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March 17, 2010

The Experience of the Dark


When the sun set in the Old World, people were in the dark.
They perforce “went to bed with the chickens”, in a phrase still used in rural communities. Most could afford no candle or oil lamp; for a few there might be at best a faint glow from the expertly banked embers of a hearth fire. Practically nobody in our modern world is in the dark they way that everybody then was in the dark. I mean really in the dark—no circuit breaker, no flashlight, no matches, no blue cell-phone glow, no vaguely lucid penumbra of distant city’s lights. The electrification of rural America was still in progress in my youngest days, spent on an Ozark farm where the only nocturnal illumination came from kerosene lamps. And that was in the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt! There was electricity in the little town six miles away, and among my earliest memories was the awe of first seeing a Christmas tree decorated with lights. The social revolution that came with electricity is enshrined in one of the obiter dicta of the last century’s most famous revolutionary, Vladimir Lenin: “Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country.” -- Gladly Lerne, Gladly Teche: The Dark

Posted by Vanderleun at March 17, 2010 12:24 PM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

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