Skip to main content

Modern-Day Middle Ages

I know the Middle Ages weren't so hot. People lived in squalor and died of germs and ate gruel amongst the pigs. But then again, if the Middle Ages were so bad, where did all that beautiful art come from? I wish that today, people dreamed big enough outside of their windowless cubicles and postage-stamp-sized front lawns to tell modern-day Arthurian legends. I wish that they performed acoustic music that was never, ever recorded or even written down--just music out of someone's memory and remembered by everyone as a moment never to be repeated. I wish we used beautiful words like thee and thou and hight. I wish we only did one or two things every day, that we hung out with our friends more, that we walked more than drove, that silence was a fact of life. That minutes meant something. That we were proud of the work of our hands. That we were buried in real graveyards with beautiful hand-carved stones. That we didn't miss all the fun because we were too busy taking pictures.

And if you are tempted to comment with some nasty statistics about how most people in the Middle Ages were actually poor downtrodden miserable souls, I beg you to refrain. I really find it hard to believe that they were any more miserable than us, flooded in fluorescent lighting and eating artificial colors and flavors.


john C. said…
Historians in general have mostly fled the field of battle when it comes to history-as-story-of-progress, much to my relief. It's the progress narrative that gives us the "dark ages broke through to glorious light with the dawn of the modern age", which is really the invention of the Enlightenment ideologues. Boy, they didn't see World Wars coming, did they?

At any rate, I'd like to add one little thing to your catalogue of things to miss: that's dark skies at night. If cities were quiet (except for the dogs and roosters and a few lunatics) and all the lights were out (except those held by the night watchmen), we'd be able to stand in the middle of a street and gaze into the heavens and gape with delight. Try it now--you can barely see it! I saw a sub-equatorial sky in Iquitos, Peru in 2002 and 2005. We were miles from the nearest electric light, and the milky-way was clearly visible from horizon to horizon. I suspect Luther, that man who bridged the medieval and the early modern, saw the same thing...albeit from a more northerly latitude. ;-)
Anonymous said…
I love it Lee Ann & I totally agree! I'll be in Leesburg April 6 for an interview. We should get together!!
sarah said…
Maybe they created beauty in the Middle Ages because they needed to have something to hang on to in the dark...

Popular posts from this blog

How to Waste Time When You Could Be Watching a Zombie Movie

Today I read one of those horrible articles that the internet seems to have been designed for, consisting of 40 tips for becoming as successful as the author: "How to Live a Full Life (and Leave Nothing on the Table) by 30." Yes, that's really the title. Normally I wouldn't publish a blog post in response, but because I managed to Come Down with a Chronic Illness (and Achieve Basically Nothing Else) by 30 and Am Currently Feeling the Aftereffects of One of the Treatments I Periodically Take, Which Causes Me to Feel High and Lose My Inhibitions, I'm just going to go for it. (Author's point #33: "Seriously, You Can Do Whatever You Want." Why thank you, young man, I think I will!)

The author's name is Ryan Holiday, and he has published several books. It sounds like he is also very wealthy, because note point #15, "Sooner Is Not Better," where he says he had a weird goal of becoming a millionaire by 25, but it didn't happen until after

Me Eve, You Adam

Recently a male friend read Paradise Lost, as part of a book group that was predominately women. How I would have loved to be a fly on that wall.

I told him what I always say to people reading Milton for the first time: He was an incredible poet, but a horrible man who portrayed the mother of all humanity as a bimbo, perpetuating an offensive stereotype as some sort of religious reality. Oh, don't get me started on this guy. I become incoherent talking about him.

After the book club meeting, my friend texted me: You were right about Milton's Eve!

I laughed for a long time at that. Then I got to thinking. What if Eve had been created first, Adam had sinned first, and Milton had been a woman?
Reverse Paradise Lost Note: Since I could not hope to parody Milton's splendid poetry, I have written this in play form. Please imagine that what follows is an excerpt of an entire work. Book II. Eve: I have completed my monumental task of naming all the animals, and I have greatly enjoy…

Waking Up Is Hard to Do

Ever since I was six or so, I have battled alarm clocks. They've jolted me awake. I've turned them off. I've hit snooze. I've gone back to sleep. I've tried to awaken myself gently with the classical music station or Aaron Copland CDs. No matter what, I can't get out of bed when the alarm says I should.

When I was a child, my father and I would race after the school bus. As an adult, I was chronically late for work. I'm not a morning person. I don't sleep well and rarely feel rested. Lymies don't feel well in the mornings anyway, and it didn't help that I'm easily startled and was being shocked awake each day with the equivalent of those paddles they use on heart attack victims. All morning I'd feel groggy and queasy and antsy, with adrenaline pumping through me.

A couple years ago I got sick and had to stay home from work for a few days. When I was ready to get back to the office, I took it easy for a few alarm-clock-free mornings while…