Each people is, I believe, inclined to believe it is the purpose of history, that all that has happened is leading to now, to this world, this country. Few of us see ourselves as fleeting phantoms on a much wider screen, or that our great cities may someday be dug from the ruins by archeologists of the future.
Surely, the citizens and the rulers of Babylon and Rome did not see themselves as a passing phase. Each in its time believed it was the end-all of the worlds progression. I have no such feeling. Each age is a day that is dying, each one a dream that is fading.
Someday, men—or some other intelligent creatures—will stand on the sites of New York or Los Angeles and wonder if anyone ever lived there.
We know so little of the past, and what we have discovered is largly what lies above water. Yet once, sea level was lower, and no dought there are cities of which we know nothing which once existd there. If something were to happen now, nothing might remain of our world but the faces on Mount Rushmore or the figures on Stone Mountain, and perhaps the foundations of some of our freeways.
Of the hundreds of plays written by Euripides, Aristophanes, Sophocles, and others, we have but a few. At least two hundred plays, whose titles we know, have vanished, and if so many plays, how many books on history,medicine, or other subjects, with probably fewer copies released at the time, are missing? Books as books must be preserved. There is an effort now to preserve everything by mechcanical means, but of what use will they be to a man who has no power? No means of producing the sounds or the words? A book can be carried away and read at leisure. It needs nothing but an eye, a brain, and the ability to read. If in some distant future, someone should come upon the remains of a library of ours, even if he could not read, he could through illustrations rediscover much otherwise lost. He would have no machine to play a tape; he would have no source of power.
-Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L’Amour