How Old is Old?

I am trying to wrap my brain around history.  As an interpreter at Old World Wisconsin, I talk about St. Peter’s Church, the first Catholic chapel & cathedral in Milwaukee, which was built in 1839.  The liquid glass in the windows is rippled with age.  Kids who come by can’t believe that the pump organ isn’t hooked up to speakers and that the stops don’t produce drum patterns or other synthetic sound loops when I pull the knobs.  My blog friend, Stuart, is posting amazing photos of Gloucester Cathedral (you must pay a visit…click here to see his shots) built in 1350 or so.  Stone masonry and stained glass and soaring vaults predating the little immigrant church by 500 years – shows you that history isn’t about straight-line ‘progress’, it’s a complicated story with twists and turns and explosions and annihilation thrown in.   Then compare this photo of Mesa Verde in Colorado, a cliff dwelling inhabited somewhere between 600 and 1300 AD, most likely closer to 1200 AD. 

What we do with the raw materials at hand, the technology available and our cultural values is totally up to us.  So much is possible.  So much has always been possible.  What are we doing today?  How will our imprint appear in 500 years?   It’s a lot to think about.

8 thoughts on “How Old is Old?

  1. It will be interesting to see what people think of us. It’s kind of like the book Motel of the Mysteries where they excavate a motel from the 1980’s and formulate so many incorrect hypotheses. Hopefully our imprint won’t be just landfills of plastic and diapers.

    • This is actually very interesting and thought-provoking. How bizarre to think of the faces on Mt. Rushmore looking out over a re-wilded landscape…rather egotistical, really!

  2. The one thing we will definitely leave behind is DATA…..I’m sure that with our period the ‘mystery of history’ will be over…Its all there, written down, as it happens, from each and every point of view…

    In a historical context I rather think that de-mystification will leave mankind better informed, but quite likely spiritually poorer…The having of knowledge is always so dissatisfying compared to searching for it….
    Anyway enough philosophizing…I need to get out there and make my mark on history! Don’t worry , I’m not armed!
    🙂

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