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Mankind's only alternative

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Feature Story February 20, 2002
The eXile's History of the World
Page 3 of 5
Most of us have never been to the Indian Ocean, because out of all the oceans, except for maybe the Arctic, it is the least likely to contain a place where we'd usually go. In contrast, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are basically givens because America has a coast on both of them. Even if you're from Boston or New York, you're likely to have a relative or at least a friend who lives in California, and when you visit that person, you're pretty likely to see the Pacific Ocean even if you didn't fly out there specifically for that purpose. The same is true in reverse for people who are from California.

Of course, there are always people from the Midwest who grow up far from either coast. There are actually people like that out there who grow up in a place like Iowa or Kansas and make it to the late teens or early twenties without ever seeing either ocean. But eventually they make it to one or the other. The thing is, if you grow up in a place like Iowa or Kansas, there's always going to be the voice urging you to cast off your small-town roots and go try to make your way to the top. It's natural to want to test yourself against the best, to see what you're made of, to see if you can manage in the "real world." And though there are other cities out there, what that basically means is New York or Los Angeles. Some people move there straight out of high school, while other people only get there after latching on to a New Yorker or Californian friend at a Midwestern college and going to visit him during spring break. Your college chum thinks it's just a friendly visit, but you have plans from the very beginning -- the idea is to charm the friend's parents and make a great impression so that they invite you to come spend the summer there. Then you go and spend the summer and gradually drift apart from your "adopted Mom and Dad" as you experiment with hard drugs and homosexuality. By the time the summer's over, you have plenty of new friends whose houses you can come crash at when you finally decide to move there after graduation.

And once you become a New Yorker or a Californian, it's only a matter of time before some business brings you to the other coast. If you get a real job of any kind, it's practically unavoidable.

The Dark Ages were, as the moniker suggests, a low period in human history in which intellectual curiosity was discouraged, despotism reigned, and the masses were steeped in superstition and ignorance. Two key events during the Dark Ages were the crowning of Charlemagne (see box) and the Black Death. It was a trying time, and when it was over, the Indian Ocean was almost 10,000 kilometers wide at its widest point.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Rousseau lookd lik a poodle

In 1712, the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in Geneva, Switzerland. His date of birth places him squarely in the period we now call the Enlightenment. After the Dark Ages ended, mankind learned to think again during the Renaissance. When that transitional period was over, man was finally free to sit down and do some serious thinking.

Before Rousseau, there were certain ideas that had never occurred to people in any coherent form. He was able to articulate them not only because he was born during this particular time in history, but because his experience guided him to certain conclusions. His mother died shortly after his birth. When he was 16, he left Geneva with the intention of settling in Paris. It took him 14 years to get there. In the meantime, he supported himself by working in a variety of professions, from footman to ambassador.

When he finally got to Paris, he started writing in earnest. In his early work, Rousseau contended that man is essentially good, a "noble savage" when in the "state of nature", and that good people are made unhappy and corrupted by their experiences in society. He viewed society as "artificial" and "corrupt" and that the furthering of society results in the continuing unhappiness of man.

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Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

Scanning Moscow’s Traffic Cops
Automotive Section
We’re happy to introduce a new column in which we publish Moscow’s raw radio communications, courtesy of a Russian amateur radio enthusiast. This issue, eXile readers are given a peek into the secret conversations of Moscow’s traffic police, the notorious "GAIshniki."

Eleven Years of Threats: The eXile's Incredible Journey
Feature Story By The eXile
Good Night, and Bad Luck: In a nation terrorized by its own government, one newspaper dared to fart in its face. Get out your hankies, cuz we’re taking a look back at the impossible crises we overcame.

Your Letters
Russia's freedom-loving free market martyr Mikhail Khodorkovsky answers some of this week's letters, and he's got nothing but praise for President Medvedev.

Clubbing Adventures Through Time
Club Review By Dmitriy Babooshka
eXile club reviewer Babooshka takes a trip through time with the ghost of Moscow clubbing past, present and future, and true to form, gets laid in the process.

The Fortnight Spin
Bardak Calendar By Jared Lindquist
Jared comes out with yet another roundup of upcoming bardak sessions.

Your Letters
Richard Gere tackles this week's letters. Now reformed, he fights for gerbil rights all around the world.

13 Toxic Talents: Hollywood’s Worst Polluters
America By Eileen Jones
Everybody complains about celebrities, but nobody does anything about them. People, it’s time to stop fretting about whether we’re a celebrity-obsessed culture—we are, we have been, we’re going to be—and instead take practical steps to clean up the celebrity-obsessed culture we’ve got...


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