When the pandemic began, friends asked me what insights I could glean from studying and writing about the Middle Ages for as long as I did. “Nothing,” I told them, which remains true.
Yet I can’t shake the feeling that we’re living through an apocalypse—not necessarily in the religious, end-of-the-world sense, but in the literal meaning of the Greek word for a revelation or an unveiling. Here in our small town, we’ve learned, sometimes contrary to ordinary-time assumptions, which neighbors, including putative leaders, are useless in a crisis, and which ones possess unforeseen reserves of resourcefulness, selflessness, and hope. If we’re being honest, we’ve each discovered a few unflattering things about ourselves too, whether we admit it to others or not. I expect the disquieting clarity will linger even after clouds and fog return.
Every December I post a “best of” recap of the year that was. This was the year I took down the blog because of technical issues and brought it back to life on a stable new host. I shared news of a book I’d been working on for two years with my friends and neighbors, and then I offered thoughts about Mike Tyson’s fascination with Frankish history.
And that’s it. That’s not a prolific year, blog-wise, but given what 2020 has otherwise brought, the fact that we’re still here and I’m still writing will have to suffice. If you’re pass through this blog in the days and weeks ahead, I wish you, in all sincerity, a healthy and prosperous 2021.