I Believe in Isaac

The Dark Ages, part 1: “A Discourse on Method”

Posted in Uncategorized by isaacmcphee on June 19, 2009

Alright.  I’ve got 6-8 minutes before my chicken enchiladas are done cooking; which gives me something like 360-480 seconds to get my point across (calculations done in-house)… and I’m not entirely sure just yet what that point is going to be.  Looks like it will be a journey for all of us.

I’ll begin by admitting that I’ve had a lot of peculiar goals in my life.  I suppose I don’t much need to convince anyone of that.  My resume of failed ideas (a document which I have not actually made, as it would not do much to help me find a job) is rather extensive: Field goal kicker, Pope, musician, theoretical physicist, inventor…

But all of these failed because they were far too practical.  In each case there were far too many forces working against me right from the start.  I’m thinking now that perhaps my best bet is to become some sort of universal “idea man,” where I can just sit around thinking of abstract ideas and the logical arguments in favor of them (or against them, if that’s what the job entailed).  After all, I find this sort of thing to be one of life’s greatest diversions, and since I naturally tend to do this anyway, why wouldn’t someone pay me for it?

And some of my ideas are pretty good, too.  You can tell those ones because I tend to go back to them time and again; they become themes which somehow entwine themselves with my writing and crop up at the most peculiar of times.  For example, I have for some time been – for reasons which even I do not entirely know – a staunch defender of the European Dark Ages.  While a glance through the modern “enlightened” history books tends to leave one with a rather sour taste regarding these volatile years in European history, I can’t help but believe that there’s more to it than that.  Thus, whenever I’m in some sort of a blocked mental state, this is one of those topics that I find myself returning to, because I find it fascinating.

So, yes, all of that was just a long-winded introduction to me talking about the Dark Ages.

Fortunately, because I’ve written on this topic a few times (a couple dozen, perhaps) previously, much of my work has already been done for me.  In fact, I just opened up a previous page-long synopsis of the Dark Ages that I wrote a few years back, which is going to serve as my primary source for what is to follow (though it’s rather poorly written, so don’t expect any quotes).  That’s right, I’m doing this old school.  No Wikipedia for me.  No Google searches.  No foray into my ample literary resources.  I’m going to write some history the way that history was meant to be written.  I’m going to shoot from the hip; in the style of Plutarch, Pliny the Elder, Tacitus, Livy and the others.  A time where logic and rhetoric were all a man needed to find success – certainly not things as destructible as facts.  History is much more than just “what happened”; it’s more along the lines of, “what seems to have happened.”  The latter is certainly far more intriguing.

Using such methods as these (and some others that I will invent as I progress), not only will I defend the Dark Ages, but I will issue an argument or two in favor of a return to the Dark Ages.  Impossible, you say?  Perhaps difficult, but surely not impossible.

Oh, and while I’m at it, I’m going to reinvent how historical study is done.

The journey thus begins (though over the course of this introduction the journey got slightly too lengthy for its own good, and thus was split into multiple parts – just how many remains to be seen, but I’m guessing this thing’s going to go book-length)…

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