Monday, December 24, 2012

From Hunter To Farmer

I spoke *last time* about Isaac Asimov's and Robert Silverberg's “Nightfall”. It's about a planet whose civilisation is catastrophically destroyed every few thousand years. Each time this happens, the surviving denizens must crawl out from the rubble and start again.

Where did Asimov get this idea from - the idea that a planet-wide civilisation every now and again catastrophically destroys itself, or becomes catastrophically destroyed through influences beyond its control. Was he (Asimov) thinking of our earthly human civilisation?

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Your teachers, when you were in school, no doubt told you about how humans came to be, about how today's humans (of which you are one) descended from apes. Your teachers would also have told you that today's human hasn't been around that long – 200,000 years at most, but possibly as little as 100,000 years. Before that, there was just the ancestor of the human, the ape.

Your teachers would also have told you that the early humans lived in Africa, in a manner not much different from actual apes ie. apes not lucky enough to have evolved into humans. The early humans, who spent most of each day just hunting down other animals to eat, began getting bored, and developed itchy feet. So they trekked off to all corners of the earth.

They may, though, in their new domains of Europe and Asia and whatnot, have continued just to hunt and to be as bored as they were in Africa, for it wasn't until 10,000 years ago that they began farming, which, when you think about it, is even more boring than hunting. Anyway, one thing led to another, and today, a mere 10,000 years after the first human farmers, you have cell-phones, digital TVs and whatnot. Suspiciously quick, don't you think?

I, as did the early humans, am, too, becoming bored. I'll have to continue this next time.........

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