“In the past men were handsome and great (now they are children and dwarfs), but this is merely one of the many facts that demonstrate the disaster of an aging world. The young no longer want to study anything, learning is in decline, the whole world walks on its head, blind men lead others equally blind and cause them to plunge into the abyss, birds leave the nest before they can fly, the jackass plays the lyre, oxen dance. Mary no longer loves the contemplative life and Martha no longer loves the active life, Leah is sterile, Rachel has a carnal eye, Cato visits brothels. Everything is diverted from its proper course. In those days, thank God, I acquired from my master the desire to learn and a sense of the straight way, which remains even when the path is tortuous.”
Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
As concise a summary of the modern dilemma as you could want, straight from the lips of medieval monk.
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains for ever. The sun rises and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south,
and goes round to the north;
round and round goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again. All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already,
in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things yet to happen
among those who come after.