Memorial Sunday – shoes wet – second hour
Written by Agent 47 on March 5, 2018
Modified by Long Nguyen
Pour some out for our Homies!! This show was originally streamcast May 28 of last year (2017). The two year period of 2016 through the end of 2017 saw an inordinate number of musical luminary deaths. This was the Sunday after having Chris Cornell and Gregg Allman release from this mortal coil only 9 days apart from each other. It’s been a rough couple of years for music fans. Hour 1 (this show post) is dedicated to the Seattle sounds of Mr. Cornell and hour 2 is all about that Southern Jam.
And now to continue our fictitious speech from the novel The Story of B by Daniel Quinn.
Historians were sickened to learn the true extent of the human story. Their whole discipline, their whole worldview, had been shaped by people who thought that everything had begun just a few thousand years ago when people appeared on the earth and started immediately to farm and to build civilization. This was history, this story of farmers turning up just a few thousand years ago, turning farming communes into villages, villages into towns, towns into kingdoms. This was the stuff, it seemed to them. This was what counted, and the millions of years that came before deserved to be forgotten.
Historians wouldn’t touch this other stuff, and here’s the excuse they fashioned for themselves. They didn’t have to touch it … because it wasn’t history. It was some newfangled thing called prehistory. That was the ticket. Let some inferior breed handle it—not real historians, but rather prehistorians. In this way, modern historians put their stamp of approval on the Great Forgetting. What was forgotten in the Great Forgetting was not something important, it was just prehistory. Something not worth looking at. A huge, long period of nothing happening.
The Great Remembering was in this way turned into a nonevent. The intellectual guardians of our culture—the historians, the philosophers, the theologians—didn’t want to hear about it. The foundations of all their disciplines had been laid during the Great Forgetting, and they didn’t want to reexamine those foundations. They were perfectly content to have the Great Forgetting go on—and, for all practical purposes, it did exactly that. The worldview we transmitted to children four hundred years ago. The differences are superficial. Instead of teaching our children that humanity began just a few thousand years ago (and didn’t exist before that), we teach them that human history began just a few thousand years ago (and didn’t exist before that). Instead of teaching our children that civilization is what humanity is all about, we teach them that civilization is what history is all about. But everyone knows that it comes to the same thing.
In this way human history is reduced to the period exactly corresponding to the history of our culture, with the other ninety-nine-point-seven percent of the human story discarded as a mere prelude.
The Myth of the Agricultural Revolution
That the earth is the motionless center of the universe was an idea that people accepted for thousands of years. In itself, it seems harmless enough, but it spawned a thousand errors and put a limit on what we could understand about the universe. The idea of the Agricultural Revolution that we learn in school and teach our children in school seems similarly harmless, but it too has spawned a thousand errors and puts a limit on what we can understand about ourselves and what has happened on this planet.
In a nutshell, the central idea of the Agricultural Revolution is this, that about ten thousand years ago, people began to abandon the foraging life in favor of agriculture. This statement misleads in two profoundly important ways: first, by implying that agriculture is basically just one thing (the way that foraging is basically just one thing), and second, by implying that this one thing was embraced by people everywhere at more or less the same time. There is so little truth in this statement that it isn’t worth bothering with, so I’ll just issue another one:
Many different styles of agriculture were in use all over the world ten thousand years ago, when our particular style of agriculture emerged in the Near East. This style, our style, is one I call totalitarian agriculture, in order to stress the way it subordinates all life-forms to the relentless, single-minded production of human food. Fueled by the enormous food surpluses generated uniquely by this style of agriculture, a rapid population growth occurred among its practitioners, followed by an equally rapid geographical expansion that obliterated all other lifestyles in its path (including those based on other styles of agriculture). This expansion and obliteration of lifestyles continued without a pause in the millennia that followed, eventually reaching the New World in the fifteenth century and continuing to the present moment in remote areas of Africa, Australia, New Guinea, and South America.
The foundation thinkers of our culture imagined that what we do is what people everywhere have done from the beginning of time. And when the thinkers of the nineteenth century were forced to acknowledge that this wasn’t the case, they imagined instead that what we do is what people everywhere have done for the past ten thousand years. They could easily have availed themselves of better information, but they obviously didn’t think it was worth bothering with.