Scenes from the Fourth Rome

Scenes from the Fourth Rome

Many thanks to Billy Newton for showing me and the lady around Dumbarton Oaks yesterday.

The house was covered in scaffolding and the gardens were battened down for winter, so picture-taking conditions were sub-optimal, but these two pieces from the pre-Columbian Mesoamerica section caught my eye. The first is Mayan, the second is an Olmec transformation figure of a man-jaguar:


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Reading Tainter on collapse at the moment so here’s a related excerpt for you:

Although this is a recent development, it has analogies in past collapses, and these analogies give insight into current conditions. Past collapses, as discussed, occurred among two kinds of international political situations: isolated, dominant states, and clusters of peer polities. The isolated, dominant state went out with the advent of global travel and communication, and what remains now are competitive peer polities . Even if today there are only two major peers, with allies grouped into opposing blocs, the dynamics of the competitive relations are the same. Peer polities, such as post­ Roman Europe, ancient Greece and Italy, Warring States China, and the Mayan cities, are characterized by competitive relations, jockeying for position, alliance formation and dissolution, territorial expansion and retrenchment, and continual investment in military advantage. An upward spiral of competitive investment de­velops, as each polity continually seeks to outmaneuver its peer(s). None can dare withdraw from this spiral, without unrealistic diplomatic guarantees, for such would be only an invitation to domination by another. In this sense, although industrial society (especially the United States) is sometimes likened in popular thought to ancient Rome, a closer analogy would be with the Mycenaeans or the Maya.


Scenes from the Fourth Rome

Canaanland Apartments near 7th and N, right around the corner from my parish, St. Luke’s at Immaculate Conception. They were built by the pentecostal United House of Prayer, which owns a significant amount of property in DC, and has occasionally been the subject of scandal. The sign reminds me of some sort of space-homestead though.

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