Kings and Great Men

Just watched a documentary about manuscripts  written just before and during the Renaissance period. Manuscripts at that time were hand written books with incredible illustrations created by persons known as illuminators  and bounded by Tudors with leather , velvet or other materials.Just one yard of velvet was worth the equivalent of sixty days wages for a mason.  So two months wages of a skilled artisan in it's day.

 The binding of the average manuscript took approximately one hundred hours for a skilled Tudor to complete. The writing and illuminating possibly many years.  Quite the undertaking in it's time.

Great men and especially Kings were known and depicted in their time by the possession of such manuscript.  After the invention of the printing press,  royal portraits using techniques developed by illuminators were used as propaganda to support and promote royal figures.

For thousands of years  the  creation of something big, impressive, beyond the comprehension of the average man has been used to define people of greatness. From the great pyramids to marble statues, incredible basilicas and fantastic works of art. Their commission by leaders, kings and politicians propelled and held those same people in high regard. You can still see remnants of that phenomenon with depictions of tyrants in third world or developing nations.  We witnessed the antithesis to that when Saddam Hussein's images and statues were taken down during the occupation of Iraq.

The point is, this type of promotion of a great leader, a visionary, someone who creates something above and beyond our imagination is no longer available to us. So where do we go from here? What are we to accomplish? 

Imagine if someone using modern science and technology developed a time machine, anti gravity system or aircraft that toured the Sun. Yes, they would become very rich, their brilliance admired, but would we clash with others using axes, swords and pikes to defend our developers of  these technologies? Would you risk your life to pursue anti-gravity? 

From what part of modern society do we push forward? Who can we look to as great leaders? What is our fight? What is our destiny? What great project and symbols identifies our leaders, kings and queens?

Do we need such idolatry? It has been the determining factor in man's evolution throughout  the ages. Have we moved beyond that stage? What will spur us on now to better and greater things?

I and most people laughed when Newt Gingrich proposed more exploration in space as a way to move forward. Considering current economic situations his proposal was laughable, but if we as a species want to be inspired and do things that require sacrifice for a greater cause, old Newt might be right. 

There is nothing mankind cannot do. I truly believe that. Recognizing what mankind should do is another matter.  

Uploaded 06/02/2012
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