My grandfather was concerned with a relatively small number of things in the last years of his life; one of those things was the dark ages. As an intensely curious man, a furiously curious man, he could not fathom how even a single generation of humans lacked the spirit necessary to try to understand their world better than the generations prior. He couldn’t understand a single such generation much less the hundred of them that actually occurred.
And yet history is unequivocal. For more than a thousand years knowledge failed to advance. Rome was sacked. The ignorant book-burning masses moved in. […]