It’s the little things

Historian Partick Wyman’s recent piece in Mother Jones amplifies the emerging idea that the downfall of this current iteration of human history is not nearly as dramatic as a Margaret Atwood novel or a dystopian fiction novel. It just…happens.

The fall of an empire is supposed to be a dramatic thing. It’s right there in the name. “Fall” conjures up images of fluted temple columns toppling to the ground, pulled down by fur-clad barbarians straining to destroy something beautiful. Savage invasions, crushing battlefield defeats, sacked cities, unlucky rulers put to death: These are the kinds of stories that usually come to mind when we think of the end of an empire. They seem appropriate, the climaxes we expect from a narrative of rise, decline, and fall. We’re all creatures of narrative, whether we think explicitly in those terms or not, and stories are one of the fundamental ways in which we engage with and grasp the meaning of the world. It’s natural that we expect the end of a story—the end of an empire—to have some drama. The reality is far less exciting. 

Patrick Wyman

Read full article by Patrick Wyman in Mother Jones

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