Sunday, January 18, 2009

"Arc of Progress" Part III

Back to the "hood". Do you think that this library once held, the two volumes of "Decline of the West"? I'll bet it did....

I'm going to borrow the phase, "Arc of Progress" from my pal Nudge, and run off with it! I've been thinking about what I'm about to describe for about a year now. While I was on the search looking for examples of catabolic collapse (and there were many) on graphics, a strange thought occurred to me. Could the dynamics of decline that catabolic collapse is suggesting on the backside (right side) of say, Hubbert's curve, be somewhat of a reversal (or the opposite of) of the dynamics of the incline on the front side or left side of the curve? If we can describe the catabolic collapse process as decline, then partial recovery to be followed by even deeper decline, followed by yet another partial recovery not as great as the one preceding it to be followed by even deeper decline yet, etc., suggesting a downward arc.

Then can we describe the "Arc of Progress" as being, incline to be followed by partial decline to be followed by even greater incline, followed by yet another partial decline but not as deep as the one preceding it to be followed by even greater incline yet, etc., suggesting an arc of incline? Hope that's not too confusing! But, I think so.... That is, I believe there is a cycling process of progression that dominates the cycling process of partial decline forming an upward arc. Just as the catabolic process of the declining, dominates those cycles of progression forming the partial recovery, projecting the downward "Arc of Decline".

Oooh! That hurts, just thinking about it! However, I do believe this forward process was quite likely (but unimportant), as most of us are very likely thinking we'll be starting our slides down the backside of Hubbert's hill, if not now, soon, or so it seems, (once again for me)...

So at the conclusion of this "progress" segment of the series, I think it might be reasonable to conclude that it takes a very long time for civilizations to fall and ours is no different from the those in past history, as they had their own predicaments, as do we. That this process of decline (catabolic) does have a certain "order" or rhythm to it, was found in civilizations past, has already been detected in parts (if not the whole) of this civilization (perhaps Detroit, as a leading example in North America?) and will very likely continue as this Western Civilization wanes...


FARfetched said...

Seems about right — the decline won't be even, both in slope and in location. In other words, as you've pointed out, places like Detroit might be leading the way. It's not a first… the back-story for the King Arthur legend is that the Romans pulled out a generation previous, and they were left to fend for themselves. Meanwhile, things in the "center," whatever that may be, continue to rock&roll for years or even centuries.

yooper said...

I think you're right Far, decline will be uneven, just as progress or "the build" has been uneven...Or so it seems...

Hmmm, perhaps I should read about the King Arthur lengend? I know nothing about this!

Gee, maybe progress is a myth, perhaps like the ice of Superior it builds into being (becoming?) real flat for miles and miles, civilizations just wax and wane on an even plateau or plane? And catabolic collapse is the final end of this process? That is, descending from the plateau that is called "humanity" or "man kind"?

What do you think?

Nudge said...

In the distant future, I'm expecting some of the most peculiar legends to be floating about, mostly passed around by word of mouth. No doubt the material comforts of today will be the stuff of awed recollection later, for instance when people making their way through the dense woods perceive beneath them the remains of a precisely graded curve in one of the interstates .. and to anyone stopping to put the dots together, it will become apparent that it was a large road graded and scaled for heavy high-speed traffic. If they measure it and find that the roadbed is 24 feet across and that there's a parallel one nearby, surely they'll wonder what sort of traffic it was meant for.

A persistent legend will probably be that there is some distant place where the technology was not lost. (OK, it will probably be Japan, which you cannot walk to, and no, I'm not trying to channel the Kostner/Waterworld meme.)

What kinds of persistent artifacts might be left behind, if any? Of course we should not expect anything electronic to last that long into the future, unless perhaps it's protected under museum-vault conditions and barely if ever used. What a shame that no internet will be running, and no digital cameras still available, by the time Lake Mead silts up completely and begins its new life as a strange waterfall spilling over the lip of the dam.

So little is made these days that is what you could call durable. I have two pieces of “old technology” here at home. One is a coffee grinder from around 1830, which I still use every day. It is made of cast iron and wood, is drop dead simple, and will probably last much longer. The other is a fishing net weight (?) I found up on the beach in Homer Spit, Alaska during my one trip there back in the 1980s. It is a smooth rounded stone with a hole drilled through it. No idea how old it is.

Years ago there was a 7-book science fiction series that covered what life might be like 1,200 years later after a nuclear war happening about now. It's out of print, but if anyone's interested the author's name was Paul Williams and the series began with “the Breaking of Northwall”. It came out in the early 1980s and was republished later.

Yooper, I would agree with empires undergoing that sort of cycle of concentration then dissolution, but whole civilizations? Ours might leave behind some curious residues itself. Just the fact that right now we have mostly damped out regional accents is an interesting thing in an of itself. It's amazing to listen to the voices in the old recordings from just 30+ years ago, when the regional accents were so much stronger.

Love this stuff .. keep up the good work. We've all got front-row seats when it comes to watching the upcoming collapse.

Nudge said...

We seem to have some fans here from outside the United Parking Lot of America. Do any of you care to share what you see of change in your own countries?

yooper said...

Heh! heh! You bet Nudge!, I suspect, there's quite a few from outside the "United Parking Lot of America," lurking! ha! Love that phrase! ha!(Gee, I've got to watch what I say!) This site, is kind of like a reference point for people to come to, as well as for myself, it helps preventing repeating some ideas over and over again. In the past, I've referred back to it often. I suspect, hundreds if not thousands of people have visited here and will continue to into the future. Some people find the blogger format confusing and hard to comment, while others (if not most) are more comfortable "quitely listening".

Nudge, I can't express my gratitude for you're input here! Very, very interesting and helps to urge me on! I very much appericate your perspective. With your feedback and Far's, can only make this series better! Thank you.

I can't imagine what people might think of the world that we'll leave behind. I do think, that anything concrete might exsit for quite some time, roadways, bridges, skyscrappers, etc..

I'm quite certain, given enough time, much will be lost, as you suggest even our durables aren't so durable. Perhaps it will be the legends that out last them all?

I'm not sure Nudge, if whole civilizations have under went very much the same process as with empires undergoing that sort of cycle of concentration then dissolution. That is what's being suggested and there's very strong evidence to support it...However, I know precious little about this and I'm putting my faith into those that do..

I do believe that our society or the individuals that make it up, are so "specialized" in certain areas, perhaps creating voids, that might not be so easily filled, if the need presents itself.

Thanks, yooper

Nudge said...

Yooper, great thread, and kudos to you for covering this stuff on your blog. Nice news on the hit stats too.

yooper said...

Nice of you to say so, Nudge.

Thanks so much, yooper

materials said...
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