Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Simplification

"So it was that, after the Deluge, the Fallout, the plagues, the madness, the confusion of tongues, the rage, there began the bloodletting of the Simplification, when remnants of mankind had torn other remnants limb from limb, killing rulers, scientists, leaders, technicians, teachers, and whatever persons the leaders of the maddened mobs said deserved death for having helped make the Earth what it had become.  Nothing had been so hateful in the sight of these mobs as the man of learning, at first because they had served the princes, but then later because they refused to join in the bloodletting and opposed the mobs, calling the crowds 'bloodthirsty simpletons.'

"Joyfully the mobs accepted the name, took up the cry: Simpletons!  Yes, yes!  I'm a simpleton!  Are you a simpleton?  We'll build a town and we'll name it Simple Town, because by then all the smart bastards that caused all this, they'll be dead!  Simpletons!  Let's go!  This ought to show 'em!  Anybody here not a simpleton?  Get the bastard, if there is!

"To escape the fury of the simpleton packs, such learned people as still survived fled to any sanctuary that offered itself.  When Holy Church received them, she vested them in monks' robes and tried to hide them in such monasteries and convents as had survived and could be reoccupied, for the religious were less despised by the mob except when they openly defied it and accepted martyrdom.  Sometimes such sanctuary was effective, but more often it was not.  Monasteries were invaded, records and sacred books were burned, refugees were seized and summarily hanged or burned.  The Simplification ceased to have plan or purpose soon after it began, and became an insane frenzy of mass murder and destruction such as can occur only when the last traces of social order are gone.  The madness was transmitted to the children, taught as they were - not merely to forget - but to hate, and surges of mob fury recurred sporadically even through the fourth generation after the Deluge.  By then, the fury was directed not against the learned, for there were none, but against the merely illiterate."

~Walter M. Miller, 1959
A Canticle for Leibowitz

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