Friday, May 13, 2016

Veneration for Things Ancient

I'm dismayed by a certain writer's reverence for the ancientry, their practices and beliefs. We moderns have, most of us, concluded that our ancestors were wrong about a great many things. And in any event, whether they were correct in any specific instance, there is no question but that modern, Western societies are nicer places to live than ancient kingdoms. I would not want to go back two thousand years. Ancient people hurt others for little or no reason and waged war as a regular profession. Cruelty was commonplace. Everything was the fault of invisible demons or gods or spirits, and people were afraid of the dark and did not understand anything about science. Ignorance was rampant, reason in short supply, and people died for stupid reasons.

Also, our ancients were not that old, in the cosmic sense. Ten thousand years is not really all that much compared to the age of the planet we live on. What reason have we to suppose that there was anything the ancients knew that we do not? What sort of advantage accrued to the practitioners of magic? We do not today see any on the public stage. Why should they hide, and why should they be in the minority, if their practices work, even in some small way? These questions should occur to anyone that reads about magic. If magic were a really useful thing, would we not learn about in school?

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