Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The End of History

History is written by the winners.
Before writing, then, did anyone win?

Perhaps preliterate history wasn't competitive. Perhaps, preliterate history was cooperative. Certainly, recorded history is the history of conflict.

Before history was written, it was ritually danced and sung. History has been written down only recently; it has been ceremonially performed for countless millenia.

Literate culture has accomplished a great deal, and regards pre-literate culture with no small amount of condescension. It needs to be acknowledged that pre-literate cultures managed to live sustainably and harmoniously with Mother Earth for many generations. It's no secret how this knowledge, so critically important to the present age, got passed down: It wasn't written, but performed. The understanding of how to abundantly live on a planet without depleting its resources was memorized and transmitted not via the thinking mind but via the feeling body. The ceremony, the song and dance of history was somatically embedded in cultures at the cellular level, far deeper than any philosophical argument, psychological theory, or religious belief.

It was the advent of writing that ushered in what moderns refer to as History, which from its very origins has been the history of conflict. Literacy - conceptual awareness as an alternative to spatial awareness - requires the duality of concept and conceptualizer, and this duality, this perception of separation, led to an age of conflict, an age of thought disassociated from feeling.
We will not cease from exploration, and the end of our exploring will be to return to where we started, and know the place for the first time...
(but don't worry, you'll never have to read about it)

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