I recently read a fantastic article on genre fiction and the cultural history of the 20th century. It’s much more interesting than that makes it sound. To make it short, the twentieth century, especially after the 1950s, swung too far into subverting and breaking down the culture around them, and destroyed the good along with the bad. Today, we have only fragments of what there was. The bit that most caught my eye, though, was this:
In such a state, there is only one way to make a difference. You cannot subvert ruins; but you can build right over top of them. If to subvert is to destroy a thing from below, might we not coin an opposite word? We could destroy a state of ruin from above, and, as I like to say, supervert it. Where people have abandoned their standards, we could suggest new ones (or reintroduce whatever was good and useful in the old). Where institutions have been abolished, we could institute others to do their work. Above all, we could instil the ideas of creation and structure and discipline into human minds and hearts, and especially the hearts of the young.
That’s a good description of what we hope to achieve with the Freeman Academy: to bring back the good things of the past and merge them with the good things of today. Past centuries have gotten a lot of things wrong of course. I have no illusions about that. On the other hand, we have lost things that were beneficial to society and more importantly to individual people. On the gripping hand, that’s why I’ve seized on the idea of the classical liberal arts so stubbornly. I believe they can make life better for everyone, and I want to find a way to make that available to as many people as I can.
The Academy is intended to be a place for Human Wave education. What is Human Wave? It started as an idea among a group of genre fiction writers, particularly science fiction writers. You can see its birth in this post by Sarah Hoyt. The short version is this: Human Wave embodies the hope and dignity of humanity. It encourages responsibility and courage. It teaches that human beings with principles, diligence, and innovation can overcome the greatest challenges. That’s part of why history is such a key part of the intended curriculum of the Academy, and why so many Human Wave readers and writers are passionate about the subject as well. History shows those things, and while not all of human history is a constant climb, we can often see the successes brought about by the principles of western culture. The synthesis of modern technology and perspectives with ancient principles can supervert the mess that’s been made of today’s education system. Ride the wave, the Human Wave!