Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 1997-10 > 0875839034

From: Gordon Fisher <>
Subject: Re: The Dark Ages
Date: Thu, 02 Oct 1997 17:37:14

At 06:45 PM 10/2/97 UT, Kevin Charles Hancock wrote:
>I believe that Curt Emanuel wrote:
>> That people use the term "dark ages" at all makes no sense. Every other
>> historical periodization term is non-prejudicial.
>> Characterizing any extended period of time as "dark", a prejudicial and
>> judgmental term, greatly reduces, IMHO, the chance of studying that time
>> with anything approaching objectivity.
>Three points:
>1.Apologies for being off-topic.
>2.Who says that the term "dark ages" is prejudicial? Prejudicial to
whom? I
>have never thought so. Do the "middle ages" complain about being associated
>with the bourgeois? Is that why we never talk about the "lower middle
>Do the "ancient times" complain about being patronized? Do the "modern
>like being called fashion victims?
>3.Who cares whether the term "dark ages" is prejudicial? One of the great
>strengths of GEN-MEDIEVAL is its almost complete lack of subjectivity except
>regarding "facts". It is also beautifully devoid of 20th century concepts.
>Please let's stick to facts and confine differences in subjective opinion to
>bi-lateral postings. Otherwise, we risk ending up like, a
>once great institution which is presently an embarrassment.
>Further apologies if Curt was being ironic.
>Kind regards from,
>Charles Hancock
>London, England

Actually, the Dark Ages are called the Dark Ages because very few people at
that time had electric lights. Thus they (the Dark Agers, also spelled
Darth Vaders) couldn't read as well at night as we can, so they were dumber
than we are, and failed examinations more often. The French take this into
account somewhat better when they call the Dark Ages l'âge des ténèbres (or
Heart of Darkness, as Conrad put it, speaking of a somewhat later time),
and contrast it with the siècle de lumières, although some claim there were
no electric lights in 18th century France either, and that the French were
still in the dark at that time, if not later. The Germans may have failed
to see the light altogether, since they tend to call the Dark Ages the
frühes Mittelalter. (Did the lower middle class begin to form in the High
Middle Ages?). As to the Aufklärung, I understand it can mean not only the
Enlightenment, but also learning about the facts of life, i.e. sex
education, which I have reason to believe began earlier than the 18th century.

I'm happy to have been able to clear up this problem of the name "Dark
Ages", or "Crepuscular Era" (to some Late Romans on invasion occasions), or
"Pre-dawn Years" (to people in the Middle Middle Ages, and sometimes later).

Gordon Fisher

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