THE PRESERVATION OF literate civilization is a task that calls for heroic effort. The Dark Ages are never more than a generation away; literacy is a fragile blossom that will soon wither when its environment is no longer favorable. Dr. Boli was moved to muse on these matters by the passing of a man he had never met, but one who nevertheless proved a sincere friend to him and to everyone who reads: Mr. Michael S. Hart, who died just two days ago.
It is almost impossible to feel sadness at the loss of one who has accomplished so much in the world; indeed, his life seems to have been deliberately arranged so that the accomplishments would continue when the life itself came to a close. Although he does not normally pronounce on matters of theology, Dr. Boli is certain that, if he were running heaven, Mr. Hart would be sucked up into it like a dust bunny in a Hoover.
Nevertheless, since heaven itself is not in his gift, Dr. Boli has decided to offer the strongest tribute in his power. He has made Mr. Hart the first member of the Order of Cassiodorus, a society of women and men who have made important contributions to the preservation of literate civilization. Dr. Boli hopes to award this honor in the future to others who have made similar contributions. There is no cash prize associated with it, but only the knowledge that one solitary individual on the Internet recognizes that something extraordinary has been accomplished.