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“Civilizations rise, decay and die. Time, as the ancient Greeks argued, for individuals and for states is cyclical. As societies become more complex they become inevitably more precarious. They become increasingly vulnerable. And as they begin to break down there is a strange retreat by a terrified and confused population from reality, an inability to acknowledge the self-evident fragility and impending collapse. The elites at the end speak in phrases and jargon that do not correlate to reality. They retreat into isolated compounds, whether at the court at Versailles, the Forbidden City or modern palatial estates. The elites indulge in unchecked hedonism, the accumulation of vaster wealth and extravagant consumption. They are deaf to the suffering of the masses who are repressed with greater and greater ferocity. Resources are more ruthlessly depleted until they are exhausted. And then the hollowed-out edifice collapses.”
100-Year-Old Color Photos from the Russian Empire
No, color film did not exist in 1909, but chemist-turned-photojournalist Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) had pioneered a revolutionary method to document pre-Revolution Russian Empire and its multicultural surroundings. Using color-filtered plates of glass, he captured a red, a blue and a green channel of each of rivers, railroads, villages, churches of olde. Even more fascinatingly, we can look 100 years back in time on the faces of real peasants, factory workers, noblemen, soldiers, sailors and botanists. Peek into the past with these amazing scenes from 1909 through 1912, courtesy of the Library of Congress.