Margaret Atwood – Oryx and Crake

How did this happen? their descendants will ask, stumbling upon the evidence, the ruins. The ruinous evidence. Who made these things? Who lived in them? Who destroyed them? The Taj Mahal, the Louvre, the Pyramids, The Empire State Building – stuff he's seen on TV, in old books, on postcards, on Blood and Roses. Imagine coming upon them, 3-D, life-sized, with no preparation – you'd be freaked, you'd run away, and after that you'd need an explanation. At first they'll say giants or gods, but sooner or later they'll want to know the truth. Like him, they'll have the curious monkey brain.

Perhaps they'll say, These things are not real. They are phantasmagoria. They were made by dreams, and now that no one is dreaming them any longer they are crumbling away.

~ ~ ~

"Let's suppose for the sake of argument," said Crake one evening, "that civilization as we know it gets destroyed...Once it's flattened, it could never be rebuilt...Because all the surface metals have already been mined...without which, no iron age, no bronze age, no age of steel, and all the rest of it. There's metals farther down, but the advanced technology we need for extracting those would have been obliterated."

"It could be put back together," said Jimmy..."They'd still have the instructions."

"Actually not," said Crake. "It's not like the wheel, it's too complex now. Suppose the instructions survived, suppose there were any people left with the knowledge to read them. Those people would be few and far between, and they wouldn't have the tools. Remember, no electricity. Then once those people died, that would be it. They'd have no apprentices, they'd have no successors...All it the elimination of one generation. One generation of anything. Beetles, trees, microbes, scientists, speakers of French, whatever. Break the link in time between one generation and the next, and it's game over forever."
Reminds me of how medieval peasants in France believed the towering Roman built aqueducts to be the work of giants.

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