Thursday, 4 December 2014

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Anatomically modern humans evolved from archaic Homo sapiens around 200,000 years ago. The Out of Africa or Single Origin theory suggests that migration within and out of Africa replaced Homo erectus from which these archaic humans evolved, although the possibility of multiregional evolution or the interbreeding of migrant Homo Sapiens with existing Homo populations has not been ruled out, and indeed this remains a keenly debated area of paleoanthropology. What is clear is that all archaic Homo sapiens and the first modern humans were without exception completely bereft of iPhones.

Domestication of animals and plants developed around 12,000 years ago and cities such as the wonderfully preserved Çatalhöyük in Turkey were in existence by 7500BC. Our ancestors who moved away from hunter gatherer beginnings and pioneered agriculture did so without the aid of google when things became tricky.
Ancient Greek, Egyptian and Roman civilisations revolutionised human understanding of science and art, knowledge that was then widely forgotten in the west until the renaissance of the 14th to 17th centuries which informed all areas of intellectual inquiry. Da Vinci, Copernicus and Galileo developed and tested their theories without the distraction of Twitter notifications or relying on encouraging Facebook status likes to keep them going.

The great works of literature, art and music were created almost exclusively by brilliant minds working in blessed isolation from the outside world. Perhaps not at all times were these geniuses free from the pressures of others but in creative moments they were able to access the muse and ride with it to beautiful new vistas without being constrained by less important, trivial matters. I try to make time in my day to find my muse, but first I have to answer emails and check if so and so retweeted my humorous but important 140 character micro blog sent in the middle of last night. And I'm not a brilliant genius, I've just written a couple of nice tunes, so probably I'm even more in need of locating my muse (it's always in the last place you look isn't it?)

We are the first people in 200,000 years of human history to have the vast power of technology at our immediate disposal. We are able to access the total sum of scientific and artistic endeavour within seconds, at our fingertips. This is an awesome ability that even our most recent ancestors would have scarcely been able to imagine.  Why then do I waste so much of this potential? Am I allowing myself to become a slave to the devices which were intended to serve me? There is so much for an enquiring mind to discover, but a world of noise distracting and getting in the way.

When one does put away the toys and engages with real world pleasures it is a revelation! Why is this a surprise, has this not been human existence since the beginning? The beauty in tiny, insignificant and everyday things is surely the grounding that keeps a human mind stable.

Our modern era is but a tiny gnat's cock compared to the thousands of years in which people exactly like me physically, emotionally and intellectually had nothing other than a naked flame to illuminate the night. No phone, TV, radio or pornography. Until the 1400s not even printed books, and then only for the luckiest and richest. It's such an alien concept to venture into the dark without anything but your own thoughts for company. I would try it now, but I'm writing this blog post. 

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