Tuesday, December 7, 2010


The last of the knowledge areas of the Leibowitz Society is Culture.  Culture basically seeks to save the best parts of the arts, the humanities, history, and so on.  It also attempts to give a starting point for maintaining some culture through the collapse, with the idea that we are more satisfied with our lives when we can find things that provide "actualization."

As with the section on Politics, there is some content which might be considered controversial, in particular religion.  People (incorrectly) try to make the argument that religion has been responsible for most wars in history (a careful study of the root causes of most wars will instead find that ambition of rulers or the ruling class has instigated most aggression).  Likewise, attempting to state that religion is used as a vehicle of oppression also ignores the reality that man will oppress man using whatever excuse is handy, the real purpose being to oppress.  Nontheless, religion has been a shaping cultural force in history and needs to be understood.

History is going to be in somewhat the same boat.  What history is emphasized?  Are people going to agree on certain parts of history and argue over others?  The prime example I see right now is the Bush camp and the Obama camp arguing over who was responsible for the current mess.  In reality, the seeds of America's collapse were likely planted decades before when America started to become first a colonial power, then a superpower/empire.  On top of that, are people going to ignore the history and culture of non-Western peoples and nations, reducing them to extras on the historical stage?

Last, people are obviously going to have their own preferences and biases when it comes to what materials to store in their Repository for culture.  Relevancy to our cultural history would probably be the most important factor (no, I don't particularly think that a trunkful of Lady Gaga items would be useful).  Some people might not like rock and some might not like classical, but both have been important musical forms.  Likewise, drama and fiction have also been influential.

As always, suggestions about what to include/exclude from this list are needed.

Religion and Spirituality
Music Theory and History
Constructing Musical Instruments
Art Technique, Materials and History
Physical Sports
Other Games (Card Games, Board Games, etc)
Holidays, Feasts, Celebrations
Children's Games


  1. Two suggestions for history. Weatherford. Indian Givers, and Zinn. Peoples History of the US. I used both of these texts for thirty years in a college American history course. I found them to be essential reading.

  2. Michael,

    Thank you for the suggestion and I will log them in the list for the Repository.


  3. Dear John -- I've just surfed over from Clusterfsck nation, and am happy to have found The Liebowitz Society. I'm assuming that the name derives from Walter M. Miller's A Canticle for Liebowitz, which has long been a favorite of mine and is a staple of post-apocalyptic fiction. I'm of an age to be slowing down, relaxing for a change, enjoying the fruits of my many years of labor in the vineyards and canyons, but come to find out the world is a much scarier place than it was 20 or even 10 years ago. I've done a modest bit of prepping in the past couple-three months, but I'd like to think I have more to offer the world than tinned peas and spam.

    Books, I got books. Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, complete Shakespeare in several iterations, at least four editions of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations (which would make a good place to get ideas of what needs preserving), Butler's Lives of the Saints, Frazier's The Golden Bough, lots of poetry including the Oxford Book of English Verse, lots of collections of folk and fairy tales. Etc. The Poor Man's James Bond, Storey's Basic Country Skills, the U.S. Army Survival Guide. David Macauley's The Way Work and a two-volume text with a similar title but much more scholarly approach that's upstairs at the moment and I'm not going there just now. And a wonderful set of volumes from my childhood called My Book House, which purports to be, and to a certain extent succeeds in being, a compendium of world literature for families. With wonderful William Morris-y illustrations. And lots more. The Book of Common Prayer, several hymnals, a modest collection of choral music. I might should start cataloging my library.

    I also have a fairly inclusive collection of recorded music, mostly classical but also folk, rock, and world music and jazz. It's all on my computer now, although I've kept the cds. I'm looking for a solar charger to power my amp and speakers. I gave away most of my musical scores when 10 years had gone by and I hadn't opened a one of them, but they're probably on the shelf at the Salvation Army, Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn complete piano sonatas, Bach WTC. Like that.

    I think librarians will be the unsung -- or sung-- heroes of the coming Dark Age. Not only will they be in possession of invaluable stores of information, but they know how to find stuff.

    I saw a movie a few years back, with Glenn Close, called Paradise Road, a based-on-a-true story of women stuck in a Japanese POW camp who arranged and performed orchestral works for women's voices. Not a great movie, but a nifty idea. There's a website called singers.com, where you can get all sorts of vocal arrangements of non-vocal music. I'd like to hear the Bartok string quartets performed by SATB....

    But I digress. I'll be back, and look forward to reading more of what you have to say.

  4. Binnebrook,

    Yes, you are correct -- the name and concept of the Leibowitz Society is directly inspired by Walter M. Miller's work.

    It sounds like you have a good start on preservation of a knowledge trove, and I agree that librarians will likely play a valuable role in preserving knowledge for the future age.

    I would say that you have some insights onto the Culture knowledge area and would ask if you would like to pick out a couple of sub-categories and begin writing out those entries for the Codex? Most of the entries are going to be around 10 pages on average, basically giving a survey-level introduction to the subject so that LS members can be familiar with it enough to organize their Repository accordingly as well as use that knowledge area functionally in support of a community, rebuilding it, passing it down, whatever.


  5. Forgive me for misspelling Leibowitz. That book has been on my shelf for, oh, I don't know, 30 years? And I never noticed that it was spelled Leibowitz, not Liebowitz. I'll be happy to take on a subcategory. Chamber music, how about that? It'll take me a while to pull it together, as I'm more or less on permanent deadline with a couple of projects. I'd sort of like to see what other people have done, to have a better idea of approach, format, etc.

  6. Liebowitz, Leibowitz, Smith, it's all good. :)

    Actually, if you wanted to take on Music Theory and History, that would be great. I think a survey-level of that would work and would be a good starting point. I hadn't necessarily considered breaking it down further into other categories of music, yet, though if it seems like a logical choice, maybe pre-modern and modern would make sense at some point.

    I've been thinking that the format is something which people are unclear on, so I'm planning to pick one of the content areas and posting a subcategory entry to get people familiar with what I think should be in the Codex. I'll probably post it on one of the open document sites and leave the url here, maybe by the end of the week.


  7. Hi!!!

    I saw you at the ClusterF nation, too! I will think of some stuff with music. I know you have to have a way to make strings.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter