The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

March 1, 2013

Newly discovered writings bring hope for knowledge preservation

Friday, March 1, 2013 — A treasure trove of literary works by Rudyard Kipling, lost for decades, were found in an American home recently.

The works are to be published alongside his other pieces in a new volume coming out in March.

Scholars were giddy with the find, but if we’ve just found undiscovered works of a fairly well-known and modern writer, what else is out there waiting to be discovered? What else has been erased by the scourging sands of time?

I read on the BBC the other day that scientists now believe the universe to be inherently unstable, destined to collapse on itself and start all over again.

This may sound like news to you and I, but if you look at the religious texts of India, the Puranas, this is nothing out of the ordinary. The Puranas have stated the belief of the dissolution of the world and rebirth for countless centuries, and here our scientists are just not coming to support the idea.

What has happened over the years to our knowledge? Once derived from theological assertions, it now flows from empirical evidence, but what has been lost in the transition?

The propagation of knowledge has gone through a number of incarnations, but each one has left something behind, some detail consigned to oblivion.

People have striven to preserve as much as possible, at first by spreading their stories by word of mouth. Then, as society, technology and knowledge progressed, we had to formulate new ways of preserving knowledge, more efficient ways that would ensure proper transmission throughout the decades.

But even this isn’t enough to counteract oblivion.

It always finds a way to slither into the collective consciousness of human creation and rob us of a fact or two.

Did you know archeologists have found the remains of chemical batteries in Baghdad?

Where was that in the history books? What were the ancients using the power for and why?

The how and why have been lost over the ages, but the batteries still remain to tantalize us with their mystery.

No matter how much we learn, how much we discover, oblivion will always be waiting there to gobble up any pieces we don’t transmit.

So how do we prevent this?

Communication is the key.

Communication is the life-line that stretches throughout time, allowing us to answer the questions our children’s grandchildren will have.

While there is a certain level of majesty to the discovery of Kipling’s lost works (the man still lives on in his literature), it leaves me with hope and trepidation.

I’m fearful for what could be lost, what has been lost and what will never be discovered again.

I’m hopeful for the things yet to come, the discoveries yet to be made of our past.

And I’m hopeful for the future of knowledge. Everything is recorded and stored somewhere nowadays, providing a sound account for our descendents to utilize.

Oblivion is waiting right around the corner, but maybe with a concentrated effort, we can keep our knowledge from the jaws of extinction


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