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Author Topic:   10 Books To Save Humanity!!
Jumped Up Chimpanzee
Member (Idle past 2380 days)
Posts: 572
From: UK
Joined: 10-22-2009


Message 31 of 100 (562403)
05-28-2010 12:32 PM
Reply to: Message 30 by Straggler
05-28-2010 12:10 PM


Re: My Own (Initial) List
I suppose it comes down to a choice between taking a journey in a spaceship full of Arnold Rimmers or one full of Dave Listers.
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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10196
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 32 of 100 (562418)
05-28-2010 3:49 PM
Reply to: Message 31 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee
05-28-2010 12:32 PM


Re: My Own (Initial) List
I suppose it comes down to a choice between taking a journey in a spaceship full of Arnold Rimmers or one full of Dave Listers.

Well if you want to list either Rimmer's or Lister's choice of 10 books to pass on the flame of human achievement that would be some sort of progress in this thread.

So far we have only my paltry drunken off-the-top-of-my head 10 listed in this thread.

Is it really only me that would choose something other than science text books or glorified dictionaries as the book based baton of human enlightenment?


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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 136 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 33 of 100 (562423)
05-28-2010 4:54 PM
Reply to: Message 32 by Straggler
05-28-2010 3:49 PM


Re: My Own (Initial) List
Hi, Straggler.

Straggler writes:

Is it really only me that would choose something other than science text books or glorified dictionaries as the book based baton of human enlightenment?

Apparently so.

My problem with literature for this scenario is that it is so strongly tied to specific cultures.

Why should Shakespeare's works be chosen, and not, for example, some Swedish literature, like August Strindberg?

The shear diversity of "artsy fartsy" stuff across cultures is a good indication of how cosmically unimportant it is to have any specific piece of work from any of the many literary traditions and cultures. My vote would be to let the colony develop its own cultural and literary traditions, and preserve things that are more practical (for instance, the operator's manual for the spaceship they're riding).

But, if you must have cultural and artistic stuff, then, rather than focusing on specific works that are indispensible, perhaps you should take a single-volume anthology from each of the ten most important literary traditions or cultures on the planet. That will give everybody at least a good sampling of the diversity of artsy-fartsiiness that existed on Earth, and make for a broader cultural experience for everybody.

For example, we could bring a high school literature textbook, that may have a Shakespeare play, some sonnets by Keats, The Raven by Poe, and a number of other short stories, poems and novellas. Then, you could include, for instance, a Chinese anthology, that may have some jueju-style poems from the Tang Dynasty, a few other poems from Chu-Ci, some excerpts from the Analects, etc.


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


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dwise1
Member
Posts: 2784
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.8


Message 34 of 100 (562424)
05-28-2010 5:08 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Straggler
05-27-2010 7:37 PM


Be sure to make one of the ten Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual. Even Franz Joseph's original TOS tech manual might do.

Only don't tell them that it's fictional. Then see what they can achieve after a half-dozen generations of trying to reconstruct that "lost technology."

Edited by dwise1, : No reason given.


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Parasomnium
Member (Idle past 135 days)
Posts: 2191
Joined: 07-15-2003


Message 35 of 100 (562426)
05-28-2010 5:25 PM
Reply to: Message 32 by Straggler
05-28-2010 3:49 PM


Rimmer's List

  • Astronavigation 101
  • Time management in 129 easy steps
  • The Art of Calligraphy in a Weightless Environment
  • Yvonne McGruder Kicks Ass (fan book)
  • The Secrets of Gazpacho Soup
  • So You're A Hologram, Now What?
  • The World Salute Book
  • Twenty Seven Herbal Remedies for Anal-Retentiveness
  • Morris Dance Music for Hammond Organ
  • The Definitive Guide to 20th Century Telegraph Poles

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Parasomnium
Member (Idle past 135 days)
Posts: 2191
Joined: 07-15-2003


Message 36 of 100 (562427)
05-28-2010 5:27 PM
Reply to: Message 32 by Straggler
05-28-2010 3:49 PM


Lister's Rim

  • Stasis, What It Is And How To Recover From It
  • Vindaloo, 20 of the Hottest Recipes
  • Wilma or Betty? The Flintstone diaries
  • Talking Toaster User's Guide
  • Revenge of the Surfboarding Killer Bikini Vampire Girls (the picture book to the film)
  • DIY: Cybernetics
  • Grow Your Own Smeg
  • Learn To Play The Guitar With Les Paul
  • Red Alert: How to Change a Light Bulb
  • Twenty Games Involving the Human Body

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subbie
Member (Idle past 145 days)
Posts: 3508
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 37 of 100 (562428)
05-28-2010 5:28 PM
Reply to: Message 34 by dwise1
05-28-2010 5:08 PM


In that event, we'd also have to include Chicago Mobs of the Twenties.


Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus. -- Thomas Jefferson

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and non-believers. -- Barack Obama

We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat

It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate


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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10196
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 38 of 100 (562435)
05-28-2010 7:01 PM
Reply to: Message 33 by Blue Jay
05-28-2010 4:54 PM


Re: My Own (Initial) List
Is it really only me that would choose something other than science text books or glorified dictionaries as the book based baton of human enlightenment?

Apparently so.

Well I have just been out with some of my BBC mates. They, with the exception of a couple of IT bods, are the sort of people who pompously describe themselves as "creatives". And I can tell you that their response to this question as compared to the EvC response could not be more stark. They completely ignored the Sc-fi-ness of the scenario and flew into a debate about the relative merits of Kafka and Dickens. Their inclusion of science can be summed up by the following (loosely remembered) quote:

"Once you have E=mc squared and you can build your bomb or power station or whatever what else needs to be said? The technicians will know enough about this stuff for anything useful and the rest can just be rediscovered anyway. It is the unique creative achievements of humanity that need to be preserved. Not the factual crap anyone can find out if they try hard enough"

So there you go. I don't agree with that. But there you go.

My problem with literature for this scenario is that it is so strongly tied to specific cultures.

Which is why those who think aspects of human culture worth saving would advocate such things. I mean why have museums or galleries or libraries huh? We will inevitably create other books, pictures and devices so why give a shit about any of that historical crap? Why spend huge sums of money preserving and restoring this ancient shit? Let's get rid of it all and make way for the new. Why not?

Why should Shakespeare's works be chosen, and not, for example, some Swedish literature, like August Strindberg?

Why indeed? But if we had to choose to preserve anything at all are all things equal or are some more worthy of saving than others? I don't dispute it is subjective to a large degree. But that is what I am asking here. What would you save from obliteration?

(for instance, the operator's manual for the spaceship they're riding).

Let's assume that the instruction manuals are already in place and that this is not an issue. As science geeks it seems we are just incapable of putting to one side the fact that the practical considerations of traval and colonization are not the issue under consideration here.

My vote would be to let the colony develop its own cultural and literary traditions, and preserve things that are more practical

And they will. But based on that argument we might as well throw away the entirety of human creative output at any given time and just get on with doing new stuff. Surely all the greatest innovation is done "standing on the shoulders of giants" No? Otherwise why keep anything? Let's scrub out the Picassos and record over the Beatles tracks to make way for the new stuff. No? Who needs the Mona Lisa when I can knock up a quick picture of a miserable bird with a grumpy smile using some crayons?

But, if you must have cultural and artistic stuff, then, rather than focusing on specific works that are indispensible, perhaps you should take a single-volume anthology from each of the ten most important literary traditions or cultures on the planet. That will give everybody at least a good sampling of the diversity of artsy-fartsiiness that existed on Earth, and make for a broader cultural experience for everybody.

Yeah fine. 10 books that do that would be, in my opinion, of some worth. Although I think you would sacrifice quality for the sake of inclusion. But hey ho this is all subjective anyway.

For example, we could bring a high school literature textbook, that may have a Shakespeare play, some sonnets by Keats, The Raven by Poe, and a number of other short stories, poems and novellas. Then, you could include, for instance, a Chinese anthology, that may have some jueju-style poems from the Tang Dynasty, a few other poems from Chu-Ci, some excerpts from the Analects, etc.

If you think that is the best way to preserve the intellectual achievements of the human race then OK. What ten books would represent such an inclusive and collective amalgamation of dispirate cultural achievements?


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Replies to this message:
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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10196
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 39 of 100 (562436)
05-28-2010 7:03 PM
Reply to: Message 36 by Parasomnium
05-28-2010 5:27 PM


Re: Lister's Rim

But dude you are obviously a Red Dwarf fan of worrying proportions.........


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ZenMonkey
Member (Idle past 1949 days)
Posts: 428
From: Portland, OR USA
Joined: 09-25-2009


Message 40 of 100 (562442)
05-28-2010 9:20 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Straggler
05-27-2010 7:37 PM


My attempt at a list.
What strikes me how often it seems to be pure chance that has determined what literature has survived the centuries and what what is gone forever. Tacitus's Histories and Annals, one of our major sources for the history of the Roman Empire and a brilliant piece of writing? All we have is based on one copy, with some of the good parts ripped out. Beowulf? One copy, found on some dusty monastary bookshelf. Out of all the works of the Greek tragedians, all we have are the very incomplete works of three of them. (For example, out of the 70 to 90 plays of Aeschylus, only seven remain.) And so on. Makes you wonder what great works didn't survive that we might well call cultural treasures today. So what the hell, maybe you should just run through a decent sized library and pull out ten books at random. Or, if you want to cheat a little bit, maybe just close your eyes and pull ten volumes of the Great Books of the Western World off the shelf.

Regardless, I'll take the contrary view of some of the tech-minded folks here. If you lost Origin of Species, you'd still have the ToE, even if you had to wait for someone to rediscover it. Calculus is still calculus, even if no one could ever present it as masterfully as Newton did. But cultural works are irreplacable. If you toss out Chaucer, you'll never find anything quite like him again. Sure, your colonists would eventually come up with their own creative works, but with no heritage of previous works to build on, there would be a piece of humanity there that they could never replace.

And now after that pedantic intro, here's what I'd try to grab at the last minute as I ran for the spaceship gangway - dreams and ideas that would still matter, even if the cultures from which they came were gone.

In no real order:

The Illiad
The Tao Te Ching
Beyond Good and Evil (Neitzsche)
Histories (Herodotus)
Collected Short Stories (Kafka)
The Federalist (Jay, Hamilton, Madison)
Canterbury Tales (Chaucer)
Don Quixote (Cervantes)
Tragedies (Shakespeare)
Moby Dick (Melville)

And maybe out of all of those, Kafka matters the most, because while the others are imposing for most, anyone can read Kafka and be changed. Makes me want to do a second list of works that your average off-duty stardrive tech will be happy reading.


I have no time for lies and fantasy, and neither should you. Enjoy or die.
-John Lydon

What's the difference between a conspiracy theorist and a new puppy? The puppy eventually grows up and quits whining.
-Steven Dutch


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Coyote
Member
Posts: 5859
Joined: 01-12-2008
Member Rating: 4.0


(1)
Message 41 of 100 (562444)
05-28-2010 9:39 PM


This topic is conflicted.

Is the goal of these ten books to recreate civilization, or to entertain an existing one with examples of a previous one?

If it is to recreate civilization lost, you better forget about Chaucer and have a good medical textbook. Forget Shakespeare and have a detailed wilderness survival guide. Knowing how to make an ax or set a bone is more important than "To be or not to be" and all the naval gazing in all the worlds' literature.

How about a major tome on farming and other such pursuits? Know how to pollinate your fruit crops? If not, you won't enjoy ancient literature for very long. Eating the pages won't even do you for more than a few days.

Forget the "fine" literature and take some practical books. You'll live longer.


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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 136 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 42 of 100 (562451)
05-28-2010 10:59 PM
Reply to: Message 40 by ZenMonkey
05-28-2010 9:20 PM


Re: My attempt at a list.
Hi, ZenMonkey.

ZenMonkey writes:

If you lost Origin of Species, you'd still have the ToE, even if you had to wait for someone to rediscover it.

How would we ever rediscover the Theory of Evolution if we're all moving to a planet without a fossil record (without one that's tied to us, anyway), and presumably with total available biodiversity limited to whatever livestock we brought with us?


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 40 by ZenMonkey, posted 05-28-2010 9:20 PM ZenMonkey has responded

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ZenMonkey
Member (Idle past 1949 days)
Posts: 428
From: Portland, OR USA
Joined: 09-25-2009


Message 43 of 100 (562475)
05-29-2010 1:50 AM
Reply to: Message 41 by Coyote
05-28-2010 9:39 PM


I thought that the assumption was that the technical knowledge was all accounted for, and that the question was what 10 books could represent all of humanity's cultural achievments?

I won't pretend to defend Chaucer or Shakespeare on the grounds of utility, nor do I think that the Illiad is worth saving just for its entertainment value (though it certainly has it). You read works by these dead white guys (or dead yellow guy, in the case of the Tao Te Ching) because as important as building biospheres or analysing alien DNA might be to our settlers, it's also important to read books that talk about what human life might mean. Worthwhile anytime, but maybe even more when there's almost nothing of humanity left.


I have no time for lies and fantasy, and neither should you. Enjoy or die.
-John Lydon

What's the difference between a conspiracy theorist and a new puppy? The puppy eventually grows up and quits whining.
-Steven Dutch


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 Message 41 by Coyote, posted 05-28-2010 9:39 PM Coyote has not yet responded

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ZenMonkey
Member (Idle past 1949 days)
Posts: 428
From: Portland, OR USA
Joined: 09-25-2009


Message 44 of 100 (562476)
05-29-2010 1:54 AM
Reply to: Message 42 by Blue Jay
05-28-2010 10:59 PM


Re: My attempt at a list.
Bluejay writes:

How would we ever rediscover the Theory of Evolution if we're all moving to a planet without a fossil record (without one that's tied to us, anyway), and presumably with total available biodiversity limited to whatever livestock we brought with us?

Well, if we're right about how evolution works, then any planet that already has life on it will have its own evolutionary history to discover. I kinda doubt that these settlers would want to attempt to terraform a completely lifeless barren rock, but even if that was where they ended up, the life they planted there would also start along its own evolutionary path.

Either way, ToE, like Germ Theory, is simply true, just waiting for someone to figure it out.


I have no time for lies and fantasy, and neither should you. Enjoy or die.
-John Lydon

What's the difference between a conspiracy theorist and a new puppy? The puppy eventually grows up and quits whining.
-Steven Dutch


This message is a reply to:
 Message 42 by Blue Jay, posted 05-28-2010 10:59 PM Blue Jay has not yet responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10196
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 45 of 100 (562496)
05-29-2010 9:36 AM
Reply to: Message 41 by Coyote
05-28-2010 9:39 PM


The Aim Of This Thread
The aim of this thread (which I am obviously being very unclear about) is to assume that all the knowledge that is practically needed for survival has been catered for. The aim is to assume that what is necessry has been dealt with and instead concentrate on what should be preserved and passed on regardless of practical necessity. In essence I am asking what you think the crowning achievements of human culture, intellect and insight are.

Now I suspected EvC paticipants to have a very strong science bias. I expected General Realtivity, Quantum mechanics and the Theory of Evolution to be cited. I might even have hoped that someone would tell me what they think the definitive and authoritative texts are on these subjects.

What I didn't expect and am still slightly despairing of is the inability of anyone to get past the sci-fi practicalities of this. Hand washing, over-sized pictorial dictionaries and computer manuals are all very well but they hardly represent the pinnacles of mans insight and creativity do they?

Quote from Dead Poets Society:

quote:
"We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for."

Forget the "fine" literature and take some practical books. You'll live longer.

Assume that all this is already in place.

Now what are the human achievemenst of insight, understanding and creativity that are worth prsereving and passing on? That is the question.


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