In a millennium or two, a seeming paradox of our civilisation will be best understood by those men versed in the methods of counter-archaeology. They will study us not by digging into the earth but by climbing vast dunes of industrial rubble and mutilated steel, seeking to reach the tops of our buildings. Here they’ll chip lovingly at our spires, mansards, turrets, parapets, belfries, water tanks, flower pots, pigeon lofts and chimneys.
Scaling our masonry they will identify the encrsutations of twentieth-century art and culture, decade by decade, each layer simple enough to compare with the detritus at ground level – our shattered bank vaults, cash registers, safes, locks, electrified alarm systems and armored vehicles. Back in their universities in the earth, the counter-archaeologists will sort their reasons for our demise, citing as prominent the fact that we stored our beauty in the air, for birds of prey to see, while placing at eye level nothing more edifying than hardware, machinery and the implements of torture.
Don DeLillo, Great Jones Street.