Sunday, 16 July 2017

Wild Cattle

SM Stirling, The High King Of Montival (New York, 2011), Chapter Thirteen.

"A herd could flee with its most timid, or charge with the most aggressive." (p. 259)

Unfortunately, this is also true of human beings. However, it does mean that individuals or small groups can give a lead, sometimes in a good direction.

When the travellers kill several wild cattle, Cernunnos, St Hubert and Ullr are invoked. (p. 261)

Before the Change, each person knew a small part of the "'...scientific arts, and they traded the results among themselves, and there were so many that that was workable.'" (p. 255) After the Change, the important knowledge is how to:

fight with a sword;
hunt with bow or spear;
milk or butcher a cow;
make butter;
tan leather;
shoe a horse.

I think that the optimum society would be one whose members enjoyed the benefits of technology but who would also be able to survive and thrive if those benefits were lost.

Meanwhile, Greater Britain thrives under William the Great! (p. 269)

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

But for the kind of "optimum" society you hope for it would still be necessary for it to begin with mastering the arts you listed and gradually accumulating the WEALTH needed for such "optimum" society. And, assuming a disaster like the Change, that would need generations. But this can also be found in the works of Poul Anderson.

Hmmmm, William V, or William the Great? I was very interested in the sections Stirling set in the UK (or Greater Britain as it was then called). I thought it was very plausible to have leaders and a small cadre of skilled experts and followers fleeing to offshore islands when the Change came. Once the worst of the destruction had passed, reconstruction could begin.

And, as a Catholic, I was interested to see how the Church of England, now firmly controlled by high church men with few points of real disagreement with the Catholic Church, entered negotiations to rejoin the Church. Pope Benedict XVI, making some concessions on matters like a married clergy (priestly celibacy, per se, was not a matter of dogma), was very eager to end the schism. The problem of the validity of Anglican orders was settled by the former Anglicans accepting Catholic ordinations.