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Archive for the ‘Anthropology’ Category

The Car is Dead

 Mad Max or no more gas

Mad Max, or no more gas for you

Advocates of technology allege that progress is egalitarian. If you own a computer, can afford the monthly fees for Internet access, and have the time to invest in learning the technology, one can access information – but more importantly, you are granted admittance to the revolution. One can tweet, facebook, email, conduct meetings via video, have discussions with people one will never meet, and comment on anything at anytime – all without leaving the comfort of your own home. These are the components of the computer revolution and to exist successfully in this milieu, one must adopt its platitudes. The digital revolution – in the form of the personal computer – has replaced the car as the primary industry motivating populations and business and it is no mistake that the technology is aptly called, “The information highway”. The “information” highway has replaced the literal concrete highway as the ideal method of connecting societies and business. As in all technological advances, while the new replaces the old, entire populations are disenfranchised from the progress. Many do not have the requisite skills to participate in the new technology, some are incapable of learning – and let us not forget that business is reluctant to invest in an ageing population. In that regard, progress is never egalitarian. We no longer need to travel long distances to conduct business or to see friends. Just turn on the computer and save gas. The decline of the car crystallized at the dawn of the Internet.

As each new technology enters the mainstream, the cyclic process of job elimination creates a permanent underclass. Mechanization in southern cotton mills replaced thousands of African American workers who then migrated to cities and took low paying factory or service jobs while living in rundown communities. Low-income neighborhoods and racially segregated housing is perpetuated as each technology lays waste to the skills of the previous population of workers.

Humpmobile

A photo of a 1911 Hupp-Yeats from the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin AB


The seductiveness of a new technology can be measured by how much money big business invests in the marketing of the new industry. By the 1860s, as Lincoln’s candidacy – and politics in general – become media fodder, the ensuing war beget the marriage of government policy with the interests of big business.
Capitalism, corruption, monopolies, and war profiteering were all inextricably linked to emergent policies that provided tax advantages to the wealthy. The men who headed these burgeoning corporations would build lucrative empires on the backs a poor population, desperate for work and sustenance. Exploitation of labor would become de rigueur as the rich curried favor with government policy makers. A government eager to reap the benefits of liaisons with wealthy men would routinely and covertly sanction legislation that failed to benefit the middle class or the poorest of society. As J. P. Morgan colluded with government to rid himself of foreign steel competition, he employed over 200,000 men who worked twelve hours a day for such low wages they could barely survive. Technology was driving industry and making a few men rich on the backs of the poor multitudes. Today, men such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs effectively mandate innovations in the computer industry. From their edicts, innovation trickles down and peripheral manufacturers depend on a low wage work force outside of the U.S. for many component parts. The resulting job loss has placed the U.S. in the throes of economic disaster. Foreclosures, and bank, and finance meltdowns continue to decimate the American economy – this in response to a global shift in technological innovation.

We can see the repercussions of corporate and government liaison in the current health care debate. HMOs have paid millions to congress to ensure that no health care reform bill is passed. It looks like their tactics are working. Those who are not poor enough for welfare, but have so little income they cannot afford the high cost of healthcare, will suffer.

In the same way that the struggling middle class is given just enough wealth to keep them from revolting, technology provides just enough convenience and cachet to seduce us into believing that progress will make our lives better. That is the reason people go into debt to own a car and why people will continue to purchase the next new electronic device that purports to deliver an easier or more luxurious lifestyle.

As U.S. car sales hit a 26-year low in early 2009, China overtook the U.S. as the world’s biggest market for automobiles, the first time any other country has bought more vehicles than America. If that wasn’t enough to convince American consumers that the demise of the automobile was at hand, General Motors and Chrysler entering chapter 11 bankruptcies in 2008 should seal the deal. Over the past 12 months, the Treasury has given GM alone over $52 billion – that’s taxpayer money that we will never see again. The industry that drove economic expansion for nearly seventy years, created jobs, unions, new deal legislation, and population shifts, is now entering its twilight. The golden age of the automobile is dead.

Chevy Minivans waiting on the lot

Chevy Minivans waiting on the lot


The trickle down effect of the automobile industry’s demise has just started but current trends forecast a vast wasteland of suburban lots with abandon homes.
The Great Recession heralded the foreclosure epidemic that began in 2008. Since that time, over 7 million foreclosures have left property values in decline and caused money-lenders to walk away from areas with excessive abandoned lots. The real estate markets haven’t improved, vacancy rates continue to climb, and manufacturing industries are cutting costs. Ten counties in Illinois averaged an increase of over 50% more foreclosures in 2009.

Elgin county plans to use a $2.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to buy, renovate, and resell, foreclosed homes to low-and moderate-income buyers, but enticing builders to develop low income housing has never been an easy task. The Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) created by the New Deal Congress, effectively marginalized minorities and low-income families by rejecting financing. As baron suburban wastelands become subject to blight legislation there is no guarantee that these areas won’t suffer the same consequences of slum clearance in the past. The Housing Act of 1949 gave free license to real estate developers to erect shopping complexes and luxury rentals on lots that should have been slated for low-income housing. What will happen to those who have lost their homes? They may move into the cities, but congestion, unfair pricing, and competition for work is just as rampant. I envision Edge Cities developing where a displaced population subsists as best they can in abandoned areas. Currently, the New York City Housing Authority revoked over 3000 section 8 vouchers citing a severe cutback in the federal Section 8 program funds. These measures will no doubt impact other city social services and shelters – once again, draining the tax-payers. TARP funds to the tune of over fifty billion were allotted to bailout General Motors, but the federal government found it necessary to cut money that would provide access to homes for the poor. This is indicative of the future role of government in a declining economy.

Another cog in the wheel is fossil fuels. “Peak Oil” is the idea that we’re running low on fossil fuels, German-based, Energy Watch Group estimates that by 2030, fossil fuels will be seriously depleted worldwide. As oil production falls, prices rise. British energy economist David Fleming stated, “Anticipated supply shortages could lead easily to disturbing scenes of mass unrest … For government, industry and the wider public, just muddling through is not an option any more as this situation could spin out of control and turn into a complete meltdown of society.” While peak oil won’t stop all industry, it could have Mad Max-like implications for industrial society. Consequences would include widespread blackouts, the literal collapse of transportation infrastructure, and a shortage of petroleum-based chemical fertilizers necessary to grow most of our food.

This past summer gas was priced so high that people simply left their cars at home. I have two friends who told me they couldn’t drive their cars to work during the summer because they just couldn’t afford to fill up the tank. If the average consumer cannot afford to buy gas then there is no reason to buy a car. The loss of automotive related jobs and the dire circumstance of the big three automakers is testament to the fact that people can no longer afford – and no longer need – the automobile. There is also another related issue: status. The new digital technology is the status symbol of the future – replacing the car. The most current i-Phone, black berry, computer, and accoutrements mark the cosmopolitan professional who has integrated his life with the computer age.
Integrating one’s life with the information age is now a stigma of success.

The ripple effects of the car’s collapse have just begun. Vast segments of the population will need to carve out a niche for themselves in areas were rent is affordable and jobs can be found. If both cities and suburbs lack these resources, humans – always resourceful – will transform existing areas into habitable communities. Perhaps there will be a switch to agrarian economies, where trade and barter of goods provide sustenance levels of existence. While the technologically advanced and wealthy elite enjoys the spoils of stock market speculations in oxygen cities above the Earth’s surface, just below the abandoned malls and concrete roads, there will exist cities of poor and middle class societes. Vigilantes seeking basic amenities such as gas, cigarettes, food, and water will patrol the desert areas that remain. By then, it will be impossible to transcend class – a new type of class structure will have evolved.

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onewomen_peaceRevolution
Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets in Tehran and surrounding areas protesting the outcome of the recent elections – with violence resulting in many instances. At the same time, the Revolutionary Guard – Iran’s most powerful military force – has warned online media of a crackdown on their coverage of the country’s election crisis. The “Supreme Leader” has made a “divine assessment” and decided to recount votes – or so we are lead to believe. This Guardian Council is comprised of 12 clerics and lawyers who oversee all law. They are an assertive council whose supreme laws are – well, supreme. It is the perfect marriage of church and state. The elite body answers only to the Supreme Leader. They have threatened websites and bloggers with legal action if any materials are posted that “create tension”.

Tuesday June 9, 2009
All Western journalists and media are now banned from covering the aftermath of the disputed election results in Iran. People in Iran are risking their lives to get information out to the international media. They are using social media networks such as, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to inform the world of the protest that is taking place. On CNN – one of the few conduits of almost unbiased but sometimes still annoying news available in America – Wolf Blitzter is posing the question: “Will technology eventually bring down the establishment in Iran?” The CNN updates are coming in via the Social Media Networks so fast that I can barely keep up.

iranstreetsTechnology
“URGNT@ ALL jornlsts, Tday 15:30 Prss Conf. in Tehran, Sadr MotrWay, Kave Shomali Blvd, Roshanayi St, Bahar Shomali St. Num. 9 #IranElection” From: Twitter, http://twitter.com/mousavi1388:
[This was one of the final calls for a meeting to conduct a press conference in Tehran.]

The only way for the Iranian people to communicate now is via Twitter – messages are restricted to 140 characters and they are transmitted via text messaging on your phone or BlackBerry. Protest meetings are being organized via Twitter and the opposition figurehead, Hossein Moussavi, continues to communicate with his supporters via this medium. Personal phones and cameras have transformed into news gathering media as Iranians insist that their voices be heard. Cyberspace is galvanizing the world as it watches and waits for the Iranian conflict to play out. For oppressive regimes that desire to maintain the status quo, technology has made their lives extremely annoying. Too much knowledge is dangerous in the hands of the masses. Seven people have died violent deaths.

The Printed Word

“Print Technology created the public. Electric technology created the mass. The public consists of separate individuals walking around with separate fixed points of view. The new technology demands that we abandon the luxury of this posture, this fragmentary outlook.” [1]
– Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage

Women protest in Iran

Women protest in Iran


The concept that the pen is mightier than the sword [coined by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 in his play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy,] has persisted and is represented by events such as Banned Books Week. [2] And though McLuhan believed that the advent of book technology compartmentalized individuals and allowed men to cultivate isolation, it still led to an electronic revolution that amazingly, McLuhan prophetically predicted with astounding accuracy, though the full impact of mass media technology would not materialize for another thirty years. McLuhan also pronounced that the “new technology” would usher in a world were information is instantaneous and would require civilizations to embrace a new way of being, thinking, and seeing. The computer age is here.

We are constantly reminded of the power of the written word to invoke change and influence civilizations. In the Science Fiction classic, 1984, George Orwell described a totalitarian civilization where anything but absolute adherence to Big Brother was punishable by death. In the collective conscious, the most memorable vision from this story was the prompt burning of any book or written text which was inconvenient to the regime.

When Martin Luther’s teachings were considered heretical, his books were burned in Rome – further testament to the power of the written word to spread and influence thought. Changes in the intellectual and political climate contributed to factors that made the reform movement much more formidable. Because of the accessibility of books to the masses, thought and learning levels soared and the innovation of print allowed the Reformation to utilize and distribute new ideas to the people, in the same way that only the Church had been allowed to distribute religious propaganda in previous centuries. The power of words to invoke and mobilize people is a very real threat. All governments’ exercise measured control over the media.

And lest we forget the pervasive influence of the Catholic Church, I checked online for further information on the “indulgence” and found that since February of this year, dioceses around the world have – quietly – been offering Catholics this spiritual benefit once again. You may now “contribute” your way into Heaven, or you can get an indulgence for someone who is dead – in case the deceased was so abhorrent in life that they now need to be bailed out of purgatory. [3]

It’s amazing to me how an institution that has been riddled with venality and immorality since it’s inception can still maintain such universal control over vast segments of the population.

The Electronic Message
In the same way that the upper classes – including clergy, nobility, and the very wealthy, shunned a new technology that would eventually bring books and information to the average person, there exists now, huge segments in all societies that reject the technology which has brought us social media networks and the computer age. But technology does not go away gently into the good night.

The discord over the Gutenberg press may be different in scope when compared to the current events in Iran, but in both cases the outcome of both technologies is the same; Social media, and the advent of the printed word succeed in mobilizing information and bringing it to the people in a more immediate way – immediately, in the case of Iran. The value of a technology that empowers the people cannot be underestimated.

I would go so far to say that, up to this point, the point where the Iranian elections erupted into violence and revolt, social media networks such as FaceBook and Twitter where considered the domain of young, computer savvy, tech nerds with too much time on their hands. Social media will never be discussed in the same dismissive tone again.

At the dawn of the Renaissance movable type brought the written word to people in all walks of life. It allowed education to flourish and new ideas to influence those who previously had little, or no access to political or intellectual thought. All the while, the old guard considered the new-fangled book printing thing “vulgar”. Change is always a hard sell.

Technology has allowed our thoughts to travel anywhere instantly – in much the same way the Gutenberg press paved the way for a proliferation of ideas and a greater variety of books – thus loosening the hold of the Church and creating a new urban society. Less religious doctrine meant that people were free to explore other areas of interest that would forever alter their vision of the world.

” If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. ” – George Orwell

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[1] Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage, 1967 p. 69
[2] http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/basics/index.cfm
[3] The New York Times: For Catholics, a Door to Absolution Is Reopened
By PAUL VITELLO Published: February 10, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/10/nyregion/10indulgence.html?_r=1&ref=us

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Temple of Khafra, Giza: circa 2500 BCE

Temple of Khafra, Giza: circa 2500 BCE


I am always amazed to re-read history and discover that the seeds of ancient civilizations can be found in all subsequent societies. Though the rituals, religions, languages, and way of life may drastically differ, there are social ramifications that remain constant; bureaucracy, class stratification, governmental control, taxes, war, rich and poor, and a sense that the civilization will never end…

Water and it’s proximity became a defining factor in where and how early civilizations developed. Even now, land adjacent to lakefronts, oceans, or rivers is regarded as prime real estate and priced accordingly – out of reach for the average person. 100 years ago the desert area of Southern California was primed to become not only a densely populated area – but also a shining mythical metropolis. Originated during the 1920s, The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) developed a massive state organized drought management system. The implementation of this massive water-works provided the impetus for the world’s 8th largest economy to unfold in a semi-desert. Why would so much policymaking and bureaucratic control be mobilized to sustain an improbable desert civilization? Water.

Water existed in such abundant quantities that it was impossible to ignore. California’s entire western coast is bordered by the North Pacific Ocean. Blessed with a moderate climate and easy ocean access for ships, trade and commerce, the state became a magnet for settlement. I find it a great irony that California – long characterized in American literature as a wealthy, beckoning, megalopolis – exists perilously close to extinction should the climate change or the water-works fail.

Even more ambitious, was the science and technology that early Egypt developed to harness the Nile. The longest river in the world stretches approximately 4,000 miles from East Africa to the Mediterranean and is the foundation for all Egyptian history. The Nile is surrounded by desert but that stopped no one from settling along its banks.

Dancers

Dancers


As Neolithic populations began to spread along the Nile, intensified food production became necessary to feed the masses. Enormous and intricate hydraulic works controlled the five or so months of flooding to ensure that rich black silt deposited by the river reached every crop. To sustain irrigation and agriculture on this scale demanded a strict centralized authority. Controlling populations would guarantee continued production of crops, but more importantly, authority would render a population capable of defending the vast network of wealth within the Nile’s fecund basin. Armies would need food, clothes, and weapons in order to defend the civilization’s emerging wealth from marauders.

As pharaohs assumed absolute control over the regions resources, more population control was necessary for burgeoning ancillary trades and laborers. To achieve this, a well-honed bureaucracy would oversee a highly stratified society. Corporate America echoes this ancient organization; corporate mentality dictates that no individual can become empowered within the corporation. A cadre of upper-middle management politicians discourages any challenge from below. The result is a top-tier of executives whose unifying characteristics are often ambition and ruthlessness. I don’t doubt that a good deal of lethal jockeying for power characterized these early civilizations.

The ancient Egyptians became adept at observing patterns in the Earth and sky and were able to transfer this knowledge to all aspects of their society – particularly engineering. Geometry, as applied by the ancient Egyptians served to redraw irrigation canals and ditches after the Nile flooded the fields. Lines of demarcation needed to be defined for each property every year. But there was something further that bears inspection. “Sacred geometry” as it is sometimes labeled, is presented as the ability to see the intricate and repeated patterns in nature. Its practice is attributed specifically to ancient societies. It involves a more spiritual observation of the universe and many believe the ancients were able to apply these observations to construct incredible proportionally “harmonious” monuments – the construction of which would confound present-day engineers. “There was an actual loss of general geometric knowledge during the Dark Ages – the old Egyptian and Greek geometry was no longer passed along as it had been; instead it became the secret of such trade guilds as made use of it. Thus geometry became “mysterious.” [1]

Giza

The Giza Pyramids viewed from south

The Egyptian pyramids were a masterpiece of engineering that to this day, have no equal. Recent dialogue is of the opinion that slaves did not build the pyramids but rather, labor that was hired and provided for by the state. I’m not convinced that the distinction between slave and laborer was so unlike. A huge complex population had emerged and had acquired a taste for a comfortable and affluent lifestyle. A structured family unit, inheritance laws, adornment, cosmetics, social castes, and the reassurance that work on the next pyramid construction site would soon begin, all contributed to the belief that the state was all-powerful and would continue to provide sustenance. An all knowing, all encompassing state, providing just enough to guarantee survival, but not enough to sustain liberal ideas and individual rights, has been the hallmark of all totalitarian civilizations. Nonetheless, continued Pyramid construction projects established the supreme authority of the state and provided the social and economic anchor around which ancient Egypt prospered.

I whole-heartedly believe that ancient civilizations had an intrinsic connection to the Earth and the Universe that has been lost over the ages. Part of the loss owes its disinheritance to the advent of writing and record keeping. Prior to writing, ancient cultures passed on information via oral testimony and feats of memory. Ancient people where also able to make abundant connections to nature and chart the movement of the stars and moon. Carl Jung uses the phrase “unconscious identity” where our unconscious is allowed to escape – or to become part of the environment and wander unchecked. He goes on to say that, “… the unconscious is no mere depository of the past, but is also full of germs of future psychic situations and ideas…” [2] Imagination and intuition are vital to our understanding but it is these very things that civilization has taught us to suppress.

eye

Ancient man’s survival depended upon his ability to carefully observe and decipher his universe. His impressions, thoughts, and intuition – no matter how chaotic – were never dismissed. He considered every natural occurrence he encountered. If he hadn’t, he would never have survived.

The belief in magic and the occult was one more example of the ancient’s profound connection to nature. One caveat; we cannot equate the ancient’s concept of magic with our own – that would be a corruption. The pantheon of Goddesses and Gods that oversaw everyday Egyptian life, for instance, were not mere idols or mythical beings. They were real entities that orchestrated the flooding of the Nile, every child’s birth, and year after year of successful crops. All nature was divine and crucial elements were personified in a somewhat ordered chaos. It is highly probable that divine knowledge and skills were possessed by entire families and handed down to subsequent generations. Even more fundamentally interrelated, was magic and medicine. Spells, magical rituals, and amulets, all contributed to the healing of ailments. The Egyptians were the first people to utilize drugs that modern studies would prove medicinally effective. As magic reached its zenith, the state intervened – effectively obliterating the possibility that magic and alchemical knowledge would be passed on verbally; or as McClellan and Dorn state, “… The bureaucratic model of state support for useful knowledge” [3] was formed.

Scarab from the tumb of Tut

Scarab from the tumb of Tut

It sounds ominously like a scene from Harry Potter. But the reality was irrevocable. The state’s continued campaign to centralize its new and prosperous society mandated scribes the task of categorizing and ordering medicinal and magical knowledge. With this ancient wisdom consigned to the canons of papyrus, we find very little remaining of the ancient’s fundamental and magical understanding of their world.

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[1] http://www.luckymojo.com/sacreddefined.html, Catherine Yronwode
[2] Carl G. Jung, Man and His Symbols 1964, p. 25
[3] James E. McClellan lll, & Harold Dorn, Science and Technology in World History 2006, p. 53

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Assignment #1

Just as Paleolithic man began to utilize fire and comprehend its significance to his survival, modern man continues to be shaped by his comprehension [or lack of comprehension] of technology. A shift from nomadic life in the Paleolithic to more sedentary communities in the Neolithic marked the emergence of technologies that permitted early man to exercise more control over his environment.

Lascaux, France: Paleolithic man becomes an artist

Lascaux, France: Paleolithic man becomes an artist

As technology leaps forward and engulfs jobs, people, economies, and shifts our very understanding of life as we know it, so to did technological shifts occur in ancient societies that rendered old systems of knowledge obsolete. It happened over a much longer period of time, but still, the shift from nomad to pastoral settlements required a great depth of understanding of nature and the environment, plus a spiritual connection to Earth that most civilized men today probably couldn’t harness.

Farming arose in multiple locations around the world at more or less the same time – a testament to early man’s ingenuity. “Toward the end of the Upper Paleolithic, between 15,000 and 5,000 BCE, ice from the last ice age began to melt,” [1] thus creating new habitats suitable for domestication of animals and sustaining food-production – as opposed to food-gathering – while massive earthquakes and volcanoes destroyed other habitats that had been in use by Paleolithic man for thousands of years.

With the destruction of any habitat comes the reduction, or extinction of animals that depend on the habitat for survival. Paleolithic societies no doubt suffered a loss of habitat in this period of massive geological upheaval and still survived, but were relegated to the fringes of Neolithic habitation – not too unlike huge populations disenfranchised by the computer revolution sprung full force upon Western civilization in the mid 1990s.

The Painted Gallery at Lascaux

The Painted Gallery at Lascaux

We are now inundated with every form and feature imaginable to streamline our existence and effectively stop us from individual thought process. The trade off in any technological revolution weather urban, industrial, the advent of the car, or our current computer age, is that huge segments of the population fall by the wayside. The standard of living for any society in the throes of chaotic change becomes depressed. Our current economy is in the midst of shake-down that has already resulted in massive job loss and financial ruin for corporations, populations, and individuals.

McLellen and Dorn argue that Neolithic economies saw a similar depressed standard of living as the transition from Paleolithic hunter and gatherers gave way to Neolithic settlements, where much more work was needed to produce crops and care for animals. Suddenly, Neolithic man had no leisure time. He needed to cultivate provisions for an increasing population and for the domestication of animals. Additionally, The origins of class structure saw its roots in Neolithic economies. “… as greater food surpluses and increased exchange led to more complex and wealthier settlements with full-time potters, weavers, masons …. Social stratification kept pace with the growth of surplus production. By the late Neolithic, low-level hierarchal societies appeared … based on kinship, ranking, and the power to accumulate…” [2]

Early Man was about to dispense his egalitarian existence as technology beget trading routes, towns, and the need for centralized hierarchies to control production and consumption. Not far off would be Kings and paupers, the Pharaohs and the pyramid builders, and the middle class and Bernie Madoff.

Farming and raising animals for food ushered in a technological revolution not known before and certainly not available to Paleolithic man. The shift from food-collection in the Paleolithic, to food-production in the Neolithic, has long been heralded as the transformative event that lay the foundation for modern civilization.

Conversely, it has long been questioned why Paleolithic man produced no obvious “technological innovation” for over a million years despite evolving into a modern human some 40,000 years ago. I’m not sure the reason is so cryptic. If the environment is capable of sustaining a small food-gathering society where only stone tools are needed and a nomadic life reaps constant nourishment, then there is no immediate need for technological innovation. “The population of hunters and gatherers remained small enough to exploit the resources of their habitats with reasonable ease.” [3]

I believe that any advancement in technology arises out of necessity. Paleolithic man had no need of new technologies since he was sustained in food-gathering societies with low populations. “His nomadic live style followed food in habitats that could easily support his populations.” [4] Once your immediate subsistence is taken care of and you are able to survive with some level of expectation that your food source will not disappear overnight, you can plan – at least somewhat – far enough in advance to recognize patterns in your environment. You are then in a position to observe your surroundings and cultivate symbolic thought.

buffalo

Back to back bison in the gallery

Paleolithic man began to observe his environment and consider the fecundity of the Earth, the brilliance of the stars, and the movement of the moon. The cultural ramifications of art began with Paleolithic man. At least 40,000 years ago, he entered darkened caves and with the aid of fire for light, he erected some sort of scaffolding to reach areas – over four meters high – he mixed animal fat with pigments and varying degrees of heat to create yellow, orange, and red, and then he proceeded to transfer his thoughts onto cave walls. That breathtaking result amounts to a technology we will never bear witness to again in our lives. If you put me in a dark cave right now, not only would I panic, the last thing I’d be able to do is create artwork worthy of astonishment.

Thus, in the Upper Paleolithic about 35,000 years ago, man became an artist. The spectacular Stone Age cave art found in present-day Southern France bespeaks a social and conscious ordering of man’s place in the world. Stone Age man was able to depict his universe and think symbolically. His adept manipulation of his survival had afforded him the leisure time to do so. The technology he had at his disposal was adequate enough to sustain and perpetuate his population for over a million years.

It is a shame that the technological advancements of our industrial societies fail to produce more tolerant civilizations. It’s as if we are being lead and blinded at the same time. I’m guessing that as each society paves the way for innovation, chaos and uncertainty follow closely in it’s wake.
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[1] http://ephemeris.com/history/prehistoric.html
[2] James E. McClellan lll, & Harold Dorn, Science and Technology in World History 2006, p. 22
[3] James E. McClellan lll, & Harold Dorn, Science and Technology in World History 2006, p. 15
[4] James E. McClellan lll, & Harold Dorn, Science and Technology in World History 2006, p. 15

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