This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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On judging the happiness of distant peoples

When appraising the well-being of a traditional social order, whether contemporary or situated at some distant point in history, it is important to remember that, because of the gap that separates one human world from another, it is nearly impossible to properly discern the ‘happiness’ of the people who live in it. For example, the normal way of making such judgements is to apply our standards to them, which is obviously not appropriate since their motivations, their minds, we would even say their natures, differ from ours by being subject to different conditions. We would have to become able to truly identify with their alien ways of reacting to things and evaluating them without our own prejudices and predispositions determining the result. That is not to say that these distant people did not have prejudices, but is simply to acknowledge that ours were not theirs, and so their vision of happiness would differ as well.

What we would immediately discover, if we were truly able to identify with an individual from, let’s say, medieval France, is that many of the ‘advantages’ we take to be desirable would to them appear to be an unfortunate restraint. Even if presented with a vision of today’s world, as an attempt to show them what their missing, they may very well respond to the vision as to a nightmare.

Moreover, it should be acknowledged that the chronicling of history is the chronicling of disasters. Even today, when we do not have to be stingy with our paper and ink, the only thing that makes its way into the news is the extreme and the sensational. One should not expect to find through a reading of recorded history an account of the average person’s peace of mind during a given epoch.

If we cannot look at the historical record of events, then how do we propose to make a judgement? One answer is to turn to the works of art produced by a people, since art is the fruit of spiritual vitality and spiritual vitality is the true form of happiness. Thus, we can say that historical period of Europe that is usually most denigrated as an episode in human misery is also the period that produced the cathedrals. This speaks louder than any recorded famine. In opposition to this, we would suggest that the block-form hives of Europe, America, and China are an open admission of spiritual malaise and generalized depression, a diagnosis that even medical journals write about daily.

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