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Posts Tagged ‘knowledge’

Libraries are more important than we think.

I liked saying that because it was sort of a pun.

Until the advent of the internets and LOLcats, people could only know what other people knew through listening to a lecture, being part of a lively conversation, or reading a book, a newspaper, or a magazine.

Young people have no memory of those times.    When I see an image like this:

Canada's Parliament Library

I remember that feeling of wishing I could read every book.  I wanted to know everything.  Now I realize even given more than one lifetime, I could not read every book.  Gah.  I remember that scene in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast  when he “gives” her his library.  I was like, “I’m done.  Movie is over.  Time to start on the left and go around…wait…is there a card catalogue?”

Look at this one from Brazil:

Oh no! they are all in Portuguese!

I think of all the time and money that went into building libraries like these.  Do you think, in the future, that humans will be building sacred monuments like these libraries to house and protect video games?  iPods?  A single Nook? (don’t forget the power source).

Nowadays your information will disappear and never come back when the battery dies or the power goes out.

In the old days it was lack of literacy or the death of a language that made the pages go dark. Ancient Egyptian history, poetry and science were lost in hieroglyphs for centuries, and would have been forever, if the Rosetta stone had not been uncovered.  I do think about an entire library like the one above, written in a language I cannot read.  *shivers*  It is beautiful, but silent.

This looks like chickens walked across some mud..,

In a straight line, mind you, but imagine trying to read what the chickens wrote.

Everything we are as human beings since we first started thinking and talking must be preserved for the next generation, or else every generation will start over again from scratch.  Without accumulated knowledge there could never have been the explosion in technology we enjoy today.   Future discoveries are built upon today’s knowledge.

First we read books on clay tablets, then papyrus. vellum, paper and now light.

We used to worry about fire and water, the great enemies of books (and ipods) and war (the greatest enemy of the book).

(We still worry about war.  Here is a story about the library at Sarajevo.)

(And the Library of Alexandria)

What happens when there is no electricity?  We used to just need the sun and a book to discover what was in the minds of the other humans who came before us.

The sun will be around for another few billion years.  Will the book? Will we?

“These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves”   –Gilbert Highet
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Hermetica refers to information or knowledge acquired and disseminated by Hermes Trismegistus, some say the god Thoth, others a real man who lived a long long time ago and was responsible for all the amazing things the ancient Egyptians knew…and know no longer.

Collected writings attributed to him and bound in a book are called Hermetica.  Since we are talking about ancient times, there were no publishing laws or contracts, so anyone could bind manuscripts together and call it “Hermetica”.  This accounts for many variations and probably many different authors or contributors.  After a long time, the term “Hermetica” began to take on connotations of esoteric knowledge regardless of the source.

In the Hermetica of Elysium I have created an adventure that revolves around a coveted copy of an Hermetica in the late 15th century.  The Inquisition in Spain is expelling their learned and skilled to the Levant, burning books and people, and hunting the manuscripts they label “heretical”.  How can a book be so threatening?

Putting aside the obvious, that faithful Christians might be lead astray if they learned anything besides what their priests told them, can knowledge of how the world works really disrupt the powers-that-be?

This year the world has witnessed what is being called “The Arab Spring”, and “Occupy Wall Street” could not happen unless the participants knew about the actions of the Corporations.  I think that the more the people know about their leaders and masters the more they are likely to rebel against them.  It does not matter whether it is 1494 or 2011.

The Internet is the new Hermetica.

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