BoSacks: Media Intelligence: The New Non-Obsolescence of the Written Word
Greenblatt explains it this way: "Something happened in the Renaissance, something that surged up against the constraints that centuries had constructed around curiosity, desire, individuality, sustained attention to the material world, the claims of the body."
The religious aspects of the need for gods or their participation in our daily lives are still debated. But what is not debated is the "thinking" and the lines of logic that were reintroduced into scholarly life by "On The Nature of Things". I believe that Lucretius's poem helped move the pursuit of scientific thinking forward, and that helped recalibrate the thinking of Western culture during the beginnings of the Renaissance. Among the many who enjoyed this poem and drew inspiration from it were Galileo, Charles Darwin, and Thomas Jefferson, who is said to have owned at least five editions in the original Latin.
I bring all this up in an article about publishing to illustrate that there was a time when words, thought and ideas could just disappear, literally in a puff of smoke. And as with Lucretius's poem, I wonder what else might be missing from recorded human experience. What else did people think about and talk about that, lacking a savior like Bracciolini, is now gone forever and missing from the human archive?
Until just recently, when things like magazine articles were printed, they had an understandable short useable and retrievable shelf life of a month or so, and then they were usually gone. On the whole, most magazine articles were read and destroyed. Many great authors' and scientists' great work was researched, carefully written, meticulously edited and then gone into the ether of published nonexistence. Admittedly, not all magazine articles are worthy of treasuring, but many articles are and were valuable to the on-going human story and commendable enough to keep.