THE MIDDLE AGES
It is reported that the well known image, "The All-Seeing Eye," so familiar since ancient times in Byzantine and Greek Orthodox churches, is recognized today as a Masonic symbol. And this heresy is reiterated by people who, it seems, should know the history of the Church and of the most ancient church symbols. Is it conceivable that history is so little studied that every premeditated, ill-intended lie is accepted naively? This would be more than distressing!
From one side it is heard that archaeology is a worthless science, because in the wake of excavation of ancient monuments the investigation of ancient burials also takes place. This version likewise brings one to the saddest reflections, as if human consciousness did not advance at all and remains in the darkness of the Middle Ages!
Yet already in the Middle Ages the study of anatomy began. Of course, from the point of view of the cruel Inquisition, such studies often were likened to sorcery. Whereas if we should attempt to take a stand condemning the most ancient church symbols and denying the benefit of science, then such a stale of affairs would surpass by far the most fierce inquisition.
In the same way one could consider, along with the rejection of the study of anatomy, the harm of the study of medicine altogether. One might as well return again to those dark periods when the first locomotive was called the devil's horse, and the harmless potato was called with genuine fear the devil's apple. To this it can be answered that all such inventions befit only the Sandwich Islands or darkest Africa. But life proves otherwise. Alas, we meet even today with such an outlook.
True, brilliant discoveries are made every day for which in medieval times one could be condemend to be burned at the stake, or at least to torture. But it is also true that purely medieval, evil prejudices and ignorance not only do exist but like vipers they creep in and infect with their sinister poison everything on their way. In this one also should pay attention to the fact that all kinds of superstitious confusions are not even expressed in the form of a question, but are simply offered as a conclusive opinion. Sinister conclusions are affirmed. There are no words to express the thought that at present, before our very eyes these most harmful seeds could sprout! To many who have not had occasion in life to meet with such darkness, it will seem that these remnants of the Middle Ages, even if they do exist, are very insignificant and may be scorned in their senselessness.
Regrettably, this opinion could be erroneous. It would be comparable to a situation where someone, perceiving a dangerous infection or a germ of madness, suggests that no attention be paid to it. We are neither Cassandras nor pessimists, but in the name of prophylaxis one should not remain silent where an obvious, ill-intentioned infection is revealed.
In those same Middle Ages existed many methods of ridding oneself of enemies or undesirable neighbors. Poisonous snakes were surreptitiously cast about, rings containing poison were given as a gift, sweet pastries permeated with colorless and tasteless poisons were served, a goblet of poisoned wine was given to drink one's health. There are many stories about poisoned gloves, dresses, and all kinds of evil attempts. And they are not inventions. There are many undeniable, proven facts known in history. Poisonings were practiced even in the recent past, and cunningly fashioned rings and daggers, with receptacles for poison, can be seen in collections and museums.
Speaking of museums, one cannot help mentioning that only recently discussions were held regarding whether museums are needed at all, and should culture be safeguarded altogether? You will say that such adversaries of museums and culture are in the minority; after all, the aurochs is dying out now, only a remnant survives. Be it as you say — sowers of darkness are in the minority, but they are so united, so aggressive and unrestrained in their mode of action that their activities produce most terrible results. Many people somehow do not think first about culture, museums, the significance of scientific research; and when some shocking ignorance is offered to them in a crude, persistent form, they may, because of a weakness of character, succumb to this first impression.
You also know how much the first impression means and how indelibly it leaves its traces upon the consciousness. Such an infected consciousness, were it ever to eventually lake all measures to remove the harmful roots, might not succeed in doing so. Even a dentist will tell you how difficult it is at times to extract infected roots. And it is far more difficult to perform such an operation within psychic confines. Because of these infections, many waverings, many confusions are engendered in the world; and out of them issue a multitude of barely remediable misfortunes.
Where confusion is put in the form of an inquiry, the danger has not yet become final. It means that the unbreakable crust around this question has not yet matured in the mind of the inquirer. It means that the seed can still take on any form. But if, instead of a question, you are presented with an affirmed and already molded opinion, then all possibility of discussion falls away. We all are glad to receive any questions, but if an unyielding, anticultural opinion confronts us, all possibility of cooperation is ended.
There is a story about two travelers who noticed a deliberately set fire in the vicinity of a house. One of them, in spite of the lateness of the hour, was ready to give an alarm, and even interrupt his journey, but the other one said, "What business is it of ours? And besides, the weather is rather damp and the house may not even catch fire." Everybody would justly condemn the second selfish advice. If someone notices an incendiary fire, he ought not selfishly continue on his journey and not warn someone.
Yet, if there are observed the symptoms of the darkness of the Middle Ages, still not outlived, it is hard to find a reason not to draw public attention to them. But most likely many excuses will be found. Someone will say, "It was mere prattle," or "It was only a joke." May be Caligula was jesting at the time when he expressed regrets that all the people had not just one head so that it could be chopped off at once. If it was a jest it was in very bad taste and impermissible. Especially now, when people know about the power of thought, about the significance of suggestion, there cannot be permitted such medieval and archaic schemes which leave a terrible mark behind.
All friends of culture, wherever they are, should remain on an incessant watch, so that nothing abusive of culture might be uttered and affirmed in life. Let no one think that jests and malicious gossip are worthy only of being ignored. Darkness must be dispersed without mercy, with the weapons of Light in both the right and left hands. And on the left side is the heart, which will prompt the best solution at all times.
Medieval times existed, but they passed. Not in vain is this period called the dark Middle Ages. Humanity could not remain in it too long; the best minds molded the time for the flowering of the epoch of the Renaissance.
June 20, 1935