Thursday Dances: Cataclysmic Codices

“What books would I bring if the world would be destroyed by aliens or cylons and we had to restart civilization as we know it?”

What a question!  And how tempting it is to lay aside the booklist question in order to pursue the nature of the catastrophe…but I’ll keep myself in check.  I talked over the booklist question with a friend I knew to be familiar with Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz.  We agreed that we would *not* bring a shopping list, nor blueprints, unless the blueprints were extensive enough to be of use.  Rather, we’d opt for something more fundamental, and would not limit ourselves to one book unless we had to.

Thankfully Thalia’s already got charge of the History of the Peloponnesian War, which did arise as a possibility in the course of our conversation.  We talked about bringing the Bible, Shakespeare, the works of St. Augustine, Pascal (I’d bring the first two and my friend could handle the latter two).  We pondered the best way to sum up or collect all the pieces of art or music in a volume (and couldn’t really get beyond the Norton Anthologies of both, so if you have other suggestions, please make them).  We figured that it might be wise to bring as much information on chemistry, physics, and calculus as possible, despite our personal failure to study them very deeply; why, we asked, leave all the legwork to the people trying to rebuild the world?

Then I consulted my eldest brother, who, after due mention of the Bible and Shakespeare, determined that he would bring a Latin missal, breviary, and patristic writings; a collection of Plato and Aristotle; Homer and Virgil; Dante’s Divine Comedy in Italian; all of Aquinas; and (somewhat peculiarly) a scientific manual that our dad consults regularly.  These, he figured, were among the documents on which the present civilization was founded.  If they did so the first time, then there was no reason they should not again.

So, figuring he would have those covered, I imagine myself bearing the dictionary; a volume of Anglo-Saxon poetry; The Wealth of Nations; a pretty solid anthology of not-Anglo Saxon poetry; some book or other on animal husbandry and agriculture; the small bag of honeymoon-worthy books; and The Complete Calvin and Hobbes.

…then hopefully I’d find the person who brought Tolkien along.

It’s the end of the world as we know it
and I feel fine

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6 thoughts on “Thursday Dances: Cataclysmic Codices

  1. I have LOTR, The Hobbit and the Silmarillion covered, so we’re good, provided we both survive. Thank heaven someone is going to bring Calvin and Hobbes. I wonder if I could somehow wedge a Tintin in among my others…
    So far, you muses are shaping up to be the guardians of the classics. :D

    • It’s killing me to leave my CSL shelf behind, even mentally. Maybe I should add Till We Have Faces to the pile. Will we have to be running around with these, or can I stash my little bin of 15-20 volumes somewhere?

      (If not, I may have to work on my upper body strength. Those Calvin and Hobbes books are not light.)

      • It’s a wrench, isn’t it? I want the Space Trilogy, especially as I haven’t finished it yet! But Till We Have Faces, I could not leave.

        Chances are, I theoretically overburdened myself in my post too, but I went with the idea that I needed to be able to pick them up and go… thus my regrettable abandonment of Gardner’s Art Through the Ages and Shakespeare.

  2. You have prompted a list of art works in categories:
    Sculpture: David (Michealangelo, of course)
    Painting: The Birth of Venus (Botticelli) (Of course, this is a fresco, so we have to bring the whole building)
    Music: Beethoven’s 9th Symphony
    Smoking Pipe: Dunhill, Group 4, half bent billiard
    Tobacco: MacBarens, Vanilla Cream (Gonna need some seed, too)

  3. Pingback: Conclusion « Egotist's Club

  4. Ah, but of course, Calvin & Hobbes! Have I not even said elsewhere (I forget where) that I always take a volume of Waterson’s with me whenever I travel? I do. In their own words, are they not Indispensable, Essential, and Authoritative? What more could the survivors need?

    Also, I’m rather glad you decided not to skimp, and simply grab a whole bunch of the essentials. I initially wanted to choose books that represented the best of a broad selection of subjects, but that proved too much work, and too heartbreaking for what I’d have to leave behind. Hopefully, between us all, we’ll have the absolutely necessary stuff. (And since you’ve already mentioned Aristotle, I’ll probably bring some Lewis and George MacDonald, too.)

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