Sunday, March 14, 2004
PF, commenting on the previous post: "Interesting stuff, that Rongorongo. But from that article it looks like a real crank magnet."

It is curious so many people are seeking magic in the same magical tokens that failed, and was abandoned by, the Easter Islanders. More interesting, for me, are two readings that can be constructed from the Easter Island story.

One is as a story of innocent self-destruction, by a people only dimly aware of the consequences. It is an ecological cautionary tale about what and what not to do, a lesson to learn from.

The other, much more sobering, is of a destruction driven by a cultural and socio-political machinery that took off with a life of its own, whose actions individual persons were hardly able to affect. Cultural revolution is impossible in the absence of catastrophe, and sometimes, as on Easter Island, it is a catastrophe impossible to recover from. Easter Island is not so much a lesson on what not to do, as it is illustrative of the limits of rational action.