Friday, May 18, 2018

Well Said: The accursed inventions that are ruining everything

Meanwhile, the sworn bookseller of the university, Master Andry Musnier, was inclining his ear to the furrier of the king's robes, Master Gilles Lecornu.

"I tell you, sir, that the end of the world has come. No one has ever beheld such outbreaks among the students! It is the accursed inventions of this century that are ruining everything,—artilleries, bombards, and, above all, printing, that other German pest. No more manuscripts, no more books! printing will kill bookselling. It is the end of the world that is drawing nigh."

"I see that plainly, from the progress of velvet stuffs," said the fur–merchant.
Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
I always love seeing the "current" complaints of our time show up in times long past.


  1. Yes, and that's a trope with a long history, itself: "See? Aristotle was complaining about 'kids these days, too. How bad can it be?. Okay. But.

    The media by which I'm sending this to you is the difference.

    Used to be, we had influence (if we did) over those in our immediate circle, 'around the water cooler', as it were. And we'd gathered the news we complained about from a quite-llimited number of news (not commentary) delivery sources. No more.

    Never before has each individual had so wide a choice in 'news' outlets, or so wide a potential audience themselves. Whether they're spreading honey or venom, wisdom or ignorance, love or hate into the culture, each 'drop' impacts the whole. Every person's opinion is equally weighted today, has 'a right to be heard' and can find its tribe--which gives it the illusion of validity.

    Now, it's not "Uh, oh, here comes crazy Joe/Joan Smith to go on about something, again." Now Joe/Joan has a website, and a twitter account, and even a subreddit. Now, Joe/Joan is most likely not even their real name, and who knows where they are? Now trolls can poison even threads about cute kittens, and so add one more drop of 'how did it come to this?' despair into the culture.

    No. We've never been here before.

    1. But to those people long ago the changes that were happening were just as wide-ranging and upped the immediacy just as much as it seems to us. Each generation has to deal with similar problems. Just as radio and TV later beamed things into our households which we had to deal with that hadn't come to previous generations. Just as bicycles changed who could date who ... and who could even meet who for the first time. Society has had to deal with these problems before, they just incrementally speed up as we go. We don't know how things will look in 50 years when they look back at our times and we can't possibly look ahead to the struggles they will face. What we know is that they will feel exactly the same in importance to each set of people.

  2. Yes, I can feel overwhelmed by fear of the suddenness of all the changes in the world. But I do rely on the Holy Spirit and trust that the younger folks will figure things out eventually