Consider first that a dark age is not a one-dimensional time of unending disintegration. Rather, it is a distinct turning point in history, a period of flux that often produces great technological and other gains yet ultimately results in a declining civilization and a desertlike spell of collective forgetting. The medieval era was a fertile time technologically, marked by the invention of eyeglasses, glazed windows, fireplaces, windmills, and stirrups, along with the compass, mechanical clock, and rudder. Yet by the sixth century, all of continental Europe's great libraries not only had disappeared but the memory of them was lost to an emerging feudal society, notes Thomas Cahill.
- Maggie Jackson, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age