I enjoyed it overall but one line near the end got me wondering. It’s in the scene where Matt Damon’s character, David Norris, is asking one of the Adjustment guys why they do what they do, does free will exist or not. The Adjustment guy tries to justify why they got involved with tweaking the brains of humanity in the first place. Left to our own free will, we cause wars, famine, and nearly destroyed the world more than once. It was a line like, “We left you alone and you created the Dark Ages!” So they stepped in again and enlightened us because we were never going to find reason on our own, apparently.
Walking home from the film, my question was this. The Dark Ages were in the west of the world. What was going on in the rest of the world at the time?
I don’t know if that line was in Philip K. Dick’s original story or if it was invented for the purpose of the film, but it turns out to be a flawed concept anyway. People have used it to describe the whole time between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance, thinking of those all those centuries in Europe as being ridiculously backward and superstitious and rife with ignorance. They likely were, but according to Wikipedia, the term “Dark Ages” has varied in definition and purpose of description over the centuries, too, with historians trying to keep the phrase neutral, preferring to use it only when referring to any time that lacks sufficient historical record. Those times are called “Dark Ages” because we can’t be enlightened about what was really going on since not enough records remain to illuminate us. We’re in the dark about that time in history. As we learn more about medieval Europe, the term becomes even more unnecessary.
But back to my “rest of the world” question. Women were writing great prose in Japan during the 900s and poetry was also popular in court. Samurai warriors emerged by the 12th century and Buddhism was well on its way then, too. China already had movable type and gunpowder. Philosophy, math, and other sciences were flourishing in Muslim parts of the world at the time, some of that thanks to translations of Greek writing into Arabic. It’s also the origin era for the popular Thousand and One Nights.
I just think it’s unfortunate when people assume the progress of Western civilization is all that really matters in the world.