This is one of the nicest looking books I’ve ever owned and I just can’t wait to deface it with highlighters, dog-earing, page markers, and all sorts of notary molestation. Because it’s MINE now, and I wish to absorb its knowledge.
It’s remarkable how parallel ancient information can be to our modern world. I haven’t gotten very far into The Art of War yet, but I can guarantee you there are phrases in there that you’ve been using and hearing your whole life and didn’t even know it. Unless you’ve already read this text, then you know much better than me.
Stand back and look at an old text like this. The Art of War, the Iliad, The Epic of Gilgamesh. Read it and boil it down to its essential meaning and I think you will learn why these are known to us today. It makes you wonder, what if any literature written today will pass down legacies of this scale? How much of what we currently write speaks to universal human truth and how much of it just a shallow revelry in the delights of today?
Now I’m asking myself, “Does it even matter?”. Personal opinion: probably not. Besides, as long as it’s preserved, a shallow piece of pulp can be a great historical indicator of what a culture was like when the thing was made. We are all contributing to the great mulch of modern culture, much more than ever before, I estimate.
I take away from all this that whatever a person creates has the end effect of being a positive influence on the future. On the very lowest possible level, that positive influence is one more brush stroke in the portrait that future civilizations will paint of us for their own history books. More than that? I think we’ll have to wait a very, very long time to know for sure.