The Cracking of Civilizations


Today, in 1789, the peasants of Paris stormed the Bastille, triggering a major historical event, The French Revolution.

The consequences and effects of the French Revolution can be tracked through history — the American Revolution and the United States’ Constitution were built upon the ideas and concepts that emerged from the Revolution. The idea of Communism was born in the early days of the Revolution. Codified law was invented because of it. Most of Western Europe’s nations centralized their financial institutions in order to fight the French during the Napoleonic wars.

Other major and minor effects of the Revolution can be tracked down through history. It would be fair to say that the French Revolution cracked and shifted western civilization.

The Timing is Coincidental, Oui?

A pair of interesting, creepy coincidences happened as I sat down to write this post.

Last night I finished, for the first time, The Eye of the World, Book 1 of the Wheel of Time epic fantasy series by Robert Jordan. And yes, I’m very late to the party. I resisted reading the Wheel of Time series for years, because I was so madly possessed by The Lord of the Rings, and so badly upset by Terry Brooks’ superficial knock-off of LOTR, that I couldn’t stand the idea of investing my reading time and emotions in yet another epic fantasy world.

So I didn’t. For years.

The Amazon TV series of The Wheel of Time was responsible for me actually picking the first book up and reading it. Not because the series was mind-blowing, but because even I, who has not read the books, could feel how flat and shallow the series was. It did not have the epic feel that Peter Jackson managed to inject into his movies, for example. I could glimpse hints of grander stuff, hidden and skimped over.

My son, who has re-read the series too many times to count, urged me to try the first book, with the warning that it was the slowest paced of the entire series, but that I needed to get through it to reach the rest of the books.

And it did take me weeks to finish.

I don’t think I’m spoiling the read for anyone else if I point out that one of the most significant and world-forming events in the history of the series is the Cracking of the Wheel, which took place thousands of years before the opening of the series. That events (group of events) shifted the-world-as-we-know-it.

And the series itself is about another, possibly as significant, reshaping of the world.

Then there’s the world as WE know it.

The second creepy coincidence was a long read article I coincidentally stumbled upon this morning. I had bookmarked it some time ago. This morning I read it. And shivered.

The article is “The End of the Industrial Age” by fantasist John Michael Greer. I usually read his work while bearing in mind his unique interests and perspectives. But today, I could not. The article is a well thought out forecast of how our modern world is cracking and reshaping itself. And I find there isn’t too much in the article that I can argue with.

Perhaps other futurists could argue with his conclusions. I could only turn to my day’s work with an unsettled feeling.

I’ve read too much about the end of the world as we know it, lately. Time to get back to finishing the next Harley Firebird (a novel!), and the building of the world as Harley knows it.

Joyeux jour de la Bastille.


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