking more so the objects of beauty. I'm not even a believer myself but to destroy a sacred site in the name of any ideology would be unthinkable.

Re: A continual cycle
March 19, 2014, 10:46:40 PM
NASA: Civilization is Doomed

Quote
Technological change can raise the efficiency of resource use, but it also tends to raise both per capita resource consumption and the scale of resource extraction, so that, absent policy effects, the increases in consumption often compensate for the increased efficiency of resource use.

Pull up your chairs, ladies and gentleman; you're getting front row seats for the hottest new apocalypse around!

Re: A continual cycle
March 20, 2014, 06:10:26 AM
The key according to them is policy making. Conservation and limited distribution are the kind of policies that would spread "poverty" in the modern sense. Few people would vote for civilization tomorrow if it probably meant a simpler, agrarian life without cellphones and microwaves for themselves in their lifetimes.

Re: A continual cycle
March 20, 2014, 03:29:27 PM
NASA: Civilization is Doomed

Quote
Technological change can raise the efficiency of resource use, but it also tends to raise both per capita resource consumption and the scale of resource extraction, so that, absent policy effects, the increases in consumption often compensate for the increased efficiency of resource use.

Pull up your chairs, ladies and gentleman; you're getting front row seats for the hottest new apocalypse around!

Yup.

Efficiency of scale. A thing costs less per unit because they produce a large amount of units. People love to skip the big picture. I don't know why everyone is obsessed over apocalypse though. Civilization in general is in no way doomed, neither is our race in the near future.