Thursday, March 4, 2010

Discovering the Ephemeral

(Picture from here.)

When I was first living in Boston I heard a lecture on Neanderthals. It was filled with the normal human arrogance of the time. It so angered me I ended up writing a story about it-- which was first published way back in 1986.

The gist of the argument was that since later man had this huge tool kit, used colors and buried his dead in some way analogous to we of the present, he must have been smart like us. But the blighted Neanderthal didn't show any of these things and was therefore stupid by comparison.

The problem is that we like to view the evidence we have as complete. Nothing is further from the truth. Our only evidence derives from things that last-- spear points, fossils, bits of color when things are buried or hidden caves. Anything out in the elements is gone forever.

The opposing view point (in the story A Capella Blues) was that Neanderthal was just as smart as people but expressed it in ephemeral things. This would be true of any human culture that gloried in the ephemeral.

Recently, engraved ostrich eggshell fragments have been unearthed in South Africa-- not Neanderthals, of course. But an ephemeral art form none the less. This makes it the "earliest evidence of a graphic tradition".

Frankly, I'm not surprised.
Wall of Idiots
Not listening to scientific retractions
American Family Organization
New Jersey
Sarah Palin
Tea baggers
Global warming: What we're committed to
Faux and Friends

Links of Interest
Non-dinosaur preys on dinosaurs
Superconducting hydrocarbons
Mitochondria implicated in SIRS
Federal investment and renewable energy
Crustacean taxonomy
Mars in 39 Days
Mainly monogamous modern man
Tiny origami
Myrtle Beach
Ancient standing stones

Free and easy fabric dye
Magical experiments in science

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