Yo Man! What’s In Yo Bag? Another WITB feat. Matt Pinfield (hour 2)

Written by on April 15, 2018

Yo Man!

I barely managed 2/3rds of the 16 items in his bag, and one of them I didn’t really manage at all. One of Matt’s selections was a live recording (rare) of Dylan with the Band, so I substituted with The Dead covering a Dylan tune. Oh heavens can you ever forgive me?!?!?

Yo Man!

On to our ongoing speech from a novel.

Yo Man!

Signs of distress: 3000-1400 B.C.E.

The fire burned on under the cauldron of our culture, and the next doubling of our population took only sixteen hundred years. There were a hundred million humans now, at 1400 B.C.E., probably ninety percent of them being members of our culture. The Near East hadn’t been big enough for us for a long time. Totalitarian agriculture had moved northward and eastward into Russia and India and China, northward and westward into Asia Minor and Europe. Other kinds of agriculture had once been practiced in all these lands, but now—need I say it?—agriculture meant our style of agriculture.

Yo Man!

The water is getting hotter—always getting hotter. All the old signs of distress are there, of course—why would they go away? As the water heats up, the old signs just get bigger and more dramatic. War? The wars of the previous age were piddling affairs compared with the wars of this age. This is the Bronze Age! Real weapons, by God! Real armor! Vast standing armies, supported by unbelievable imperial wealth!

Unlike signs of war, other signs of distress aren’t cast in bronze of chiseled in stone. No one’s sculpting friezes to depict life in the slums of Memphis or Troy. No one’s writing news stories to expose official corruption in Knossos or Mohenjo-Daro. No one’s putting together film documentaries about the slave trade. Nonetheless, there’s at least one sign that can be read in the evidence: Crime was emerging as a problem.

Yo Man!

Looking out into your faces, I see how unimpressed you are with the news. Crime? Crime is universal among humans, isn’t it? No, actually it isn’t. Misbehavior, yes. Unpleasant behavior, disruptive behavior, yes. People can always be counted on to fall in love with the wrong person or to lose their tempers or to be stupid or greedy or vengeful. Crime is something else, and we all know that. What we mean by crime doesn’t exist among tribal peoples, but this isn’t because they’re nicer people than we are, it’s because they’re organized in a different way. This is worth spending a moment on.

Yo Man!

If someone irritates you—let’s say by constantly interrupting you while you’re talking—this isn’t a crime. You can’t call the police and have this person arrested, tried, and sent to prison, because interrupting people isn’t a crime. This means you have to handle it yourself, whatever way you can. But if this same person walks onto your property and refuses to leave, this is a trespass—a crime—and you can absolutely call the police and have this person arrested, tried, and maybe even sent to prison. In other words, crimes engage the machinery of the state, while other unpleasant behaviors don’t. Crimes are what the state defines as crimes. Trespassing is a crime, but interrupting is not, and we therefore have two entirely different ways of handling them—which people in tribal societies do not. Whatever the trouble is, whether it’s bad manners or murder, they handle it themselves, the way you handle an interrupter. Evoking the power of the state isn’t an option for them, because they have no state. In tribal societies, crime simply doesn’t exist as a separate category of human behavior.

Yo Man!

Note again: There’s nothing cyclical about the appearance of crime in human society. For the first time in history, people were dealing with crime. And note that crime made its appearance during the dawning age of literacy. What this means is that, as soon as people started to write, they started writing laws; this is because writing enabled them to do something they hadn’t been able to do before. Writing enabled them to define in exact, fixed terms the behaviors they wanted the state to regulate, punish, and suppress.

 

Playlist:

Track

Artist

Album

  • The Killing Moon
    Echo and the Bunnymen
    Ocean Rain
  • Knockin' On Heaven Door
    The Grateful Dead
    ? can't remember which live recording
  • Heart Of A Dog
    The Kills
    Ash & Ice
  • Life On Mars?
    David Bowie
    Hunky Dory
  • Do The Strand
    Roxy Music
    For Your Pleasure
  • Holy Water
    Soundgarden
    Badmotorfinger
  • Positively Lost Me
    The Rave-Ups
    Town + Country

  • Show Notes & Show Blogs

    All SHOW BLOGS
    All SHOW NOTES


    Reader's opinions

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *