In reading The Knowledge, several of the quotes at the beginning of chapters were ones from A Canticle for Liebowitz. Given the book was one of Paul's favorite books in high school, I thought I would read it again. I mean, really, it's been so long since I've read it that it is almost as if I hadn't read it, so it could be new for me again. Though, let's be real, reading a book as a kid, then reading it as an adult means you are reading a new book.
One of the defining ideas of the book is that, well, humanity pretty much destroys itself with a nuclear war, sending the world back to the dark ages where anarchy rules along with mutants and the church. No surprise there, the book was written in the sixties when the overt threat of nuclear war was far more in the front of people's consciousnesses. I would argue that the threat isn't really that much reduced, people as a whole have just moved on a bit. The threat of a nuclear bomb is sufficient, no one REALLY wants to use it.
In Canticle, people used it. People destroyed the world. Humanity survived. Humanity rebuilt. Humanity had the same stupid existential arguments, the same pettiness, the same everything that makes us human. Which means, of course, that we would regain the world, only to destroy it again.
In reading the book this time, I was struck with just how much of the discussions we had as a group in high school included the arguments and discussions from the book. I suspect just as my world was shaped more than I'd like to admit by the books I read in high school, this book shaped Paul's world. I could be projecting.
Many of the philopsophical discussions stuck with me, and I had to pause reading to think about them. I wish I had someone reading the book at the same time, so that we could talk about it.