Friday, January 22, 2016

Thinking of me as I was then, rather than now

As an illustration for this evening's endeavor, ladies and gentlemen / girls and boys, we have here a photograph of ancient art estimated to have been created more than thirty-seven thousand years ago. It is located at the El Castillo cave in Spain. Imagine, if you are able, being among those present and watching this being done, perhaps adding your own handprint to the adornment. Why are you doing it? What are you thinking as you do it? The questions are endless .... the answers lost except to speculation. The photograph is from Bristol University. Read on, if you are curious about what I am thinking.

Next on the agenda .... Glenn Frey, another of the classic rock hierarchy, bites the dust. Actually, I enjoyed Frey mostly as an actor and I never have been a great fan of the music which came from the Eagles. The band's piece, "Hotel California," is the only one I really am crazy about to the point where I can listen to it for hours. And, I suppose that is because I associate it with a certain hotel I "encountered" while I was in California with the Marine Corps. Actually, I associate it with two hotels -- one in La Jolla, California, and the other somewhere between Reno, Nevada, and Pickel Meadows, California. Actually (again), I am not so sure it was not the same hotel, transported to both places in a "twilight zone" created for me to experience alone. I will not bother to try to explain that any further. In any case, here, tonight, we have the Eagles and "Hotel California" so as to spend a moment with Glenn Frey.

Oh, by the way .... yes, I am home again.

The ancient man vs. the modern man -- 1

(Editor's Note: I am uncertain whether this is a sequel to the material I have been writing recently or a prequel to the next post that will be arriving here shortly -- or, more in tune with my nature, a few thoughts about the past -- with the present and the future whirling about in an ethereal zone. Put more simply, part one of two or, maybe, three.)

I knew a man who tried hunting black bear with a spear. He said once was enough, but he was glad he did it. His motivations, I know, were to demonstrate his "manliness" to himself and to others.

I have tried a few "tricks" myself to "submerge" into life as it was in the distant past. My purpose was not to prove anything, rather to know it and to experience it and to understand it. I believe this began as a boy hunting with bow and arrows. As a man, it has included stalking and hunting by even more primitive means. I will note that "experiment" did not include black bear. The stalking actually grew easy. Practice makes perfect, you know, at just about anything.

I suppose this was an extension of the way some people dress up like mountain men or "wild west" cowboys or World War II soldiers or Civil War soldiers .... people re-enacting. I once took part in a wagon train reenactment on the Oregon Trail in Nebraska for a week. It was fun and fascinating, but not really serious like hunting in a stone-age fashion. Re-enactment, from my point of view, primarily is a form of self-entertainment and, pretty much, pure silliness -- although, it probably teaches a degree of actual history to many who otherwise might never learn it. 

I am too serious an individual for that sort of game.

I frequently have lain back in a canoe in a wilderness area where there was no sign of civilization for as far as the eye could see, not even in the sky, not even a single contrail from a passing jetliner. With a bit of concentration -- or, perhaps, lack of it -- it was not difficult to slip into a state of mind where time did not exist and "now" was without form.

I can recall being seventeen during a blizzard in a shelter made of snow and ice on a frozen lake eating fish caught through a hole in my ice floor, wondering if I actually was any different from a man living during the last ice age fifteen or twenty thousand years ago who was experiencing then the same thing I was experiencing in the present. The difference, of course, was by knowing I would awaken in the morning and could walk five miles back to a warm house with a refrigerator filled with food and go to sleep in a warm bed. Psychologically I could not be him; physically I could and that alone provided me a sense of the essence of what it was to be alive in any epoch.

I have found it is not difficult to lose a few hundred years or even a few thousand years in terms of survival and living as conditions then dictated, whether it involves hunting with bow and arrows or a muzzle loader rifle or living for a number of days in an ice house on a frozen lake. I can duplicate any age, any point in history or pre-history, I suppose, in a physical sense, but how does one achieve these things in an intellectually believable, non-delusional manner?

More recently, I have wondered how it might be to have lived fifty thousand years ago or, even, as a pre-homo sapiens sapiens in, say, Neanderthal or Denisovan style and method and mind. I guess there is no way to emulate such an existence, but knowing it is impossible makes me no less curious. And, that is only the tip of the ice berg in terms of humankind before actual humankind.

Journeying beneath the tip, I could write another lengthy post entirely on ancestry. I have mentioned here previously that I know all my ancestors back to the early / mid-1800s when they left Germany and Norway for the United States. A cousin even has traced our paternal lineage back to the mid-1500s in Norway. What is nagging at me now is to understand who (or what) I came from fifty thousand years ago, for instance, or even back beyond the pre-contemporary being to a creature who roamed the earth, say, a million years ago. From what "creature" did my genome originate? Anyway, that is a topic for another time -- or, for never.

When I was in high school, I thought I wanted to write science fiction novels. Now, it seems, I live in a science fiction world and I want know the reality of the far distant past. Essentially, I imagine, what I really am curious about is learning if humankind has advanced at all in the last few hundred thousand years in any manner other than technologically. On the surface, it does not seem that way.

Oh, well. My curiosity serves no real purpose, but my instinctual reassurance is in knowing that when push comes to shove, individuals such as myself always will have an advantage. I am descended from hunters. Yes, I am shifting into writing about two disparate things now, so I will stop. More duality of man stuff, I guess.

Hmmmm .... maybe, it is time for me to go back to school ....

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