A wholesale discount store provides a good way to observe the winners in this society. Obviously, most items are made by giant corporations far from wherever you buy them; equally obviously, since the quality doesn’t vary wherever you buy them, it’s important to get them cheaply. Further, any idiot who was half-awake in high school can tell you that with economies of scale in action, the more you buy, the cheaper it will be. Hence businesses arise that, for a single yearly fee, will gain you access to a giant no-frills shopping barn where you can haul home as much stuff as your credit card will handle.
They’re always full. After all, food, candy, clothing, DVDs and furniture are available at 2/3 of the normal cost. Where you’d buy three bars of soap, you can now get twenty, for a significant discount. Of course, most of these items are stocked according to the convenience of the retailer, usually through exclusive contracts with giant suppliers by which the wholesaler buys up cheaply whatever the manufacturer made too many of this last gift-giving season, or is about to phase out of existence. But it’s cheap, and you can get your sweaty hands on it quickly and drag the damn thing home to keep you occupied and safely in denial of mortality for a few weeks until you tire of it, and send it to the landfill with everything else.
Of course, there’s a split among thinking people. Some tend to view society in religious terms, and see it as a kind of evil, thus they avoid it whenever they can and end up living in penury. These types buy the three bars of soap for a higher price and walk home muttering how glad they are that at least they didn’t have to waste any time in Wal-Mart, because that place is the dregs of humanities. The others, perhaps being of a more pragmatic nature, or simply a more acquiescent one, get corporate jobs and join the discount clubs so they can get good wines at 10% above cost, have access to the best meats and, hey, the complete Star Trek on DVD, and it’s only forty bucks. Good deal.
At one of these places recently, I was forced into the unorthodox but necessary role of standing on the edge of its exit path, where one has just slid the credit card, written the legal signature and now has a cart piled high with things wrapped in plastic to take home to the wife and kids, or pornography and cat, as the case seems to be for most people. I am not a weird-looking dude, but I seem to radiate some kind of awareness that disturbs most people and, as this is amusing, whenever I’m in one of these situations I find a need to observe for my own amusement. It is not that I scorn other people, or hate them or love them, because these universal terms that apply without any boundaries to their logic are generally bad news, as far as intellect is concerned, but I take advantage of the university worth of learning before me: observing people in their native habitat reveals more than all the opinion polls, votes, person-on-the-street interviews and talk shows in the universe.
Like a rock midstream, I watched people pass around me; these were the people who knew enough to get memberships to discount wholesale stores and thus get goods cheaply, thus saving money and getting ahead in this society: they are our future leaders. My observations were twofold: first, these people had a certain uniformity to them, although on the outside they were not identical or even close; second, this uniformity revealed something of how we have arrived at a state of this degree of degeneration, as a civilization, and where else this has happened. From this I was able to piece together some wisdom of the ancients with learning from modern sources, and formulate a plan for reversing this process of slowly descending into uniformity.
First, we look at the people: they pass, heads down or averted from the gaze of an observer (Mr. Heisenberg, your tea is ready), in an uneven gait as often as not created by health problems including a fatness that is functional; it’s not obesity, but they’re not slender, either: they have extra weight strapped around them like a suicide bomber’s belt. When this is observed, it becomes clear why so many people die of hideous cancers, arterial clotting, or colonic obstruction; they are not healthy people in any sense of the word. While some have strength, it is unevenly distributed; those who specialize in activities of the mind are either quite fat or quite thin, and usually have personal habits that would disgust a weasel. None reveal consistent stressful exercise, although in theory all these winners are “working hard” at their important jobs.
Anyone of distinctive appearance or physical health stands out like a sore thumb. The crowd height is a fraction over five feet, with a few here and there who poke out above the surging mass. Only a handful are not dark-haired. Very few have a clear, focused look to their faces, or would sustain eye contact. Before this article seems like a polemic about racial issues, let it be clear that it is not, although it includes mention of race: these people have no traits which claim a clean lineage to any race. They are not attractive in any race. In fact, race is one trait they seem to lack: Of those that are not clearly Indo-European, the majority have some heritage borrowed from all three race. Extreme dark skin was rare, as was extreme light skin; these were mostly tan, with brown eyes and curly but loose-flowing hair.
They often wheeze at the effort of walking more than forty feet, which isn’t surprising considering that their diet appears to be high in greasy snack foods packaged in plastic. They are physically puny, meaning they have no grace and no athletic strength, even though some may be strong. It is an absurd situation. They are absurd remnants of once great things. This leads to our first observation, which is that, much as chicken and sheep and corn have been domesticated, and thus changed into inoffensive and functional versions of themselves that cannot exist outside of society’s need, these people have been domesticated. They are at home in their element: they would be completely useless if they had to hunt, fish or cultivate earth for a living. They might eventually figure it out, but never to any great success.
These are domesticated people. They are literally products of their society, and are content in this role. Even their form factor fits this description, since they are of average height, weight and health. Although they’re not leaders, clearly they all have jobs and make money, which they’re spending here. But these aren’t the kind of people who head off into uncharted waters and found civilizations through the dual means of military prowess and creative instinct. These are people who buy stuff, consume it, and then make the difficult decision of what to watch on cable before passing out. Without our society, they would not exist. Without our wholesale discount stores, it’s doubtful they could survive. Humanity existed before them, and degenerated, and they are the product – the proof and expiation. This was the first revelation.
Second, what hit my mind was this: many times before, this process has occurred. Great civilizations were formed and then at some point turned on themselves, forcing their people to conform to such a lowest common denominator average that soon they, too, were lumpy, runty, undistinguished types like these. There were a few tall people, and healthy people, among the crowd, but most were from generations gone by in America, and they were looking less lost than others but also vastly out of place. This isn’t their time. They are obsolete. Every great civilization has gone from a period of being leaders and builders to a time of no consensus, and no goal, out of which comes such average people.
Modern generic domesticated human is a great animal. Put it in a city, and it will find a job, and consider itself smart for having a “good” one such that it can afford lots of plastic. It generates income for industry, even paying huge amounts for retirement. You can count on it to make the lowest common denominator decision every time; put fresh vegetables next to bulk snack food, and it will buy the snack food, which costs less to produce and thus has a higher profit margin. Introduce some “new” gadget or fad and the cowlike masses will buy it, and think they’re clever for being so “in” with what’s “hip.” Best of all, they never ask any serious existential or larger-issues questions, thus are equally prone to watch TV instead of seeking value and, while they all have political opinions, never cross the taboo line of suggesting that society has gone astray.
When I realized this, I thought of all the ruined empires I’ve seen, and read about, and what the people who were left over looked like. Very similar: a muddle of fixtures, a confusion of impulses, a lack of any real goal except to exist as comfortably as possible in a civilization that occurred outside of their control. At this point, my mind strayed to something I had read in a book about Indian mysticism. In it, a yogin described the process of meditation as letting go of one’s self identity, and realizing that one is a game piece manipulated from within by “supernatural forces.” When I read this, it repulsed me at first, because I like most Westerners associate the supernatural with gods in the sky, strange moral laws and sheeplike consciences.
Recalling that surging crowd, however, I realized that “supernatural” has another meaning: mathematics. Our inward forces respond to opportunity and boundary, and thus form a simple kind of logic, by which we predictably respond to our government. Who would, for example, give up a comfy modern life to go live in an ice age cave? And when confronted with a broken society, those who do not object and thus run the risk of self-destruction or crowd disapproval will by their nature opt for decisions that please the most people. This means not taking controversial stands, and finding the best products at the best price. This is how they breed themselves into this runty, undistinguished mass: they give up on nature and replace it with a values system where image is more important than reality, thus it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and soon reality is five feet tall and mediocre in health, strength, intelligence and character.
This second revelation hit like a brick. We are literally breeding ourselves into the same dumb livestock that we exploit for all that cheap milk, cheese and meat you can get at discount wholesale stores. Is there a solution? It rests in the revelation of mathematics: like a supernatural force, mathematics works from within, or without our conscious awareness of a motivation. The current math is that our society rewards inoffensiveness and obedience. If our values change, that changes; if people start respecting only great character and deeds, and shun the others as products of a failed civilization, then we resurrect our breeding toward higher states and not lower ones (although this might bankrupt junk food manufacturers, midget porners, fast food establishments and hemorrhoid specialists). My goal with these columns, and everything I do, is changing of that values, because I have now seen both the heights – the heroic, idealistic, natural humankind – and the lows, namely the crowd of runts, and I know which outcome I prefer for myself and my world.
I was explaining, perhaps, how the end comes not like a roaring demon over the horizon, but soft as a morning mist until it is among you, tantalizing with its sweet smell so that none are awake to the blindness until it is not only too late to see, but to counteract the poison. Indeed, poison that tastes like death is useless, because none will take it except at the point of a sword, and at that moment, you might as well run them through, since a grimacing corpse never looks like it died in its sleep peacefully. But poison kills while you are sleeping, or at the moment when in the grips of hallucinations you fight to awake and see around you what has changed, and die in the agony of realization.
Crowds love decoration. It is like painting an old and rotting house so you can sell it to the clueless young couples from the cities: hide the rotting frame, paint over the cracks in the foundation, tie plastic around the leaking pipes so everything holds together just long enough for the ink to dry on the contract, at which point it is not your problem. Similarly there is nothing offensive about decoration. The insides are hidden, including the churning gaseous gut, and what is left is a pleasant situation in which things can be done abstractly, as if in a heavenly place entirely removed from reality, a perfect space. X will deliver Y on time, and be paid $Z. It is so crisp and logical, so apart from the smears of bodily fluids and last gurglings and wheezings of the bedridden elderly patient that we try to keep out of our minds so we can function, as death like a moth trapped in the lantern of our eyes flits about the flame and throws shadows on the wall.
Among the crowd, you will see few blondes, but plenty of dyed blond hair. Face-lifts, tummy tucks, esophageal constrictions and painted nails. Perfumes to keep away those ghastly digestive smells, and the stench of sweat when one is creeping back from the house of a sudden lover in the early morning. Shouldn’t have, didn’t mean to, but who will know? Appearance is distinct from reality. Keep working the job and you can pay for the personal trainer, the special medicines to obscure whatever your personal deformation is, whether impotence or dandruff or halitosis or schizophrenia. Most of all keep smiling at everyone, and the crowd will love you. Mention only the positive; it won’t do to speak of death. Of all things on earth, the crowd loves pleasant-tasting poison the most.
Go to a movie. You will not see an ancient Greek tragedy, because that brings you closer to the mortal span and any discussion of its meaning, which could mean you feel you fall short and wonder what dead-end hall will be your last memories. Instead, you will see a catharsis of illusion, whereby you fall into empathy with characters far removed from your own life and live out their triumphs, their victories, their submission and ultimately their return to normal life, just like yours, except shining in gold and covered at every step by the cameras of the paparazzi. For two glorious hours, you were not thinking about the nagging husband, or the tepid job, or the dentist’s appointment lurking like a hired killer around the corner on next Wednesday; you were thinking about these magic people, in their perfectly dramatic lives, so full of meaning and finally, contentment, or at least some ending that exudes meaning with every ion. She got the man of her dreams, he took the ball team to the pennant and won against all odds, the good guys won for once.
If not a movie, try some drugs. We have pills to bring you up, or bring you down if you want to slow down and touch life from an insulated safari car. Or would the gentleman prefer hallucinations? It’s all about you, kid, just like for everyone else, it’s all about them. Take your choice, put down your money, and be on your way – time is money and I don’t have all day. For those who are wealthy, there are vacations in far-off lands, or lives spent making a 0.00001% difference in the life of one miserable village like ten million others, not of practical value but it feels good. Otherwise, you can get into sports, and when you win, can feel as if God Himself put you above others; if you’re really broke, there’s television, which is like a cheap movie repeating in half-hour segments. Cry with the golden people; laugh with them, celebrate their lives and enjoy the time apart from your own. This is what the crowd wants.
There is a subtle mathematics to this, also. Each motion in life takes the path of least resistance, as this leads inevitably to some kind of open space. When there are no great dragons to slay, no great cities to found, and nothing left to learn except small increments of what we already know, you might as well look toward comfort. Thus each individual in the crowd, acting independently, seeks out what might fill the void of knowledge of eventual death, if even for two hours. Have a nice apartment, some interesting lovers, friends who never forget your birthday. There’s a video game system in the corner, next to the DVD player and the computer; the world at your fingers, ready for your whim. The mathematics of the crowd is formed by each individual seeking a world of its own, and thus creating an idealized, averaged concept of person which erects rigid boundaries around whatever choices an individual can make, such that all are beyond criticism. This way, we’re all safe from each other.
It is almost undefinable, the attitude of these crowds. Their math is the rise and fall of empires, and within it, the things an individual might value based on choices available. When society is new, and the first trees are falling to build the first shelters, and there are still wolves which at night carry off the unwary, those who survive are those who can make the choice to plan ahead, to do what is important in the long term. They have no choice about that situation; it is what they must endure or be consumed. When there have already been generations of those who have gone before, the choices to be made reflect options within the framework of civilization: how do I make my workers harvest more, or convince the king to fund a bridge, or barter for the yeast that makes lush bread? Even further along, the options are both greater and smaller: civilization has not only become self-referential, but it has lost its frontier, and lost its big open spaces, so you take what’s left.
This means fighting over the wealth, and the positions of power that are, not creating new power either within through self-discipline, or without by creating new civilizations, new ideas to conquer space and time. The crowd surges ahead; they demand that anyone can be whatever he or she wants to be, because in the mathematics of the situation, any position requires no special skills, but going through the motions. Appearance dominates over reality, as it becomes more important to convince others of something and have them buy it than to make something effective in its own right; it is the age of marketers, of travelling salesman and carpet-bag-toting investors. The civilization has nowhere to go so expands in every direction, each individual in the crowd taking his own due, and although smiling in public, scorning the rest in private and thus leaving nothing for the rest. Gods are worshipped for the divine power of the crowd, as a holy man is trusted by all. It is twilight for the supernatural figures, and for the forest: Buddha goes to meditate at his bodhi tree and finds it cut down. Jesus descends the cross to write his memoirs, joins a rock band and is never heard from again.
The time that is described here is the time in which I observed a crowd of people streaming out of a discount wholesale chain of stores, where membership is required to keep one well behaved, and all the rules are clearly stated on small plastic signs because, since there is no agreement on ideal behavior, they cannot be intuited and are not shared. The crowd are united by having nothing in common. The attitude they have is undefinable, because it is not so much a strong belief as an absence of any. They are there to claim their due. In this they insist, strongly, but it is not belief so much as pragmatic and the convenience of convention that drives them to this rigid rule. Rights are more important than cooperation. Money leads all other values, which in order to compete market themselves, and thus by the mathematics of finding commonality, become more like all other values until none have any distinct value, and all perish.
In the cities and towns, the wisdom of success prevails. There is no forward direction: take what it is here. All the pretty girls marry rich toads with big cars and go off to the cities to have half-ugly babies, and all the geniuses write epic poetry which is burned with their belongings in forgotten attics long after they have suicided, or taken too many drugs to notice that truck already an hour late on its shift barrelling down the boulevard. If a classical hero, or great thinker, emerged in such a society, that person would head for a small cabin in Montana or perhaps, bowing to the inevitable and pragmatic, simply get a job and dismiss those thoughts which once raced with inspiration through an active mind as phantasms of the brain, stimulated by inferior takeout food at lunch – call the credit company for refund. There is a profound absence in them, of any striving or any satiation in achievement, since what they have to conquer is so long defined even its tedium is forgotten, and thus the only question is one of comfort and withdrawl from the mess, not a desire to organize the chaos formed from abstract definitions of a universal nature applied in non-universal, specific situations whose uniqueness is of no concern to those who file forms, purchase orders, stock certificates and arrest warrants.
This is mathematics. Much as the death of someone who has lived a century is the information science of cell death and interdependent organ systems failing in sequence, the death of a civilization is the number patterning of people slowly learning not to give a huff about anything beyond their immediate gratification. With each generation, the tumblers of the great cash register slowly approach the zone of total unchanging numerics; each birth cycle brings a lower intelligence, fewer noble traits, and less desire to climb to the heavens. Those are obsolete desires. What is needed now is people who understand what is and adapt to it, domesticated, and thus can see that a discount club provides the best value, and therefore get the credit cards and membership, and all the best consumer goods so their comfort is superior to the rest. Despite its hollowness, this effort is what they call their pride. Calculate the odds, and the math rewards them doing so, since no one person can reverse the course of inertia, or can it be done? To even take that gamble is to forsake stability and convenience, to doom oneself to a hard life and a lonely one, since no one wants to befriend someone going nowhere in the world of dollars and products.
It is also mathematics that something great must change this society, such that the rules of survival alter themselves greatly, and the remaining population can spend 10,000 years surviving an ongoing cataclysm, so that only those who see far into the future and plan accordingly will pass along their genes. The climate, destabilized by clouds of smoke from machines and bargeloads of waste from every corner of every city, finally gives way, and ice covers the earth. Death reigns upon the unwary. Those who are left retreat to caves, and find new gods who can give them strength to endure hardships that last beyond the individual life, working for goals they will not live to see gained. This is why all great cultures have a Ragnarok mythos, and why the crowd is so frenetic: their urgency conveys an inarticulable fear, as indefinable as the absence of heroism among them, that lurks in the subconscious, reminding them that death is real and, like the inevitable end for all they know, as mathematical as their own ambitionless lust for comfort.
The great mystery, in the ashes of any civilization, is how it fell, since we can see its works and their might. How could a race of such strong beings succumb, and how did it happen? — our minds relive every betrayal, every night of burning cities, every lonely suicide by one of the few who saw the collapse imminent. To understand the process of a civilization dying, we must understand how people move from an inward strength to an outer one, and how it thus shapes them to lack the direction needed to put great strength in the right place, and therefore, lays before them the poison of their doom.
When there is consensus, one can point to an idea or deed and say, “It does fulfill that which we together value, thus it is great,” and have others agree. All are unified toward a goal. This goal may not be a tangible thing, nor an immediate one, but in every mind there is an image of it, like a golden idol or holy scripture. When this goal disappears, like the sword of Damocles hovering above open ocean, with it goes the ability to esteem any deed as beneficial to the whole culture, and the focus of people in that culture turns to themselves, and ways they can use a public image of self to “prove” the worthiness of self; deeds become secondary to a construct of the individual. In this way crowds are formed, which seems a paradox in that crowds have one will while the individual has one, but it becomes clear that a crowd exists when there is no agreement except a common confusion, and what arises of it is the simplest thing upon which all can agree. Since all are individuals, this agreement is shallow at best.
In place of a universal collective good, the crowd seeks universal absolutes, and thus begins to construct an ideal in its image, whether a God or a set of laws and customs which respect an idealized, average individual, and erect rigid boundaries across which none other may cross, protecting each individual from criticism or assessment of failure, using that ideal defined by boundaries and not desires for achievement. It is a subtle sleight of hand, but an important one, as now the individual defines himself or herself not by what is possible, but by what is possessed, and not by what is internal, but by what can be recognized by all others in the crowd. It is a humbling position, through which one receives a sense of self, by showing the group an image and with their approval, claiming it as one’s own. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and thus the humility undertaken internally is reversed in an external persona that is assertive, combative and most of all, selfish.
Why would one do anything for the collective, after all, when the collective is so disorganized and demanding that it must be shown something pleasing to approve the individual? Those who speak too much truth are dismissed; they have violated one part of the Absolute rule which states the importance of never making another appear to be diminished, unless of course they have violated the rule, and thus preserves the crowd as individuals. This trap is brilliant in its simplicity, in that where working together the crowd could have everything they desire, instead they work against each other and claim the balance established as a form of collaboration, meaning that simple tasks which could be done with quickly, leaving the day for the individual to develop, instead take far longer because of the complexities of interlocking webs of absolute demands and the conflicts they progenerate. In this realization, the individual sees the crowd as necessary but not an ally, and thus it is every man for himself: the individual combats the world as whole in order to make a pile of money and haul it off to an untouchable lair, promoting a paranoia and distrust of all others, who are trying to do the same thing regardless of who or what it destroys.
In such a society, rules are more important than reality, because rules represent collective consent where reality is visible in varying degrees to those who can see it. For this reason, if one points to reality and says, “Isn’t it obvious?” there will be some in the crowd who do not see it, and will be alienated and will take their business elsewhere, fracturing the crowd’s single will, and this is the one thing a crowd fears. For this reason, rules are absolute, and breaking them equates to exile from the crowd. Those who are exiles are, of course, likely to act outside the will of the crowd, and thus are commonly crushed – either by the sword, as Christians do, or by public ridicule and the corresponding inability to get decent-paying work, relegating them to the permanent underclass that feeds the machines with its bodies. A person from this society, when asked what is real, does not observe, but consults a reference work; if something is known to have been against the rules in the past, it is categorized apart from all things considered possible. Further, anything which ends an individual world is a tragedy, thus except under extreme and heavily-justified, usually with mountains of paperwork and public proceeding, circumstances, any life lost is a tragedy that threatens the crowd by illustrating to each individual how fragile they are, and how anything better than them could easily destroy them.
This realization spurs crowds toward revenge, proactive revenge and neutralization, of anything which could possibly rise above the mass. It is well and good to succeed in ways permitted by rule, because everyone knows it is a matter of following rules and persistence and thus means nothing of the inner spirit, and therefore cannot place one person above another. However, to rise in strength or character outside of that approved by the crowd is to reveal the impotence of crowds, and thus is a hanging offense in crowds throughout the universe. There is no sense of cooperation or reverence; the individual is king, and through the abstract concept of the individual as boundaries none may criticize, the crowd is composed of individuals, who wield its passive and subtle revenge through civility, through commerce, and through endless labyrinthine bureaucratic government designed to confound anyone who values his time and experience more than his money and standing with the paper-pushers. In the ways prescribed by rule, all compete against all others; none work together, except as means of getting ahead for themselves, and the community as a whole is viewed as a substrate from which the individual may take so that it can recede to safe haven with profit removed from the ongoing cycle of social growth.
To keep this system maintaing itself, crowds institute a form of Ponzi scheme, by which those who pay now support those who bought in years ago, and those who are now making money are doing it by bringing more people into the crowd and forcing them also to bear the yoke of industrial labor. Each works for his or her own gain, and thinks not of the whole, thus even when facing a situation that will end bad, says glibly, “Not in my lifetime!” and runs off with whatever wealth has accrued, thankful to be out of a system that pits each against all. Since this goal is shared among all, it is used as a means of assessing other people, which is the only such assessment permitted by rule. What is being measured is not internal to a person, but something they possess, and thus to keep up the illusion of respecting the individual, the crowd invents self-image. It is an external construct designed to represent the individual, and it is composed of both things one owns and things one does or claims to value, a social avatar composed of static achievement. As individuals see themselves in terms of this external self, inside they are not very secure, and thus they work harder to affirm the external as a means of compensation, even though this only increases their insecurity.
Low self-esteem of this widespread and pervasive sort motivates people to do what they can to enhance their external image. They do this through highly visible but not necessarily effective acts, especially those which show humility and thus make them appealing to each member of the crowd; they love to help the less fortunate, to show how much wealthy they possess and therefore, how much humility they can afford. They play games with this external ego, taking pride in having said a witty thing that showed another to be in the wrong, according to the Absolute rules of the social game, or in owning something that few others have, or in being able to claim membership in elites or a position of power in the social hierarchy: all of this has nothing to do with the person within, and screams “I am important, because the crowd approves of what I do!” – forgetting of course that the memory of the crowd is shorter than that of a hungry dog.
In life, only one person ever faces mortality, and that is the individual; the crowd does not, and no degree of external approbation will stop the unstoppable descent of death. To compensate, a form of cognitive dissonance of existential self-justification, the individual works harder to glorify the self in image; image is safe, as it can be “objectively” shared with the crowd, where qualitative measurements such as inner strength and degree to which a job is done well are only known to those with the brains and attention span to see it (imagine Arthur Schopenhauer trying to explain the importance of philosophy to a moron). The building up of external self is an addiction that never ends, as each time it is built the internal doubt increases proportionately, until the individual faces death with open eyes for a mere moment, and in a howl of terror rushes back to the tangible: those things the entire crowd can see and agree exist, and even place a value on which they swear is above that of death. Through this collective denial of mortality, ease of heart is achieved, since somewhere in even the dumber people is the awareness that their lives are being spent for others, on tasks that require less time to complete, in lieu of developing the self and fulfilling some kind of destiny.
Disorganization such as this has no route but collapse, as all the great civilizations have done, leaving behind both ruins and people with some of the abilities of the old, but none of the inner wisdom. In our current civilization, we have tried to unify the world, figuring that if we are all in it together, it won’t collapse, and if it does, none will escape to be victors over our graves. But who is to say this hasn’t happened before? If even 50,000 years ago a civilization as advanced in technology as ours existed, and then passed into a time when there was noone to keep the power plants working, maintain the computers and read the books in the library, its artifacts would not exist at this time: the ages would reduce them to dust and the mingling of tongues obliterate their memory. Maybe that civilization found out, as ours is about to, that all external resources are finite; there is only so much land, so much oil, so many fish in the sea, and as we grow, we reduce those amounts daily.
We are killing all of the things with inward strength, things that self-renew like forests and wild species. To kill them, we do not need to kill all of the individuals, but only to destroy enough of them that those remaining have few breeding options and thus the pretty girls get carried off by ugly rich men and the geniuses die alone. When they collapse, and our civilization falls apart in chaos or into third world disorder, it will be unable to sustain itself if a climactic shift, such as an ice age, comes. This will lay the groundwork for the mystery of its collapse, as those who maintain the great works from earlier times will probably not leave notes to that effect, but will steal anything they can eat and then die as well after the easy ways of survival are covered under ice and ruins. Much like humans, civilizations dying of old age do so slowly, with the end being as anticlimactic as the realization that death, also, is mundane.
My advice to those who have read this far, and have enough clear sight in their souls to resolve in their inner being the will to live on even if they will not personally reap the results, is to head to the north. In the lands of ice it is not easy to live, but it is easy to hide from the rampaging southerners who, seeing death written upon the wall, will attempt to gain temporary immortality by revenge on those who have done better. Among the icy caves of the north, shelter can be found, and survival had by those who are both crafty and of inner strength enough to see the long-term plan without cares for personal gratification at the expense of it. It is like a filter, this arctic time, which admits only those who have faith in life and have overcome their external self-image enough to see reality for what it is: an ongoing process, in which we are but actors. Memorize Beethoven, and memorize the Eddas and Rig Veda, so that in the future we may have some of a past that is otherwise destined to be lost in the passage of failed civilizations.