Civilization writ large

I’ve been thinking a lot about human history on the macro scale lately. Usually I tend towards a holistic contextualized view of history (i.e. every event and person is the product of and acts within the context of their time), but occasionally I like to mentally step outside of time and take a broader view. The danger in this approach is a tendency to see patterns where there are none or create hypothetical rules where none apply. That being said, there is something that resonates throughout human history for me. It is the constant push and pull between individual wants and collective cohesion.

At some point in our collective past, maybe at the dawn of what we consider “human”, maybe before, maybe after it became apparent that the species had a better chance of survival if it worked together rather than individually. In order for this to occur individual wants and desires had to be redirected or subsumed by rules both conscious and unconscious. I would argue that the history of human civilizations is really the history of this struggle. Each society/ civilization throughout history has had its own way of dealing with it, built on the past, adapted to the present situation, emphasizing one thing over another, etc… in continuous and ever changing movement.

In my opinion the two main “things” that humanity has tried to control or direct throughout history are violence and sexual desire – in other words the means of survival and reproduction. The ironic thing is that we are in actuality using a social unit as a tool to redirect and channel the means of survival and reproduction in order to ensure our survival and ability to reproduce. Marriage, war, money, industry, art, etc…are all tools in a society’s toolbox with the overarching goal of preserving our ability to survive and reproduce through channeling our tendencies to use socially destructive means to achieve these self-same goals. In order to do away with one of these tools, war for instance, we would need to have another to replace it that would serve the same purpose with the same efficacy or endanger our civilization/ civilization writ large.

Eric in a Word: clepe
Book of the Day: The Spell of the Sensuous - David Abram
Song of the Day: Cold Water - Tom Waits
Religious Figure of the Day: Saa
Medium: Rooibos,ink, white out, and graphite on business card

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