Da Vinci flying machine sketchI explicitly wanted to push back against the idea of “the Ancients had Secret Knowledge, more advanced than anything we’ve recreated by the present day, now forever lost.”

Sure, it’s bad to get caught in the idea of “the Ancients were primitive idiots who couldn’t figure out any of the stuff we have in the Modern Era.” The ancient Greeks figured out the Earth was round, just with shadows and basic geometry. Native Americans had functional democracies long before anyone in Europe did. Ancient Egypt had fast-food restaurants!

But if you go too far in the other direction, that comes with its own problems. Over-romanticism of the past (the way you imagine the past was, at least). Mistrust of any kind of progress. The phrase “of course things were so much better before we had…” followed by whatever progressive idea you want to demonize — multiracial societies, LGBT acceptance, immigration from Country X, political power for people in Group Y.

Cohen is underestimating the Ancients a bit here — we know Josh got some sigils working, at least. But it was never widespread. It was never easy, or reliable. The course of science over history is making them better (however slowly), not worse.

Same with the baby airplanes.

Cohen: Usedta think I’d do a bunch a’ research, turn up the Ancient Lost Secret of Beings. Like it happens inna movies.

Miranda: What, like you didn’t? All those sigils, the ones that control Beings . . . and other stuff . . .

Cohen: Yeahhhhh, those came outta old texts, but I betcha we’re th’ first cil– civ’l’s–country to get ’em working. Like with Whathisface da Vinci, those sketchbooks, y’know, drawing baby airplanes. Doesn’t mean he ever got ’em off the ground.

Miranda: “Baby airplanes”?

Cohen: You know wha’m’sayin!

Most’a what our Being research team is doin’ at this point is never-been-tried. Or maybe we found’a record of some idiot tryin’ it, way back when, but it didn’t work.

An’ I figured I could do it anyway. Stupid! Whoops, no more Patrick.

Maybe I oughta sell off th’ whole op’ration t’Ann Walker.

Unless you wanna have it?

Could be, like, a late Christmas present. Unless y’want somethin’ else. You want an ex-Congressman? I got one a’ those t’ spare.