Neolithic Pottery/Square Dancing/Murga/Drum Klub

2022.08.01.A: The blog format amplifies the urge to be coherent and humorous. The blog format diminishes the urge to be accurate. I’m doing my best to ignore the former and oppose the latter.

2022.08.01.B: The closest thing I can think of to the medieval equivalent of a blog post is the papal encyclical. It’s hard to think of human civilization without some form of each of the following:

  • person-to-person comms (the letter, the DM)
  • person-to-group comms (the blog post, the group chat)
  • group-to-group comms (international sporting events, war)
  • group-to-person comms (this one’s tough; probably something like “social norms”)

2022.08.01.C: There is at least one important difference between a blog post and a social media post. A social media post has as its imagined target a small group of people contemporaries. A blog post has an eye towards an indefinite, arbitrarily-sized public in either the present or the distant future. Not all people use either medium this way; there were a lot of LiveJournals that read like FB callouts and a lot of FB pages that read like ye bloggs of olde.

The Dancing Master (1670)

2022:08.01.D: The above applies mainly to text format comms; I claim no understanding of the new video stuff (IG, TikTok, etc.) I’m sure there are smart people who think writing with text is on the way out, like love letters and square dancing. I’m also sure they’re wrong. Conversely, I’m sure there are smart people who think the prevalence of video apps is killing human ability to compose in text format. I share their emotional fear, but in the cold morning air I think they’re wrong for the same reasons that we’re still using bowls after 20,000 years.

Xianrendong Cave pottery

2022:08.01.E: Square dancing exists today mostly as an ossified traditional practice.

(That many of our current musical forms are in the process of becoming ossified practices like this is something to be discussed another time.)

Contrast this with the murga:

The differences between square dance and murga are obvious:

  • the age of the performers and the probably-consequent vigor of the movements
  • the presence of a narrative in murga in contrast to mathematical permutation play in square dancing.
  • the comparatively recent origin of murga

2022.08.01.F: A brief list of current group-level cultural production which shows murga-like signs of life as opposed to ossified practices like square dancing (NOTE: no one should rule out a square dancing revival! Living cultures routinely mine and repurposes traditional forms, and sqaure dancing shows some signs of being ripe for this. Note similarity with some practices below.)

Other tradition-informed but living group cultural practices exist. Common thread: in these practices individualism is on the back burner. A group takes the forefront, either as the source of a narrative or a necessary co-creator of the work or both. This is not a threat to individual expression; on the contrary, it provides more material for people with neoromantic tendencies to work with.

2022.08.01.H: Neolithic poetry almost certainly existed. We are unlikely to ever hear it. This is an incalculable complication in the effort to understand the nature of consciousness.

2022.08.01.I: Contemporary people (like me above) use the word “consciousness” precisely where previous generations would have used the word “the soul.”

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